Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was the
First Lady of the United States for 12 years, the longest-serving and one of
the most celebrated First Ladies. She was particularly known for her human
rights activism and involvement in politics and social causes.
Before she became First Lady, she was active in the Women’s Trade Union
League, campaigning for the abolition of child labour and the introduction of a
minimum wage. She was an outspoken supporter of the civil rights movement, and
only wanted female reporters at her press conferences in order to support their
continued employment. Her last public position was as chair of the Presidential
Commission on the Status of Women during the Kennedy administration.
was a women’s rights activist from Australia. She was the founder of the Women’s
Political Education League in the country.
She was active
in society in Sydney, founding the Women’s Literary Society in 1889, which
turned into the Womanhood Suffrage League two years later. Her activism led to
the age of consent being raised to sixteen, improved conditions for female
prisoners, and the appointment of female inspectors in shops and factories.
Gower (1931-2013) was
a Canadian politician and women’s rights advocate. She was also a commissioner
of the Canadion Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
worked as a nurse in Vernon, British Columbia, and eventually became a city
councillor. As part of her work with the CRTC, she campaigned for improved
portrayals of women in the media.
Annie Besant (1847-1933) was a British writer, activist and philanthropist. She
was the founder of Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India.
She was a champion of women’s rights, worker’s
rights, secularism and freedom of thought. She was especially active in India,
campaigning for self-rule and its independence from the UK. In 1917, she was
elected as the president of the Indian National Congress.
Flora Brovina (b. 1949) is a poet and women’s rights activist from Kosovo. She
also studied medicine and worked as a paediatrician in the Pristina General Hospital.
Before the Kosovo War, she ran a health
clinic which also served as a shelter for orphaned children. She was abducted
and imprisoned during the war, only released as a result of international
pressure. Among the prizes she has received are the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith
Freedom to Write Award and the Human Rights Award of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
Fatima Lodhi (b. 1989) is a social activist from Pakistan. She is the figure
behind “Dark is Divine”, the first anti-colorism campaign in the country.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in International
Relations. She has emerged as a campaigner and activist for causes such as
HIV/AIDS prevention, violence against women, and the rights of acid burns
victims. She regularly conducts sessions on diversity and self-acceptance.
Frances Willard (1839-1898) was a leading figure in the fight for women’s rights in
the United States. Her campaigning led to the raising of the age of consent in
several states, labour reforms such as the eight-hour day, and the expansion of
She served as the first Dean of Women at
Northwestern University and the national president of the Woman’s Christian
Temperance Union. She advocated gender equality at home and in the workplace,
and was the founder and first president of the National Council of Women of the
Cherríe Moraga (b. 1952) is a feminist activist and author. She is the founder of
La Red Xicana, an activist group fighting for indigenous rights, culture and
Born in Los Angeles, she obtained a master’s in
Feminist Writings from San Francisco State University. She is one of the first
writers to introduce theories on Chicana lesbianism. In 1983, she founded
Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, alongside Audre Lorde and Barbara Smith;
this was the first publisher in the United States dedicated to writings by
women of colour.
Louise McKinney (1868-1931) was a politician and feminist activist from Canada. She became
the first woman to be elected to a legislature in the entire British Empire
when she was sworn into the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 1917.
She was one of the Famous Five, a group that
successfully campaigned for the right of women to be appointed to the Canadian Senate.
She is recognized by the government as a Person of National Historic
Gauhar (1956-2018) was
an actor, playwright and theatre director from Pakistan. She was also a women’s
rights activist, and the plays put on by her company dealt with social issues
and promoted a secular and equal society.
She studied at the University of London, but then returned to her native
country and founded Akoja Theatre in Lahore in 1983. Her 2007 play Burqavaganza, dealing with themes of gender discrimination and intolerance, was met
with calls for a ban and threats of sanction from the Pakistani government, but
found success internationally.