Wanjiru Kihoro (1953-2006) was
an economist and feminist activist from Kenya. She was a founder of the
Pan-African women’s organisation Akina Mama wa Africa, which focuses on sexual
and reproductive rights, peace and domestic violence issues.
She studied in
the US and the UK, and founded her organisation in 1985 in London. Among her
other projects are ABANTU for Development, which provides training for African
women, and the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya.
Jane Addams (1860-1935) is seen as the founder of
social work and sociology in the United States. She co-founded the American
Civil Liberties Union, and in 1931 was the first American woman to win the
Nobel Peace Prize.
Her activism started in 1889, when she co-founded Hull
House, a settlement house aiming at bringing people of different social classes
together, in Chicago. The house provided services such as a public kitchen, a
social club, or educational opportunities for children. She served as the
president of the International Committee of Women for a Permanent Peace.
Fraser (1925-2018) was
a political campaigner and women’s rights activist. She served as the US
Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
She was educated
in liberal arts at the University of Minnesota, and was active in the Minnesota
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, eventually becoming its vice-chair. She also
served as the national president of the Women’s Equity Action League and was a Senior
Fellow at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Rania Al-Abdullah (b. 1970) is the queen consort of
Jordan. She has been involved in numerous humanitarian projects relating to
education, health, community projects, and other causes.
She studied business administration at the American
University in Cairo, and became queen in 1999. Her projects include the first
interactive children’s museum in Jordan, the refurbishment of 500 public
schools, and the Jordan River Foundation, which aims to improve the life
quality of women and children in the country. She was the first person named as
an Eminent Advocate for Children by UNICEF.
Winona LaDuke (b. 1959) is an economist and environmentalist of Native American
heritage. She serves as the executive director of Honor of the Earth, a
non-profit organisation working for Indigenous environmental justice.
She studied Economics at Harvard
University, and helped found the Indigenous Women’s Network in 1985. She later
founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project, aiming to retrieve reservation
land and reforest it. She was an active participant in the protests against the
Dakota Access pipeline project.
Fredrika Bremer (1801-1865) was a Swedish author and feminist reformer. Seen as the ‘Swedish
Jane Austen’, her novels her highly influential in bringing about social change
for women in her country.
Her novels were very popular even outside
national borders, in the UK and the US. In a society where all women were under
the guardianship of either their fathers or their husbands, her novel Hertha sparked a movement that granted Swedish women majority at the age of 25 – a
major victory for female independence. The first women’s rights organisation in
Sweden, formed in 1884, bears her name.
was a poet, women’s rights activist and theologian from Iran. She was a follower
of the Bábí faith, for which she was detained and executed.
She was literate and well educated, which
was uncommon for a girl in her time. She started preaching a different faith
than the one commonly accepted, and spoke out against polygamy, wearing the
veil, and other restraints put on women, gaining an important female following.
She was killed at the age of only 35, strangled with her own veil, and is
remembered for her famous last words: “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you
cannot stop the emancipation of women.”
Redžepova (1943-2016) was
a Macedonian singer, known as Queen of the Gypsies for her promotion of
Roma music and culture. Her career lasted over five decades and helped
popularise traditional Roma songs.
She began her
musical career after singing a song in Romani on public radio at the age of 13,
the first time such a song was aired in the country. She later founded a school
where disadvantaged boys were trained in music, and was an honorary president
of the Macedonian Red Cross for her work with Romani refugees in Kosovo.
Eleanor Smeal (b. 1939) is a prominent American feminist. She has served as the
president of the National Organization for Women for three terms, and co-founded
the Feminist Majority Foundation in 1987.
She studied at Duke University and the
University of Florida, and became interested in feminism during her student
years. She joined NOW in 1970 and first became its president in 1977. She campaigned
for reproduction and LGBT rights, and coined the term ‘gender gap’ to refer to
how men and women vote differently by political party.
was a Brazilian human rights activist. An outspoken campaigner against police
brutality, she was eventually murdered by two former police officers.
born in a slum of Rio de Janeiro, began working at 11 and became a single
mother at the age of 19. Yet, she later obtained a degree in social sciences
and a master’s in public administration, becoming a councillor for the city. She
coordinated the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship, and
fought against gender violence and LGBT discrimination.