Donning the traditional white graduation gown with angels wings, this Mount senior waves goodbye.
Donning the traditional white graduation gown with angels wings, this Mount senior waves goodbye.
Kelly McDonald

8 Women of Conviction and Compassion

In this tribute to International Women’s Day, Staff Writer, Julia Burdick, offers up eight extraordinary women, strong in their convictions, trailblazers for their time, who changed our world. 

International Women’s Day is not just a day to celebrate the accomplishments of those women who rose through the ranks in their fields; it is a day to remind ourselves to be women of conviction and compassion, no matter the barriers we face.

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Perhaps one of the biggest champions of strong convictions is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. After being appointed to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg dismantled the strict system of gender inequity while personally overcoming sexism. She was the second female Supreme Court justice and first Jewish female justice, marking a new era of perspective for the Supreme Court. Advocate of racial and gender equality, Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked to eliminate gender-based discrimination her whole career while epitomizing grace, poise, and eloquence.
Frida Kahlo.*gelatin silver print.*Oct. 16 / 1932
  • Frida Kahlo: Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who created beautiful depictions of life, death, and identity. Whilst discovering herself through her paintings, Kahlo described the beauty and complexity of womanhood in brilliant colors. She underwent tremendous hardship in her life, including polio and a tragic accident, and defied the social norms and expectations from her early childhood all the way until her death. Despite suffering through chronic pain and depression for a significant portion of her life, Frida Kahlo thrived in her works and left a colorful and inspiring legacy.


  • Megan Rapinoe: Megan Rapinoe helped the US Women’s National Team win two World Cup Championships, an Olympic gold medal, and an Olympic bronze medal, all while fighting fiercely as an activist for gender, LGBTQ+, and voter rights. When she was not blazing a trail on the field, Rapinoe was blazing a trail socially by being open and proud about her sexuality, being one of the few soccer players to do so. She used her popularity and fame to make a difference and outspokenly address social issues. Being very successful women in soccer led Rapinoe and her teammates to fervently fight for equal pay; among other things, they filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer, leading to the brokering of a critical equal pay agreement.


  • Simone Biles: Simone Biles is known for being one of the best gymnasts in the history of the sport, and she has fought hard to have such iconic status. Although her consistency and skills set her apart, what Biles was really praised for was her bright personality, which showed through her stunning performances on vault, beam, floor, and bars. Biles won her first world gymnastics championship all-around title in 2013 and continued to take home gold medal after gold model in competitions, eventually becoming the gymnast with the most world championship medals. Recently, Biles has been open about her mental health, including about a mental block that led her to take a break from her sport. Her return was grander and more successful than ever in 2023 and for someone who was acting as an exceptional inspiration for others while then being a young woman, Biles is a shining example of a Founder.


  • Florence Nightingale: Even in the humblest of positions, positive change can be made, and Florence Nightingale did just that. Turning down a marriage from a gentleman deemed “suitable”, Nightingale pursued her true dream of becoming a nurse and became the founder of modern nursing. Despite her timidity, the “Lady with the Lamp” became a revered public figure in the mid-1800s, and nursing was suddenly viewed as an honorable vocation. Nightingale’s dedication to instituting hygienic practices in hospitals led to the significant decrease in their death tolls. Humble and oftentimes hidden, Florence Nightingale is a leading example of a gentle force of nature that many women were inspired by at such a restrictive time.

  • Saint Joan of Arc: Christian or not, we can all agree that Joan of Arc is an icon. Believing she was under divine guidance, Joan disguised herself as a man and led the French to victory at Orleans during the Hundred Years’ War. Captured by the enemies, she was accused of heresy and several crimes pertaining to her guise. Joan was deemed a danger to the hierarchy because of her open defiance and dedication to her alleged divine visions. Joan’s intense pursuit of her goals in yet another restrictive time goes to show the possibilities of women when we are passionate about a cause.


  • Meryl Streep: Though she is an incredible actress and has a beautiful voice, Meryl Streep goes beyond her career goals to be a passionate advocate for women’s rights and environmentalism. Streep supported pay equality long before such outspokenness was normalized for female celebrities, and raised awareness for environmental issues with the Natural Resource Defense Council.  Her success in the very difficult field of acting and her encouragement of other actresses makes her an excellent role model for those with big dreams.

  • Sojourner Truth: It would be an understatement to say that the Civil War/Reconstruction was a perilous time for Black women. As a strong supporter for abolition, civil and women’s rights, and temperance, Sojourner Truth was daringly outspoken. Truth was a freed slave who became an influential and charismatic speaker. She worked closely with abolitionists and women’s rights activists, continuing to speak nationally. Truth preached revolutionary ideas that the time was not ready to receive while never even learning to read or write. In the words of Sojourner Truth: ”Truth is powerful and it prevails.”

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