Angela Davis is an American political activist, philosopher, academic and author. She is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Davis was a longtime member of the Communist Party USA and is a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. She is the author of over ten books on class, feminism, race, and the US prison system.
Back in the '50s, the rule in Montgomery, Alabama, was that if a bus became full, the seats at the front would be given to white passengers. Rosa Parks, a leader in the local NAACP and the civil rights movement, iconically refused to give up her seat. Her willingness to disobey the rule helped to spark the Montgomery boycott and other efforts to end segregation in America.
In 2012, at the age of 15, Malala Yousafzai publicly spoke out on women’s rights to education and as a result, a gunman boarded her school bus and shot the young activist in the head. Malala survived. Yousafzai moved to the UK where she has become a fierce presence on the world stage and became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, at 17 years old. Malala is currently studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford.
Betty Friedman, is best known for writing the book The Feminine Mystique, which encourages women to seek more opportunities for themselves outside traditional home-based roles. She went on to co-found and become president of the National Organization for Women.
In 1966, Indira Gandhi became the third prime minister of India, and is one of few examples of women rising to power in the country. She continued in her role for more than 20 years until she was assassinated in 1984.
Margaret Sanger, a feminist and women's rights activist, coined the term "birth control." She wrote pamphlets and opened a women's health clinic decades before her biggest achievement—getting the Food and Drug Administration to approve the first oral contraceptive, Enovid, in 1960, six years before her death.
In 1968, Shirley Chisholm made history when she became the first Black woman to be elected into Congress. The Brooklyn-born activist and political leader later entered the 1975 Democratic presidential race—the first woman and the first Black American to do so.
Mountaineer Junko Tabei shattered gender norms in 1975 when she became the first woman to successfully climb Mount Everest. She strengthened her legacy by later becoming the first woman ever to reach the Seven Peaks (the highest points of the earth's seven continents) in 1992.
Nicknamed "Mama Africa", MiriamMakeba is renowned throughout South Africa and the rest of the continent for her endless activism. She used her global platform as a singer-songwriter to speak against apartheid in the '70s and '80s, calling attention to the plight of black South Africans through her music.
Benzir Bhutto became the first woman prime minister of Pakistan in 1988. After a military coup overthrew her father's government, she inherited leadership of the Pakistan People's Party . She pushed for open elections, and won, just three months after giving birth.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent much of her legal career as an advocate for gender equality and women's rights, winning many arguments before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsel in the 1970s.
Maya Angelou is one of the most influential women in American history and was a poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist, whose award-winning memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.
Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake was an English physician, teacher and feminist. She led the campaign to secure women access to a University education when she and six other women, collectively known as the Edinburgh Seven, began studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1869. She was the first practising female doctor in Scotland.
Michaela Coel, is a British actress, screenwriter, director, producer and singer. She is best known for creating and starring in the E4 sitcom Chewing Gum, for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Female Comedy Performance and the BBC One/HBO comedy-drama series I May Destroy You where she explores topics of rape and gender inequality.
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, both key figures in the gay liberation movement, pioneering transgender activists who were at the vanguard of the gay rights movement. Ms. Johnson and Ms. Rivera were both drag performers and vibrant characters in Greenwich Village street life who worked on behalf of homeless LGBTQ+ youth and those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Vera Rubin was an American astronomer who pioneered work on galaxy rotation rates. She uncovered the discrepancy between the predicted angular motion of galaxies and the observed motion, by studying galactic rotation curves. This phenomenon became known as the galaxy rotation problem, and was evidence of the existence of dark matter. Although initially met with skepticism, Rubin's results were confirmed over subsequent decades. Her legacy was described by The New York Times as "ushering in a Copernican-scale change" in cosmological theory.
Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, better known as La Veneno was a Spanish singer, actress, sex worker and media personality. Considered one of the most important and beloved LGBT icons in Spain, she rose to fame in 1996 after briefly appearing on the late-night talk show Esta noche cruzamos el Mississippi. La Veneno was one of the first transgender women to become widely known in Spain, and has since been recognised as a pioneering trans icon.
Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist who is internationally known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. In the summer of 2018, Thunberg started sitting outside the Swedish parliament every Friday as part of a climate strike and on September 20, 2019 she led the largest climate strike in history.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter known for raw and honest works about real experiences women face, such as abortion, birth and breastfeeding. She also defied many gender stereotypes by dressing as a man in family portraits while also bradding her hair with flowers and wearing colorful dresses. Frida was also openly bisexual, a bold act for her time.
Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Her non-wavering demands for respect and understanding chimed with counter-culture calls for equality, and becoming the most charted female in history with over one hundred singles hitting the US Billboard chart made her a symbol of hope and aspiration.
Hypatia is considered the greatest mathematician and astronomer of her time. She was the leader of the Neoplatonist school of philosophy in Alexandria, and she is also known for spectacularly overcoming the profound sexism of her society, becoming the icon for many women in STEM.
Marie Curie was the first person to ever win two Nobel prizes for her outstanding scientific contributions. She is a cowinner of the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics and winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Marie Curie wrote the entry on radium with her daughter Irène Curie. And later, Irène Curie would become a cowinner of the 1935 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Simone Weil was a French mystic, social philosopher, and activist in the French Resistance during World War II. As health minister, she is best remembered for advancing women's legal rights in France, in particular for the 1975 law that legalized abortion, today known as Loi Veil.