Sometimes when you sit back and actually think about how far we have come as a society, it really blows your mind. The amount of oppression that some people faced even just 50 years ago, is similar to some events that are happening today. One specific group of people who were wrongly oppressed greatly were women. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920, and even then, people didn’t always take their opinions seriously. But in any oppressed group, you’ll have a few people who truly stand out and really don’t care what other people think. They are true pioneers because they are willing to stand up and make a change, which in the end only makes our society better. Here is an amazing list of 55 inspirational women that stood up and fought for change. It’s crazy to think about what it would be like if they didn’t take that first terrifying and bold step.
1. Anna Fisher (1984) – She was an American Astronaut, but that was not what set her apart. She was actually the first woman who was also a mother to go up into space. She is currently the oldest active American astronaut as well.
2. Pistol Packin’ Mamas (1941 – 1945) – This group of women pilots are pictured leaving their B-17, also known as Pistol Packin’ Mama.
3. Afghan Women Visiting The Library (1950s) – Before the Taliban took over, Afghan women were allowed to visit the library before school or work. Because of the Taliban rule, women are struggling to receive equal rights.
4. Amelia Earhart (1928) – She was an aviator who was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The picture above was taken after just she landed after her record-breaking journey.
5. American Nurses In Normandy (1944) – The Army Nurse Corps had 59,000 nurses during World War II. Here is a picture of some of them landing on the beaches in Normandy.
6. Annette Kellerman (1907) – Annette Kellerman was an actress and a professional swimmer. In the picture above, she is promoting women’s rights in hopes of allowing them to wear a one-piece swimsuit. She was also arrested for indecency.
7. Annie Lumpkins (1961) – Annie Lumpkins was a Freedom Rider who was arrested and can be seen here at the Little Rock City Jail. Freedom Riders are known for riding buses into segregated states in the United States, challenging the non-enforcement of the court rulings, stating that segregated public buses were unconstitutional.
8. Armenian Woman Standing Guard (1990) – This 106-year-old Armenia woman is protecting her home and belongings with her AK-47.
9. Austrian Mother (1947) – This desperate mother held a picture of her son while the prisoners of war returned, in hopes of finding her child.
10. Woman On The Beach (1950s) – While this may not seem like a risqué picture nowadays, it shows how far we’ve come as far as bathing suits go, although vintage style suits are making a comeback.
11. Captain Nieves Fernandez (1944) – Fernandez was a Filipino guerrilla, who is pictured above showing a US soldier how she killed Japanese soldiers when they invaded the Philippines.
12. Ice Block Delivery Women (1918) – When the male workers enlisted in the military for the war, it left a lot of manual labor jobs open. Because women weren’t enlisted, they were forced to pick up the slack for these business. One of the many jobs they had to fill were ice block delivery drivers.
13. Dutch Woman With German Soldier (1944) – After her husband was captured by Allied soldiers, this Dutch woman stayed with her husband. She even went as far as following him into captivity.
14. Ellen O’Neal (1976) – When skateboarding gained popularity in the 1970s, it was a sport made up of mostly men. Ellen O’Neal was one of the first female professional skaters.
15. Elspeth Beard (1980s) – Her goal was to be the first Englishwoman to circumnavigate the world on motorcycle. She managed to accomplish this enormous feat, it took a total of 3 years.
16. Emmeline Pankhurst (1914) – She was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement, who fought for women’s voting rights. Above you can see her being arrested outside of Buckingham Palace.
17. Erika (1956) – At the time of this picture, Erika was only 15 years old. She fought against the Soviet Union to maintain her freedom in Hungary. She ended up turning in the gun and became a volunteer for the Red Cross. Unfortunately she was killed a few months after this picture was taken while trying to rescue a fallen soldier.
18. Female Mason (1900) – While sitting upon Berlin’s old city hall tower, this female mason is hard at work.
19. Soviet 3rd Shock Army (1945) – These female snipers were members of the Soviet 3rd Shock Army. Their unit has 775 confirmed kills.
20. Florence Thompson (1936) – We’ve all seen this picture many, many times. Florence Thompson was a pea-picker during the Dust Bowl. While the picture is definitely iconic, her children said that no matter how bad things were, Florence always made sure they had something to eat. Even if this meant that she went without.
21. Gertrude Ederle (1926) – She was the first woman to swim across the English Channel, which is approximately 30-40 miles depending on the tide.
22. Hell’s Angels (1973) – The Hell’s Angels motorcycle club isn’t just for men. Pictured above are a few female members of the Hell’s Angels.
23. Jeanne Manford (1972) – Jeanne Manford showed her support for her gay son, who is to her right, during a pride parade. She didn’t stop here though. Jeanne Manford ended up founding PFLAG International, which is the largest LGBTQ advocacy group.
24. Kathrine Switzer (1967) – Kathrine was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. During the marathon, organizers actually tried to stop her from participating.
25. Komako Kimura (1917) – Kimura was a Japanese suffragist who marched for women’s rights along with other suffragists. This photo has been said to be a starting point for discussion about cross-cultural exchange and issues with a global appeal.
26. Leola N. King (1918) – King was America’s first traffic officer. In the picture above, she is directing traffic in Washington D.C.
27. Lockheed Employee (1944) – In the picture above, you can see a woman working on a P-38 Lightning. Women working as mechanics was not an uncommon occurrence during the war.
28. A Woman Drinking Tea (1940) – This woman is drinking a cup of tea after the London Blitz. During this time, it’s estimated that approximately 43,000 people died.
29. Los Angeles Police Officer (1971) – This officer created a makeshift bed out of a filing drawer for an abandoned child.
30. Margaret Bourke-White (1934) – Bourke-White was a photographer who pushed the boundaries. Here she is pictured sitting on top of the Chrysler Building.
31. Margaret Hamilton (1969) – At first this looks like a giant pile of books or game of Jenga gone bad. No, this is the code that Margaret Hamilton wrote by hand, which is the same code that took humans to the moon.
32. Marina Ginesta (1936) – She was a 17-year-old who worked as a reporter and also a translator during the Spanish Civil War. Marina is pictured here on the rooftop of the Hotel Colon in Barcelona, Spain.
33. Maud Wagner (1907) – Maud Wagner was the first well-known female tattoo artist in the United States.
34. Muslim Woman (1941) – In the photo above, you can see a Muslim woman using her veil to cover the yellow star of her Jewish neighbor. This protected her neighbor from persecution in Sarajevo, which was formerly Yugoslavia.
35. Parisian Mothers (1944) – These mothers are seen using their bodies to protect the children from a German sniper.
36. Pearl Harbor Volunteers (1941 – 1945) – These women volunteers are shown participating in a firefighter exercise on Pearl Harbor.
37. Railroad Workers (1943) – These women worked for the railroad and can be seen pictured above eating lunch. Many of these women were mothers and wives, supporting their families during World War II while their husbands were deployed.
38. Red Cross Nurse (1917) – This nurse is seen writing down the last words of a British soldier while at war.
39. Roller Derby Skaters (1950) – The revival of roller derby has brought the sport out into the public a little bit more, but these roller derby skaters were skating a competition in the 1950’s in New York.
40. Sabiha Gokcen (date unknown) – She was the first female fighter pilot for Turkeys military.
41. Samurai Warrior (Late 1800s) – This samurai warrior poses for a very rare picture. Husbands were usually away at battle, so samurai women were in charge of protecting the children and their home from enemies.
42. Sarla Thakral (1936) – At the age of 21, she was the first Indian woman to earn a pilot’s license. Her first task at hand was flying a Gypsy Moth all by herself.
43. Simone Segouin (1944) – At only 18 years old, Simon Segouin was a French Resistance Fighter who is shown holding her rifle during the liberation of Paris.
44. Afghan Women Studying Medicine (1962) – These women pictured above are studying medicine.
45. Swedish Woman Hits Neo-Nazi (1985) – This woman decided to show her anger towards the Neo-Nazi protest by hitting this protester with her hand bag. Rumor has it that this same woman is also a concentration camp survivor.
46. Suffrage Activist (1917) – This woman can be seen protesting after The Night Of Terror. During The Night Of Terror, women were protesting for their right to vote. During the protest, the women were arrested and jailed.
47. Ukrainian Woman (1941) – In the picture above, a Ukrainian woman is giving a captured Soviet soldier water to drink.
48. Showing Off Uncovered Legs (1937) – This picture shows just how far we have come. These two women are showing off their uncovered legs for the first time in public in Toronto, Canada. The vehicle to their left actually crashed from seeing this rare sight.
49. US Marine Corps. (1918) – Some of the first women ever to be sworn into the US Marine Corps.
50. Winnie (1943) – Winnie was one of only 2,000 women who worked in the shipyards during World War II, while men were deployed.
51. Women Boxing (1933) – Because women boxing wasn’t necessarily accepted, these women chose to box on a rooftop in Los Angeles, California out of sight fro the public.
52. Smith College Basketball Team (1902) – This is Smith College’s first ever women’s basketball team.
53. Women’s Home Defence Corps (1940) – These women are training during the Battle of Britain. Even though they were allowed to train with the Home Defence Corps, they weren’t actually allowed to join officially until 1943. They wanted them to be prepared to defend their homes if needed.
54. Women’s Liberation Coalition March (1970) – This march took place in Detroit, Michigan 35 years ago. The sad thing about this picture is that there are still protests about this very same problem today.
55. Women’s Suffrage Group (date unknown) – These women can be seen protesting for equal rights outside of The White House.
It’s hard to imagine where we would be without these inspirational women, but on the same note we still have so far yet to come. We’ve made huge progress, but there is always more to be done. These women put themselves on the back burner, and decided to take a stand and make a change for future generations to come.