For International Women’s Day, we’ll explore some of the places where pivotal women throughout history have defied expectations, stamped out stereotypes and made progress towards bridging the gender equality gap.
And when it is safe to travel to these destinations, you can take a walk in their footsteps and feel empowered to continue building upon their amazing legacy.
Seneca Falls, New York
The women’s suffrage movement began in Seneca Falls, New York
Seneca Falls is a small town that sits alongside the Seneca River in New York. On face value, it looks like a typical, quiet town but it was here that the fight for gender equality in the USA began. In July 1848, a group of women gathered to discuss the social, civil, and religious rights and conditions of women – this meeting sparked the beginning of the country’s women’s suffrage movement. And after 72 years, with the help of allies around the nation, all women from the USA were given the same rights as men to vote.
When it’s safe to visit, head to the Women's Rights National Historical Park where the first Women's Rights Convention was held. Here, you’ll see brass statues of the women responsible for the movement and learn more about its history. You can also pop into the National Women's Hall of Fame located in the refurbished mill, which displays the achievements of influential women – a true homage to this town’s legacy.
Iceland was the world's first country to require equal pay for women by law
Iceland is a Nordic isle best known for its picture-perfect, untouched landscapes, complete with volcanoes, lava fields and hot springs. As a nation, it holds progressive views on women’s rights and has set a high standard in this field compared to the rest of the world. In 2018, Iceland was the world's first country to require equal pay for women by law and it also provides equal rights for parents when it comes to maternity and paternity leave, which is 12 months-long. Iceland’s Prime Minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, summed up the importance of these laws perfectly in saying, "Gender equality benefits all of us."
Stroll around the National Mall where you'll find the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument
Washington, DC is a popular destination for locals and travellers alike mainly due to it being the heart of the country’s democracy. The capital is not unfamiliar with creating change for the better – and it’s recently done it again. In January 2021, Kamala Harris became the first female, Black, South Asian American Vice President and now holds the highest rank for a female official. Many women before her made this achievement possible, and now Harris has broken the glass ceiling in American politics for generations of women to come.
The capital has an abundance of monuments, memorials and museums, so there is no better place to visit – especially for those with young girls – when you need some inspiration.
Two-time Nobel prize winner Marie Curie was the first female professor at The Sorbonne University
Paris was responsible for nurturing Marie Curie’s incredible talent for chemistry and mathematics. Unable to gain tertiary education in Poland, Curie moved to Paris where she received a mathematics and physics degree. And where she became the first female professor at The Sorbonne University. She won two Nobel Prizes, one for physics in 1903 and another for chemistry in 1911. Curie was responsible for conducting groundbreaking research on radioactivity and discovering the elements polonium and radium, as well as techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes. Curie Institutes are still major research centres in Paris and Poland. All of her achievements and life struggles can be learnt about at the Musée Curie in Paris.
Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the peak in 1975
Mount Everest is a staggering 8,850 metres tall, making it the highest mountain on Earth. Many climbers have taken on the challenge of scaling the summit, with only a small percentage successfully making it to the top; although it’s a once-in-a-lifetime feat, the risk of fatality is high. In 1975, Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the peak. Her journey was not without its difficulties, as just three days before this achievement, an avalanche had buried Tebei and her fellow climbers while in their tents. She narrowly escaped with no injuries other than bruises thanks to the Sherpas (Nepali mountain guides) who were able to dig the climbers out. Although Mt. Everest isn’t a suitable place for every traveller, many avid hikers take the journey to Base Camp (which is already an adventure, standing at 5,364 metres above sea level) before turning back to Kathmandu.