Culture & Art

Feb 29, 2016

Inspiring Women Yesterday and Today

March 8, known as International Women's Day to mark women's struggle for labour and social equality. "Yesterday," only a small number of women were influential in society, as was the case of monarchs. Today, they are mostly versatile, talented and true warriors, but only some women are a true inspiration.

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With the exception of monarchs such as Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, there are few historical reports about female achievements in society before the nineteenth century, perhaps because the woman had the role of mother, wife and caregiver. Women have become more active, influential and conquered its place in several areas, such as:

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) - Born in London, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Byron who instilled her love of mathematics and logic, becoming a mathematician and writer. She is recognized for having written the first algorithm to be processed by the analytical engine of Charles Babbage. She developed algorithms that allowed the machine to compute the values ​​of mathematical functions, in addition to publishing a collection of notes on the analytical engine. She is considered the first programmer in history. Reportedly, between 1842/43, she translated an article by the military engineer Luigi Menabrea about the engine, in which she put personal notes containing an algorithm to be processed by machines, which was considered the first computer program.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) - Tuscumbia, in Alabama, United States of America, is the birthplace of this writer, philosopher, lecturer and social activist. She developed extensive work for people with disabilities, as exemplified by the Hellen Keller Center. She was the first person deaf and blind to get the bachelor's degree and her story inspired the movie "The Miracle Worker", directed by Arthur Penn, which recounts the story of how the teacher Anne Sullivan managed to break the isolation by the almost total lack of communication, allowing the girl to grow and learn to communicate.

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) - Born in Manchester, United Kingdom. In History, her name is associated with the struggle for voting rights for middle-class women and was one of the founders of the British movement of suffrage. In 1889, she founded the Franchise League of Women, and in 1903 the Social Union and Women's Policy (WSPU). She succeeded in the right to vote for all English women. 

Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) - Nyeri, Kenya, it was the place of birth of the one that would be the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Descendent of the Kikuyu ethnic group, after completing her studies at the Loreto High School in Limuru, received a scholarship from the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, and continued studying in the United States, becoming the first woman in East Africa to obtain a bachelor's degree in biology. A successful academic career followed, although she became known for fighting for the conservation of forests and the environment, for example, the movement of the Green Belt Pan African, Kenya, an initiative whose aim was to plant 30 million trees. After receiving the Nobel, she became United Nations Peace Messenger.

Angelina Jolie - Born in 1975 in Los Angeles, California. Actress, producer, writer and humanitarian activist. Often referred to as the most beautiful woman in the world, she is also known by her commitment as Goodwill Ambassador of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR), for the work with refugees from Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Pakistan. 

To this list of influential women, many names can be added up: Hypatia, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer, whose murder marked the end of Classical Antiquity, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, missionary, Diana of Wales, who worked against landmines and AIDS, Marie Curie, Nobel of Chemistry and Physics, who developed the theory of radioactivity, among others. The Women's Day was officially adopted by the United Nations, in 1977, in honour of the female achievements, but today it has a more commercial nature.

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