31 Courageous Women to Celebrate Each Day of Women’s History Month

31 Courageous Women to Celebrate Each Day of Women’s History Month

March 1, 2020

March is Women’s History Month, so all month we are celebrating an extraordinary woman revered for her courage. There are many more incredible women throughout history who deserve recognition, but here are some of our favorites.

March 1: Margaret Thatcher

The longest-serving and first female British prime minister of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher worked tirelessly to lead Britain out of economic and political turmoil. During her time, she cut welfare programs, reduced trade union power, and privatized certain industries like housing and transportation.

Fun Fact! Before entering politics, Thatcher worked as a food scientist developing soft-serve ice cream.

March 2: Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly tirelessly fought against the proposed Equal Right Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on the grounds that it would open the door to abortion, the military draft for women, co-ed bathrooms, and the end of labor laws that barred women from dangerous workplaces.

Fun Fact! While attending Washington University in St. Louis during WW2, Schlafly worked the night shift at an ordnance plant, firing rifles and machine guns as an ammunition tester.

March 3: Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing. In 1860, she laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world.

Fun Fact! The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses, and the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve, were named in her honor, as well as International Nurses Day which is celebrated on her birthday.

March 4: Moira Smith

Moira Smith was an officer in the NYPD on September 11th where she was the first officer to report the first plane crash. When she arrived at the World Trade Center, she helped people evacuate through the underground concourse. Then, after the second plane crashed into the South Tower, she helped people escape from there.

Fun Fact! Smith refused to leave the building until she helped everyone she could find escape, but she unfortunately died in the South Tower. Alone, she saved hundreds of lives.

March 5: Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross is famously known for designing and creating the first American flag. The story goes on to say that Ross made suggestions to improve a rough sketch of the flag that was presented to her, including the use of the five-pointed star rather than the six-pointed star chosen by Washington, and Washington agreed to her suggestions.

Fun Fact! At the age of 21, she eloped across the Delaware River to Gloucester, New Jersey, and was married at a tavern.

March 6: Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to hold federal office in the United States. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916 as a Republican from Montana, and again in 1940. She introduced legislation to empower women, and even introduced the legislation that later became known as the 19th Amendment.

Fun Fact! Rankin grew up on a farm, working laboriously beside her male counterparts. She once single-handedly built a wooden sidewalk for a building owned by her father!

March 7: Jeane Kirkpatrick

Jeane Kirkpatrick was an American diplomat and political scientist who played a major role in Ronald Reagan’s administration, and who later became the first woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Fun Fact! She was known for the “Kirkpatrick Doctrine,” which advocated supporting authoritarian regimes around the world if they went along with U.S. aims. She believed that they could be led into democracy, the most affluent and fulfilling system of government.

March 8: Clara Barton

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881, at age 59, and led it for the next 23 years. She risked her life to bring supplies and support to solders in the field during the Civil War, and later, opened paths to the new field of volunteer service.

Fun Fact! Clara grew up as more of a tomboy, playing with her male cousins and partaking in rambunctious activities. Her mother decided Clara needed to learn more feminine skills and persuaded her to become a schoolteacher. Even while teaching, Clara was the best at controlling the young boys, as she learned to act like them to make it easier to calm them down.

March 9: Muriel Siebert

Muriel Siebert was known as the “The Woman of Finance” because she was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and was the first woman to head one of the NYSE’s member firms.

Fun Fact! Siebert was an outspoken advocate for women and minorities in finance. She created the Siebert Entrepreneurial Philanthropic Plan which helped firms contribute large sums to charities in their community.

March 10: Clare Boothe Luce

Clare Boothe Luce was the managing editor for Vanity Fair magazine, a front-line European and Asian war journalist in WWII, an acclaimed author and playwright, a two-term U.S. Congresswoman, and the first woman to be Appointed U.S. Ambassador to a major nation.

Fun Fact! In grade school, Clare was teased by her classmates for reading Plato while others read romantic fiction, yet she was recognized in the class yearbook as “our prodigy and our genius.” She won honors for her senior essay on WWI – written and delivered orally in French. Also, March 10 is her birthday!

March 11: Martha Washington

Martha Washington, often known as “Lady Washington,” was married to George Washington, becoming the First Lady of the United States. She spent much of her days at the Revolutionary War winter encampments visiting with the soldiers and keeping morale high.

Fun Fact! After George Washington passed away, Martha signed a deed of manumission for his slaves, declaring them all free in 1801.

March 12: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery, but escaped to make 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 slaves, including family and friends, using the network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. During the American Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army in hopes to have slavery abolished entirely.

Fun Fact! Tubman was the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the Civil War, guiding the raid at Combahee Ferry which liberated more than 700 slaves.

March 13: Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is an iconic symbol of the Civil Rights Movement, playing a pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”

Fun Fact! Rosa Parks co-founded the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation for college-bound high school seniors to which she donated most of her speaker fees.

March 14: Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe was an American poet and author known for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” She was an advocate for abolitionism and women’s suffrage. In 1872, she became the editor of “Woman’s Journal,” a widely-read suffragist magazine, where she documented her travel, her dream of world peace, and the sanctity of motherhood.

Fun Fact! She founded and lead the Association of American Women, an organization which advocated for women’s education.

March 15: Mary Louise Smith

Mary Louise Smith was a women’s rights activist and the first woman to become chair of the Republican National Committee. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush appointed her to the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Fun Fact! in 1964, she was elected national committeewoman for Iowa, a post she held for twenty years.

March 16: Mercy Otis Warren

Mercy Otis Warren was a political writer of the American Revolution. She published poems and plays that attacked royal authority and urged colonists to resist British infringements on colonial rights and liberties. She published an anonymous pamphlet advocating for the Bill of Rights to be included in the Constitution.

Fun Fact! In 1805, she published one of the earliest histories of the American Revolution, which was the first history of the American Revolution published by a woman.

March 17: Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Maine. She was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress, and the first woman to represent Maine. She was a member of the Republican Party, and still to date, is ranked as the longest-serving Republican woman in the Senate.

Fun Fact! She had a strong interest in issues concerning the military and national security. She became the first and only civilian woman to sail on a U.S. Navy ship during WWII.

March 18: Antonia Novello

Antonia Novello served as the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as the Surgeon General of the United States. Novella received countless medals and awards, and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994. During her tenure as Surgeon General, Novello focused her attention on women’s health, children and minorities, and the consequences of underage drinking and smoking.

Fun Fact! Novello stood firmly against federally-financed abortions. In 1989, President Bush announced his selection of Novello, not only because she was well-deserving of the position, but also because of her pro-life position.

March 19: Helen Chenoweth-Hage

Helen Chenoweth-Hage was a Republican politician from Idaho, and the only Republican woman to ever represent that state in Congress. She was considered one of the most conservative members of the House, staunchly opposing government regulation and encouraging school prayer.

Fun Fact! Before entering the political world, Helen developed and managed the Northside Medical Clinic where she initiated a physician recruitment practice for under-served rural communities.

March 20: Yvonne Brown

Yvonne Brown was the first black woman to serve as Mississippi’s mayor, as well as the first in the United States. In June 2001, she won as a Republican against the Democratic incumbent in her 99% Democratic town. As mayor, she increased funding for water, sewer, and street construction and built and improved recreational facilities.

Fun Fact! Yvonne became involved in politics by leading efforts to rehabilitate homes, conduct Bible clubs in backyards, volunteer at food banks, minister to the elderly, and hold free classes and clinics.

March 21: Mary Ludwig Hays

Often referred to as “Molly Pitcher,” Mary Ludwig Hays has gone down in history as the woman who brought water to the troops at the Battle of Monmouth and worked the cannon after her husband was wounded. When her husband, a barber, joined the Continental Army, she followed, offering to wash soldiers’ clothes and offer medical assistance.

Fun Fact! Many of the soldiers described Mary as a “twenty-two-year-old illiterate pregnant woman who smoked and chewed tobacco and swore as well as any of the male soldiers.” She was widely respected for her bravery and offered a generous pension for her heroism and service.

March 22: Abigail Adams

Often considered to have been a Founder of the United States, Abigail Adams was the wife and closest adviser of John Adams. She sent him countless letters during the American Revolutionary War with thoughtful ideas on government and politics.

Fun Fact! Abigail Adams hated slavery and questioned how her friends could be passionate about liberty while depriving slaves the same freedoms. Despite criticisms, she taught a young black man to read and write, saying that her actions shouldn’t be surprising, as blacks are just as human as whites and deserve the same freedoms.

March 23: Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple, famously known as Hollywood’s number one box-office draw as a child actress from 1935 to 1938, was also a businesswoman and diplomat. She was named U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and to Czechoslovakia, and served as Chief of Protocol of the United States. Temple was a shining star and symbol of happiness after the Great Depression and through WWII as a child and adult.

Fun Fact! Temple did it all. Not only was she a loved singer, dancer, and actress, but she also hosted several highly-rated TV and radio shows, served on the boards of prestigious companies, ran for office on several occasions, and represented the U.S. in more ways than one.

March 24: Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement, as well as in the fight to abolish slavery. She and her lifelong friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, founded the New York Women’s State Temperance Society, the Women’s Loyal National League, the American Equal Rights Association, and the National Woman Suffrage Association.

Fun Fact! Anthony was arrested for voting in her hometown in New York. After a public trial and refusing to pay the fine, authorities eventually gave up. The case led to a piece of legislation unofficially known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment.” Nearly 40 years later, it became the 19th Amendment.

March 25: Deborah Sampson

Deborah Sampson was a hero of the American Revolution when she disguised herself as a man and joined the Patriot forces. She was the only woman to earn a full military pension for participation in the Revolutionary army.

Fun Fact! After two accomplished years, Sampson was shot in her thigh and extracted the bullet herself. When she was taken to the hospital, it was revealed that she was a woman in disguise. She was met with great honors and her statue can be found at Mt. Vernon.

March 26: Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer and philosopher most known for her two best-selling novels, “The Fountainhead,” and “Atlas Shrugged,” as well as for developing a philosophical system called Objectivism.

Fun Fact! Rand’s political philosophy emphasized individual rights, including property rights, and she considered laissex-faire capitalism as the only moral social system because it is based on the protection of those rights.

March 27: Golda Meir

Golda Meir was the world’s fourth and Israel’s first and only woman to hold the office of Prime Minister. She has been described as the “Iron Lady,” of Israeli politics. She was one of 24 people to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Her famous quote: “After I signed, I cried. When I studied American history as a schoolgirl and I read about those who signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence, I couldn’t imagine these were real people doing something real. And there I was.”

Fun Fact! Meir graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and worked part-time at the Milwaukee Public Library.

March 28: Dolly Madison

Dolly Madison was the wife of James Madison and did much to define the role of the First Lady. After the White House burned down in 1814, she and her husband moved to the Octagon House where she established the Washington City Female Orphan Asylum. After the White House was rebuilt, she was instrumental in its design and decor.

Fun Fact! During World War II, the Liberty ship SS Dolly Madison was built in Panama City, Florida and named in her honor.

March 29: Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree and is championed for encouraging women to enter the medical profession. In 1851, she opened a small clinic in New York City to treat poor women.

Fun Fact! Blackwell faced discrimination and obstacles in college for believing she could practice medicine. Professors forced her to sit separately from male students and excluded her from labs. She was even shunned for defying her gender role. Despite all this, she graduated first in her class in 1849!

March 30: Elsie Ott

Elsie Ott was the first woman to receive the United States Air Medal for her heroism in determining a way to evacuate the wounded from the front lines during WWII.

Fun Fact! In India, Ott was part of the first ever intercontinental air evacuation. She was assigned the flight with only 24 hours notice, had zero air-evacuation training, and had never flown in a plane before. She served as an in-flight nurse and saved five soldiers.

March 31: Mamie Eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower, married to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was the First Lady. Having married a career military officer, her family moved across the world many times. She was determined to establish a home wherever they went and partook in projects benefiting the communities in which they lived, such as establishing a free hospital for Panamanian women who were racially barred from other hospitals.

Fun Fact! Mamie was very fond of a specific shade of pink, often called “Mamie” pink which kicked off a national trend for pink clothing, housewares, and bathrooms. While she saw her role as a wife and mother as first priority, she encouraged women to enter the field of real estate, partake in investment and purchasing decisions, and build women’s economic power.