In history, women have always been portrayed as the weaker sex— they are the ones responsible for keeping the home together, taking care of children, staying at home, cooking. Everything in the household, the women are assigned to do.
Because they are the “weaker sex,” society often limited and discriminated against women due to the highly patriarchal society. As a matter of fact, women weren’t even allowed to vote in elections until 1920 in the United States, 1928 in the United Kingdom, and 1937 in the Philippines! (Read: Meet the Asian Women Who Will Voice ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’)
Until now, we still see remnants of the patriarchal society our ancestors grew up in: people saying women cannot run a country, judging them for being too liberal or too conservative, not allowing them to apply to certain jobs and positions, and even saying women cannot play this or that because it’s a “guy sport.”
But as time passes, we see more and more women succeeding in their own fields, proving to everyone that women are just as good as men, sometimes even better. And it’s always heartwarming to see these strong, independent individuals excel and become role models to young girls who aspire to be as great as them when they grow up. (Read: Get to know the woman behind your favorite banana ketchup!)
So to celebrate International Women’s Day today, March 8, My Pope Philippines rounds up some of these amazing individuals from different races and ethnicities who defied the odds, discrimination, and sexism, and became the girl bosses they were always meant to be.
Women in Medicine: Tu Youyou
Tu Youyou is a Chinese chemist and malariologist who saved millions of lives in Africa, Southeast Asia, South China, and South America when she discovered artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin in the 1970s. And if you’re wondering how her discoveries saved millions of people, these two substances are now used to treat malaria in various countries around the world!
Because of her life-changing discovery, Tu Youyou became the first-ever Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize. In 2015, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, together with two other colleagues. Oh, and did we mention she’s already 90 years old?
Women in Activism: Greta Thunberg
At such a young age, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has already made a huge impact to the world. With her efforts to make people aware of the growing climate problem in the world, the 18-year-old has encouraged many across the globe to improve their way of living and make it as sustainable and earth-friendly as possible.
Some people have also coined the term “The Greta Effect,” in reference to her influence on the youth and even influence several politicians to focus more on climate change.
Women in Science and Engineering: Josephine Santiago Bond
Josephine Santiago Bond is a Filipino-American engineer who graduated with a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of the Philippines, and obtained a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the South Dakota State University.
Her interest in engineering and the sciences led her to spend a summer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where she eventually found a full-time job. And now, Josephine heads the Advanced Engineering Development Branch of NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center! (Read: Meet the Fil-Am Engineer Who Helped Land the NASA Rover on Mars)
In her spare time, Josephine volunteers for outreach activities where she teaches young children the importance and relevance of NASA to their lives.
Women in Politics: Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris has been a resounding name in the last few months, and deservingly so, because she is the first female Vice President and highest-ranking female official in the history of the United States, and is also the first Asian-American and African-American vice president in the US.
As the Attorney General of California (2011-2017), the incumbent vice president championed consumer protection, criminal justice reform, public safety, and LGBT rights, among others.
In 2005, Kamala was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award by the National Black Prosecutors Association. The award recognizes lawyers and those in the legal profession who advance and advocate for civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights in the US.
Women in Music: IU
Lee Ji-eun, better known as IU, is a Korean singer-songwriter who debuted in 2008 at just 15 years old! She is known for her beautiful voice and charming personality, which made millions of Kpop followers swoon and become fans of her. But IU isn’t just a singer-songwriter, she is now also an actress famously known for her lead role in the fantasy series “Hotel Del Luna.” (Read: 3 Platforms Where You Can Listen to Kpop Other Than Spotify)
Because of her many achievements in the music scene, IU is now regarded as the most successful female soloist in South Korea. In fact, she has 5.8 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone— talk about superstardom! IU is also one of the richest Korean idols, having a reported net worth of US$28 million at just 27 years old.
Happy International Women’s Day, Popesters! Always remember: “Babae ka,” hindi “babae lang.”