Women's Rights Activists

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.

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

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 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
(Women’s Rights Activist)

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
(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
(Leader of the British Suffragette Movement)

Emmeline Pankhurst
4
Birthdate: July 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moss Side, Manchester, England
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
(Women’s Rights Activist)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1815
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Johnstown
Died: October 26, 1902

 7 
Dorothy Day
(Journalist, Social Activist)

Dorothy Day
3
Birthdate: November 8, 1897
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: November 29, 1980
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 8 
Alice Paul
(Women's rights activist)

Alice Paul
4
Birthdate: January 11, 1885
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey, United States
Died: July 9, 1977

 9 

Mary McLeod Bethune
3
Birthdate: July 10, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mayesville, South Carolina, United States
Died: May 18, 1955

 10 
Jeannette Rankin
(First Woman Elected to U.S Congress)

Jeannette Rankin
3
Birthdate: June 11, 1880
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Missoula
Died: May 18, 1973

 11 
Meena Harris
(Founder of Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign)

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.

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 13 
Vesna Vulović
(Flight attendant)

Vesna Vulović
4
Birthdate: January 3, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia
Died: December 23, 2016

 14 
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.

 15 
Margaret Fuller
(Journalist, Activist)

Margaret Fuller
3
Birthdate: May 23, 1810
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 19, 1850

 16 
Annie Besant
(Social Reformer)

Annie Besant
4
Birthdate: April 16, 1847
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Clapham, England
Died: 1933 AD

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.

 17 
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.

 18 
Matilda Cuomo
(Advocate)

Matilda Cuomo
0
Birthdate: September 16, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

 19 
Tammy Bruce
(Radio Host)

Tammy Bruce
4
Birthdate: August 20, 1962
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Tammy Bruce is a radio host and political commentator. During the early-1990s, she led a campaign to criticize the violence in the book American Psycho, and her efforts resulted in the boycott of the novel's publisher for a year. Over the years, she has been an important contributor to Fox News and also hosts Get Tammy Bruce on Fox Nation.

 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
4
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 
Lina Esco
(Actress)

Lina Esco
4
Birthdate: May 14, 1985
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, USA

 23 
Gloria Allred
(Attorney)

Gloria Allred
4
Birthdate: July 3, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

 24 

Elizabeth Jagger
3
Birthdate: March 2, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York, New York

 25 
Gina Miller
(Business owner and activist)

Gina Miller
0
Birthdate: April 19, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Guyana

 26 
Pearl Buck
(American writer)

Pearl Buck
3
Birthdate: June 26, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hillsboro
Died: March 6, 1973

 27 
Fannie Lou Hamer
(Civil Rights Activist)

Fannie Lou Hamer
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montgomery County, Mississippi, United States
Died: March 14, 1977

 28 
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

 29 
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.

 30 

Sarah Solemani
3
Birthdate: September 4, 1986
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Camden, London, England

 31 
Mamie Till
(Activist)

Mamie Till
5
Birthdate: November 23, 1921
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: near Webb, Mississippi, USA
Died: January 6, 2003

 32 
Abby Johnson
(Activist)

Abby Johnson
3
Birthdate: July 10, 1980
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: United States

 33 

Loujain Alhathloul
0
Birthdate: July 31, 1989
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

 34 
Cecile Richards
(Activist)

Cecile Richards
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Waco, Texas, U.S.

 35 
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.

 36 
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.

 37 
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.

 38 
Brittany Maynard
(Educator, Activist)

Brittany Maynard
0
Birthdate: November 19, 1984
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Anaheim, California, United States
Died: November 1, 2014

 39 

Adwoa Aboah
3
Birthdate: May 18, 1992
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England

 40 
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.

 41 

Millicent Fawcett
5
Birthdate: June 11, 1847
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aldeburgh, England
Died: August 5, 1929

 42 
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.

 43 
Clara Zetkin
(Activist)

Clara Zetkin
3
Birthdate: July 5, 1857
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Königshain-Wiederau, Germany
Died: June 20, 1933

 44 
Chelsea Islan
(Actress, Model)

Chelsea Islan
3
Birthdate: June 2, 1995
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 45 
Sophia Duleep Singh
(Suffragette and her father was Maharaja Sir Duleep Singh)

Sophia Duleep Singh
0
Birthdate: August 8, 1876
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Elveden Hall, Elveden, Suffolk, England
Died: August 22, 1948

 46 
Lucy Stone
(Women's Rights Activist)

Lucy Stone
3
Birthdate: August 13, 1818
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: West Brookfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: October 19, 1893

Rebecca Latimer Felton
3
Birthdate: June 10, 1835
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Decatur, Georgia, U.S.
Died: January 24, 1930

 48 
Carrie Chapman Catt
(Women’s Rights Activists)

Carrie Chapman Catt
3
Birthdate: January 9, 1859
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ripon
Died: March 9, 1947

 49 
Kate Sheppard
(Women's Suffrage Leader)

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.

Dame Christabel Harriette 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.