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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A pioneering female lawyer, Gloria Allred is known for fighting cases involving violation of women’s rights and has turned into an icon for women and people from minority communities. A civil rights advocate, too, she has also been a TV and radio commentator and host.
Roxane Gay is an American writer, editor, professor, and social commentator. She is credited with founding an Illinois-based small press called Tiny Hardcore Press as well as the now-defunct Gay Magazine, which was founded in association with Medium. Roxane Gay is the recipient of a couple of Lambda Literary Awards and an Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.
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.
While she claimed she was a transracial Black woman, former NAACP branch president Rachel Dolezal was revealed to be a white woman passing off as Black when her parents spoke to the media. Following the mass protests after the revelation, she was fired from Eastern Washington University, her workplace.
A pioneering leader of the women’s suffrage movement in Britain, Millicent Fawcett also co-established the Newnham College, Cambridge, which was one of the first English women’s universities. She also served as the president of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and investigated British concentration camps during the South African War.
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.
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.
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.
Lebanese-born-French actress and film-director Delphine Seyrig played diverse roles in films and stage works. She garnered international recognition performing in the film Last Year at Marienbad and bolstered her career with other films like The Day of the Jackal and Muriel ou Le temps d'un retour. A prominent feminist-figure in France, Seyrig also directed films like Sois belle et tais-toi.
Luce Irigaray is a Belgian-born French philosopher, feminist, linguist, psychoanalyst, psycholinguist, and cultural theorist. She is best known for her research that examined the role of language in relation to women. Luce Irigaray's 1974 book Speculum of the Other Woman analyzes the texts of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Freud, Descartes, and Hegel through the lens of phallocentrism.
Kate Millett was an educator, artist, feminist writer, and activist. Remembered for her 1970 book Sexual Politics, Millett often voiced for human rights, peace, and feminism through her work. Over the course of her career, Millett won several awards, including the Lambda Pioneer Award for Literature. In 2013, she was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.
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.
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.
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.
A significant figure of the Paris Commune, Louise Michel was born as an illegitimate child of a maid. She had initially been trained to be a teacher but later began developing an interest in revolutionary socialist ideas. She was also once sent behind bars for inciting riots.
Florence Kelley was an American political and social reformer who pioneered the term wage abolitionism. Kelley's work for the minimum wage, children's rights, and eight-hour workdays are widely acclaimed today. After serving as the National Consumers League’s first general secretary, Florence Kelley helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Bulgarian-born French author and literary critic Julia Kristeva is also a professor at the University Paris Diderot. Her writings, such as the Female Genius trilogy, are centered around feminism, semiotics, and psychoanalysis. She has also pioneered semanalysis and has been recognized with honors such as Commander of the Legion of Honor.
Cecile Richards is an American activist best known for her service as the president of Planned Parenthood from February 2006 to April 2018. She is credited with co-founding a women's political action group called Supermajority, which aims at training women to become activists, organizers, and leaders.
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.
Renowned feminist activist and political theorist Silvia Federici is chiefly known for co-founding the International Feminist Collective, which launched the Wages for Housework campaign worldwide. She had taught in Nigeria and is now a professor at the Hofstra University. She has also penned books such as Caliban and the Witch.