The first four Iowa Women of Achievement honorees were announced Monday night during the dedication of the Iowa Women of Achievement bridge.
Carrie Chapman Catt, Louise Rosenfield Noun, Sister Bernadine Pieper, and Gertrude Elzora Durden Rush were chosen by a selection committee. The women's names will be permanently displayed on the bridge, which is part of the Principal Riverwalk in Des Moines.
The distinction is meant to recognize Iowa women from history who have made contributions, achieved prominence or advanced the well-being of citizens both in Iowa and worldwide.
"Iowa has certainly produced a significant group of women who have left an indelible mark because of their enormous contributions," Mary O'Keefe, chairwoman of the Riverfront Development Authority, said in a news release. "This year's honorees defied the odds and advanced important causes for women and men of all races, creeds and economic levels."
Catt was a major leader in the women's suffrage movement and campaigned for the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Noun was a philanthropist and civil rights activist who founded the Des Moines chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Young Women's Resource Center, the Chrysalis Foundation and the Iowa Women's Political Caucus.
Pieper was a scientist and educator and a leader in the fields of zoology and botany. She was one of the first women listed in the American Men of Science directory.
Finally, Rush was an Iowa pioneer who became the first African-American woman to practice law in the state of Iowa after passing the state bar examination in 1918.