In celebration of International Women's Day on March 8, Google's Wednesday Doodle honors 13 trailblazing women from around the world, with the list ranging from scientists to dancers to athletes.
International Women's Day first began in the early 1900s, when 15,000 women in New York City marched in a garment workers' strike to demand better pay, shorter working days, the right to vote, and an end to child labor. In 1909, the Socialist Party of America decided to honor the March 8 strike by creating the first National Woman's Day – and thus, a holiday was born.
Today, International Women's Day is largely a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women around the globe while working toward future equality. Wednesday's Doodle honors a few of the most accomplished women in modern history, all of whom worked tirelessly throughout their lives to make the world a better place.
"Although some of the women showcased in today’s Doodle aren't household names, each made a mark in her own way," says Google in a blog post, noting that all of the women included have been featured in Google Doodles in the past, but often only in their home country.
"[T]oday we're taking the opportunity to share their stories with everyone," the post continues. "After all, that's part of the original spirit of International Women's Day: giving a voice to women who might not otherwise be heard."
The women of the Doodle, in order of appearance:
Ida B. Wells:
Ms. Wells, born in 1862, was an American journalist and activist who advocated for women's and civil rights in her writing. A "fierce opponent" of segregation, Wells was also a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them," she often said.
Lotfia El Nadi
Ms. El Nadi, Egypt's first female pilot, got her pilot's license in 1932, when she was 26 years old. The following year, she became the first Egyptian woman to fly a plane from Cairo to Alexandria.
"I learned to fly because I love to be free," El Nadi said.
Ms. Kahlo, born in Mexico in 1907, first discovered her love for painting at age 18, when she found herself bedridden in a full body cast after a tragic bus accident. Throughout her life, Kahlo fought for the rights of women, Latinos and workers.
"I painted my own reality," she said of her work.
Lina Bo Bardi
Ms. Bo Bardi, a native of Italy, spent much of her life in Brazil, where she established a modernist architecture firm shortly after traveling to South America in 1946. Her best-known works include the São Paulo Museum of Art.
Bo Bardi was also known for her political activism in both Italy and Brazil, and her belief that "architecture and architectural freedom are above all a social issue that must be seen from inside a political structure, not from outside it."
After losing her sight and hearing from a bout of meningitis at the age of 5, Ms. Skorokhodova went on to become one of the most prolific Soviet researchers in the field of deaf and blind communication. Much of her work – including a book titled "How I Perceive, Imagine and Understand the World Around Me" – documented the ways the blind and deaf perceive the world around them.
Ms. Makeba, a singer and civil rights activist, first became known for her musical talents as a 20-something living in Sophiatown, South Africa, in the 1950s. After leaving her native country at the advent of apartheid, Makeba moved to the United States, where she went on to win a Grammy award in 1965. While living in the US, she used her fame to raise awareness of the suffering and oppression of South Africa under apartheid.
"Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and dislocation which she felt for 31 long years," said Nelson Mandela of Makeba after she passed away. "At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us."
On June 18, 1983, astronaut Sally Ride made history as the first American woman in space. After returning to Earth, Ms. Ride became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, where she was struck by the lack of female and minority students working in science and other STEM fields. In 2001, she co-founded Sally Ride Science to create programs and publications to keep young people interested in science.
One of Turkey's most famed archaeologists, Dr. Cambel's accomplishments included preserving some of Turkey’s most important archaeological sites near the Ceyhan River, establishing an outdoor museum at Karatepe, and breaking ground on one of Earth’s oldest known civilizations by discovering a Phoenician alphabet tablet that unlocked the code to Hittite hieroglyphics. She was later awarded the Prince Claus Award for preserving Turkish cultural heritage.
Cambel was also an accomplished fencer: In 1936, she became the first Muslim woman to compete in the Olympics.
Long before the computers of today, Ms. Lovelace earned a name for herself as one of the first computer programmers. An educated mathematician, Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage to improve on Mr. Babbage's designs for the first general-purpose computer, which he called the Analytic Engine. In 1843, Ada published extensive notes on the Analytic Engine, including the first published sequence of operations for a computer.
Born in India in 1904, Ms. Devi, a dancer and choreographer, is credited with reviving the Bharata Natyam, a traditional Indian dance form originally performed in Hindu temples, by infusing it with more modern elements of the music, theater, and costumes she had come across in her travels. Also an animal rights activist, Devi served as the first chair of the Animal Welfare Board of India in 1962.
The first woman to earn a medical degree in Argentina at a time when medical school was off limits to women, Ms. Grierson, a physician, spent her life advocating for human rights and social causes including welfare benefits, maternity leave for working women, and the end of the slave trade. She founded the first nursing school in Argentina in 1890, and served as vice president of the International Council of Women, a suffragist organization.
Grierson was also the first person to suggest that medical service vehicles should have alarm bells – a revelation that led to the invention of modern-day ambulances.
In 1952, Ms. Lee passed the Korean national judicial examination, making her the first female lawyer in Korea. She went on to become Korea's first female judge, the founder of its first legal aid center, and an advocate for human rights, gender equality, and world peace.
In her memoirs, Lee described her life's work as "build[ing] a dam which can produce energy and power to lighten the darkened corners of society and reinvigorate its stalled and rusty engines."
Ms. Lenglen, who first took up tennis in 1910 for health reasons, is credited with transforming the game from a formal, rigid sport to a fun activity accessible to all. As tennis's youngest champion, she "broke down barriers through her passionate play, non-traditional wardrobe, and outspoken stance against the sport’s formalities," Google writes in a Doodle blog post. "With Lenglen’s influence, tennis gained the attention it deserved, and became a sport not just for some, but for all."