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10 Women Who Changed The Course of History

During Women’s History Month and on International Women’s Day, I encourage you to set aside time to celebrate the accomplishments of strong women.

History is replete with examples of women who changed the world and made life better for generations to come. Many of them did so in obscurity, and only decades later did we as a society begin to understand and appreciate their impact.

When I started Moore, nearly 30 years ago, I knew of few other women CEOs. Over the course of my career, that has changed. Now more women than ever are starting businesses and leading in diverse roles. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Celebrating women and keeping their stories alive is so important. Women and, especially girls, need these stories to know what’s possible. When we acknowledge women, others are encouraged to pursue their own goals and dreams, and we all reap the benefits when they are successful.

Many women have inspired me along my journey as a CEO, advocate and community leader—many whom I was honored to meet. Here are 10 women who changed the course of history, and in the process, stand as examples for millions of others, including me.

MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS

A prolific author, journalist and conservationist, Marjory Stoneman Douglas is best known for her 1947 bestseller, “The Everglades: River of Grass.” Because of her work, the Florida Everglades were, for the first time, seen as an environmental treasure. She fought successfully for National Park designation and founded the Friends of the Everglades.

SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR

She was the first woman named to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sadly, O’Connor, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, retreated from public life in 2018. Even then, she was focused on her country, calling for an end to partisanship and “putting country and the common good above party and self-interest.”

JANE GOODALL

Through decades of intense study, Goodall has given the world an intimate look at humankind’s closest genetic relative: the chimpanzee. At age 85, she still travels the world as an advocate for science, conservation and peace.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch in British history (68 years.) Her public life began in 1940, when as a young girl, she made radio broadcasts to comfort children during World War II. She has seen 14 prime ministers during her reign and is the epitome of timeless grace and dedication to duty.

MOTHER TERESA

Her power was in her kindness. Known in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, she devoted her life to teaching and caring for others in India’s slums. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her efforts to help others overcome poverty. Her work and words inspire still today.

OPRAH

A woman so well-known few people use her last name, Oprah Winfrey rose from humble roots to become one of the most influential people in the world. Her talk show was number-one in the country for 24 seasons and laid the groundwork for her media empire. Always thought-provoking, Oprah inspires with her strong sense of self and relentless pursuit of excellence.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

The longest-serving First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was her husband’s closest political ally. She was deeply attuned to the needs of those in poverty and served as an activist, advocate and diplomat. After her husband’s death, she served for more than a decade as a delegate to the United Nations, working toward peace for all.

MAYA ANGELOU

poet, storyteller and activist, Angelou’s voice is one of the most important in American literature. Starting with her first book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” she gave voice to the African American experience in the U.S. and touched people from all walks of life.

AMELIA EARHART

Fearless and unconventional for her time, Earhart is best-known for her attempt to fly around the world. She is remembered for ambition and determination. In her own words: “Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

ALTHEA GIBSON

A Florida A&M University graduate, Gibson was the first Black Wimbledon champion. She was a phenomenal athlete who excelled in multiple sports and, as Serena Williams said, “paved the way for all women of color in sport.” The United States Tennis Association unveiled a statue in Gibson’s honor in New York last year.

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