Women Who Shaped The World
Let's be honest, no one's entirely sure how to say her name properly - but whether you pronounce it Boudica, Boudecia and Bunduca; there's not doubting her standing as one if history's stronger women. Though much of her life is a bit of a mystery, what we do know about her is this: she rebelled against the Romans in Britain in AD61, led an army of hundreds of thousands of men, and managed to overthrow a fair few towns before she was defeated. Blimey.
Curie was a scientist who made a big impact in the field of radioactivity – in particular, developing methods to separate radium from radioactive residues, allowing it to be studied for therapeutic purposes (that’s cancer treatment to you and me). Curie promoted the use of radium to help the sick – particularly during World War 1, when she dedicated all her time to this field. She was the first person to win two Nobel Peace Prizes.
British Suffragette movement. She endured hunger strikes and arrest, and encouraged mass civil disobedience to draw attention to the cause. The determination of Pankhurst and the other Suffragettes paid off when women over 30 were granted the right to vote in the UK in 1918, extended to all women in 1928.
Recognised as one of the most important faces in the modern day civil rights movement in the US, Parks played an important role in the fight for racial equality in the 1950s. In ‘55 Parks refused to move to the back of a bus to make way for a white passenger, and was subsequently arrested. This led to the Montgomery bus boycott, and saw her become a key figure in the civil rights struggle.
Known as the Iron Lady of India, Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of the country, and one of the first women in the world to lead a democracy. Although some of Gandhi’s policies were met with harsh criticism, she overcame many barriers to lead the country, and tried to improve the lives of Indian citizens when she was in power. Gandhi was assassinated in 1984.
Commonly referred to as one of the most important voices of 20th century feminism, Greer says her goal is women’s liberation. She is no stranger to controversy; since her book The Female Eunuch was published in 1970, Greer has been subjected to as much criticism as she has admiration. The 73 year-old is still going strong, opinions unchanged, fighting for freedom on behalf of women everywhere.
The first women to be elected Prime Minister in an Islamic country, Benazir Bhutto fought for democracy in Pakistan – surviving jail time, exile and several assassination attempts during her struggle. She was just 35 years-old when she came to power; and she faced both great support and opposition from within her own country. When she was assassinated in 2008, the country mourned the death of one of its great democratic leaders.
Aung San Suu Kyi
The Burmese politician, dubbed ‘the female Nelson Mandela’, has spent the majority of the past twenty years in detention as a result of striving for democracy in Burma. To many people, she embodies the fight for democracy, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
Lina Ben Mhenni, Tunisian blogger
Known as one of the most prolific bloggers and voices of the Tunisian revolution, Lina Ben Mhenni has spoken out against the abuse and inequality of women – despite being harassed for her opinions. The 28 year-old was one of the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and blogs at atunisiangirl.blogspot.com.
Manal Al Sharif
One of our favourite women in the region, Al Sharif is part of the campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. She has fought for women’s rights for years. Amnesty said “Shewis following in a long tradition of women activists around the world who have put themselves on the line to expose and challenge discriminatory laws and policies”.
Yemeni activist Karman was one of the winners of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize (sharing her win with fellow inspirational females Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee). The activist and journalist is renowned for her part in the Arab Spring, and spent much of 2011 in jail for her views. Despite threats of violence, Karman continues to fight for change in her native Yemen.