Fly, Girls

During a week where Southwest Pilot and former Navy fight pilot Tammie Jo Shults is being praised for her bravery, I reflect not only on how far this nation has come regarding women's rights but also on what it took to get here and how far we have yet to go.

After being seduced by the trailer, I decided to watch Mercury 13. It's the story of 13 women who were selected to participate in a privately funded specialized astronaut testing program.

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Some were mothers and some quit their jobs to be a part of the testing program; their passion was clear from the start: they loved to fly. They were pilots.

In the spirit of pioneers like Margaret Sanger and Alice Paul, the Mercury 13 emerged in the early 60s as role models for other women in a male dominated field (like so many others at the time).

They were following their hearts, which told them to head to the sky. NASA shot them down.

When NASA caught wind of Dr. Lovelace's testing, LBJ ordered the program to be shut down sending a message to all women: you can't do this.

Even after congressional hearings, the country could not be convinced.

It took another 24 years for NASA to send a woman into space. And then 12 years later woman from the United States finally piloted an aircraft into space for the first time.

Eileen Collins was given the privilege that so many other were denied, but women like Jerrie Cobb and Janie Hart paved the way for her and she honored them in a speech before her flight.

Since then, many other women have been in space and I can't help but reflect on the state of our nation. We have once again come to a crossroads on sex discrimination, violence, abuse, politics and harassment.

We will overcome. We will persist. We will make progress.

But we must stand up. We must take the stand. We must dare to dream. We must speak out, march out, and tell our story.

Two years ago the nation wasn't ready for a female president but the earth is shaking, the ceiling is breaking, and change is coming.

When the world tell us "this isn't for you", you must fly, girls. Fly hard and fast toward your dreams and let nothing stand in your way.

I honor the ones who came before me: Sally Ride, Victoria Woodhull, Susan B. Anthony, the Sacred Twenty, Amelia Earhart, Katharine Graham, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Hilary Clinton among so many others.

They did not sit idly watching their dreams go by; they flew towards them.

With hope for the future and many more female firsts,

~Meaghan