50 Years of Women’s Progress

50 Years of Women’s Progress
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It is hard to believe that 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first woman running in the Boston Marathon. She will run that 2017 Boston Marathon as well – 50 years later! Thinking about her now 50 years of effort to get women around the world to run made me wonder about other women who had dedicated half a century to their passion. All of the women featured in this blog have been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. The first Hero for the Planet by Time Magazine, today she serves as explorer in residence for National Geographic.

____ 2. For over fifty years, she dedicated herself to the cause of women’s rights.

____ 3. A leader of the feminist movement who co-founded Ms. Magazine.

____ 4. Her sign up form for the 1967 Boston Marathon contained her initials – the way she always referred to herself – and not her first name, so it was not obvious that she was a woman.

____ 5. An escaped slave, she led an estimated 300 people to freedom.

____ 6. She and six sisters in the Order of St. Francis relocated to Hawaii to care for victims of leprosy.

____ 7. She organized the Delano Grape Strike in 1965 that led to better conditions for migrant workers in the agricultural fields of California.

A. Harriet Tubman

B. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

C. Saint Marianne Cope

D. Dolores Huerta

E. Gloria Steinem

F. Sylvia Earle

G. Kathrine Switzer

The woman who will be pictured on the front of the $20 bill, escaped slave Harriet Tubman made numerous trips back to the South to rescue an estimated 300 people from slavery. A strong advocate for the abolition of slavery, Tubman then served as a spy, scout and nurse during the Civil War. In addition, she became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the War. After the War was over, Tubman dedicated herself to women’s suffrage and established a home for aging and indigent African-Americans.

For more than 50 years Elizabeth Cady Stanton dedicated herself to the cause of women’s rights. A key organizer of the first Women’s Rights Convention, held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, Stanton drafted the Declaration of Sentiments – the document issued as a result of that convention calling for women’s enfranchisement and other rights for women. Her partnership with Susan B. Anthony furthered women’s rights and helped sustain the women’s suffrage movement. Her many writings included The Women’s Bible and three volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage.

The first Franciscan woman to be canonized as a saint, Saint Marianne Cope dedicated her life to health care. Saint Cope was instrumental in opening two hospitals in central New York. Upon her receipt of a letter from the King of Hawaii, she and six sisters of the Order of St. Francis journeyed to Hawaii to care for individuals with leprosy. Her promise to the sisters was that none of them would contract leprosy; a promise that came true. On Hawaii, she opened a hospital to care for families of the leprosy patients and later managed Maui’s first general hospital. She was canonized in 2012.

A co-founder of a labor union today that is called the United Farm Workers, Dolores Huerta is active in her 80s seeking social justice for farm workers, women and children. Trained and working as a teacher, she left to become a labor organizer to improve the living conditions of the students who were coming to her classes. She directed the Delano Grape strike in 1965 that led to better working conditions for the migrant workers who toiled in the fields. The recipient of many awards, Huerta established her foundation to work for social justice through systemic and structural transformation.

A leader of the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Gloria Steinem co-founded Ms. Magazine in 1972. She helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group that works to increase the number of women elected and appointed at state and national levels. A writer, speaker, political activist, and feminist organizer, Steinem co-founded the Women’s Media Center in 2005. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and many other awards, today Steinem still works for women’s equality.

Labeled “Her Deepness,” marine biologist and oceanographer Sylvia Earle is dedicated to saving the world’s oceans. Earle has logged more than 7,000 hours underwater and led the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite project in the 1970s. The first female chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earle has set a solo depth record to 1,000 meters. Named the first Hero for the Planet by Time magazine in 1998, today she serves as explorer-in-residence for National Geographic.

When K.V. Switzer filled out her signup form for the 1967 Boston Marathon, she wasn’t being subversive, she always filled out forms as K.V. since she believed her first name – Kathrine – had been misspelled on her birth certificate. No woman had ever run the Boston Marathon before. Race officials were horrified to see her running and tried to physically eject her from the race (famously captured by photographers sitting in the press stands with race officials). Switzer finished the marathon and became determined to see that women around the world ran – working for years to successfully get the women’s marathon as an Olympic event. Today, her clothing line, 261 Fearless, is named after her Boston Marathon bib number. Switzer will run the Boston Marathon in 2017, with a team of women, in celebration of her significant accomplishment those 50 years ago.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women who strove for 50 years or more for their passion and resulting women’s progress are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am proud to tell their stories and help write them back into history.

(Answers 1-F, 2-B, 3-E, 4-G, 5-A, 6-C, 7-D)

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