Women have been in the forefront of the modern environmentalist movement. Rachel Carson and Wangari Maathai are two prominent women environmentalists -- one a writer whose book, Silent Spring, sparked the movement that started Earth Day (April 22), and the other an activist who founded the Green Belt movement in Africa and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
"There is no reason why the aeroplane should not open up a fruitful occupation for women. I see no reason they cannot realize handsome incomes by carrying passengers between adjacent towns, from parcel delivery, taking photographs or conducting schools of flying. Any of these things it is now possible to do." (Harriet Quimby, about 1911)
Harriet Quimby's career as a pilot lasted only eleven months, but she managed to set a few records in that time. She was the first American woman to earn a pilot's license, and the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel, the latter on April 16, 1911.
She's not as well known as her sister, Lucretia Mott, but Martha Coffin Wright was an abolitionist (her daughter married the son of abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison) and an early women's rights advocate. Contributed by the author of an upcoming biography of Martha Coffin Wright, James D. Livingston.
The Japanese royal family faces pressure because the current crown princess -- a Harvard-educated diplomat before she married the Japanese crown prince, mother of one daughter, and now more than 40 years old -- has not produced a son to succeed as Japanese emperor. But Japan has been ruled by reigning empresses before. Here's a profile of the Empress Suiko, who ruled Japan at the end of the 5th and beginning of the 7th century. Under her rule, China recognized Japan and Buddhism flourished: Empress Suiko