Brigitte Bardot is a French former singer and actress. One of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s, Bardot remains a major pop culture icon despite quitting the entertainment industry in 1973. Bardot is credited with popularizing the bikini. She also popularized the town of Armação dos Búzios and the city of St. Tropez in Brazil.
Olympe de Gouges was an 18th-century French playwright and political activist. Her writings on women's rights and abolitionism were popular in various countries. She was an outspoken advocate against the slave trade in the French colonies. She demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men. She was executed during the Reign of Terror.
Known widely as Turkey’s most popular female author, Elif Shafak is best known for her Booker-shortlisted bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. A fierce advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ rights, she is also a 3-time TEDGlobal speaker. She now lives in London, on a self-imposed exile.
Marina Picasso is a French humanitarian best known as the granddaughter of popular Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso. After inheriting a fifth of Pablo Picasso's estate, Marina Picasso used much of the inheritance to support humanitarian programs for children in need. Marina Picasso is credited with establishing a charitable organization called The Marina Picasso Foundation.
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.
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.
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.
Beate Klarsfeld is a Franco-German journalist best known for her work as a Nazi hunter. Beate and her husband Serge Klarsfeld achieved popularity for their documentation of many Nazi war criminals, including Alois Brunner, Kurt Lischka, Klaus Barbie, and Kurt Asche. Over the years, Beate Klarsfeld has been honored with numerous prestigious awards, including National Jewish Book Award.
Her activism and outspokenness had earned Princess María Teresa of Bourbon-Parma the nickname Red Princess. Part of the Spanish royal family, she was educated at the Sorbonne. She later supported the Carlist movement and was a champion of women’s rights, too. She eventually died of COVID-19 at age 86.
The wife of Jean-Marie Roland, Madame Roland was a leading French revolutionary and often hosted significant political meets at her salon. She often directed her husband’s political actions and was responsible for creating a rift between the Jacobin and Girondin factions. She was later arrested and guillotined.
Celine Cousteau is a public figure and socio-environmental advocate. She is renowned for her work as an explorer, documentary filmmaker, artist, public speaker, designer, and brand ambassador. Céline Cousteau is credited with founding CauseCentric Productions, which produces multi-media content.
Margaret of Valois-Angouleme, the wife of Henry II of Navarre, was a significant figure of the French Renaissance, and is also regarded as The First Modern Woman. She patronized artists and was herself an author, with several short stories and a religious poem to her credit.
Zineb El Rhazoui is a French journalist best known for her contribution as a columnist for the popular magazine Charlie Hebdo where she worked from 2011 to 2017. Rhazoui was in Morocco on 7 January 2015 when the Charlie Hebdo massacre took place. Since 2015, Rhazoui has been working as a human rights campaigner, speaking about free speech and Islam.
Born in Senegal, French politician and author Rama Yade started her career as a top-level civil servant with the French Senate. The UMP member has led France as its Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights and for Sports. She has also represented France at the UNESCO.
Germaine Dulac was a French filmmaker, critic, film theorist, and journalist. She is remembered for her 1923 impressionist silent film La Souriante Madame Beudet and her 1928 experimental film The Seashell and the Clergyman. Germaine Dulac's contributions to the French film industry were recognized in 1929, when she was presented the Legion of Honor.
Rokhaya Diallo is a French journalist, filmmaker, and author. Best known as an activist, Diallo works towards achieving gender, racial, and religious equality. Diallo is widely regarded as one of the most important anti-racism activists in France. In 2013, Rokhaya Diallo was named in the 100 most influential French women list published by Slate.
Sister Emmanuelle was a human rights worker and Catholic Religious Sister. She is best remembered for her work that aimed at helping the poor in Egypt and Turkey. Emmanuelle, who was born to a French father and a Belgian mother, was granted Egyptian citizenship in 1991 for her work in Egypt. She was also renowned for her unorthodox religious views.
French socialite Françoise Dior was the niece of world-renowned designer Christian Dior. However, the heiress later became a Nazi sympathizer and married neo-Nazi figure and Holocaust denier Colin Jordan. She was associated with the National Socialist Movement but eventually lost most of her fortune and died in oblivion.
Nadia El Fani is a French-Tunisian film producer, director, and screenwriter. She is best known for directing documentary films that discuss topics like women's rights, human rights, criticism of religion, and secularism. Nadia El Fani's 2012 film Même pas mal earned her the FESPACO award under the Best Feature Documentary category in 2013.