International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, focusing on the idea that an equal world is an enabled world.
Everyone is responsible for their own thoughts and actions, and each person has the choice to fight stereotypes and bias while also celebrating female accomplishments. Here are eight women who have individually fought for gender parity to drive collective action.
When Forbes released in 2020 30 Under 30 at the end of December, a young face found herself on the list. Marsai Martin, the youngest executive producer in Hollywood, debuted on the movie screen last year in “Little” after acting for almost a decade in television shows. Her role as Diane Johnson in “Black-ish” skyrocketed her to fame.
Marsai was also the executive producer of “Little” and is a nine-time NAACP Image Awards winner, in addition to BET and SAG Awards.
The 15-year-old continues to push barriers for those that are young and black in America. Marsai said she felt “honored…accepted (and) seen” when she accepted her Supporting Actor Award at the NAACP Image Awards a couple weeks ago. She will produce and star in “Amari and the Night Brothers,” a book adaptation announced last year.
The youngest Nobel Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistini activist for female education. Malala was shot by the Taliban in 2012, but continued her work after her injury.
Fighting for female education in Pakistan is family work, and her father opened an all-girls school. Despite being told to shut down the school by the Taliban, Malala and her family continue to fight for education for girls in Pakistan.
Malala joined Greta Thunberg at her most recent Fridays for the Future climate strike.
Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth escaped with infant daughter in 1826. An outspoken abolitionist and women’s rights activist and became the first black woman to win a case against a white man to get her son back from slavery.
Although outspoken, Sojourner worked to use her history as a slave and her newfound freedom to speak publicly against slavery and in favor of more rights for black Americans. Her most famous speech is “Ain’t I a Woman?” where she shared how her skin didn’t change her status as a woman at a Women’s Convention in Ohio:
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! Ain’t I a woman?”
Well-known TV personality and voice of Disney’s Dory Ellen Degeneres got her start as the star of “Ellen,” which ran from 1994-1998 after a name change from “These Friends of Mine.” Ellen’s character Ellen Morgan revealed she was gay in 1997, making “Ellen” the first prime-time show to feature an openly-gay lead character.
The show ended the next year, but didn’t stop Ellen from expressing who she was and spreading kindness. Ellen has hosted her daytime talk show since 2003, while also writing, producing and acting.
Ellen is most well-known for her generosity, as she frequently gives gifts to her audience and guests, while also inviting more than just celebrities to speak with her and perform on the show. Many talk shows have followed in her footsteps.
Just before Anne Frank and her family went into hiding from Nazi reign in 1942, Anne turned 13 and recieved a diary as a gift. Anne spent her two years hiding in the Secret Annex writing about what happened to her and her family, and also about her feelings. Anne also wrote short stories, started a novel and wrote passages from “Book of Beautiful Sentences.”
The family was found and arrested in 1944, but helpers recovered her writing before the annex was emptied by Nazi order. Anne passed away less than a year later from exhaustion, and her father Otto was the only family member to return. Her diary was published, serving as a voice to those who remained voiceless after their deaths.
Many of Anne’s thoughts have inspired young women throughout the years, as she often wrote about the equalities of all people, as well as how small an action can change the course of the world.
A pioneer in the field of radioactivity, Marie Curie discovered radium and polonium and produced huge contributions to the fight against cancer. Along with serving as a pioneer in radioactivity, Marie also pushed for equal education for women after struggling to find a school to receive a degree from.
Marie was a top student in secondary school, but couldn’t attend the male-only University of Warsaw. She instead attended Warsaw’s “floating university,” which were informal classes taught underground. Marie finally found herself at Sorbonne in Paris where she completed her master’s degree in 1893 and then went on to earn another degree in mathematics the following year.
It is thought that Marie died due to her frequent interaction with radiation, but she continued to fight for women’s rights to education through her work. Marie won two Nobel Peace Prizes in two different scientific fields.
Wilma Rudolph, born in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, grew up as the 20th child in her family and suffered problems in her left leg about being struck with double pneumonia, polio and scarlet fever. Wearing a brace on her leg all throughout her childhood, no one would have guessed she would become a world-record-holding Olympian.
Wilma overcame her disabilities and competed in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Australia before becoming the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single year of the Olympics in 1960.
Wanting to continue to support female and male amateur athletes, Wilma founded the Wilma Rudolph Foundation and shared her story in an autobiography in 1977.
Known as “Iron Lady,” Margaret Thatcher served as the prime minister of the UK from 1979 to 1990. Following ideals and practices that were later dubbed as Thatcherism, Margaret is known for setting Britain on a new course toward its current socioeconomic status.
Margaret was the first woman to become prime minister of Britain. In addition, she was the first to lead a major Western power in modern times after leading her Conservative Party to three straight election years.
Although not everyone in the UK can agree if Margaret was a strong leader for the nation, even her enemies have respected her to this day. Striving to bring peace to her country while also pushing economic success, Margaret showed young women the product of perseverance.
Who do you want to spotlight on International Women’s Day? Share their story with us on social. #HSS or #HerStoryofSuccess.