was a poet and political activist. Her poetry often dealt with themes of
feminism, social justice and Judaism.
She was active in politics from a young age,
and was working for the International Labor Defense at 21. She also served as
president of the American centre of PEN International. Her work was rewarded
with a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Yale Younger Poets Award, among others.
Begum Rokeya (1880-1932) was an
author and social activist in British India, today Bangladesh. She is
considered a pioneer of women’s rights and female education on the Indian subcontinent.
She has written extensively, both fiction and
nonfiction, advocating for equal treatment of the genders and better
educational opportunities for women. In 1909 she founded the first school for
Bengali Muslim girls in Kolkata, and in 1916, the Muslim Women’s Association,
an organisation which fought for equal education and employment rights.
Musimbi Kanyoro (b. 1953)
is a human rights advocate from Kenya. She is the President and CEO of the
Global Fund for Women, positions she has held since 2011.
She studied in
her native Kenya and in the United States. In 1998 she became the first woman
to serve as World Secretary General for the YWCA, an organisation which seeks
to empower women and girls worldwide. She is involved in many other human
rights organisations, such as the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice
and the World Health Organization.
Barbara Pierce Bush (b. 1981, pictured above with sister
Jenna) is the daughter of former president George W. Bush. She is an advocate
for different causes such as health issues and LGBT rights.
Unlike her immediate family, she does not align
herself with the Republican Party. She is the president and co-founder of
Global Health Corps, a nonprofit organization working for global health equity.
She also campaigned for same-sex marriage before it was legalized in the United
Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912) was a writer and
anarchist activist. She was an early promoter of feminism and expressed
controversial views for her time regarding religion, marriage and female
sexuality, among others.
She became involved in the freethought movement
and worked for the newspaper The
Progressive Age. Her reputation as a passionate and compelling speaker grew
thanks to her speeches and essays on direct action, sexual freedom or gender
Helene Stöcker (1869-1943) was an early feminist
activist in her native Germany. She was also involved in pacifist and anti-war
She was one of the first German women to receive a doctorate. In 1909 she
founded the League for the Protection of Mothers, and later became an activist
for sexual freedom, legalisation of abortion and equality of illegitimate children.
Her organisation sponsored sexual health clinics where young women could obtain
contraception and advice.
Isabel Rosado (1907-2015)
was an educator and activist from Puerto Rico. She was a member of the
Nationalist Party and a key figure of the independence movement in the country.
She joined the
cause motivated by the Ponce massacre in 1937, when 19 civilians were killed
and more than 200 wounded during a peaceful march. She was fired from her job
as a school social worker and imprisoned for 11 years because of her political
activities in support of Puerto Rican independence.
Léa Roback (1903-2000) was a Canadian feminist and social activist, a pioneer
in her province of Quebec. Her activism focused on combatting racism and
injustice, as well as giving Canadian women the vote.
She helped establish the International Ladies’
Garment Worker’s Union in Montreal and led a strike of 5 thousand women in
1937. She fought for access to education and decent housing in Canada, as well
as for the reproductive rights of women, such as the legality of abortion and
contraception. A foundation was created in her name in 1993, providing
scholarships to socially-committed women.
Marguerite Barankitse (b. 1957) is a prominent
human rights activist from Burundi. She received numerous international awards
for her work focused on improving the lives of children and combatting ethnic
she created Maison Shalom, or the House of Peace, which over the years grew to
house more than 20 thousand orphaned children of all ethnic origins. Later, she
founded the Community Center Oasis of Peace, where she offers, among others,
psychological support to rape victims or vocational training.