'USA Today' Launches 'Women of the Century' Initiative, Honors Anniversary Of 19th Amendment

USA Today

is spotlighting 100 notable “Women of the Century,” an initiative that spans across the USA Today Network and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Content will be distributed in print, digital, video and augmented reality. Over 300 staffers across the USA Today Network are involved in the “100 Women of the Century” project.

Some names in the national list include Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, Simone Biles, Marsha P. Johnson, Tarana Burke, Yuri Kochiyama, Amy Tan, Gloria Estefan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Georgia O'Keefe and Dolly Parton.



USA Today Network’s news outlets nationwide also worked with community experts to create a separate local list, recognizing at least 10 influential women in each state, the District of Columbia and the inhabited U.S. territories.

USA Today issued a public call for nominations in January. Hundreds of names were submitted, and a panel of judges was put together to help select the women featured in the national list.

The nominees had to be American citizens who lived between 1920 and today and made an impact in areas such as the arts, literature, civil rights, sports, science and education. 

The ei ght-person panel included professors, business leaders, directors and authors, as well as Maribel Perez Wadsworth, the president of news at Gannett and the publisher of USA Today.

The “100 Women of the Century” initiative was the vision of USA Today editor in chief Nicole Carroll, and spearheaded by Philana Patterson, a USA Today managing editor. 

“We purposely use the words ‘recognize’ and ‘commemorate,’ instead of ‘celebrate,’ when talking about the 19th,” stated Carroll. “We recognize that while the 19th Amendment was an incredible accomplishment, in practice, many women, most of them women of color, were left on the sidelines.”

“But we also knew this was an opportunity to amplify the work of a rich and diverse group of women who fought with their voices, their ideas and even their bodies to better our country," she added.

There are recognizable women on the list, such as Oprah Winfrey, but there are others that may be less familiar, such as Felicitas Mendez, who fought for desegregation in California.

Patterson called it “poignant” that the “100 Women of the Century” list is being released the same week that Sen. Kamala Harris was picked to be vice president to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. 

“I hope this project ultimately underscores for women and girls that they are capable of anything, even being vice president or president of the United States,” Patterson told Publishers Daily.

The “Women of the Century” list will be published online — with short briefs on each of the 100 women — as well as in print. A special eight-page section dedicated to the list is in today’s USA Today.

The lists for each state will appear in USA Today Network’s corresponding local print publications and online.

Carroll interviewed 12 of the women on the national list. USA Today has begun rolling out the interviews and accompanying videos online and in print daily since Monday. Carroll sat down with influential figures, such as Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and entertainment icon Rita Moreno, Flint water whistleblower Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and tennis champion and social-justice advocate Billie Jean King.

There are various components that comprise this initiative. Two augmented-reality experiences focus on famous women's suffrage speeches and the landmarks and statues of the women’s suffrage movement, respectively. Both are available in the AR section of USA Today’s app.

Additionally, USA Today Network’s “Humankind” franchise has launched a video series called “Womankind,” to highlight individuals that have made a positive change in their communities. It will run through September 1.

USA Today Network’s Storytellers Project — a platform for first-person stories from people across the country - will host a virtual event with six people from the “Women of the Century” list. The event will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube on August 18.

Patterson said she could also see “100 Women of the Century” serving as an educational resource for teachers.

And for those that think the list missed key women from the last 100 years, USA Today is asking readers to continue submitting videos and photos of women they think should be recognized, which may be included in future coverage, Patterson said.
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