International women's day

I’m sure you can name at least one lady in history that did something so extraordinary that made your life and many others lives better today. In fact, you can probably name more than one.

This Friday is International Women’s Day. A day where we recognize women’s rights and the amazing ladies who came before us. It was founded in 1917 after women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.

IWD has seen several themes throughout the years such as “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future” in 1996, “Women Uniting for Peace” in 2000, “Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls” in 2007 and “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” for 2019. All of which are for building strong, equal and empowering space for all women in the world.

Women's demonstration for bread and peace - March the 8th, 1917, Petrograd, Russia

Women's demonstration for bread and peace - March the 8th, 1917, Petrograd, Russia

I personally find this day to be very inspiring and I wanted to help celebrate in my own way. so I gathered 9 girls, ages 3-12, together for a photoshoot day.

I asked each girl to do a little research and find someone they admired in history. Someone who they thought was both admirable and did something amazing for society.

Each one was also asked to come up with an outfit that would closely resemble something that that person would have worn.

We all met at Hotel Covington in Covington Kentucky for our photoshoot. We were in the Scheper room, and let me tell you, it’s LOVELY ( but really the entire hotel is!)

We started out our shoot with a teeny tiny Amelia Earhart, followed by a lovely Annie Easley and so many more after. Each girl was dressed to match their amazing women and looked stunning!

Say Yes To Jess Creates amazing International Women's day portraits with children Dressed up as their favorite ladies in history.jpg

Our shoot lasted for about 3 hours. There was hair, makeup and so many amazing helpers there keeping everything going smoothly.

I actually want to take this moment to send out a HUGE shoutout to those ladies who helped. This project could NOT have happened with out you and your willingness to help and make something amazing! I truly appreciate all of you!

I really hope you all enjoy this project and maybe even learn something about each one of the ladies below. Make sure you read your way all the way to the bottom, because there is a special giveaway down there that I’m EXTRA EXCITED for!

Amelia Earhart

Girl dressed as Amelia Earhart for International Women's day.jpg

In short, Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the United States Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment.

Amelia Was born in Kansas in 1897 and took up aviation at age 24. She later gained publicity as one of the earliest female aviators. Her flying career began in Los Angeles in 1921 and took flying lessons from Neta Snook(Another amazing lady in history).

In 1922 she set her first aviation record with an unofficial woman’s altitude record of 14,00 feet under the auspices of the Aero Club of Southern California.

Inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s successful solo transatlantic flight in 1927, Amelia asked to be the first woman to achieve the similar feat.

In 1932 she became the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Then first attempted to circumnavigate the globe in 1937

She wrote several books including “The Fun of it”, “Last Flight”, and “20 Hrs”.

But Really she was much much more than that. There is actually a lovely website dedicated to her that is PACKED with cool info and timelines of her life and things she did. I strongly suggest you check it out for yourself and learn some seriously cool things about her life.


Annie Easley

Child dressed as Annie Easley for International womens Day in Cincinnati Ohio

Annie J. Easley was an African-American computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist. She worked for the Lewis Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

In 1955 she began her career at NASA and then the National Advisory committee for Aeronautics (NACA). She continued her education while working and in 1977 obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Cleveland State University.

Unfortunately Annie had to go through several moments of racial discrimination. She mentioned one account where promotional portraits had been taken of her and co-workers while working at NASA but found herself cut out of them when they were put into publications. She also mentioned being denied financial aid, with no reasoning behind it when it was granted to other NASA employees. However she said “Still, that is not enough to deter me from my life goals,” she later said. “You keep going, because there are people who have authority, and I think sometimes they abuse it. But it makes them think, ‘I’m in charge if I say no.’”

Her most famous quote goes a little like this:
You’re never too old, and if you want to, as my mother said, you can do anything you want to, but you have to work at it.”


Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin self portrait

Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin was a British-born American astronomer and astrophysicist who proposed in her 1925 doctoral thesis that stars were composed primarily of hydrogen and helium.

In 1925 she was the first person to be awarded a doctorate from Harvard College Observatory and in 1956 achieved becoming the first female professor and first woman to hold a department Chair- two Harvard firsts!

Cecilia attended and finished all of her courses at Cambridge University but did not receive a degree until 1948 as they did not give degrees to women yet until that time.

In 1977 she received the prestigious Henry Norris Russell prize from the American Astronomical Society.

A quote she is most famous for is:

“Young people, especially young women, often ask me for advice. Here it is, valeat quantum. Do not undertake a scientific career in quest of fame or money. There are easier and better ways to reach them. Undertake it only if nothing else will satisfy you; for nothing else is probably what you will receive. Your reward will be the widening of the horizon as you climb. And if you achieve that reward you will ask no other.”

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
Child dresses Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin for international Womans day in Cincinnati Ohio
Say Yes To Jess Dresses Child dresses Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin for international Womans day in Cincinnati Ohio

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is an African-American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned spaceflights .You can also lean more about her in the movie hidden figures.

She graduated summa cum laude in 1937 with degrees in French and Mathematics at age 18

in 1938, she became the first African-American woman to desegregate the graduation at West Virginia University Morgantown

In 1939 she was handpicked by the president of Virginia state along with two other African students- both men- for spots at the university. She was the first female.

In 1962 she calculated the path for Freedom 7, the spacecraft that put the first U.S astronaut in space.

Her calculations also contributed to the success of the “Friendship 7” mission in 1962 where col. John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

in 2015 she was awarded the Medal of Freedom for her work in science, technology and engineering by resident Barack Obama.

Some of her most famous quotes include:

“Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing.”

“Like what you do, and then you will do your best. “

Young girl dresses up as Katherine Johnson for International Womens day
Say Yes To Jess dresses up as Katherine Johnson for International Womens day

Winnie Mandela

Young girl dresses up as Winnie Mandela for International Womens day

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela OLS MP, also known as Winnie Mandela, was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician, and the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela. She served as a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 2003, and from 2009 until her death, and was a deputy minister of arts and culture from 1994 to 1996. 

In her early life and dispite restriction on education for black women at the time, she earned a degree and became the first qualified black social worker in the country. She was later offered a scholarship to further study in the USA but declined choosing to remain in South Africa and work at one of the largest hospitals there.She undertook pioneering infant mortality research in a township that found 10 deaths in every 1,000 births.

In 1958 a little after after she married Nelson Mandela and while pregnant with their first child she, along with tens of thousands of women, took to the streets of Johannesburg to protest the issuing of pass books to black women. The pass books enabled the government to control the movement of black people; inhibiting them from entering white areas (except if it was for specific types of work) and enforced racial segregation.

1000 women, including pregnant Winnie Mandela, were imprisoned. The women decided not to apply for bail but to rather spend two weeks in prison as a sign of further protest.  Winnie, as well as the other detained women, became a symbol of inspiration and strength for those fighting the Apartheid government.

Winnie was once again arrested and taken to a small town 400 kilometers away from her home; where she would spend the next nine years, in something you could consider a domestic exile.

During her time there, she created a local gardening collective; a soup kitchen; a mobile health unit; a day care center; an organization for orphaned and juvenile delinquents and a sewing club.

she still continued to campaign for social issues that affected African women. She made an important contribution to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic which was plaguing the country when she added her voice to those demanding that the government provide free anti-retroviral medicines for sufferers of HIV. Once again, she acted as a voice for the weak by bringing attention to the high number of women and young girls that were contracting HIV because of cultural, social and economic inequality.

Some of her most notable quotes are:

"To those who oppose us, we say, 'Strike the woman, and you strike the rock'."

"Together, hand in hand, with our matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country."

"They think because they have put my husband on an island that he will be forgotten. They are wrong. The harder they try to silence him, the louder I will become!"

Say Yes To Jess Young girl dresses up as Winnie Mandella for International Womens day
Young girl dresses up as Winnie Mandela for International Womens day

Sylvia Earle

Little girl dresses as Sylvia Earle for International Womens Day

Sylvia Alice Earle DSc is an American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer. She has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998.

in 1964 she embarked on her first groundbreaking expedition of a six week Indian Ocean voyage.

In 1970 she led the first all female team of women aquanauts as part of a project to explore the marine realm and test the visibility of deep water habitats and the health effects of prolonged living in underwater structures.

In 1979 she got the nickname “Her Deepness”, because she became the first and still only person to walk solo on the bottom of the world on the ocean floor in the depth of 1,250 feet.

In 1990 Sylvia became the first women to be appointed chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In 2009 she won a TED Prize and launched Mission Blue that aims to establish marine protected areas

She is also an author of several books including “The world is BLUE”, “Sea Changes, A message of the oceans” and “Sea Critters”

Her most famous quotes:

“Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.”

”No water, no life. No blue, no green”


Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Sylvia Earle for International Womens Day
Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Sylvia Earle for International Womens Day

Elizabeth I of England

Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Elizabeth I of England for International Womens Day

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.

Elizabeth was the daughter of HenryVIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. She considered herself wedded to her country and brought almost half a century of stability to her people after the turmoil of her siblings short reigns.

Elizabeth was never meant to be queen. She had an elder sister Mary and had been removed from the line of succession altogether when her parents marriage was declared invalid prior to her mothers execution. She reinstated thanks to a kind gesture of her last stepmother, Katherine Parr.

One of her first acts as queen was to establish an English Protestant church where she would become the Supreme Governor.

She was considered to be very moderate than her father and siblings who ruled before her. One of her mottos was “Video et Taceo” Meaning I see but say nothing. She was also very cautious in foreign affairs and tried to avoid war. However by the mid 1580’s she found it could no longer be avoided and in 1588 had one of the greatest military victories in english history.

Her reign became know as the Elizabethan era, Famous for flourishing with English dramas including some by William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

Some of her most famous quotes include:

Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.”

“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”

Little girl dresses as Elizabeth I of England for International Womens Day
Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Elizabeth I of England for International Womens Day

Marie Curie

Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Marie Curie for International Womens Day

Marie Skłodowska Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences.

In 1891 at age 24, Marie went to Paris and studied chemistry, mathematics and physics at Sorbonne. One of Paris’s most prestigious universities.

In 1895 Marie married Pierre,French physicist. They worked together in the laboratory. Their work later resulted in a Nobel prize in Physics in 1903. Unfortunately, Pierre died in an accident in 1906. This caused Marie to push harder for her dream getting a professorship at Sorbonne.

In 1911 Marie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the two elements polonium and radium.

She was appointed Director of the Curie Laboratory in the Radium institute of the University of Paris that was founded in 1914.

In 1921 she won the Wilard Gibbs Award and John Scott Legacy Medal in 1921 along with several other awards and nominations,

Marie Curie was also an author and wrote books like “ Recherches sur les substances radoiactivites”, “Pierre Curie”, “La radiologi et la guerre” and several others.

Some of her most famous quotes are:

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”

“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”

Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Marie Curie for International Womens Day
Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Marie Curie for International Womens Day

Frida Kahlo

Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Frida Kahlo for International Womens Day

Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican artist who painted many portraits, self-portraits and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country's popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class and race in Mexican society.

Frida was born on July 6th 1907 in Mexico in her home know as the “Blue house”. She contracted polio at a young age but went on to participate in boxing and other sports.

In 1925 she suffered several sever injuries from a bus crash. It caused a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg and a crushed and dislocated shoulder. An iron handrail also pierced her lower abdomen, preventing her from ever giving birth.

In 1932 she created one of the most audacious depictions of childbirth and child-loss.

in 1941 she was commissioned by the Mexican government to paint portraits of important women in Mexico.

Some famous quotes from Frida include:
Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?’

“I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling.”

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

Say yes to Jess photographs Little girl dresses as Frida Kahlo for International Womens Day

So now it’s your turn! In the comments below tell me about an influential women in your life that you think the world should know about. I’ll be putting anyone who comments in a drawing to win a copy of “Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World”.

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Also, make sure to grab this weeks freebie! A super cute coloring activity you can do with you littles celebrating International women’s day!

You can also download the fun fact cards each girl is holding here. Just download, print and share them with your littles!