Celebrated on March 8 every year, the International Women’s Day is dedicated to honoring the achievements of women throughout history and all across the globe.
And this is exactly what I want to do with my words today. So here’s to all these strong women.
Amal Alamuddin-Clooney. Attorney and activist, she focuses her career on international law and human rights issues that women face in some countries. She is often called a feminist-superhero because she keeps reminding the Western societies that some women around the world are still fighting for basic human freedoms – like the right to work, own property or even to drive a vehicle. She firmly believes that: “The worst thing we can do as women is not stand up for each other.”
Emma Watson. The accomplished actor dedicates her efforts towards the empowerment of young women and serves as an advocate for UN Women’s campaign HeForShe, promoting gender equality. She is also involved in girls’ education, fair trade and organic clothing. And honestly, I think we all know that without her Harry Potter would have died in the first book.
Virginia Woolf. Born and raised in a time where women were taught not to have ambitions and be completely submitted to men, Virginia unveiled with her writing the path to emancipation: economic independence and intellectual freedom. Pioneer of modern feminism, she stood up for women to be considered as much as talented, smart and strong as men. We ought to be grateful to Virginia for the present she gave to all of us: a room of one’s own.
Michelle Obama. She is best known as the former US First Lady, but long before becoming the wife of America’s first African American president, she strived for social changes, in particular empowering women of colour and inspiring young people. As a result, in 2015, she launched Let Girls Learn, encouraging all girls to stay in school and asking the government to make a greater investment in their education.
Christina Koch. She is the NASA astronaut that has completed the longest-ever single spaceflight by a woman. This provided a vision of a future in which an all-woman spacewalk could actually happen – as the number of women in the astronaut corps globally increases and humanity ventures onwards to explore the Moon and Mars. A giant leap for womankind.
Rosa Parks. Her story began in 1955, when she famously challenged the raial segregation that existed in some parts of the US by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. Her actions received the support of many other African Americans and sparked the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
Oprah Winfrey. In a racist America, she was a black woman, underwent teenage pregnancy, was a single mother, faced childhood abuse, and an early life of poverty. And by triumphing over what is enough to keep any person down, she became one of the most inspirational women in the world. She embodies the ambitious, self-driven woman that we all aspire to be.
Greta Thunberg. The leader of the new generation. At only 16 years old, she is already a prominent climate change activist, the mind (and the face) of Fridays for Future. She is an ordinary teenage girl who, in summoning the courage to speak truth to power, became the icon of a generation and the most compelling voice on the most important issue the planet is facing.
Tarana Burke. You definitely know the MeToo movement, but you may not know that Tarana is the one who founded it. She began the campaign with young Black women and girls from low income communities, and developed a culturally-informed curriculum to discuss sexual violence within the Black community and in society at large. Soon her mission began to connect survivors of sexual assault to the resources they need in order to heal. The rest is history.
Joan of Arc. Born in the village of Domrémy, she became a Saint, France’s heroine, and she has been an icon for so many generations of women. Warrior, loved and feared, unwavering, she dressed like a man and held a sword on the battlefield. Joan of Arc remains a symbol of strength and faith that still inspires us even after 500 years.
Rhianna. She once said: “Women are running the world right now and it’s too bad for men.” But her empowering message isn’t new, especially if we look at her work in the fashion industry. Rihanna’s fashion collection consists indeed of a wide range of products that aim to make all women feel beautiful and more confident. Because of her inclusive fashion collection, she became a true role model.
Coretta Scott-King. One of the most celebrated champions of human and civil rights. For over forty years, she traveled throughout the world speaking out about racial and economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full employment, and nuclear disarmament. And yes, she was also the wife of Martin Luther King.
Mari Copeny. AKA Little Miss Flint. She is not even 13-years-old and she has already met president Barack Obama. When she was 8 she wrote him a letter in order to draw attention to the Flint Water Crisis in her hometown. Since then, she’s always been on the front lines helping kids to embrace their power through equal opportunity.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A lawyer and a jurist, she is the second female justice to be confirmed to the US Supreme Court. Although she arrived without a civil rights agenda, the treatment Ginsburg received as a woman in law school honed her feminist instincts. That’s why, in 1972, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, dedicating her work and her efforts to women’s rights.
Anna Kuliscioff. She was a Jewish Russian revolutionary, a prominent feminist. She moved to Italy at a young age, where she became one of the first women graduated in medicine. But she was mainly interested in the conditions of women in the working class—those whom she came to know intimately through her profession as a doctor—and in this she was very different from most early European feminists.
Sinéad Burke. Through writing, public speaking, lecturing and social media, she highlights the lack of inclusivity within the fashion and design industries and consults with leadership to ensure the process of designing for, with and by disabled people is embedded into the business model.
Lindsey Vonn. Some may call her the World’s greatest skier, but she doesn’t care because all she wants is to push her limits once more. She is the best example of how to get up on your feet after a bad fall. She taught us that in order to become the best in what you do you need to work hard. And no matter what obstacle you may face, you can always overcome it.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As one of the youngest member of the United States Congress, elected to represent Bronx and Queens, she fights for the courage to change. She grew up experiencing the reality of income inequality, and that’s what inspired her to organize her community and run for office on a progressive platform with a campaign that rejects corporate PAC funds.
So here’s to strong women. May we raise them. May we know them. May we be them.