6 Women Who Made a Difference in the Lives of Children

March is National Women's History Month!

Denalee Chapman March 04, 2016

National Women’s History Month is a great time to celebrate women who have made a difference, not only in the world as a whole, but also in the lives of children. Much has been said about women and mothers through the years. Brigham Young shared the impact all good women have on humanity when he said, “You educate a man; you educate a man; You educate a woman; You educate a generation.” Speaking to the mass accomplishment of women, Margaret Thatcher said, “If you want anything said, ask a man; If you want anything done, ask a woman.” While it’s very true that much good comes from men, there is a gentle yet powerful force, innate in women, that creates amazing results. In this slideshow, we celebrate the value that six incredible women have brought to the world—particularly, the world of children.

Mother Teresa
1. Mother Teresa

Photo Credit: Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock.com

Agnes Bojaxhiu knew at the age of twelve that she wanted to be a missionary. After just a year in Ireland learning English and studying religion, at age 19, Agnes moved to India—a land and a people she would come to love. It was through millions of small acts that Agnes, later known as Mother Teresa, would make great changes. She reached out to all and had a tender spot in her heart for orphans. "The biggest disease today is ... the feeling of being unwanted." And Mother Teresa knew the value of family. When she received the Nobel Prize in 1979, she was asked what can be done to promote world peace. Her answer: "Go home and love your family."

Joan Ganz Cooney
2. Joan Ganz Cooney

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Founder of Children’s Television Workshop and the originator of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney not only has been an advocate for children, but with the multicultural cast of Sesame Street, she has taught children to be tolerant and welcoming of all. Her love of children and her knowledge of the importance of nurturing children has been clear. "Cherishing children is the mark of a civilized society," she said.

Dorothy Day
3. Dorothy Day

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Catholic convert and social activist Dorothy Day believed so strongly in the rights of individuals that she was arrested three times in her life for civil disobedience—the last time was at the age of 75. She taught through word and action that we can each make a difference, and indeed, we must each make a difference. One can't help but think of children in our foster care system, and those who step forward to help them, when reading her quote: "People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words, and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do. "

Marion Donovan
4. Marion Donovan

Say what you will about our environment, but the disposable diaper has saved many a mother's sanity! This is all thanks to entrepreneur Marion O'Brien Donovan. Elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2015, Marion was a creative woman. Following World War II, she became dissatisfied with the countless hours spent changing her daughter's diapers, clothing, and sheets. Using a shower curtain and sewing machine, Marion developed the first waterproof diaper cover. She was eventually granted patents, but was relatively unsuccessful in marketing her innovation. Eventually, the upscale department store, Saks Fifth Avenue, took a risk and purchased the diapers. Just two years later, she sold her company, including the patents, for $1 million. Many thanks to Marion from busy mothers everywhere!

Virginia Apgar
5. Virginia Apgar

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

"Nobody, but nobody, is going to stop breathing on me," stated Doctor Virginia Apgar, a noted neonatologist. It was her tenacity and great skill that saved many tiny lives. Dr. Apgar is best known for creating a way to assess the health of a newborn immediately following birth: the Apgar score. But Dr. Apgar did much more for children. For much of her life, she served as Vice President for Medical Affairs for the March of Dimes Foundation, being responsible for the research programs aimed at preventing and treating birth defects. She also helped bring premature birth to the forefront of the organization's efforts. Additionally, Dr. Apgar advocated relentlessly for vaccination against rubella. For Dr. Apgar, being a woman had no bearing on her success or lack of it. She stated, "Women are liberated from the time they leave the womb."

Juliette Gordon Low
6. Juliette Gordon Low

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It was 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of the USA. Her confidence in the power of individual girls propelled her to create this global organization which has changed the lives of many young women. Although a strong advocate for girls and women, Juliette was not anti-man. She believed in the power of individuals and in integrity in every situation. "Right is right, even if no one else does it," she stated. She believed in lifting others and inspired the girls within her organization to focus on shared values: "Ours is a circle of friendships united by ideals."

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Denalee Chapman

Denalee is an adoptive mother, a motivational speaker, a writer, and a lover of life. She and her husband have adventured through the hills and valleys of life to find that the highest highs and the lowest lows are equally fulfilling. Book Denalee to speak to your group, or find Denalee's writings, including her books on her website at DenaleeChapman.com.

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