Women's Rights Activists

Right IconThis ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Where would feminism be today had it not been for the thousands of women's rights activists across the world who have struggled over the past several decades demanding equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women? These activists have played a pivotal role in bringing about a greater degree of gender equality in the society and in campaigning for basic women’s rights such as the right to education, right to vote, right to work and to own property. Even though several ancient Greek philosophers including Socrates and Plato demanded equal rights for women, it is the 18th century women’s rights activists like Olympes de Gouge and Mary Wollstonecraft who are considered the forerunners of the modern women's movement. Susan Brownell Anthony, a prominent 19th century feminist was very active in the women's suffrage movement and played a pivotal role in creating the International Council of Women. British women Christabel Pankhurst and Millicent Garrett passionately fought for the rights of women in their country while Canadian physician Dr. Emily Howard Stowe campaigned for Canada's first medical college for women. Throughout the centuries, several men like Parker Pillsbury, Sir Henry Maine, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson have also contributed to women’s rights movements. Read on to discover about the life and works of various famous women's rights activists from all over the world.
Vote for Your Favourite Women's Rights Activists
 1 
Malala Yousafzai
(Women's Rights Activist, World's Youngest Nobel Prize Laureate)
Malala Yousafzai
14
Birthdate: July 12, 1997
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mingora, Pakistan

Named to Time 100 thrice, Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai exhibits phenomenal grit and inspires young girls everywhere. An assassination attempt by Islamic fundamentalists could not dampen her spirit, and she fought back with a bestselling memoir and won the Nobel Peace Prize as its youngest recipient, at 17.

 2 
Susan B. Anthony
(Social Reformer and Women's Rights Activist Who Was a Pioneer Crusader for the Women’s Suffrage Movement)
Susan B. Anthony
10
Birthdate: February 15, 1820
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Adams, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 13, 1906

Susan B. Anthony's vital role in the women's suffrage movement changed the course of history. She led one of the two national suffrage organizations, which later became the National American Woman Suffrage Association, with Susan as its leading force. She also played an instrumental role in publishing The Revolution, a women's rights newspaper.

 3 
Sojourner Truth
(Abolitionist and Women's Rights Activist)
Sojourner Truth
4
Birthdate: 1797 AD
Birthplace: Rifton, New York, United States
Died: November 26, 1883

Sojourner Truth was an American women's rights activist and abolitionist. Born into slavery, Truth escaped to freedom in 1826. She then approached the court to recover her son, subsequently becoming the first black woman to emerge successful against a white man in such a case. In 2014, she was named in Smithsonian's 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time list.

 4 
Mary Wollstonecraft
4
Birthdate: April 27, 1759
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 10, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, advocate of women's rights, and philosopher. Wollstonecraft, who attracted a lot of attention for her unconventional personal relationships, is widely considered a founding feminist philosopher. Although her unorthodoxy initially attracted criticisms, her advocacy of women's equality became increasingly important during the 20th century. Modern-day feminists cite her works and her life as important influences.

 5 
Emmeline Pankhurst
(English Political Activist Who Organised the UK Suffragette Movement)
Emmeline Pankhurst
4
Birthdate: July 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moss Side, Manchester, United Kingdom
Died: June 14, 1928
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist best remembered for helping women earn the right to vote in elections by organizing the UK suffragette movement. For playing a major role in achieving women's suffrage in the UK, Pankhurst was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century list in 1999.
 6 
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
(American Women's Rights Activist and Key Figure Behind 'Seneca Falls Convention')
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1815
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Johnstown
Died: October 26, 1902

American women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton first came to know about laws that discriminated against women while studying law books in the office of her father, who was a prominent judge. She later became the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association and co-wrote books such as The Woman's Bible.

 7 
Dorothy Day
(American Social Activist, Journalist, and Anarchist)
Dorothy Day
3
Birthdate: November 8, 1897
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: November 29, 1980

Dorothy Day was an American social activist, journalist, and anarchist. She is best remembered for co-founding the Catholic Worker Movement along with French activist Peter Maurin. She also co-founded a newspaper called Catholic Worker and served as its editor between 1933 and 1980. In 2001, Dorothy Day was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 8 
Alice Paul
(American Quaker, Feminist, Suffragist, and Women's Rights Activist)
Alice Paul
5
Birthdate: January 11, 1885
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey, United States
Died: July 9, 1977

Alice Paul was an American Quaker, feminist, suffragist, and women's rights activist. She is best remembered for strategizing events like the Silent Sentinels and the Woman Suffrage Procession, which resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920. Alice Paul often displayed courage while confronting police brutality for her activism.

 9 
Mary McLeod Bethune
(American Civil Rights Activist and Founder of the 'National Council of Negro Women')
Mary McLeod Bethune
3
Birthdate: July 10, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mayesville, South Carolina, United States
Died: May 18, 1955

Mary McLeod Bethune was an American civil rights activist, educator, womanist, humanitarian, and philanthropist. She is credited with founding the National Council of Negro Women. Bethune also played a key role in the creation of the Black Cabinet while serving as an adviser to Franklin Roosevelt. In 1973, Bethune was made an indutee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 10 
Jeannette Rankin
(Feminist Politician & the First Woman to be Part of the US Congress and Only from Montana)
Jeannette Rankin
3
Birthdate: June 11, 1880
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Missoula
Died: May 18, 1973

Jeannette Rankin scripted history as the first female member of the US Congress. A feminist, she was also associated with the women’s suffrage movement. Earlier, the Republican worked as a dressmaker, a furniture designer, and a teacher. She was the only legislator to vote against war after the Pearl Harbor incident.

 11 
Meena Harris
(Founder of the ‘Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign’, an Organisation that Brings Awareness to Social Causes)
Meena Harris
0
Birthdate: October 20, 1984
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States
 12 
Rachel Dolezal
(Controversial Activist Known for Presenting Herself as a Black Woman Despite Having Been Born to White Parents)
Rachel Dolezal
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1977
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lincoln County, Montana, United States

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.

Recommended Lists:
 13 
Margaret Fuller
(American Journalist, Critic, Editor, and Women's Rights Advocate)
Margaret Fuller
3
Birthdate: May 23, 1810
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 19, 1850

Margaret Fuller was an American journalist, critic, editor, women's rights advocate, and translator. She is best remembered for her association with the transcendentalism movement. Her 1843 book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is widely regarded as the first major feminist book in the USA. An advocate of women's rights, Margaret Fuller was the first female war correspondent in the USA.

 14 
Betty Ford
(Former First Lady of the United States)
Betty Ford
4
Birthdate: April 8, 1918
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: July 8, 2011

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.

 15 
Vesna Vulović
(Flight attendant)
Vesna Vulović
4
Birthdate: January 3, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia
Died: December 23, 2016
 16 
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
(Critic of Islam and Advocate of Women Rights)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
4
Birthdate: November 13, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Somalia

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.

 17 
Annie Besant
(British Social Reformer, Theosophist and Women's Rights Activist)
Annie Besant
4
Birthdate: October 1, 1847
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Clapham Town, London, United Kingdom
Died: September 20, 1933

Annie Besant was a British theosophist, socialist, writer, orator, educationist, women's rights activist, and philanthropist. Despite being British, Besant supported India's freedom movement and even joined the Indian National Congress. She is also credited with co-founding Banaras Hindu University. Besant also helped launch the Indian Home Rule movement to campaign for democracy in the country.

 18 
Victoria Woodhull
(The First Woman to Run for the American Presidency)
Victoria Woodhull
4
Birthdate: September 23, 1838
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Homer, Ohio, United States
Died: June 9, 1927

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.

 19 
Matilda Cuomo
(Advocate)
Matilda Cuomo
0
Birthdate: September 16, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
 20 
Emma Watson
(Actress and Activist Best Known for Her Role of 'Hermione Granger' in the 'Harry Potter' Film Series)
Emma Watson
0
Birthdate: April 15, 1990
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France

English actress, model, and activist, Emma Watson first gained prominence as a child artiste in the Harry Potter film series. The daughter of lawyers, she was determined to go to college despite her busy acting career and graduated from Brown University. A staunch feminist, she is actively involved with organizations that work for the betterment of women.

 21 
Emily Davison
(English Suffragette Who Fought for Votes for Women in Britain in the Early 20th Century)
Emily Davison
6
Birthdate: October 11, 1872
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 8, 1913

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.

 22 
Gloria Allred
(American Feminist Lawyer Known for Taking Controversial and High Profile Cases for Women's Rights)
Gloria Allred
4
Birthdate: July 3, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

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.

 23 
Elizabeth Jagger
(British-American Actress, Model, Activist, and Feminist)
Elizabeth Jagger
3
Birthdate: March 2, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York, New York

Elizabeth Jagger is a British-American actress, model, activist, and feminist. Best known for her work supporting the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), Jagger played an important role in Illinois ratifying the ERA. As a model, Elizabeth Jagger has worked with famous brands like Lancôme and Tommy Hilfiger.

 24 
Lucy Burns
(Suffragist, women's rights activist)
Lucy Burns
3
Birthdate: July 28, 1879
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
Died: December 22, 1966
 25 
Gina Miller
(Businesswoman and Activist, Who Won a Case over Brexit Implementation, against the British Government)
Gina Miller
0
Birthdate: April 19, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Guyana

Guyanese-British businesswoman and activist Gina Miller is the co-founder of the management firm SCM Direct. A former Labour Party member, she campaigned for transparency with regard to Brexit. She won a case challenging the UK government's authority to invoke Article 50 without an approval from the Parliament.

 26 
Pearl Buck
(Winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize in Literature)
Pearl Buck
3
Birthdate: June 26, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hillsboro
Died: March 6, 1973

Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Pearl Buck was raised in China by her missionary parents. She grew up to teach English literature in Chinese universities and later penned books such as East Wind, West Wind and The Good Earth, which were based on her experiences in China.

 27 
Fannie Lou Hamer
(American Community Organizer and Women's Rights Activist)
Fannie Lou Hamer
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montgomery County, Mississippi, United States
Died: March 14, 1977

Fannie Lou Hamer was an American community organizer and women's rights activist. She also played an important role in the civil rights movement. Hamer is credited with co-founding the Freedom Democratic Party as well as the National Women's Political Caucus. In 1993, Fannie Lou Hamer was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 28 
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
(Socio-religious Reformer)
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
4
Birthdate: May 22, 1772
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Radhanagore, West Bengal, India
Died: September 27, 1833

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian social and religious reformer. He is credited with co-founding the Brahmo Sabha, a social-religious reform movement. Often referred to as the Father of the Bengal Renaissance, Roy has had an influential role in fields like politics, education, and religion. In 2004, he was ranked 10th in BBC's Greatest Bengali of all time poll.

 29 
Abby Johnson
(American Anti-Abortion Activist)
Abby Johnson
3
Birthdate: July 10, 1980
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: United States

Abby Johnson is an American activist who has participated in many anti-abortion movements. She is best known for her memoir Unplanned, which was adapted into a film of the same name. Released in 2019, the film became a major box office success.

 30 
Loujain Alhathloul
0
Birthdate: July 31, 1989
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
 31 
Waris Dirie
(Model & Women’s Rights Activist Known for Her Efforts to Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation)
Waris Dirie
4
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: Galkayo, Somalia

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.

 32 
Mary Edwards Walker
(Surgeon, Feminist, Activist)
Mary Edwards Walker
3
Birthdate: November 26, 1832
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Oswego
Died: February 21, 1919

Mary Edwards Walker, or Dr. Mary Walker, was the only female surgeon who served injured soldiers during the American Civil War. A dress reform supporter, she believed women should value comfort more than tradition when it came to clothes. She was also the first and only Medal of Honor winner.

 33 
Elif Shafak
(Writer)
Elif Shafak
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France

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.

 34 
Marie Stopes
(Paleobotanist & Women’s Rights Activists)
Marie Stopes
3
Birthdate: October 15, 1880
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: October 2, 1958

Apart from being a successful botanist, Marie Stopes was also a popular activist, known for her contribution to the feminist cause. A leading supporter of birth control, she established the UK’s first clinic for family planning. She was also known for her books Married Love and Wise Parenthood.

 35 
Brittany Maynard
(Educator, Activist)
Brittany Maynard
0
Birthdate: November 19, 1984
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Anaheim, California, United States
Died: November 1, 2014
 36 
Lucretia Mott
(Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist, Social Reformer)
Lucretia Mott
3
Birthdate: January 3, 1793
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nantucket, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: November 11, 1880

Lucretia Mott was an American women's rights activist, abolitionist, and social reformer. Mott played a major role in the events leading up to the Seneca Falls Convention, the first gathering supporting women's rights in the USA. Lucretia Mott's work influenced Elizabeth Cady Stanton whom she mentored. In 1983, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 37 
Rebecca Latimer Felton
(First Woman Who was Appointed to the United States Senate)
Rebecca Latimer Felton
3
Birthdate: June 10, 1835
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Decatur, Georgia, United States
Died: January 24, 1930

Writer, lecturer, suffragist, reformer, feminist, politician and slave-owner Rebecca Latimer Felton was the first woman who served in the United States Senate. The most distinguished woman in Georgia during the Progressive Era, Felton was appointed Senator from Georgia as a mark of respect. With this she became the oldest freshman-senator who entered the Senate and served for just 24 hours.    

 38 
Clara Zetkin
(German Communist Leader and Feminist Activist)
Clara Zetkin
3
Birthdate: July 5, 1857
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Königshain-Wiederau, Germany
Died: June 20, 1933

German feminist, Marxist theorist, and Communist activist Clara Zetkin had a prominent role in the Communist Party of Germany and Comintern following World War I. Initially trained to be a teacher, she gradually gravitated towards women’s and labor movements. She later became closely associated with Lenin.

 39 
Chelsea Islan
(Actress, Model)
Chelsea Islan
3
Birthdate: June 2, 1995
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
 40 
Sophia Duleep Singh
(British Suffragette & Godchild of Queen Victoria)
Sophia Duleep Singh
0
Birthdate: August 8, 1876
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Elveden Hall, Elveden, Suffolk, England
Died: August 22, 1948

Sophia Duleep Singh was a British suffragette who fought for women's rights in Britain during the early 20th century. She is perhaps best remembered for her role in the Women's Tax Resistance League (WTRL). Sophia Duleep Singh also took part in other women's suffrage groups such as the Women's Social and Political Union.

 41 
Lucy Stone
(American Abolitionist, Suffragist, Orator, and Women's Rights Activist)
Lucy Stone
3
Birthdate: August 13, 1818
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: West Brookfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: October 19, 1893

Lucy Stone was an American abolitionist, suffragist, orator, and women's rights activist. She was the first woman to earn a college degree from Massachusetts. Stone played a key role in the formation of the Woman's National Loyal League as well as the American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1986, she was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 42 
Carrie Chapman Catt
(American Women's Suffrage Leader Who Successfully Campaigned for Passing of the ‘Nineteenth Amendment’)
Carrie Chapman Catt
3
Birthdate: January 9, 1859
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ripon
Died: March 9, 1947

American women's suffrage-leader Carrie Chapman Catt  served as president of National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and founded the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (later International Alliance of Women) and League of Women Voters. She is best-known for leading the NAWSA, organising the Winning Plan and playing a pivotal role in passing of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

 43 
Kate Sheppard
(The Most Prominent Member of the Women's Suffrage Movement in New Zealand)
Kate Sheppard
3
Birthdate: March 10, 1847
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: July 13, 1934

Born in England and educated in Scotland, Kate Sheppard later moved with her family to New Zealand. A fiery feminist, she led the WCTU women’s suffrage campaign, making New Zealand the first country that granted its women the right to vote. She also encouraged women to participate in physical activities.

 44 
Christabel Pankhurst
(British Suffragette and Co-Founder of the 'Women’s Social and Political Union')
Christabel Pankhurst
3
Birthdate: September 22, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Died: February 13, 1958

Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst was a British suffragette who co-founded the Women's Social and Political Union. From 1912 to 1913, Pankhurst directed the organization's militant actions from France. After the war, Christabel Pankhurst settled down in the United States of America where she served as an evangelist for the Second Coming movement.

 45 
Caryl Churchill
(British Playwright Best Known for Her Plays: ‘Top Girls’, ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘Serious Money’)
Caryl Churchill
3
Birthdate: September 3, 1938
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

British playwright Caryl Churchill is best-known for works that emphasize on feminist-issues, sexual-politics and abuses of power. Most renowned works of Churchill, who also gained attention for using non-naturalistic techniques, include the farce Cloud 9 about sexual politics; the play Top Girls that deals with feminist issues; and the satirical play Serious Money that was largely written in rhyming couplets.

 46 
Sarah Weddington
(American Law Professor, Attorney, and Advocate For Women's Rights)
Sarah Weddington
3
Birthdate: February 5, 1945
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Abilene, Texas, U.S

Sarah Weddington was an American law professor, attorney, and advocate for women's rights. She is best remembered for representing Norma McCorvey in the famous Roe v. Wade case before the US Supreme Court. The case was adapted into a TV film in which Sarah Weddington was played by Amy Madigan.

 47 
Clar Weah
(First Lady, Women's rights activist)
Clar Weah
0
Birthdate: March 11, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
 48 
Edith Cowan
(Social Campaigner)
Edith Cowan
5
Birthdate: August 2, 1861
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Geraldton, Australia
Died: June 9, 1932

Edith Cowan was an Australian social reformer best remembered for serving as a member of parliament; she was the first Australian woman to do so. She is also remembered for working for the welfare and rights of children and women. In recognition of her contribution, Cowan has been depicted on Australia's fifty-dollar note since 1995.

 49 
Angelina Grimke
(American Political Activist, Abolitionist, and Women's Rights Advocate)
Angelina Grimke
3
Birthdate: February 20, 1805
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Died: October 26, 1879

Angelina Grimke was an American political activist, abolitionist, women's rights advocate, and promoter of the women's suffrage movement. She is best remembered for the anti-slavery speech which she gave outside Pennsylvania Hall in May 1838. One of her letters regarding anti-slavery was published by William Lloyd Garrison in his newspaper The Liberator in 1835.

 50 
Emily Murphy
(First Female Magistrate in Canada)
Emily Murphy
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Pisces
Died: October 17, 1933

Canadian women’s rights activist Emily Murphy was part of The Famous Five, a group of women activists who launched the Persons Case to make women eligible to be part of the Senate. Murphy also served as the first police magistrate in Canada and the British Empire.