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17 amazing women who probably aren't in history books, but should be.

Some women won't be found in history books. Don't let them be forgotten.

17 amazing women who probably aren't in history books, but should be.
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PBS Victoria

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress in U.S. history. Four years later, she ran for president.

It's a bit embarrassing, but I'll admit that her name didn't immediately ring a bell to me. Growing up, even as a self-described history buff, I don't recall ever seeing Chisholm's name in a textbook. That's a problem.

But that was before I came across Rori, a cartoonist and freelance illustrator, and her "100 Days, 100 Women" project that was inspired by Chisholm's forgotten place in history.


‌Shirley Chisholm. All illustrations courtesy of Rori.‌

"She's not well known," Rori writes in an email, talking about Chisholm. "That's a shame, but really common."

"100 Days, 100 Women" is dedicated to shining a light on powerful women from history who don't get the recognition they deserve — through comics.

"People do great things and history forgets them," writes Rori. "Maybe their story is seen as a sidenote, or doesn't fit smoothly into the narrative."

She's right too. For the longest time, recorded history revolved around men — or at least that's the way it's been portrayed in books that were, almost certainly by no coincidence, written by men. Quietly, though, women have been leaving their mark on the world, and it's time they got their due.

That's where Rori comes in.

‌Sybil Ludington and Tammy Duckworth‌‌Lady Triệu and Anita Hill‌

The project is Rori's way of giving back to young girls who are searching for their own role models.

Growing up, Rori was drawn to the stories that make up our forgotten history. Sure, there have been powerful female role models to look up to, but Rori felt as though there simply weren't enough who were visible and well-known. With this spark of curiosity and purpose, she set off on learning about some of the women time forgot.

"The more I found figures that truly resonated with me, the more confident and inspired I felt!" she wrote.

‌Juana Galán and Nellie Bly‌

The parameters were simple: highlight women in history, the lesser known the better. After starting with around 50 names, the list quickly ballooned to over 150. With so many inspirational women to highlight, some of the more well-known figures (for example, Joan of Arc) wound up on the cutting room floor.

‌Wilma Mankiller and Ida B. Wells‌

Each comic is accompanied by a brief explanation of what historical contribution that woman made along with a link to some further reading. It's a bite-size history lesson perfect for parents, teachers, and students alike.

The list is a work in progress. The only names truly set are the ones that have been drawn already.

So far, Rori's put the finishing touches on around 35 portraits, including civil rights activists (such as Dolores Huerta and Ida B. Wells), the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova), pioneers in arts and music (Artemisia Gentileschi and Wendy Carlos), and politicians (former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto).

‌Josephine Baker and Lucy Gonzalez Parsons‌‌Benazir Bhutto and Hypatia‌

To keep up with Rori's ongoing list of 100 Days, 100 Women, you can follow her on social media. She posts updates to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and she gives special sneak peeks through her Patreon profile.

‌Kumander Guerrero and "Stagecoach" Mary Fields‌‌Rumiko Takahashi and Queen Liliʻuokalani‌

With any hope, Rori's project will inspire a renewed interest in women's history, opening up an entire new universe of role models for young minds.

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress in U.S. history. Four years later, she ran for president.

It's a bit embarrassing, but I'll admit that her name didn't immediately ring a bell to me. Growing up, even as a self-described history buff, I don't recall ever seeing Chisholm's name in a textbook. That's a problem.

But that was before I came across Rori, a cartoonist and freelance illustrator, and her "100 Days, 100 Women" project that was inspired by Chisholm's forgotten place in history.

‌Shirley Chisholm. All illustrations courtesy of Rori.‌

"She's not well known," Rori writes in an email, talking about Chisholm. "That's a shame, but really common."

"100 Days, 100 Women" is dedicated to shining a light on powerful women from history who don't get the recognition they deserve — through comics.

"People do great things and history forgets them," writes Rori. "Maybe their story is seen as a sidenote, or doesn't fit smoothly into the narrative."

She's right too. For the longest time, recorded history revolved around men — or at least that's the way it's been portrayed in books that were, almost certainly by no coincidence, written by men. Quietly, though, women have been leaving their mark on the world, and it's time they got their due.

That's where Rori comes in.

‌Sybil Ludington and Tammy Duckworth‌‌Lady Triệu and Anita Hill‌

The project is Rori's way of giving back to young girls who are searching for their own role models.

Growing up, Rori was drawn to the stories that make up our forgotten history. Sure, there have been powerful female role models to look up to, but Rori felt as though there simply weren't enough who were visible and well-known. With this spark of curiosity and purpose, she set off on learning about some of the women time forgot.

"The more I found figures that truly resonated with me, the more confident and inspired I felt!" she wrote.

‌Juana Galán and Nellie Bly‌

The parameters were simple: highlight women in history, the lesser known the better. After starting with around 50 names, the list quickly ballooned to over 150. With so many inspirational women to highlight, some of the more well-known figures (for example, Joan of Arc) wound up on the cutting room floor.

‌Wilma Mankiller and Ida B. Wells‌

Each comic is accompanied by a brief explanation of what historical contribution that woman made along with a link to some further reading. It's a bite-size history lesson perfect for parents, teachers, and students alike.

The list is a work in progress. The only names truly set are the ones that have been drawn already.

So far, Rori's put the finishing touches on around 35 portraits, including civil rights activists (such as Dolores Huerta and Ida B. Wells), the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova), pioneers in arts and music (Artemisia Gentileschi and Wendy Carlos), and politicians (former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto).

‌Josephine Baker and Lucy Gonzalez Parsons‌‌Benazir Bhutto and Hypatia‌

To keep up with Rori's ongoing list of 100 Days, 100 Women, you can follow her on social media. She posts updates to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and she gives special sneak peeks through her Patreon profile.

‌Kumander Guerrero and "Stagecoach" Mary Fields‌‌Rumiko Takahashi and Queen Liliʻuokalani‌

With any hope, Rori's project will inspire a renewed interest in women's history, opening up an entire new universe of role models for young minds.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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