March is about celebrating women… something we’re pretty excited about. There is so much to appreciate, so many barriers yet to topple, and so many amazing women to recognize for their accomplishments. We have a feeling this year’s Women’s History Month will be like none other following #MeToo, #TimesUp and Oprah’s incredible speech – among many important moments from the past year.
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we thought we’d highlight 10 influential women who inspire us. Many have broken barriers of gender, race, and age to make incredible achievements. Their dedication and persistence leads the way to a more equitable future for all.
So here they are… 10 of the boldest, bravest women who are changing the world:
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani education activist who has been fighting for girls’ education since she was 11 years old. In 2014, she became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate for her activism after surviving a Taliban attack. Her bravery and dedication to girls’ education inspires us to no end. Malala continues to fearlessly advocate for girls’ education and rights globally. You can follow her latest #GirlPowerTrip and learn about the Malala Fund on Twitter
Peggy Watson is making huge strides for women in space. We know that historically women have faced barriers to science and have been unrecognized for their scientific achievements. Peggy became the first female International Space Station (ISS) Commander in 2008, but she didn’t stop there. In her latest space mission this past year, she passed the American record for time spent in space by a NASA astronaut with 665 days in space. That’s incredible, and very cool.
Tarana Burke is credited the original founder of the #MeToo movement. As a teenager, she became involved in working to improve the lives of young girls living in marginalized communities. In 2006 she was working to end sexual harassment against minority women in her own community and uttered the phrase “me too.” She is a passionate activist for young women of color and founded Just Be Inc. and is the senior director of Girls for Gender Equality in Brooklyn. She’s a force to be reckoned with.
Emma Watson isn’t scared of calling herself a feminist. She’s always been a strong advocate for gender equality and women’s voices, speaking out in public often. In 2014 Emma was appointed as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and served as an advocate for the HeForShe campaign, an initiative we support. Now she is a passionate advocate of the Time’s Up movement to end sexual harassment and assault across industries.
Suzan-Lori Parks is a fearless “boundary-crushing” playwright and screenwriter who became the first African-American female to receive the Pulitzer Prize for her drama Topdog/Underdog in 2002. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College near our studio, and we love her work. Suzan-Lori’s creativity and success inspires other women to lead in theater and film.
Amal Clooney is a Lebanese-British international human rights lawyer whose family fled from Lebanon to Europe because of war. She identifies with refugees from conflict regions and her work includes advocating for the 6,700 Yazidi women who suffered sexual and human rights abuse as a religious minority. We’re inspired by persistence in uncovering the truth and her compassion for those who suffer.
Girl of Enghelab Street
This is the nickname given to the Iranian woman who on December 27th protested the female compulsory hijab by taking off hers off and waving it in the town center. Her actions sent a powerful statement to the world that women’s rights and freedom should not be ignored. Her public protest sparked other protests and she became recognized on social media with the hashtags #WhiteWednesday and #WhereIsShe following her arrest. Her bravery is incredible.
Maya Angelou was a renowned American poet, educator and civil rights activist who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Movement. She was incredibly influential as part of the Black Arts Movement, and much of her work comes from her personal experience as a black woman and speaks to larger issues of racism and identity. Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86 in 2014. If you haven’t yet read her powerful book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
, pick up a copy. We’re so inspired by Maya that we’ve included her quotes on our candles.
We have to include Oprah… we’re still awed by that speech. This past January, Oprah Winfrey became the first African-American woman to be honored with the Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille Award. Her impassioned words supporting the #MeToo movement to end sexual harassment and assault struck a deep chord. More than this, Oprah has long been advocating for people in need and supporting women’s and girl’s rights as a passionate philanthropist.
Melinda Gates is an incredible advocate for women and girls’ rights who is serious about changing the world. As the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she funds projects that use science and technology to empower people in poverty and help raise women up. Melinda is a strong believer of investing in women, pledging to invest $20M in the Global Women’s Movement to advance gender equality and empower women around the world. In her words, “When you invest in women, you invest in the people who invest in everyone else.”