Lupita Nyong'o is one of the most popular black actresses of all time. The first Kenyan-Mexican actress to receive the prestigious Academy Award, Lupita Nyong'o has often been named in lists, such as the world's most beautiful woman. In 2020, she was named by Forbes magazine as one of Africa's 50 Most Powerful Women.
Born to musician Derek Pascoe, comedian Sara Pascoe was raised by her mother amid poverty after her parents’ divorce. Initially a tour guide, she later stepped into comedy and never looked back. She is known for shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Twenty Twelve.
Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, and scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the founder of an organization for the defense of women's rights, the AHA Foundation. She actively opposes forced marriage, honor violence, and child marriage. A former Muslim, she now identifies as an atheist and is a vocal critic of Islam. She is a recipient of the Lantos Human Rights Prize.
Betty Ford served as the First Lady of the US from 1974 to 1977. One of the most popular First Ladies in history, Ford was a passionate supporter of abortion rights and worked towards raising breast cancer awareness. She commented on topics like sex, drugs, abortion, and equal pay. In 1991, she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
English actor Jodie Whittaker made waves with her debut film Venus, which earned her a Satellite Award nomination. She made headlines when she became the first female to play the doctor in Doctor Who. She is also known for her roles in Black Mirror and Broadchurch.
Activist Emily Davison is remembered for her relentless fight for women’s suffrage. As part of her protest, at the 1913 Epsom Derby, she went in front of King George V’s horse, to attach suffragette flags to it, and was tragically trampled to death. Some regard her as a martyr for women’s causes.
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Author and poet Audre Lorde is remembered as a firebrand feminist and a champion for the LGBT community. Openly lesbian, she penned iconic volumes such as Cables to Rage and The Black Unicorn. She also recorded her 14-year struggle with cancer in The Cancer Journals and A Burst of Light.
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Victoria Woodhull was an American politician, suffragist, and writer who played an important role in the women's suffrage movement. She is credited with founding Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, America's first newspaper to be founded by a woman. Her life and career inspired the Broadway musical Onward Victoria. In 2001, she was posthumously inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
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Nobel Peace Prize-winning Guatemalan activist is known for her fight for the rights of indigenous people and women. Her entire family was accused of participating in guerrilla activities, brutalized, and killed by the Guatemalan army. She has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and founded the first Guatemalan indigenous political party.
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Somali model, writer, and women’s rights activist Waris Dirie is best known for her advocacy against female genital mutilation through the Desert Flower Foundation. Born into a poor nomadic family, she ran away at 13 to avoid marriage and then worked as a maid in London, before gaining a modeling contract.
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Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, photographer, illustrator, and author. Born in India, she moved to Canada at an early age. She began performing in 2009 and gained international fame through her Instagram posts. She often explores her South Asian identity and femininity in her work. Her latest poetry collection, Home Body, released in 2020, was a resounding success.
Selma Lagerlöf was a Swedish teacher and author. In 1909, Lagerlöf became the first woman to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1914, she became the first woman to be elected as a member by the Swedish Academy. In 1991, Selma Lagerlöf was depicted on a Swedish banknote, becoming the first woman to enjoy this honor, albiet posthumously.
Born to Iraqi immigrants to Canada, Anita Sarkeesian later moved to the U.S. and soared to fame as a feminist media critic and YouTuber. Her site Feminist Frequency explores the treatment of women in socio-cultural scenarios. Her Tropes vs Women project invited serious sexist and racist attacks online.
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Jane Fonda is hailed as one of the best actresses ever and has won two Oscars. She has acted in popular and acclaimed films like Barefoot in the Park, Barbarella, Klute, Coming Home, Julia, The Morning After, The China Syndrome and California Suite. She’s also known for her exercise videos and is famous for her opposition to the Vietnam War.
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Hélène Cixous is a professor, poet, playwright, rhetorician, literary critic, philosopher, and French feminist writer. She is best known for writing an article titled The Laugh of the Medusa, which earned her popularity and established her as a thinker in post-structural feminism.
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Pippa Bacca made international headlines in March 2008, when she was found naked and strangled on the outskirts of Istanbul. The Italian feminist artist had apparently been raped and murdered in the middle of her hitch-hiking program Brides on Tour, which had her traveling from Milan dressed as a bride.
Apart from being the first female university graduate in the Netherlands, the first Dutch female physician, and the first female to get a medical doctorate in her country, Aletta Jacobs was also a pioneering women’s suffrage activist. She traveled the world for her feminist mission with fellow suffragette Carrie Chapman.
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Zahra Khanom Tadj es-Saltaneh was a princess, women's rights activist, feminist, and memoirist. A multi-talented personality, Taj al-Saltaneh acquired the status of a legendary figure among women while she was still active. The first woman to take off the hijab in court, Zahra organized underground women's rights meetings and led a women's rights march against the monarchy under her father.
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Born in Prussia, Magnus Hirschfeld had initially studied languages and had then earned a medical degree. He grew up to be a prominent sexologist and gay rights activist who referred to the LGBT community as the “third sex.” His one-of-a-kind sexology institute was later destroyed by the Nazis.