March marks Women’s History Month every year, and International Women’s Day is celebrated yearly on March 8th. While International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years, Women’s History Month is still a considerably new holiday. Even after the month ends, though, let’s continue to celebrate famous feminists and others who made the rights enjoyed today possible.
Some blazed the trail in scientific or literary fields, while others stood on the front lines demanding equal rights. All offer inspiration in droves. Take the time to learn more about these 10 feminist icons today.
1. Famous feminists include Malala Yousafzai
How far would you go to pursue an education? If you feel crushed under the weight of student loan debt, think how you would react if you had to take a bullet. That’s what young Pakistani native Malala Yousafzai did.
Her father was a teacher who ran a school in their village, which she adored attending. However, when the Taliban took control, they banned girls from the classroom. Malala spoke out publicly and reported to class, anyway.
One day, a man stopped her, asked for her name and shot her in the head for her act of rebellion. Fortunately, she recovered, and today, the Malala Fund works toward a world where every girl can learn and lead.
2. Jane Fonda
Young people today know Jane Fonda as a climate change activist, but they might not know about her long history as a feminist. She played an active role in the women’s rights movement, and in 2005, she founded the Women’s Media Center.
She organized several protests this year to implore the government to take stronger action on climate change. She was arrested twice, but she won’t let a few run-ins with the police halt her mission. She hopes to inspire more young people to take to the streets to provoke meaningful change.
3. More famous feminists: Carol Gilligan
Are men and women the same — or are they equal, but different? The first wave of feminism focused on emphasizing the intrinsic humanity of all, which necessarily underscored the idea that women have more in common with males than previously thought. However, later feminists like Carol Gilligan emphasized that it’s OK to celebrate the characteristics that make females unique.
Gilligan founded the principle of difference feminism. She criticized the moral reasoning stages of Lawrence Kohlberg and instead asserted that women grow their sense of ethics through their relationship. This principle of different but equal became one of the core tenets of second-wave feminism during the 1980s and ’90s.
4. Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir was a French feminist and writer best known for her novel “The Woman Destroyed.” In the book, de Beauvoir draws readers into the lives of three women facing unexpected crises. Her writings often explore the power dynamics between men and women, and the way the feminine set reacts psychologically and philosophically to systematic oppression.
5. Mae C. Jemison
Although she receives few mentions in the media, Mae C. Jemison served as the first black female astronaut. Before she took to the starry skies, Jemison dedicated her life as a medical doctor with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia. She later shattered the glass ceiling against African-American women in space as a crew member on the shuttle Endeavor.
6. Ruth Bader Ginsberg
You know you have officially reached demigod status when you earn a nickname like the Notorious R.B.G. Ruth Bader Ginsberg currently continues her tenure on the Supreme Court as the oldest justice. In 1971, she played a role in launching the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
7. Alice Walker: Another of the famous feminists
Alice Walker is an African-American writer who brought light to the dark secret of female genital mutilation in her book “Possessing the Secret of Joy.” Though now banned, this practice continues across parts of Africa and, tragically, goes on hidden in other nations as well. Today, her website continues to highlight political and feminist issues, as well as poetry, positioning her as one of the famous feminists to know about.
8. Norma Andrade
Norma Andrade is another feminist icon who took a bullet for her beliefs. Andrade is one of the founding members of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa A.D., a nonprofit organization for mothers of daughters who have been victims of homicide in Ciudad Juarez. Her own daughter disappeared on Feb. 14, 2001, and Andrade was shot on Dec. 2, 2011.
9. Li Maizi
Li Maizi took to the streets of Beijing with one mission — handing out stickers about sexual harassment. Although she did nothing to protest the Chinese government, she was arrested and detained. As part of her group, which became known as China’s “Feminist Five,” she provided the spark for a new dissent against a patriarchal, authoritarian regime.
10. Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was the author of 36 books, 30 of which made the bestseller lists. Her novel “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” remains a staple on college campuses across the country. She earned over 50 honorary doctorate degrees in her lifetime.
Learn more about these 10 famous feminists
What better way to celebrate Women’s History Month – and beyond – than by learning about the feminist icons who made current civil rights possible? Grab a biography of one of these leaders, kick back and enjoy learning.
About today’s writer
Kate is a lifestyle and wellness journalist from Pennsylvania. She particularly enjoys writing about topics related to women’s health and well-being. If you like her work, you can subscribe to her blog, So Well, So Woman.