March is the month of women. International Women’s Day has inspired us to celebrate the strong, inspirational women in our lives, both past and present.
So we’re using this time to reflect on the women that have made us think bigger. Your source of inspiration might come from someone you know, or icons throughout history who have pushed boundaries and changed our world.
If you’re wondering how to celebrate International Women’s Day, why not take some time to find out about the people on this list. Because celebrating women has never been more important.
Writer, poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou’s prolific career and life go beyond definition. She was also Hollywood’s first black, female director, the author of multiple autobiographies, and worked as a dancer, singer and composer among other professions.
Her life was full of experiences, both tragic and inspiring and her most famous work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is considered one of the most controversial and yet acclaimed books of the 20th century.
Most famous for her humanitarian work during the Second World War, Irena Sendler dedicated her life to helping others. Together with her network, she smuggled thousands of Jewish children out of German-occupied Poland. They buried a jar with the children’s real name in a garden, in the hopes of reuniting them with their loved ones after the war.
She was captured in 1943, imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to death only to escape thanks to her network bribing the executioner. She went on to dig up the jars and track down the children who had been sent away to safety.
Twenty-three-year-old Malala is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate and a human rights activist. She began campaigning for girl’s right to education by blogging anonymously for the BBC at 11 years old.
Living in a Taliban occupied area in Pakistan, Malala has stood up against the Taliban, suffered a gunshot wound to the head at their hands, recovered and set up the Malala Fund for children. She continues to campaign for every child’s right to an education.
From one Nobel Prize laureate first, to another, Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to receive the award. In recognition of her struggles for democracy in Kenya, Wangari united Kenyan women to fight against issues like inequality and deforestation.
She was also the first female to earn a doctorate in East and Central Africa and the first Kenyan female professor.
American soccer player Megan Rapinoe is known for changing the face of football for women across the globe, and inspiring other young women to take up the sport.
Described in one article as, “unapologetically gay, unapologetically political and, above all, unapologetically proud of herself and her teammates,” she’s pushed the agenda on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and she never shies away from controversy if it means compromising her beliefs.
Prof Sarah Gilbert
If you haven’t yet heard of Sarah Gilbert, here’s the lowdown. She is the woman behind the Oxford vaccine and she’s spent years studying, designing and making vaccines for diseases like malaria and flu.
Her strong work ethic and determination are what enabled her and her team to make the COVID-19 vaccine within such a short timescale.
Coined The World’s Most Famous Feminist, Gloria Steinem is a journalist and activist who gives us more than one amazing story to go at. Some less true than others! It’s a sort of myth meets legend type scenario with Gloria, but these are the facts we love her for.
She’s always spoken her mind, (such as her “If Men Could Menstruate” essay in Cosmopolitan in the 1970s), and she’s tirelessly fought against female oppression, including bringing the subject of female and male genital mutilation to the attention of the American public in the 1970s.
Leading the suffragette movement in the 1880s, Manchester-born Emmeline Pankhurst was the guiding light behind the fight for women’s right to vote. She married a man equally forward-thinking, given the time, who supported the women’s suffrage movement and her choice to work alongside raising a family.
Emmeline founded two organisations in the fight for women’s equal rights, was arrested multiple times, and went on hunger strikes in prison despite violent force-feeding. Just before her death in 1928 women were given equal voting rights with men, thanks to her tireless, courageous life-long campaign.
If you’ve never seen a Frida self-portrait get swotting up now. Friday Kahlo was famous for her captivating and fearlessly honest self-portraits. She often wore traditional Mexican clothing in her paintings in celebration of her culture.
Experiencing a car crash and polio in her childhood, Frida was no stranger to pain, and most of her works explore human suffering on some level. Although she died at just 47 years old, she left a famous collection of cult-status artwork.