Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891) was a writer and activist for Native American rights. She was a Northern Paiute born in an indigenous community in Nevada.
She went to school in California, and later went on tour throughout the United States to talk about the plight of Native Americans and advocate for their rights. She served in the US forces as a guide, interpreter, and teacher for imprisoned Native Americans. Her 1883 book, Life Among the Paiutes, is considered the first autobiography written by a Native American woman.
bell hooks (b. 1952) is an
author and social activist, focusing on issues of feminism, race and sexuality.
She writes fiction and non-fiction, having published her first book of poems in
Among her many works are the 1981 book Ain’t I A Woman?: Black women and feminism, and Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center,
published in 1984. She taught at several prestigious institutions, for example
Yale University as Professor of African-American Studies and English.
Burnett Talbert (1866-1923) was an activist for the rights of African Americans and
women. She was one of the most prominent black women in the United States in
After graduating from Oberlin College, she became a teacher, and later
the assistant principal of Union High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, thus
becoming the highest-position African American woman in the state. She founded
the Niagara Movement, a very early organization for civil rights and a predecessor
of the NAACP.
Mitford (1917-1996) was a journalist and civil rights activist of British origin.
She wrote extensively about the plight of African Americans and was actively
involved in the fight for equal rights.
Born in England, she became an American citizen after she settled in
California, where she worked as executive secretary for the local Civil Rights
Congress. Her investigative journalism led to the publication of books such as The American Way of Death or Kind and Usual Punishment: The Prison
Business, which uncovered the abuse going on in some aspects of American society.
Ruth Pfau (1929-2017) was a
German nun and physician. She dedicated her life and career to fighting leprosy
She studied Medicine at the University of Mainz and later joined a Catholic
order. She travelled to Pakistan and spent most of her life there, helping
people affected by leprosy all across the country. Due to her efforts, Pakistan
became one of the first countries in Asia to keep the disease under control –
dropping from almost 20,000 thousand cases to just over 500 in 2016.
Shaw Weaver (1876-1961) was an important feminist and political activist from
England. Born into a well-to-do family, she used her influence and wealth to support
social causes and literature.
In 1913, she saved the feminist journal The Freewoman from financial ruin and eventually became its editor.
She also acted as a patron and literary executor of the Irish writer James
Joyce. Upon her death, her extensive literary collection was donated to the
British Library and the National Book League.
Morrow Nelson (1923-2015)
was an activist for peace and racial equality. She co-founded the group Peacemakers in 1948, which advocated
She worked as a Field Secretary for the
Congress for Racial Equality, and was an active participant in the Civil Rights
Movement. She protested wars by tax resistance, and was the first woman
arrested for this in 1959. She received the Courage of Conscience Award for her
Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was a
dedicated suffragist and abolitionist in the United States. She helped found
the American Woman Suffrage Association.
She attended Oberlin College, and was the
first woman in Massachusetts to have a degree. She devoted her life and career
to advancing the rights of African Americans and of women through multiple
anti-slavery and civil rights associations.
Ahmed Ibrahim (1933-2017) was an author and women’s rights activist from Sudan. She won
the UN Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Human Rights in 1993.
Her activism began very early, in her school
days, when she created a newspaper called Pioneer
Girls. She conducted the first women’s strike in Sudan when her school
decided to replace science classes with so-called ‘family science’ lessons.
Throughout her career, she worked to obtain the right to vote for Sudanese
women, as well as gender equality in the workforce.
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964) was a prominent activist for women’s rights in the United States. She advocated for campaigns such as female suffrage and birth control.
She played a leading role as an organiser for Industrial Workers of the World, and later founded the American Civil Liberties Union. She was arrested several times for her convictions.