Right now, our newsfeeds are packed with incredible stories of women taking action. To honor the persistence and drive of those women, we’re taking a look at some truly influential women’s rights activists:
Suffragists around the world
A 1915 photograph of large crowd of suffragists on Capitol steps, some with banners, one with American flag, some in academic gowns, overseen by two uniformed policemen. (Photo credit: Public domain/Wikimedia Commons)
Suffrage has been a worldwide movement with countless determined activists organizing for the right to vote in their respective countries. (See the timeline of women’s suffrage here.)For example, activists like Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst in the United Kingdom and Alice Paul and Lucy Burns in the United States organized marches and demonstrations in order to fight for the right of women to vote in their respective countries.
Lillian Ngoyi (1911 – 1980)
This anti-apartheid activist in South Africa organized marches for women’s rights, including one with 20,000 women to the Union Buildings of Pretoria in protest against the apartheid government requiring women to carry passbooks. A President of the Women’s League, she went on to be the first woman elected to the executive committee of the African National Congress, and helped launch the Federation of South African Women.
Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez (1925 – )
(Photo credit: Jerome Rainey/Wikimedia Commons)
The first Latina student to graduate from Swarthmore College, Elizabeth worked as a researcher in the United Nations Secretariat in the 1950s, and as a coordinator for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. (She was one of only two Latina women who worked for the SNCC.) Since moving to California in 1976, Martínez has organized around Latino community issues, taught Women’s Studies, conducted anti-racist training workshops, and worked with youth groups — she even ran for governor in 1982.
Manasi Pradhan (1962 – )
Women’s rights activist Manasi Pradhan with social activist Padma Vibhushan. (Photo credit: Sravanimohanty/Wikimedia Commons)
Known as one of the pioneers of the 21st century global feminist movement, Manasi founded two major organizations: OYSS Women, which aimed to help female students achieve higher education and develop them as future leaders in the society, and the Honour for Women National Campaign, a nationwide movement to end violence against women in India.
Malala Yousafsai (1997 – )
As part of WOW 2014, Malala Yousafzai talked about the systemic nature of gender inequality and bringing about change. (Photo credit: Southbank Centre/Wikimedia Commons)
This inspirational Pakistani woman was attacked by the Taliban because she was a vocal advocate for girls’ education. Today, she continues to campaign for women’s rights and is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.
ONE members (2004 – )
While the above list of women show the power that just one person has to make a huge difference, our members remind us of the power we have in numbers, as well. For more than 10 years, our members have been campaigning and organizing to fight poverty and preventable disease. Together, they have stood together and told world leaders that poverty is sexist. This year, they’ll keep fighting for the rights of girls around the world to get the education they deserve. Join them today.
Did we leave out your favorite activist? Tell us about them in the comments!