Friday, March 1, 2019

Celebrating Women’s History Month

From the female leaders who dominated the midterm elections to a global collective of women rising together to create change, women aren’t just at the top of their game, they’re at the top of the game—period.

Strong, gutsy, innovative women continue to lead our society by making strides in education, politics, racial equality, environmental justice, the arts, sports, space exploration, and beyond. From yesterday’s trailblazers, like Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low and civil rights champion Rosa Parks, to today’s change-makers, like girls’ education advocate Malala Yousafzai and Girl Scout alum and child marriage opponent Cassie Levesque, women continue to speak up, show up, and make a difference every day.

At Girl Scouts, Women’s History Month is an important time to honor the women creating a better world. Those who came before us, those who live among us, and those who will follow—we celebrate and honor them all.

As Maya Angelou famously said, “Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise.” But honestly, a similar sentiment could have come from any of the 31 dauntless, resilient women we’re recognizing this March. Each day we’ll add an inspiring woman to our list and share her story here.

Read on for a hefty dose of inspiration from just some of the phenomenal women who’ve lifted us through their hard work, vision, and perseverance, and come back each day to learn about other women who’ve made strides, created waves, and changed the minds of people around the world.

Betty Reid Soskin

Activist, artist—and now at 97, perhaps the country’s oldest park ranger—Betty Reid Soskin is truly a national treasure. When she realized the historical focus of California’s Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historic Park would be mainly focused on the experiences of white Americans, she not only brought her memories from working at the all-black union hall during World War II to the table, but also stood up for Japanese Americans held at internment camps and others whose stories had been muted. Because of her voice, many more voices were amplified and preserved for generations to come. She has given us a wake up call for representation and is an inspiration to anyone striving to make the world a better place. Betty has written a memoir, Sign My Name to Freedom, and is the subject of two upcoming documentaries.

Young women of March for Our Lives

On March 24, 2018, Emma González, Edna Chavez, Sarah Chadwick, Delaney Tarr, Jaclyn Corin, Aalayah Eastmond, and Samantha Fuentes—along with many of their amazing male and female classmates—lead one of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history following the horrific shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Their bravery in speaking out in the wake of extreme trauma and their passion for protecting young people’s rights to attend school safely inspired between 1.2 and 2 million people to take to the streets. These young women are proof that when girls use their voices, the world will take note.


A legendary figure in the American West, Sacagawea served as a guide and interpreter for Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition to explore the land of the Louisiana Purchase. Her knowledge and leadership helped the famed explorers survive harsh winters and hunger, among other challenges they faced on a rough journey.

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin, a Jewish woman who grew up in wartime Europe, is an unsung pioneer in scientific research. Her work was pivotal in discovering the structure of DNA. Unfortunately, she was not initially given credit for her contributions, and the world did not learn about her groundbreaking efforts until after her death in 1958.

Malala Yousafzai

The youngest Nobel laureate ever, Malala survived an attack by a Taliban gunman on her way to school in Pakistan when she was 11. She has since become a leading advocate for girls’ education, inspiring millions around the world. Her immense courage shines through in her philosophy: “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

Marie Curie

Many people know Marie Curie for being the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and the first person—of either gender—to win it for a second time. What she did to earn those recognitions is nothing but incredible. Her scientific research lead to life-saving x-ray technologies, including the use of x-ray in surgery. She drove an x-ray equipped ambulance to the front lines during World War I and served as head of radiological services for the International Red Cross.

Ada Deer

Ada Deer, a member of the Menominee tribe, made a name for herself as an unflagging advocate for Native American rights and tribal governments. After elevating the federal status of her own tribe and earning the respect of tribes and tribal councils across the country, Ada became the first woman appointed as assistant secretary of the interior and to serve as head of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Women of USA Gymnastics

These young women are known for their fearlessness on and off the mat. They’ve not only broken world records in gymnastics, but courageously stood up against sexual abuse and worked to dismantle the system that enabled it. They’ve shown girls and women around the world that there’s real power in raising our voices, using our experiences to change the world, and standing by our sisters in times of struggle.

Junko Tabei

Outdoor adventurer Junko Tabei was not only the first woman to climb Mount Everest, but was also the first woman to reach the highest peak on every continent. Later in life, she became a powerful advocate for the environment and was named director of the preservation organization Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa

The first Latina astronaut to go to space, Dr. Ellen Ochoa is the veteran of four space flights and has logged nearly 1,000 hours in space. Her most well known flight is the nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery to study the Earth's ozone layer. Today, she is the director of the NASA's Johnson Space Center and a true role model for young people everywhere.

Wilma Pearl Mankiller

Proud of her Native American heritage and passionate about caring for the future generations of her community, Wilma Pearl Mankiller made history when she became the first woman elected as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Through her career, she was an agent for change and helped make drastic improvements to the health care and education systems within the Cherokee Nation, and helped raise visibility for its people as a whole. In 1998, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her leadership and activism to better the lives of Native Americans.

#MeToo and #TimesUp

Hashtag movements have been dismissed by some, but there’s no stopping the power of #MeToo and #TimesUp. It may have taken over a decade for community organizer Tarana Burke’s phrase “Me Too” to catch on, but once it did, a groundswell of women using the hashtag to shine a light on the epidemic of sexual abuse shook the world, sparked conversations, and opened the door to meaningful societal change. One concrete achievement to come out of #MeToo is the Time’s Up movement. Founded by Hollywood celebrities, this organization supports and funds lower income women as they take a stand against sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, and advocates for gender parity and overall diversity in a variety of professional fields. To date, Time’s Up has raised more than $21 million for their legal defense fund.

Sylvia Acevedo

A life-long Girl Scout, Sylvia Acevedo was appointed CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA in May 2017. Her bold initiatives have underscored the organization’s commitment to cutting-edge, research-backed, and girl-centered programming that ensures all girls can reach their true potential. Sylvia has been recognized widely for her accomplishments in STEM and business, for her education advocacy, and for her work to bring more girls into the STEM pipeline. She is the author of Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist, a memoir for middle school students written to inspire them to live the life of their dreams.

Women of the Supreme Court

Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor broke gender barriers in the nation’s highest court, but that’s only part of what makes them inspiring role models. Each justice is a change-maker in her own right; Ginsburg, for instance, played a major role in the Supreme Court’s rulings against gender discrimination, long before she was appointed to the court, and Sotomayor fought against institutional discrimination as a student at Princeton University.

Dolores Huerta

This proud Girl Scout alum’s work to improve social and economic conditions for farm workers, immigrants, and women led to the founding of the United Farm Workers, through which Dolores fought for better working conditions and benefits to cover unemployment and healthcare. In 1993, Dolores was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

The Women of the 116th Congress 

In 2018, not only did a record number of women run for public office, the country witnessed the largest contingent of female leaders elected to Congress. Today, almost 100 years after the first women were granted the right to vote, more than 1 in 4 seats of Congress are filled by women. We’re proud to say sixty percent of these extraordinary women are Girl Scout alum, continuing their work to build a better world for all of us.

Josephine Holloway

Josephine Holloway was one of the first African-American Girl Scout troop leaders. In 1933, she started an unofficial Girl Scout troop for her daughter and other African-American girls in her Nashville neighborhood. Nine years later, after rapid growth and interest in these troops, the council recognized them as an official part of the organization and Josephine was hired as a local field advisor. She was instrumental in the desegregation of Girl Scout troops, which began in 1951—a full 13 years before U.S. schools were integrated.

Cassandra Levesque

As a Gold Award Girl Scout, Cassandra Levesque changed a law in her state to protect children from child marriage. Less than one year later, she ran for public office in New Hampshire and was elected to the State House of Representatives. At age 19, she is the youngest female representative to be elected in the 2018 election cycle, and has received national attention as a young leader raising her voice.

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland broke barriers as the first African-American woman to be named a principal dancer in the world-renowned American Ballet Theater. Off-stage, Misty’s role model skills are also en-pointe: she served on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, mentors young dancers of color, and is an outspoken advocate for representation and diversity in the ballet world.

Maya Lin

When she was just 21, Maya Lin catapulted into the art world when she submitted the winning design in a national competition for what would become an iconic and moving landmark—the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. She went on to design the Civil Rights Memorial in Alabama and the Museum for Chinese in America in New York. An environmentalist and activist, Maya uses her artwork to explore nature and increase awareness to habitat loss and biodiversity. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2009 and Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

Rosa Parks

Refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger on an Alabama city bus in 1955, Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement. She was arrested and lost her job, but this fearless fighter and lifelong advocate for change helped start a revolution that eventually outlawed segregation on public buses.

Helen Keller

A courageous champion for the blind and deaf, Helen changed public perception of what people with different abilities can achieve: she visited 39 countries across five continents, published 14 books, and co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920. She traversed the U.S. and the world to advocate for schools, rehabilitation centers, and other resources to support people with vision loss and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

Nadia Murad

A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and human rights activist, Nadia Murad fights for survivors of sexual violence. A member of the Yazidi minority, she was kidnapped by ISIS from her home in Iraq and held for months against her will in Syria. Nadia lends the weight of her experience to her testimony, urging world leaders to stand against violence against women as a weapon of war.

Amelia Earhart
As a girl, Amelia Earhart collected newspaper clippings about women making waves in male-dominated fields, not knowing that one day she would defy gender stereotypes on a huge scale herself. She became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as an outspoken advocate for women in aviation. Her legacy as a dreamer and doer continues to inspire us all today.

Katherine Johnson

Born in 1918, when African-American people had few rights—Katherine Johnson went on to be one of the most important mathematicians in history. Her brilliant calculations helped launch NASA missions into space and then to the moon, giving the United States a leg up in the Space Race. Katherine’s accomplishments were featured in the book and film Hidden Figures, she is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and this year, a major NASA facility was named in her honor.

Serena Williams

Girl Scout alum and tennis phenom Serena Williams holds the record for most Grand Slam singles in the Open Era, has four Olympic gold medals, launched her own clothing line, has written about the gender pay gap in Fortune magazine, and is an advocate for girls everywhere. Oh, and she’s done all of this while fighting both racism and sexism. Some call her the greatest athlete of all time. We’re not arguing.

Juliette Gordon Low

In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low announced, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” That was the start of Girl Scouts, which became and remains the premier leadership organization for girls and young women. Her legacy lives on through the millions of Girl Scouts and Girl Scout alums who continue to lead, innovate, and advocate to make the world a better place.