Today is International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and a call for gender parity in the world. International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over a century, beginning in 1908, where 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. Then, on February 28, 1909, the first National Woman's Day was observed across the United States. (Coincidentally, February 28 is also Mary Lyon’s birthday, whose contributions to women’s education and empowerment are certainly well known!)
This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange, one that resonates deeply within our community. Over Mount Holyoke’s almost 180 year history, we have seen thousands of changemakers pass through our gates. Frances Perkins (class of 1902) was the first woman to hold a US cabinet post and a champion of economic justice and security for all Americans, playing a key role writing New Deal legislation. Gabrielle Gregg ’08, a fashion designer and celebrated blogger, is pushing the fashion industry to expand its definition of beauty. Elli Kaplan ’93, co-founder and CEO of Neurotrack, is leading a healthcare startup that created a five-minute online assessment to predict the risk of age-related cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s. Sajia Darwish ’18, a current junior opened the Baale Parwaz Library (BPL) this summer in Kabul, Afghanistan to support literacy and empower women in her country.
In ways large and small, our alumnae, students, faculty, and staff have been leading change within their communities and around the world. This International Women’s Day, we would like to celebrate the many Mount Holyoke women who are boldly leading change in their communities. Please share with us your favorite changemaker (and why), or your own story of leading change, and we will share it on our blog.