Clara Barton was a nurse who dedicated her life to humanitarian efforts and founded the American Red Cross. Clara was born in 1821 and spent most of her early years with her parents on a farm. In the year 1838 she started teaching in a number of schools in Canada as well as in West Georgia where she had exemplary performance. She furthered her education in writing and languages at Clinton Liberal Institute in New York. She became the first person to open a free school in New Jersey, which had high growth in attendance under her leadership. She later left out of frustration because the board hired a man as the head of the school instead of her.
Clara worked as a clerk in the US Patent Office from 1855 where she faced many frustrations because of being a woman. She was among the pioneer women to hold a government job in the US. After her father’s death, Clara worked with societies that offered help inform of sending bandages, food and clothing during the civil war. In 1862,Clara worked in the battle field where she distributed stores, cleaned field hospitals, served food and dressed wounded soldiers. In 1864, she was appointed as the ‘lady in charge’ of the hospitals at the front of the Army,( Ardalan 20).
After the war in 1869, Clara travelled to Geneva, where she was informed about the Red Cross and about the call for the formation of neutral based national societies that would voluntarily provide relief. Upon her return, she worked on the project of the American Red Cross, which was met with opposition. She managed to convince the government that the society could respond to other calamities not only wars,( Ardalan 15). She became the president of the society in 1881 and resigned in 1904.Clara founded the National First Aid Society after her resignation.
Marie Curie was a physicist and chemist born in 1867 in Poland and later naturalized in France. In her early years, she studied at the boarding school of J. Sikorska in her home town of Warsaw. She later got involved with the Clandestine Flying University, which was the only institution of higher learning that admitted women. In 1891, Marie moved to Paris and started her studies in physics, chemistry and mathematics at the University of Paris. Her first degree was in the field of physics, and her second degree was in 1894.Marie began her scientific career with an investigation of the magnetic properties of various steel.
In 1898, Marie published her work on Uranium and Thorium,( Lulia and Radu 4). Marie and her husband published a paper on the existence of elements which they named Polonium and Radium. In 1910, Marie isolated pure radium. Marie and her husband continued with their research on radioactivity and even documented that diseased tumor- forming cells were destroyed faster than healthy cells when exposed to radium,(Lulia and Radu 4). Marie became the first woman faculty member at the Ecole Normale Superieure; she was later awarded her doctorate degree in 1903.
She won the Nobel Prize in Physics together with Pierre and Becquerel in 1903.In 1906, she became the chair of the physics department at the University of Paris following her husband’s death, (Lulia and Radu 6). She later became the head of the Radium Institute and was also the first woman to be elected into the French Academy of Sciences in 1962 despite heavy opposition. She got her another Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1911, making her a Nobel laureate in two fields. She developed mobile radiological vehicles and radiological units in field hospitals to assist wounded soldiers, (Lulia and Radu 7). She dedicated her time in furthering the research on radium through talks and raising funds abroad.
Susan Brownell Anthony was born in 1820 in Massachusetts. She was a civil rights leader who played a major role in introducing women’s suffrage into the US. She had to be homeschooled because teachers in the local district school had an issue with her gender. Following the panic and economic depression from 1837, Susan began her teaching career in 1839 at Eunice Kenyon’s Friends Seminary. She later taught at Canajoharie Academy in 1846 and even held the leadership position of headmistress of the Female department. She faced discriminatory pay based on her gender just like all women employees at the time.
Susan resigned from teaching and in 1849 became the secretary for the Daughters of Temperance. It was while here that she spoke out against alcohol abuse. In 1851, Susan and her friend Stanton traversed the US giving speeches on women rights. They also tried to persuade the government that society should treat women and men equally. Susan became the president of the National Women’s Rights Convention in 1858.In 1866, the American Equal Rights Association was founded during the National Women’s Right Convention. In 1868,Susan co-founded the women’s rights weekly journal The Revolution.
In 1872,Susan voted in the presidential elections, and she was arrested shortly after,(Gordon 25). The trial gave her a platform to spread her arguments to a wider audience, and she travelled widely delivering speeches. In 1869, she co- founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Although Susan died before the American women could be allowed to vote, her work as a women’s right activist contributed a great deal to the passage of the Nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which affirmed women’s right to vote in 1920.
Teresa of Calcutta was an Indian Roman Catholic Religious Sister born in 1910.She began her life as a missionary when she left home at the age of eighteen and joined the Sisters of Loreto. She devoted most of her time there teaching English to school children in India at the St. Teresa’s School.Her first vows as a nun were taken in 1931 which was followed by her solemn vows in 1937.She had a successful career in teaching and 1944; she became the schools’ headmistress while still residing in the convent nearby.
In 1946, Teresa experienced an inner call to leave the convent and help the poor while leaving among them, (Murthy 10). In 1948, she began her work in the slums where she started school in Motijhil and soon after started tending to the needs of destitute and the starving. This led to the foundation of a new religious community that was aimed at helping the poorest among the poor. She received permission from the Vatican in 1950 and began the diocesan congregation that later became the Missionaries of Charity, (Murthy 13). The congregation grew, and they run orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers worldwide.
The Mother Teresa’s Missions of Charity continued to grow into over 517 missions and expanded into over 100 countries. The missions cared for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, victims of floods, epidemic, famine, alcoholics homeless, poor and all manner of sicknesses. The Missions cared for all people in the world regardless of their religious beliefs or race. Mother Teresa has received much recognition for her work in the world.
Emmeline Pankhurst was a political activist born in Britain in 1858.She was introduced by her parents to the women’s suffrage movement at the age of eight; She attended schooled in Paris where she studied chemistry, bookkeeping as well as other traditional feminine arts. In 1879, she got married to Richard Pankhurst, who was outspoken about freedom of speech, education and Women’s suffrage. Although she was involved in taking care of her family, Emmeline was active in politics in the Women’s Suffrage society. Emmeline was involved in the founding of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1888.
In 1893, she was in Manchester with her family and became active with the Women’s Liberal Federation. She later resigned and joined the Independent labor party where she served and became the Poor Law Guardian. In 1903, she founded the Women’s Social and Political Union which was in opposition with most political parties at the time. The union resulted to arson of smashing windows and assorting police officers making them very unpopular. Emmeline together with her daughters who had joined her were arrested several times and sentenced to imprisonment where they staged hunger strikes.
During the First World War, Emmeline and her daughter Christabel supported the British Government as they fought against the Germans. All the women were involved in industrial production to aid in the war. The union also encouraged young men to engage in the war and defend their country. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act saw women over 30 years being granted votes. The work of Emmeline had a significant contribution to this, and though she had just passed away, the age was later pushed down to 21 years in 1928.
Angela Merkel is a German politician born in 1954.She is the leader of the Christian Democratic Union and has been the Chancellor of Germany since the year 2005.Angela received her education at Templin and also at the University of Leipzig where she studied physics. In 1978, she started her work and studies at the Central Institute for physical Chemistry where she stayed until 1990, and received her doctorate degree. In 1989,she joined politics and became a member and deputy spokesperson of the Democratic Awakening (Kornelius 20).
In 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag from Stralsund during the first post-reunification general elections. She became the minister for Women and Youth and in 1994,minister for the Environment and Nuclear safety,(Kornelius 30) In 1998, she became the Secretary General of her party when they lost the elections. She continued as the opposition leader amongst great opposition some of which stemmed from inside her party. In the 2002 elections, she supported Edmund Stoiber to challenge the Chancellor. He lost the elections, and Angela became the leader of the conservative opposition.
In 2005, Angela won the nomination of her party as the challenger to the Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. After the elections, Angela’s party and Schroder’s party both claimed victory and demanded the chancellorship. After negotiations Angela, became the Chancellor of Germany in a grand coalition. She was later reelected in 2009 and also in 2013 as the Chancellor of Germany. She has addressed many issues in Germany including unemployment and economic growth. She has received awards and recognition not only from her country but the whole world.
- Ardalan, Christine. “Clara Barton’s 1898 Battles In Cuba: A Reexamination of Her
Nursing Contributions.” Florida Atlantic Comparative Studies Journal 12 (2010).
- Kornelius, Stefan. Angela Merkel: The Chancellor and Her World. Germany: Hoffmann und Campe Verlag, 2013.
- Murthy, Srinivasa. Mother Teresa and India.USA: Long Beach Publications, 1983.
- Gordon, Ann.”The Trial of Susan B. Anthony.”Federal Judicial History Office, 2005.
- Lulia, Rasinar and Radu Gadei.”Marie Curie:Life and achievements.” 1993.