In honor of Women’s History Month, I decided to make a list of some of the women I look up to. These ladies remind me that I can be powerful and change the world. They all differ greatly, but have each inspired me in some way.
1. Audrey Hepburn || Actress, Humanitarian
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”
She was more than just a remarkable actress and a timeless beauty. Audrey was also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. As she traveled the world, she strived to bring attention to children in need. This was made easier by the fact that she was fluent in English, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, German, and French. Audrey knew all too well what it felt like to be hungry from her days during the German Occupation in The Netherlands. She made more than 50 trips across the world and even won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and a special Academy Award for her humanitarian work.
2. Mae C. Jemison || Physicist, Astronaut
“What we find is that if you have a goal that is very, very far out, and you approach it in little steps, you start to get there faster. Your mind opens up to the possibilities.”
As the first African-American female astronaut and the first African-American woman in space, Dr. Jemison is incredibly inspirational. During the 190+ hours she spent in space, she conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness. Not only a physicist, she was also a dancer and served in the Peace Corps. Dr. Jemison even appeared in an episode of Star Trek!
3. Malala Yousafzai || Activist
“I don’t want to remembered as the girl who was shot. I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up.”
When only a young teen, Malala stood up to the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. She blogged anonymously for BBC about her experiences, until her identity was eventually revealed. In return for her fight for education, Malala was shot in the head. Remarkably, she survived. After writing her autobiography and doing numerous speeches she received the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest to do so. To celebrate her 18th birthday, Malala opened a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon.
4. Emma Watson || Actress, Activist, Model
“The human race is like a bird and it needs both wings to be able to fly. And, at the moment, one of its wings is clipped and we’re never going to be able to fly as high.”
She got her start as an actress. Now, Emma is fighting for gender equality. In 2014, she was appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. She later helped launch HeForShe, a campaign calling men to join in on feminism. Emma has even made it on the TIME 100. Her speech on feminism is actually what inspired Malala Yousafzai to identify herself as a feminist.
5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg || Associate Justice
“Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.”
Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg was the second woman on the Supreme Court. She is a staunch supporter of women’s rights and in 2009, Forbes named her among the 100 Most Powerful Women. Her friendship with the late Antonin Scalia proved that you can form friendly relationships even with those you do not necessarily agree with.
6. Rowan Blanchard || Actress, Activist
“With as many issues as feminists have succeeded in adopting, many of us seem to have not accepted the fact that police brutality and race issues are our issues too.”
Rowan has been acting since she was five years old and is currently the star of Girl Meets World. She is also an outspoken activist on feminism, gun violence, and human rights. The majority of her opinions are voiced on Tumblr and Twitter. She has, however, spoken the UN Women’s annual conference as a part of HeForShe. Rowan is unashamed of her strong opinions and is inspiring many of her fans to be more open to feminism. Her career as an actress on a Disney TV show has provided the perfect platform for her to share important social problems with a younger generation.
7. Hillary Clinton || Politician
“If a country doesn’t recognize minority rights and human rights, including women’s rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible.”
In 1969, she graduated from Wellesley College where she was the first commencement speaker. Hillary later became the first female senator from New York and the only First Lady to seek elected office. When running for President in 2008, she won the most primaries and delegates than any female candidate in history. She served as Secretary of State under Obama administration from January 2009 to February 2013. Hillary has written five different books and is currently running for President of the United States for the second time.
8. Lupita Nyong’o || Actress, Director
“For every little child, no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”
Her first feature film role, “12 Years A Slave”, launched Lupita into the limelight. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first Kenyan and the first Mexican actress to win an Academy Award. She went on to make her Broadway debut in the critically acclaimed play Eclipsed, the first all black and all female Broadway show. She was named “The Most Beautiful Woman” by People and “Woman of the Year” by Glamour. Lupita is fluent in Spanish, Luo, English, and Swahili. She is also WildAid’s Global Elephant Ambassador and an activist promoting women’s issues, acting, and the arts in Kenya.
9. Amelia Earhart || Aviator
“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.”
This long missing woman is truly an icon. Amelia was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She also held a position as Associate Editor at Cosmopolitan magazine. Over time, she collected a multitude of distance and altitude world records for flying. Amelia dedicated much of her life to prove that men and women could excel equally in their chosen professions and she was excellent proof of that.
10. Josephine Baker || Dancer, Singer, Actress, Activist, Spy
“All my life, I have maintained that the people of the world can learn to live together in peace if they are not brought up in prejudice.”
Talk about a woman of many talents! Born in St. Louis, Josephine traveled to France and there launched her dance career into the stars. She was beloved in there, but was met with racism and prejudice in the United States. Disheartened, she returned to France and served in World War II as a spy and a sub-lieutenant in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She was the first black woman to star in a motion picture and become a world-famous entertainer. Josephine staunchly refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her major contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. She was the only woman to speak at the March on Washington and after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Josephine was offered unofficial leadership of the entire civil rights movement.
None of these women are perfect, yet they do not claim to be. I hope to one day prove to be as powerful, remarkable, and inspiring as women such as The Notorious R.B.G. or Rowan Blanchard. There are far too many women to name and describe in one brief blog post. Women like Misty Copeland, Gloria Steinem, and Shonda Rhimes who are changing the world each day. Not only are that, but they are changing the lives of women everywhere by inspiring and providing new opportunities. Women’s History Month is a brilliant time to recognize remarkable ladies across the world, but keep in mind their accomplishments year around. Take time to recognize the amazing ladies in your life and thank them for showing how incredible women can truly be.