It’s international woman’s day once more, and this year women are being encouraged to #BeBoldForChange. We’ve come a long way throughout the course of history, despite repression and gender bias. But there’s still so much left to do to bridge the inequality gap. Did you know, for example, that in Iraq, Iran and several other countries, adulterous women can still be sentenced to death by stoning?
In Saudi Arabia, women were only granted the right to vote in 2015, and the United States is the worst country in the world to live in for maternity leave, providing no type of financial support for mothers. There are still so many areas that we need to work on, but on this day, let’s take a look at some awesome women throughout history and celebrate their achievements. Here are a few women who defied the odds, spoke up and decided to be bold.
Joan of Arc
Think back to the 1400s and women were already kicking ass as military leaders, in France at least. At just 18 years old, Joan of Arc led her French army to beat the English at the battle of Orléans. Defying the odds of her social status and gender, Joan went on to become a French hero. She was later proclaimed the Patron Saint of France, after being burned at the stake by her English captors and their French collaborators, who accused her of heresy.
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I of England is still widely regarded as the greatest monarch in English history. Considered by many as illegitimate, Elizabeth Tudor inherited the throne in 1558, at a time when England was ravaged by religious discord and weakened by war. As only the third woman to become Queen, her predecessors’ rules had been disastrous. Her staunchest of advisors counseled Elizabeth to marry as soon as possible, but she had other ideas and went on to rule over a glorious epoch for England for almost half a century.
Sacajawea is best known for leading the Lewis and Clark expedition into American West. Sacagawea was a Shoshone interpreter and was chosen to lead the expedition, despite being pregnant, due to her knowledge of the Shoshone language. In the name of all that is badass, Sacagawea gave birth to her baby along the way, but continued to lead the expedition with a newborn on her back. She provided life-saving information and help, such as advising on types of plants that were safe to eat and saving precious cargo when her boat capsized.
Marie Curie was the first ever woman to win the Nobel Prize, and not just once, but twice in two different categories, physics and chemistry. As a scientist, Curie was born in 867, in Warsaw, Poland and worked with her husband to discover polonium and radium, which would lead to the development of the X-Ray. Despite being a top student in high school, Curie was not allowed to attend the men-only University of Warsaw. But she didn’t let that get in her way and continued her classes in a secret, underground university.
ca. 1898 --- Marie Curie --- Image by © Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS
In a world where a woman’s beauty is often prized over her intellect, Joplin showed us that passion is the most important factor of all. Known as much for her powerful, vocals, inspired by blues, as for her protests against the Vietnam war, Joplin inspired many women to take action. Showing them that the collective voice can be heard and haunting our memories with her timeless soulful music.
Susan Sarandon has dazzled us all with her Academy Award-winning acting skills in roles in Bull Durham, Thelma and Louise and Dead Man Walking. But beyond the silver screen, Sarandon and is known for her political activism and speaking out for important causes. At the 1993 Academy Awards, she spoke about what was happening to Haitian HIV-positive refugees and later became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She also spoke out against the war in Iraq and was very vocal about her concerns throughout the Drumpf campaign.
Yoko Ono is well-known for her peaceful protests with husband John Lennon. Yet, Ono has been a strong voice for gender equality over the years. As far back as 1972, she wrote an essay called “The Feminization of Society," which helped to mark the female revolution of the decade. Today, Ono is an artist and mother, yet still continues with her feminist efforts.
No awesome women list would be complete without everyone’s favorite, Oprah. When she started her broadcasting career, Oprah was angered by the unequal pay and decided to start her own TV show, which went on to become an empire. Oprah never particularly considered herself a feminist, but was naturally compelled to see other women grow and thrive alongside her. She has started initiatives in developing countries and inspired many women around the globe.
This is just a handful of the many awesome women that have graced humanity throughout history. So, whoever you are and whatever you do, do it proudly and don’t be afraid to #BeBoldForChange. If this list of kickass women shows us anything, it’s that you can achieve the impossible, simply by following you heart and daring to make a change.