March 8th is International Women’s Day! At Spencer’s, we recognize this day as a time to rally for women’s equality, and to reflect on the accomplishments of our female leaders.

When we think of female leaders, some famous names come to mind: Marie Curie, Maya Angelou, and Mother Teresa, to name a few. We’ve heard stories about their remarkable contributions to science, art, and religion, but were they always great? In short, the answer is no. They were resilient.

If you’re reading this on the heels of a failed relationship, a missed promotion, or the worst haircut of your life, you can breathe a sigh of relief! Even the greatest women in history faced their fair share of setbacks on their way to glory.

Beyoncé: Before she became a household name, 12-year-old Beyoncé Knowles appeared on the hit TV talent competition Star Search as a part of a group called Girls Tyme. Shockingly, the group lost! Beyoncé could’ve allowed the disappointing defeat to end her quest for stardom, but she instead continued to pursue her passions. Since then, she’s sold over 118 million records as a solo artist.

Kamala Harris: The 49th vice president of the United States has shattered the glass ceiling to get to where she is today, but her path to success hasn’t been easy. When she was seven, her parents divorced and moved to separate parts of California. When she and her sister visited their father in his Palo Alto neighborhood, other children were forbidden to play with them because of the color of their skin. Kamala Harris is now is the first female, first Black, and first Asian-American to hold the office.

Sheryl Sandberg: She’s earned billionaire status through her leadership at Google and Facebook. In 2012, she became the first woman to join Facebook’s board of directors. In 2015, Sheryl was vacationing in Mexico with her husband Dave when he passed away at just 47 years old. As she worked to process her own grief, Sandberg wrote a book, “Option B,” about building resilience and finding joy in order to help others to cope with loss.

Greta Thunberg: The 18-year-old Swedish environmental activist has become internationally known for her bold position in the fight for climate health. She has bravely faced world leaders to demand that they cut global emissions and reduce their carbon footprint. Thunberg has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD, selective mutism, and depression. While she’s said that her diagnoses have limited her at times, she has called Asperger’s syndrome her “superpower.” In a 2018 TED Talk about climate change, she said that her diagnosis of selective mutism means that she only speaks when necessary, and that “now is one of those moments.”

Wangari Maathai: The environmental, social, and political activist was the first woman in East and Central Africa to become a Doctor of Philosophy, as well as the first African woman to earn the Nobel Prize. In 1960, Maathai was awarded a scholarship to study in the United States. By 1966, she had earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and an MSc degree in biological sciences. Her success in the United States earned her a job as a research assistant at the University College of Nairobi, but when she arrived in Kenya to start the job, she was informed that it had been given to someone else. Maathai attributed this snub to gender and tribal bias, but she didn’t give up. She went on to earn a PhD in veterinary anatomy from the same university.

Sarah Fuller: Sarah Fuller became an overnight celebrity as the first female student-athlete to score in a major conference college football game. The Texas native and longtime soccer player was sidelined by foot and back injuries throughout her first three years at Vanderbilt. When COVID-19 swept through the football team’s regular kickers during her senior year, Fuller received a call from Vanderbilt women’s soccer associate head coach Ken Masuhr inviting her to kick for Vanderbilt against Missouri. Fuller has endured injury and illness, but that hasn’t stopped her from demonstrating that women can play football with the best of ‘em.

These stories remind us that women are powerful. Unfortunately, women and girls around the world continue to experience firsthand gender inequality.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, thank a woman who has had a positive impact on your life. If you are a woman, know that you’re in good company. Fight for more when you’re being undervalued. Speak louder when you’re not being heard. You are a badass!

Our friends at the ACLU are working tirelessly to protect and advance women’s rights. Join the fight for equality in education, economic opportunities, and health by making a donation today.

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