The month of March is proclaimed as Women’s History Month, celebrating women’s contributions, achievements, and leadership through American history.    During this month, we honor female trailblazers who have paved the way in creating positive changes in the world.  We also recognize and encourage today’s female role models for their continuing efforts for women’s rights and gender equality.

When celebrating Women’s History Month, one cannot help but notice how such progress affects society as well as advertising, branding, and content marketing. We’ve seen a huge progress from the 1950s “Mad Men” portrayal of women in ads as mere sexualized objects or as submissive housewives.  Progressive brands are changing the advertising landscape by creating campaigns celebrating girls and women such as the “Like A Girl” by Always, and Dove’s “Real Beauty” that redefine female strength and beauty.  Such trends were triggered and inspired by many iconic women, who, by their non-conformism and courage forced the mainstream to evolve from earlier biased narratives to inclusion and movements like #HERstory, #MeToo, #YesAllWomen, and others. Activism at its best.

Greenlight joins others in celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month by honoring our own represented icons; amazing and inspiring “Superwomen” who have defied the outdated female stereotype, inspired millions of followers, and helped change the gender disparity.

Ella Fitzgerald, known as the first lady of song, serenaded the world with her voice, breaking down racial barriers.  She became the queen of jazz in a male dominated jazz world.  Throughout a five-decade career, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold more than 40 million albums. More importantly, Ella used her powerful voice as a civil rights activist, defied racial segregation and discrimination, and used her fame to fight for equality and social advancement.

Whitney Houston remains one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling over 200 million records worldwide.  She is also the only artist to have seven consecutive number one Billboard Hot 100 songs to date.  Her powerhouse voice made her a legend, paving the way for many female artists including Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, and Pink. Whitney’s song “I’m Every Woman” remains  one of the most prominent female empowerment anthems, declaring independence, dismantling society’s double standards, and influencing gender equality movements.  

Marilyn Monroe, the blonde beauty, defied the odds by becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and fashion icon after spending most of her childhood in foster homes.  She mesmerized the world and became a symbol of femininity and sexuality. She wasn’t a natural born rebel. But reinventing herself and proclaiming body confidence, she became the epitome of strength and confidence. More than 50 years after her death, Marilyn is still a household name, inspiring artists and creators, and serving as a strong role model of confidence to new generations worldwide.

Sophia Loren, an award-winning screen legend and fashion icon, challenged conventions of beauty, defied her critics, and achieved international fame. Audiences fell in love with her image and individuality.  She was named one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People magazine. But Loren stood for confidence above beauty and instilled this in her fans and audiences by saying, “Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.” Sophia mastered acting, singing, female empowerment and confidence, while embracing individuality and becoming a role model of self-reliance, passion, elegance, and grace.

Thanks to courageous women like Ella, Whitney, Marilyn, and Sophia, movements like women empowerment, equaling the pay gap, support of professional development in STEM, and positive body image continue to build momentum. Women who are inspired by these icons and others will undoubtedly create their own history of change.  Happy Women’s Month!

Mariola Kalinska is a Senior Director at Greenlight.

Inelee Castro is a Senior Client Manager at Greenlight