WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH is about women’s rights and the fight to make the world safer and better for girls and women everywhere. But it’s also about badass ladies who made advances and achievements in the arts, sciences, and sports. (Take this quiz to see how many you know.)
All month, students will study the legacy of female pioneers, and cities will host events where influential women currently making a difference — on community, national, and international levels — speak and inspire us. The theme for this year’s national awards, decided by the National Women’s History Project, is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” As Amy Poehler says, Smart Girls Have More Fun.
At Matador, we are proud of publishing articles that celebrate strong, groundbreaking women. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, here is a collection of pieces run at Matador over the years that tell the stories of traveling women, taking risks and breaking records.
1. Jessica Watson
In 2009, we interviewed Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old who was getting ready to break the world record and become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. On preparing mentally for the journey, she told Matador, “You do what you can. You talk to the right people and you get all the advice and you can do your practice runs and all that. But when it comes down to it, there’s no way you can prepare yourself in your head for eight months alone. There’s no test for that.”
2. Katie Lambert
Matador Ambassador Katie Lambert was part of the second ever group to free climb Mt. Proboscis in a single day. She writes about the ascent, the view from the top, and the long trip back to base camp. “With less experience in this kind of setting, and as the only woman, I was concerned I would be the weak link — that I wouldn’t be able to handle the environment, that I wouldn’t like it, that it would be too cold, too hard, too much. My mind changed daily until finally I decided that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity or the adventure.”
3. Shannon Galpin
Shannon Galpin is the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan. In 2010, she crossed the Panjshir Valley and last year shared photos and details from her trip with Matador readers. “Afghanistan is one of the few countries in the world where women are not allowed to ride bikes.” Shannon is another Matador Ambassador and is also behind the Afghan Dreamers Project, which works to “amplify voices and broaden the view of Afghanistan at a time when most people in America want to turn their back on the region.”
4. Paige Aarhus
In Notes from a white girl journalist in Kenya, Paige Aarhus explores being a white woman in a male-dominated field, embedded in a country with a male-dominated culture. On recognizing the danger she might place herself in on the assignment, Paige asks herself, “There are always questions of: How far do I want to push it? Which risk is worth taking?”
5. Marjan Kalhor
Iran sent its first female Olympic athlete to the games in 1996, but it wasn’t until 2010 in Vancouver that a female Iranian athlete competed in the Winter Games, where she was the only woman representing her country. Marjan Kalhor, a 21-year-old alpine and slalom skier, began skiing when she was four and has been winning major awards since she was 11.
We profiled SheJumps, a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging women who want to “jump” into trying something new, in 2010. “This may mean putting on a pair of skis for the first time or working up the courage to travel solo.” Their goal is to highlight achievements by women, create a community to support each other, and provide gear and other help for women who want to try new sports.
7. Liz Clark
When David Miller interviewed Liz Clark in 2010, she had been living aboard her sailboat Swell for four years. She spent her time sailing, surfing, traveling, blogging, and meeting people wherever her boat docked. About her lifestyle she said, “The one thing that keeps it all in perspective for me is the fact that, despite being as busy as a New York stockbroker, I get to be surrounded by nature the majority of the time.”
8. Polonia Ana Choque Silvestre
Polonia Ana Choque Silvestre is a 40+-year-old indigenous Bolivian wrestler and the subject of the documentary, Mamachas del Ring, by filmmaker Betty M. Park. When Mamachas premiered in New York City in 2010, Julie Schwietert spoke with Polonia Ana, who goes by Carmen, on how wrestling has changed her life, the documentary, and the next logical step in her career: politics.
9. Muriel Johnston
In 2009, when she was 84, Muriel Johnston joined the Peace Corps as a Health Educator. In an interview with Matador before she left for Morocco, where she planned to serve for 27 months, Muriel made it clear that as a “mature” volunteer she had life experiences to draw on to enrich her volunteering, but that she was also looking forward to new experiences.