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History is full of women who bravely fought to make a difference in the world.

As activists, journalists, or fighters, women have stepped up to combat social injustice and defend their freedoms. Others worked their way into “boys clubs,” helping to pave the way for others to follow.

A Woman Suffrage Party parade through New York in 1915.  Image by Paul Thompson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.


But while women have always been working toward making the world a better place, their voices were not always heard or acknowledged. And some of these women still do not get the recognition that they deserve in classroom history textbooks, even though their contributions are undeniable. All of them are inspirations.

Here are 21 quotes from just a few notable female leaders about how to make a better world:

1. “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” — Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Journalist, suffragist and progressive activist Ida Wells Barnett (1862-1931). Photo by R. Gates/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Wells-Barnett was an important African-American journalist and activist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s. She also marched in Washington, D.C., in 1913 for universal suffrage.

2. “I hate wars and violence but if they come then I don’t see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas.” — Nancy Wake

Code-named "The White Mouse," Wake was one of the most decorated Allied servicewomen of World War II. She joined the resistance when the war broke out, and is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of Allied soldiers and downed airmen.

3. “Don’t sit and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” — Sarah Breedlove

Breedlove, who later became known as Madam C.J. Walker, was one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire, making her fortune by creating a line of specialized hair products for African-American hair.

4. "Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." — Mother Teresa

Charity worker Mother Teresa seen in her hospital around the time she was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress. Photo by Mark Edwards/Keystone Features/Getty Images.

The founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor, Mother Teresa is one of the most important humanitarians of the 20th century. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was canonized as a saint in 2016.

5. “When you find a burden in belief or apparel, cast it off.” — Amelia Bloomer

A 19th-century women’s rights activist, Bloomer helped transform the way American women dressed, advocating for corsets and petticoats to be abandoned and shorter skirts with pants underneath. She also established one of the first newspapers written, edited and published by women: The Lily.

6. “If it is true that men are better than women because they are stronger, why aren’t our sumo wrestlers in the government?” — Kishida Toshiko

A writer and women’s rights activist, Toshiko is also known as Japan’s first female orator. She is famous for her “Daughters in Boxes” speech that criticized a family system that confined women at home.

7. “You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.” — Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was detained for 15 years. Photo by Drn/Getty Images.

Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was a vocal critic of Myanmar’s dictator U Ne Win, and she initiated a nonviolent movement toward achieving democracy and human rights in her country. More recently, she led the National League for Democracy to a majority win in the country’s first openly contested election in 25 years.

8. “Energy rightly applied can accomplish anything.” — Nellie Bly

Elizabeth Jane Cochran, who wrote under the pen name Nellie Bly, was a brave American journalist known for her investigative and undercover reporting, including her 1887 expose on the treatment of asylum patients at Blackwell’s Island.

9. “To the wrongs that need resistance, To the right that needs assistance, To the future in the distance, Give yourselves.” — Carrie Chapman Catt

She was an activist instrumental in the suffrage movement to get women the right to vote. Chapman Catt also served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and founded the League of Women Voters.

10. “Truth is powerful and it prevails.” — Sojourner Truth

Abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Born a slave, Sojourner Truth became a popular spokesperson for abolition and women’s rights. She is renowned for her “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech.

11. “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie Curie

We all know that Curie is a famous physicist who conducted important research on radioactivity that led to the discovery of polonium and radium. But did you know that she was twice the winner of a Nobel Prize? She also advanced women's role in the scientific community.

12. “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.” — Maya Angelou

Angelou was an acclaimed American poet, actress, writer, and activist. She is perhaps best known for her memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

13. "We will not have failure — only success and new learning." — Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria ascended to the throne just weeks after her 18th birthday and went on to have the second-longest reign of any queen in British history. Historians often associate her reign with imperialism but also with cultural expansion and advances in industry, science, and technology.

14. “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” — Malala Yousafzai

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

Yousafzai, an advocate for girl’s education, made headlines after she survived being shot in 2012 by the Taliban. The incident didn’t stop her from continuing to speak out for education. In 2014, she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

15. “You must come to terms with the reality that nothing outside ourselves, be it people or things, is actually responsible for our happiness.” — Mary Edwards Walker

Walker was a doctor at a time when female physicians were rare, was arrested several times for dressing in men’s clothing, and became a vocal women’s rights activist after the Civil War.  

During the Civil War, she worked as an assistant surgeon and was captured by the Confederates. She became the first and only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor — though Congress tried to take it back in 1917. She refused to return the medal, proudly wearing it until her death, and President Jimmy Carter reinstated her honor in 1977.

16. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is fingerprinted by police Lt. D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, Alabama, on Feb. 22, 1956. Image by Gene Herrick/AP Photo.

One of the most famous civil rights activists is Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in 1955. She was a key player in initiating the civil rights movement in the United States.

17. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."— Eleanor Roosevelt

First lady Roosevelt was also a writer and humanitarian. She is credited with changing the role of the first lady through her active participation in American politics.

18. "Believe in yourself, learn, and never stop wanting to build a better world." — Mary McLeod Bethune

Bethune was one of the most prominent female African-American educators and civil rights activists at the start of the 20th century. She was known as the "First Lady of the Struggle."

19. “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005. Photo by Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images.

As president of Liberia, Sirleaf is the first elected female head of state in Africa. She also received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

20. “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.” — Helen Keller

Keller, who lost her sight and hearing when she was 19 months old, was an educator, a leading humanitarian, and one of the co-founders of the ACLU.

21. “If you don’t have an idea that materializes and changes a person’s life, then what have you got? You have talk, research, telephone calls, meetings, but you don’t have a change in the community.” Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Shriver was an advocate in the worldwide struggle for rights and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities. She founded the Special Olympics in 1968.

Whether they were marching for civil rights, resisting political oppression, or advancing women’s position in the workplace, these women — and many others — fought the good fight.

The 1911 Solvay conference in Brussels. Marie Curie is the only woman in the photograph. Image by Benjamin Couprie/Wikimedia Commons.

They remind us that change is possible. Their words continue to resonate and inspire today.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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