Happy International Women’s Day! Since the early 1900s, International Women’s Day has been a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements throughout history — everything from inventions to political and social developments, all fighting for gender equality. Despite the fact that 49.6 percent of the world’s population is female (it’s easy to forget sometimes!), too often great women in history end up flying under the radar. Even today, in the information age, you may not be aware that some everyday essentials wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for women. Let’s just say you would be sitting somewhere not using Wi-Fi and not eating a chocolate cookie, which is just sad. Here are 17 of those things you have because women did us a solid and made them.
The Fire Escape
Here’s an invention that’s saved countless lives. Credit for exterior fire-safe escapes on multi-story structures goes to Anna Connelly, who patented the first fire escape.
The Paper Bag
Did you carry your lunch to work today in a brown paper bag? Or maybe your coffee? Or a beer (hey, we all celebrate this day in our own way)? Well, cotton mill worker Margaret Knight invented a machine to make those famous bags with a flat square bottom in 1868 (paper bags originally looked more like envelopes). A man named Charles Annan saw her design and tried to patent the idea first. Knight filed a lawsuit and won the patent in 1871. You go girl.
Do you enjoy not having to reenact The Revenant every winter? You owe a debt of gratitude Alice Parker, who invented a system of gas-powered central heating in 1919, saving us from freezing to death every winter. Her actual design was never built, but she was the first to use natural gas to heat a personal home. She would inspire others to come up with the central heating you know and love today.