Samia Nkrumah (b. 1960) is the
chairperson of the Convention People’s Party in Ghana. She is the first woman
in the country to head a major political party.
She studied at the University of
London before returning to Ghana to head the CCP and continue its tradition of
upholding women’s rights in the country. She co-founded the organisation Africa Must Unite and was named ‘the new
Mandela’ by the Huffington Post.
Edith Windsor (1929-2017) was an
LGBT rights activist in the United States. The 2013 civil rights case United States v. Windsor, in which she
was lead plaintiff, is considered a landmark victory for the rights of same-sex
She was a technology manager for
IBM, and helped many LGBT groups become ‘tech literate’. She continued her
activism throughout her life, even after winning the case that ruled that the
definition of marriage only as between one man and one woman is unconstitutional.
Evangelina Estrada Kalaw (1920-2017)
served as a state senator in the Philippines during Ferdinand Marcos. She was
one of the main opponents of the authoritarian ruler and was instrumental in
his eventual downfall.
She taught at several universities in the
country, and was involved with numerous civic and social organisations such as
the League of Women Voters or the Youth Welfare Council. She was one of the few
brave enough to criticize the administration, and was imprisoned and even
attacked with hand grenades as a result. Her efforts were recognised with the
Mahatma Gandhi Freedom Award in 1985.
Hazel Dickens (1925-2011) was a pioneer of bluegrass music, regarded as one of the first female artists to record in the genre. She is best known for her songs which promoted feminism and workers’ rights.
She was the first woman to receive the Merit Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. In addition to this, she was also awarded a National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honour that can be awarded to folk musicians in the United States.
Erica Garner (1990-2017) was an advocate for police reform in the United States. She became involved with the cause after her father, Eric Garner, was killed while in a chokehold during his arrest.
She was an important Black Lives Matter activist, and staged numerous marches and protests for the cause. The Garner Way Foundation, which she established, worked to promote political awareness and social activism.
Zelda Rubinstein (1933-2010) was an actress starring in numerous films and TV shows, most famously in the Poltergeist series. She was also an activist for little people and HIV/AIDS awareness.
She studied bacteriology and worked as a medical lab technician before pursuing an acting career. Throughout her three decades of activity she talked about the challenges of being born with dwarfism, and starred in advertising campaigns promoting safe sex and AIDS prevention.
Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) was an author and social activist. She is best remembered for writing the lyrics to the famous Civil War song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
She wrote the song in 1862, after which it quickly became one of the most popular anthems of the Union. She was also a dedicated suffragist, and was a leader of the American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1881 she was chosen as president of the Association for the Advancement of Women.
Dawn Engle (b. 1957) is the executive director and co-founder of the PeaceJam Foundation. This brings together Nobel Peace Prize laureates in order to teach the art of peace to youth around the world.
Even though she has not won a Nobel herself, she has been nominated seventeen times. Since its founding in 1996, more than one million people around the world have participated in the PeaceJam educational programme.
Isabella Tod (1836-1896) was a suffragist and activist of Scottish origins. She mainly worked to advance the rights of women in Ireland.
She founded the North of Ireland Women’s Suffrage Society in 1872, and organised the Liberal Women’s Unionist Association. She campaigned extensively to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts, a law that allowed police to arrest and hold women suspected of being prostitutes for months – her organisation won the fight in 1866.
Kathleen Cleaver (b.1954) is an activist and professor of law. She is best known for her involvement with the Black Panthers.
She was the first woman part of the decision-making body of the party, and also served as its spokesperson and press secretary. She was frequently targeted by the police and had to spend considerable time in exile because of her outspoken political beliefs. She was a Senior Research Associate in Law and a Senior Lecturer of African American Studies at Yale.