Throughout history, women have always had to fight for the rights that are naturally given to men. Women in different countries and of different races face distinct inequality and injustices every day. This audio collection features stories of many different women advocating for themselves and advancing their causes. Whether in politics, education, science, sports, or entertainment, these women have broken boundaries and created opportunities for the next generation of women. Understanding how these women have made history can offer inspiration and hope for successive generations to keep fighting for equality and standing up for what is right.
Being a working mother is difficult, but being one of the first two females on the Supreme Court may be even harder. Listen to learn how the female justices of the Supreme Court juggle family obligations and the demands of the court, and how challenges facing working women have changed over the past decades.
Sandra Cisneros writes about working class Latino life in America and has won many awards for her writing. She is best known for her book, The House on Mango Street. The themes in her writing include the meaning of home, belonging, crossing boundaries and cultural expectations of women. Her new memoir, A House of my Own, describes how her own life also reflects these themes. In this interview, she talks about being connected to Mexico and to the United States, and how she hopes to be an ambassador passing between the two cultures. Furthermore, she works to honor the women in her family while also being an independent woman and breaking some cultural traditions. Listen to hear more about how Sandra Cisneros has created a house of her own.
The United States declared war on Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But Afghanistan had already been a troubled and war torn country for many, many years. In 1996, the Taliban seized control of the country, imposing strict rule over all of its citizens. This story focuses on how the strict rules of society in Afghanistan continue to affect its people – especially children and girls. Listen to this interview with the author of The Kids of Kabul and learn more about the challenges faced by Afghan children and women, especially in the area of education.
In this audio story, environmentalist and human rights activist Wangari Maathai, is remembered. A trained biologist—the first Kenyan woman to earn a doctorate degree—Maathai led the fight against mismanagement of Kenya’s natural resources. Over the course of thirty years, her Green Belt Movement planted more than 40 million trees to reverse the deforestation of the country caused by unregulated development. In 2004, Maathai became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This story includes audio of Maathai herself talking about the origin of her love of the natural world and some of the challenges she faced in her environmental work and her work for peace and democracy.
Until recently, few people knew that the American space program’s early success was due in large part to a group of African American women known as “human computers.” They were brilliant mathematicians but were made to use segregated offices, bathrooms, and equipment. Their stories are told in a book and movie by the same name, Hidden Figures. One such overlooked mathematician was Katherine Johnson, who began working at Langley in 1953. Her report laying out trajectory equations for getting a craft into orbit played a key role in the program’s success. However, despite the vital roles Katherine and her colleagues held, their contributions were mostly unheard of until the publication of Hidden Figures. Listen to learn more about the obstacles these African American women faced and how a story this significant stayed buried for decades.
The Founding Fathers are known for uniting the thirteen original colonies, leading the American Revolution, and establishing the new democratic government of the United States of America. The women who contributed to those efforts are less well known. A children’s book called “Founding Mothers” tells their remarkable stories. Listen to learn why one Founding Mother believed American women were actually “better patriots” than their husbands.
Histories of the women’s suffrage movement often focus on famous names like Susan B. Anthony. But many other women fought hard to secure passage of the 19th amendment ensuring women’s right to vote, and their contributions are often overlooked. In particular, women of color, queer women, and even conservative anti-suffrage women are often left out of the narrative. Listen to hear about some of these often-overlooked voices in American history and how their perspectives can give us a richer understanding of the fight for women’s suffrage.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting off big in 2019 with Captain Marvel. The film, which features a superheroine battling evil, is the first ever movie in the Marvel Universe with a female lead. In order to do the character and story justice, Marvel hired not only a female director, but also female producers and writers. Geneva Robertson-Dworet is one of those writers, and her experience has shown her that opportunities are limited for female screenwriters. The film industry has been historically dominated by men, which has had an impact on how female characters have been portrayed. Listen to a Captain Marvel screenwriter describe her experience as a woman in the film industry.
The 75th anniversary of D-Day marks an important World War II operation and offers an opportunity to commemorate all the people who made sacrifices on D-Day and throughout the war. Though often forgotten, women were critical contributors to the war effort and a key part of the invasion of Normandy by the Allied forces. In particular, women were involved in the French resistance D-Day preparations and took on unique risks and some of the most sensitive jobs. Listen to hear about some of the brave women heroes of the Second World War.
Inventors are not always famous people like Thomas Edison. They can be ordinary folks who think up new ways to solve everyday problems. Anyone can design a new gadget and patent it to protect the idea from being copied. Most inventors in the United States are men, leaving young women with few role models, but creative women hope that changes. Listen to hear female inventors describe how sticky tape and rainy days inspired their first inventions and why they believe more women inventors would benefit everyone.
In a new movie version of Little Women, based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, actress Saoirse Ronan plays the independent, rebellious Jo March. Little Women depicts the lives of four sisters and their mother, Marmee, as they struggle to survive while their father is off fighting in the Civil War. Ronan explains how the economic constraints on women at the time shaped the sisters’ life choices. Listen to hear more about the making of Little Women and why the lead actress believes the story remains relevant today.
As the first woman, who is also biracial, to be elected vice president, Kamala Harris is an inspiration to young people around the country. Girls and young people of color, in particular, see her as a role model, and many have attended campaign events to catch a glimpse of her in person. Harris has used those opportunities to encourage girls to become leaders and imagine new roles for themselves. Listen to hear girls who admire Kamala Harris describe the impact she has had on them, and hear her own words of advice to young people.
As a successful college soccer player, Sarah Fuller knows how to kick. So when her university’s football team needed a kicker for an upcoming game, she stepped in, making history as the first female athlete to play in a Big Five NCAA football game. Before that, Fuller had spent years struggling to overcome injuries. Listen to hear a groundbreaking athlete explain how it felt to join the football team, why she was emotional on game day, and who most inspires her.
One of the NASA engineers responsible for sending the Perseverance rover to Mars is a young Latina woman. In this interview, Christina Hernandez recounts what made the mission exciting for her both personally and professionally. She credits her upbringing and her family’s immigrant past, in particular, for her present success. Listen to hear a Latina scientist explain what she loves about her work and why she believes Latinas are well equipped to take on the toughest challenges.
Title IX is a civil rights law banning sex-based discrimination in school activities, including sports. In the decades since the law was passed, girls’ and women’s sports have grown tremendously, but there are still inequalities between how men’s and women’s teams are treated. A female basketball player in the March Madness tournament recently tweeted a video showing that the training spaces given to women’s teams were inferior to those of men’s teams. Listen to a sports writer explain why the tweet caused such a strong response and how language can reflect respect.
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