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21 Remarkable Women

Women's Day

Written by Schae

Aug 9, 2020

On the 9th of August 1956, 20000 South African women of all colours and cultures marched to the Union Buildings to protest South Africa’s pass laws, which restricted where people of colour were allowed to go. The government wanted to make changes to the pass laws that would have made it even harder for women of colour to move around the country. We remember this heroic act by celebrating South African Women’s Day on the 9th of August every year. Four brave women led this peaceful protest: Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams de Bruyn.

To celebrate Women’s Day, we have put together a list of 21 remarkable women – activists, artists, sportswomen, inventors and everything in between.

Lilian Ngoyi

Anti-Apartheid Activist

1911 – 1980

Lilian realised that to win the fight against apartheid, she would need to get help from other countries. So she took an illegal trip to England, Russia, Switzerland, China and Germany to meet with other women. She was arrested when she came back to South Africa. Lilian was one of the four women who led the 1956 women’s march.

Helen Joseph

Anti-Apartheid Activist

1905 – 1992

Helen was a British woman who moved to South Africa and joined the fight against apartheid after she realised how badly people of colour were being treated. She found out that the government was forcing people who broke the pass laws out of the country, and tried to find them and reunite them with their families. Helen was arrested in 1962, six years after she helped lead the 1956 women’s march.

Rahima Moosa

Anti-Apartheid Activist

1922 – 1993

Rahima fought for the rights of people of colour in South Africa during apartheid and was a very important leader in the 1956 women’s march in South Africa.

Sophia Williams de Bruyn

Anti-Apartheid Activist

1938 – Now

Sophia is an apartheid activist that fought for the rights of Coloured people and hid other anti-apartheid activists in her home while they were on the run from the police. Sophia gave a speech On Women’s Day in 2016 about her role as a leader in the 1956 women’s march.

Irena Sendler

Nurse

1910 – 2008

Irena was a Polish woman who helped smuggle 2500 orphaned Jewish children out of the dangerous Polish ghettos during World War II. Even when she was captured and tortured by Nazis in 1943, she never gave any information up about the children she had saved.

Khutulun

Warrior

1260 –1306

Khutulun was a Mongolian warrior and noblewoman who fought in a number of battles. She challenged all her suitors to a wrestling match. If they won, she would marry them; if they lost, they would gift her 100 horses. Khutulun was rumoured to have tens of thousands of horses and ended up marrying for love.

Yagazie Emezie

Photographer

Yagazie is an amazing photographer from Nigeria. She has taken photos that show how important education is for girls in poor and violent areas. She also helps trauma survivors adjust to their new lives. Her photos have been published in many famous magazines and newspapers.

Hedy Lamarr

Inventor and Actress

1914 – 2000

Hedy was an Austrian-American actress and inventor. During World War II, she invented a system that stopped missiles from being ‘hacked’, allowing the missiles to successfully reach their targets. Hedy never received any money for her invention and only got credit for it much later in her life, even though her technology was used to make wi-fi and Bluetooth.

Wangari Maathai

Environmentalist

1940 – 2011

Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement, which has led to over 51 million trees being planted and 30000 women being trained in ‘green’ jobs in Kenya. These jobs help the workers earn money while protecting Kenya’s environment. Wangari was the first African woman to win the Nobel prize.

Nadia Comaneci

Gymnast

1961 – Now

In 1976, at the age of 14, Nadia became the first-ever woman to get a perfect score of 10 in gymnastics at the Olympics. She received another 8 perfect scores and won 5 gold Olympic medals for Romania before she retired. Nadia now coaches young gymnasts.

Autumn Peltier

Environmental Activist

2004 – Now

Autumn is a young Canadian who fights for the clean water rights of all people. She is raising awareness about how important it is for everyone to have access to clean water and educating people about their rights to water. Because of the good she does, Autumn is known as the ‘water warrior’.

Nancy Wake

Journalist and Spy

1912 – 2011

Nancy, who was born in New Zealand, joined the French Resistance to fight against the Nazis in World War II. When the Gestapo (German Secret Police) offered a lot of money to anyone who could kill Nancy, she fled from France to London and became a spy. Six months later, Nancy parachuted back into France and helped lead 7000 French Resistance members in battle against the Nazis.

Alice Coachman

High Jumper Gold Medallist

1923 – 2014

Alice grew up poor in the southern United States of America. Segregation (laws in America that unfairly disadvantaged people of colour) made it difficult for Alice to train at a proper sports space, forcing her to build her own high jump bar out of sticks and rope. Her hard work paid off and Alice Coachman became the first ever Black woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics in 1948.

Benazir Bhutto

Prime Minister of Pakistan

1953 – 2007

When Benazir was 35, she became the first female leader of an Islamic country, Pakistan. Benazir built schools and brought electricity to the countryside in Pakistan while she was in power. She was assassinated in 2007, but is still considered to be an inspiration for women in the Muslim world and everywhere else.

Tarana Burke

Activist

1973 – Now

Tarana started the #metoo movement that helped people to come forward and not feel ashamed about men who have bullied women and hurt them. Tarana also works towards helping girls and women of colour who have been disadvantaged in America.

Tsitsi Dangarembga

Novelist, Filmmaker and Activist

1959 – Now

Tsitsi is an award-winning Zimbabwean author who is focused on growing ‘the arts’ in Zimbabwe. She was recently arrested for protesting against the Zimbabwean government for running the country poorly and for not respecting the human rights of its people.

Maria Teresa De Filippis

First female Formula One Driver

1926 – 2016

Maria was an Italian driver who was teased by her brother for her slow driving. She began driving for Maserati when they saw how good she was. Maria proved her brothers wrong by becoming the first ever female Formula One driver.

Jeanne Baret

First Woman to Travel Around the World

1740 – 1807

Jeanne’s boyfriend was set to travel around the world on a ship. She wanted to join him, but the laws in France did not allow women on navy ships. So Jeanne disguised herself as a man and pretended to be her boyfriend’s assistant. She became the first woman to travel around the world and even named a plant after herself, the Baretia.

Theresa Kachindamoto

Malawian Chief

Theresa is a senior tribal chief from Malawi, where 50% of girls get married before they turn 18. Theresa has ended over 1000 child marriages and has stopped many more from happening. She also uses her power to show girls, boys and their parents that education is a right that every child deserves.

Sophie Scholl

Anti-Nazi Activist

1921 – 1943

Sophie was part of a group called The White Rose that made and handed out pamphlets encouraging people not to support the Nazi party. She was found out and killed by the Nazis, but the pamphlets she was distributing were copied and millions were dropped over Germany, encouraging other people to be brave and stand up to the Nazis.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka

Singer and Humanitarian

1965 – Now

Yvonne is one of the most loved South African singers and was the first Black child to appear on South African TV in 1981. While she might be known for her singing in South Africa and in the rest of the world, Yvonne is also the founder of the Princess of Africa Foundation, which fights and helps educate people about malaria in Africa.

Some more remarkable women

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Marie Curie

Mother Teresa

Florence Nightingale

Rosa Parks

Malala Yousafzai

Ida B. Wells

Ada Lovelace

Rosalind Franklin

Greta Thunberg

Amelia Earhart

Serena Williams

Marilyn Monroe

Oprah Winfrey

J. K. Rowling

Frida Kahlo

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Princess Diana

Harriet Tubman

Who is a woman that inspires you? Write to us and let us know!

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Linda
Linda
2 months ago

Inspirational list demonstrating the very heart of what it is to be a woman

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