Women in Wellness

March is Women’s History Month, and March 8th is International Women’s Day.  In honor of the day, and the month, here’s a quick look at some famous women throughout time who embodied the eight dimensions of wellness.  Enjoy! wns-history-month1

CulturalVirginia Dare– As a North Carolinian I feel obliged to write about North Carolina culture, and who’s one of the most famous women in NC culture?  It’s got to be Virginia Dare!  She was the first person born in the Americas to English parents. While this is note-worthy, what’s even more interesting is the story of what happened to her.  To this day, no one knows what happened to the colony where Virginia was born, but there’s plenty of legend and lore surrounding The Lost Colony, and the mark it left on history.

EmotionalRosalynn Carter– Rosalynn Carter is the wife of President Jimmy Carter, and a renowned advocate for mental health.  Throughout her husband’s political career Rosalynn defied traditional first lady roles and fought to promote positive change, awareness, and stigma reduction in the mental health field.  She created The Carter Center Mental Health Task Force and hosts the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy.

EnvironmentalWangari Maathai– A tireless fighter, Wangari Maathai was a prominent environmental activist from Kenya.  Founder of The Green Belt Movement, Wangari advocated for poverty reduction and environmental conservation through tree planting. Wangari was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

FinancialSuze Orman– Tired of the stereotypes that women don’t know anything about finances and can’t handle their money?  Enter Suze Orman. After barely graduating college, she was working as a waitress when she decided to open her own restaurant. After being swindled by a broker, Suze decided she could do the job just as well or better than the man who swindled her.  She taught herself everything about finances, and is now one of the most successful financial advisors in the world.

IntellectualToni Morrison– One of the most influential American novelists of all time, Toni Morrison wrote several critically acclaimed novels and stories about the experience of black Americans.  Included in her works are-The Bluest Eye, Tar Baby, Beloved, and Song of Solomon.  In 1987 Toni became the first black woman writer to hold a chair at an Ivy League University (Princeton University), and in 1993 she became the first black American woman to win a Nobel Prize.

PhysicalKathrine Switzer– Ultimate bad ass.  In the beginning days of the Boston Marathon no woman had ever run the race because the distance was believed to be too long for a woman’s body to handle.  Kathrine read the rules, and seeing no rules against women entering, entered with her initials and started the race.  Around mile 4, she was attacked by a race official who tried to take her number and eject her from the race.  With the help of her training partners, Kathrine was able to finish the race and went on to become an international advocate for female runners.

SocialErin Pizzey – Women have been providing each other shelter from domestic abuse since the beginning of time, but Erin Pizzey was the first person to start a formal organization to protect these women.  Erin started what is now known as Refuge in 1971 in London as a place where abused women could and take shelter with their children.  Despite facing death threats and intimidation, Erin continues to open shelters and advocate internationally for survivors of domestic violence.

SpiritualIngrid Mattson– Women historically have not been at the forefront of religious movements, but Ingrid has created waves of change within the Muslim community as a prominent religious leader and interfaith activist. After converting to Islam in her twenties, she went on to receive her doctorate at the University of Chicago, and has continued to teach and chair Islamic Studies programs at universities in both the U.S. and Canada. Ingrid continues to advocate for a greater dialogue between faiths as a way to increase partnerships and understanding.

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