A Round-Up of Women's History Month!

A Round-Up of Women's History Month!

This past Women’s History Month, Recolor featured some of the incredible women of the past in our illustrations. They were accompanied by short summaries of their exploits in the app, but here we can go into a little more detail!

Susan La Flesche was an Omaha woman who graduated as valedictorian of her class - from the first medical school established for women in the USA.

When Susan was very young, she helped care for a sick person. A white doctor was called for, but the doctor said he would be there shortly. They called for him four times, but he never came, and the patient died. Susan later said it was that experience which made her determined to be a doctor. And she did it - she was the first Native American woman to get a medical degree. When she returned to the Omaha reservation from university, she was so popular and successful a doctor, the white doctor assigned to the reservation quit! That left Susan as the only doctor to care for over 1000 people. Often, she had to be the one to go to her patients, journeys that sometimes risked her life. She dedicated herself to health reforms for her people, and before she died achieved her life’s dream of opening a hospital within the reservation.

‘Trooper’ Jane Ingilby fought in the English Civil War in the 1600s.

Jane wore full armor in the Battle of Marston Moor, even though fighting and wearing men’s clothes were illegal for women at the time. But she earned the name ‘Trooper Jane’ when, in the aftermath of the battle, she held Oliver Cromwell at gunpoint for an entire night, saving both her own life and her brother’s.

Mah Laqa Bai was an Urdu poet in India who lived from 1768 to 1824. She was the first woman to publish a diwan (a collection of poems).

She was a major social influencer and important philanthropist, orchestrating political events, building community buildings, and funding the education of girls and homeless women. She was also an excellent horse-rider and archer, and her intelligence was so prized, she gave military advice to generals in three wars – wars in which she also fought, in men’s clothes using the bow and the javelin. When she died, she left her immense fortune to the homeless women she had worked so hard to help.

Fatima Al-Fihri founded the world’s first university in 859, in Morocco – the University of al-Qarawiyyin.

She and her family were immigrants to Morocco, originally from Tunisia, and although not much is known about her early life, we do know her family believed strongly in education for women. Both Fatima and her sister were well-educated, and when their father died, Fatima inherited his fortune. In wanting to give back to her community, Fatima decided that a place for higher learning was needed, and she oversaw the design and construction herself. Universities as institutions wouldn’t exist without her trailblazing, and the al-Qarawiyyin University was not just the first: it’s also the longest continually-operating educational institution in the world.

Amelia Earhart is famous for being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic – but she set a whole bunch of other records too!

She was the first person to fly the Atlantic solo, set the altitude record for an autogyro (a kind of early helicopter), and earned the speed record for east-to-west flight from Oakland (in California) to Honolulu (Hawaii) – and those were only a few of her accomplishments!

Lee Tai-Young was the first woman to attend Seol National University in Korea, and later the first woman to pass the infamously difficult law exam to become the country’s first female lawyer.

She founded Korea’s first legal aide center, and her law practice became the Women’s Legal Counselling Center, which helped poor women with their legal issues. Lee Tai-Young worked for women’s rights her entire life; her famous motto was ‘No society can or will prosper without the cooperation of women.’ As well as helping to change laws for women in her own country, she also traveled the world to campaign for peace – she was even granted the Asian Peace Prize (the Ramón Magsaysay Award) for her efforts.

Qiu Jin was a Chinese early feminist and a revolutionary, a poet and a martyr, often described as ‘China’s Joan of Arc’.

Although society at the time considered a women’s place as being in the home, Qui Jin defied all social norms. She wore men’s clothes, unbound her feet, and even left her family to study abroad. One of her poems begins with the powerful lines ‘Don’t tell me women / are not the stuff of heroes’, and she proved her own heroism with her exploits. She fought fiercely for women’s liberation and societal change, sometimes with her poetry and sometimes with the sword (with which she was excellent). Called ‘Jianhu Nüxia’ (Woman Knight of Mirror Lake) she remains an honored figure to this day.

Mary Somerville was a Scottish scientist and polymath.

Somerville’s was the first signature on the petition to the British parliament to give women the right to vote, and as a passionate student of astronomy, she worked out and predicted the existence of the planet Neptune years before it was discovered. When she died, her obituary read ‘Whatever difficulty we might experience in the middle of the nineteenth century in choosing a king of science, there could be no question whatever as to the queen of science.’

In 1919, America passed the 19th Amendment after years of campaigning by the Women’s Suffrage movement.

The Amendment gave white women the vote, but not women of color. It took another half-century of struggle before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, finally giving the vote to all American women – Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American included.

The last picture in our collection honors all the young women who have raised their voices for climate change activism – not just Greta Thunberg, but also Autumn Peltier, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Leah Namugerwa, Mari Copeny, and Nina Gualinga, among many, many incredible others.

They all deserve all of our acclaim and support, and if their names are unfamiliar to you, take some time to look them up. You won’t be disappointed!

We hope you've all enjoyed learning about these incredible women with us! You can find all their pictures in the Recolor app now.