‘This International Women’s Day, we are dedicating our channels to celebrating women’s achievements and providing a platform to magnify women’s voices; raising awareness for women who have challenged and continue to challenge gender bias as well as transformed the face of their industries.’
In line with this year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme, “Choose to challenge.” we’ve selected women from both the past and the present who encompass this statement and inspire positive action.
Marie Curie was a pioneer in the world of science, thanks to her ground-breaking research into radioactivity which led to her discovery of radium and polonium. Her work fuelled research into cancer treatment and continues to be used to this day. The esteemed physicist and chemist was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize and is the only person to have won two Nobel Prizes in different fields.
Ava DuVernay is the director and filmmaker behind ground breaking films, Selma and 13th and hard-hitting miniseries When They See Us. Female directors are still a relatively rare breed and DuVernay is the first black female director to have been nominated for an Academy Award. Her poignant work frequently gives a platform to voices that are underrepresented.
An aviation pioneer with an unmatched spirit for adventure, Amelia Earhart, became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo as well as countless other trailblazing trips. Sadly, her ambitious plans to circumnavigate the world were cut short when she disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on what would have been the last leg of her flight. What happened remains a mystery eighty years on, however, she has left behind a legacy that has inspired women in the aviation field and beyond.
At just eighteen years of age, Greta Thunberg has already cemented her legacy as an environmental activist. From organising her own climate change school strike to addressing the United Nations, Thunberg is a force to be reckoned with. Already declared Time Magazine’s person of the year and nominated for three consecutive Nobel Peace Prizes, Thunberg’s shock tactics and analogies have made the world wake up to the threat of climate change.
An educational activist since her early teens, Malala Yousafzai made global headlines when she survived a shocking murder attempt on her way to school. The motive; her criticism for the Pakistani education system’s treatment of girls. Her bravery and outspoken nature may have earned her a target on her back from the Taliban, but her plight has earned her millions of supporters worldwide. She has since won a Nobel Peace Prize, set up her own Malala fund for girls’ education and uses her platform to address the issues girls face.
Therese Patricia Okoumou
In a now iconic piece of news footage, political activist Therese Patricia Okoumou scaled the Statue of Liberty on Independence Day 2018 in protest against the treatment of immigrants in the United States by ICE. Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but now a naturalized citizen of the United States, immigration is a topic close to Okoumou’s heart and she continues to participate in jaw-dropping protests that get the world talking.
In addition to being one of the most iconic voices of the twentieth century, Nina Simone was also an ardent advocate of the Civil Rights Movement. Simone used her music as a platform to challenge racial discrimination and was a frequent attendee and speaker at Civil Rights protests. Songs such as Old Jim Crow and Mississippi Goddam addressed the prejudice that African Americans face every day, purely because of the colour of their skin. Her musical legacy continues to be referenced and sampled in songs today, the lyrics particularly poignant even fifty years later.
A woman who needs no introduction, Meghan Markle was a keen activist long before her involvement with Prince Harry. From tours of Rwanda campaigning for clean water to raising women’s issues in India, Meghan Markle used her platform as a successful actress to make the world a better place. She continues to be heavily involved in charitable causes and uses her voice on behalf of people who don’t have one.
Commonly referred to as The First Lady of Civil Rights, Rosa Parks unwittingly sparked a cultural revolution when she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus for a white passenger. Her subsequent arrest sparked outrage in the community and inspired a boycott of the bus company, organised by none other than Martin Luther King. In a single act of defiance, Parks began the momentum spurring the Civil Rights Movement.
A prolific author, intellectual and political activist, Susan Sontag’s essays on modern culture were decades ahead of their time. Like any good philosopher, her provocative and acute observations regarding modern culture garnered her admirers and critics in abundance and continue to inform the way we consume culture and imagery nowadays.
Simone De Beauvoir
A feminist icon, French existential philosopher and author Simone De Beauvoir’s oeuvre covers a rich and diverse range of topics, from ethics to feminism to politics, De Beauvoir covered it all. Her most famous and influential philosophical work, The Second Sex (1949), heralded a feminist revolution and remains to this day a central text in the investigation of women’s oppression and liberation.