This month we celebrate inspirational and influential women. This year Women’s History Month is dedicated to trailblazing women in labor and business, and the honorees are recognized for challenging cultural, structural and legal forms of discrimination against women and girls.
This month, we’re spotlighting one woman each week who has changed society with her ambition and passion. Last week we featured Lucretia Mott, an abolitionist and feminist who worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to establish the American women’s rights movement in1848. The final woman we’d like to spotlight in March is Alice Paul.
Alice Paul (1885-1977)
Paul became a suffragist while attending a training school in England. She was later involved with the National American Woman Suffrage Association for two years. Following her work with NAWSA, Paul co-founded the Congressional Union as well as the National Woman’s Party. Paul led many demonstrations in her strive for women’s equality, even after being imprisoned during her fight for a voting amendment.
Similar to Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul was also raised in a Quaker household, thus she adopted anti-slavery and equal rights sentiments. In 1905, Paul graduated from Swarthmore, the co-ed Quaker college established by Lucretia Mott 41 years prior. She would go on to attend the New York School of Philanthropy, the University of Pennsylvania, and a training school for Quakers in England where she would live from 1907 to 1910.
While in England, Paul worked as a caseworker for a London settlement house, which inspired her to work towards women’s rights. She alongside English militant suffragists Emmeline and Christobel Pankhurst. During her time as a suffragist, Paul experienced multiple arrests, imprisonments, hunger strikes and forced feedings. Paul learned that this publicity could be optimized to contribute to the cause.
She later earned her Ph.D. in sociology and began working with the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In addition, Paul co-founded the Congressional union with the focus of promoting women’s suffrage, and in 1916, she founded the National Woman’s party. Thanks to Alice Paul, the 19th amendment was passed in 1920, granting women the right to vote.
Take a moment to recognize the women in your life, today and everyday! Celebrate women's history every day with timeless folktales for our Women’s History Month reading list.