Throughout history, women have worked for the betterment of the society in which they lived. Often, their efforts went unheralded, or were even discouraged, but they persevered, making such a remarkable impact on their worlds that their names have been passed down through the ages. Children today still benefit from the consequences of their work and will forever hold these women in an exalted place in history.
1 – Marie Curie
Born in Poland, Marie Curie became a physicist and chemist, eventually traveling to France to pursue her higher science degrees. Her work in Paris led her to discover two elements, radium and polonium. The discovery of radium would lead to the development of x-rays, which revolutionized the treatment of many medical conditions. She became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. Remembered as one of the greatest women in science, her work has allowed countless children to be properly diagnosed and treated for a wide range of illnesses.
2 – Harriet Tubman
Born a slave, Harriet Tubman escaped her life of servitude to become one of the most prominent abolitionists of her time. After making the 90-mile trek to Pennsylvania to freedom, she returned to help accompany many enslaved adults and children to the free states. During the Civil War, she worked for the Union Army, becoming an armed scout and spy. The valor displayed during her lifetime has been a model for people everywhere who struggle to overcome difficult circumstances.
3 – Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale was the founder of today’s modern nursing practice. Born into a wealthy family, she followed her calling to help the sick and relieve suffering, organizing women into a group of trained nurses at a British base during the Crimean War. Known for her night rounds caring for the sick, this “lady with the lamp” was able to improve the unsanitary conditions and reduce the death rate in the hospital by two-thirds. Her writings and efforts radically altered how the sick and injured were managed. Today, nursing professionals learn advanced techniques like nurse informatics through programs such as those at University of Cincinnati to improve care for patients.
4 – Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt came from a wealthy family and was married to the president of the United States, but she always understood the needs of the less fortunate, working for the rights of African-Americans, the rights of children and the rights of women. She was a tireless advocate for people in need around the world, and is remembered as one of the greatest First Ladies in the history of the United States.
Women of all ages, colors and from all walks of life contributed to the evolution of society to make better, safer and healthier world for all children. These women did not always have an easy path, but they had a strong calling to help others, and they are admired today for their foresight and determination.