It is better to regret what you did than to regret what you could do, but did not. These women are living proof of these words. They risked challenging accepted norms,  struggled with stereotypes, moving boundaries and creating a history. Fearless pioneers in their areas  will empower you to a social change. 

 

Betty Friedan

The initiatives of Betty Friedan made her one of the most important figures among American feminists. Once, on the verge of becoming an average, oppressed housewife, she wrote a hot-lingual article about such women from the 1950s who were chained to the house and deprived of the meaning of life and independence. Later, this article appeared to be the basis for a full book, which became a classic of the feminist bookshelf.

Nevertheless, Friedan inspired not only by word, but also by action. Fighting for the women’s right to be heard, she co-founded the National Organization for Women in 1966. All her achievements were of national scale. NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Women’s Political Caucus… Her major lifelong battle was aimed to gain a right to abortion.

 

Gloria Steinem

Steinem used to be a staunch fighter for justice. In 70’s she was a team player along with Friedan in founding the National Women’s Political Caucus. “We need to be long-distance runners to make a real social revolution. And you can’t be a long-distance runner unless you have some inner strength,” encouraged Steinem.

However, her main achievement is the creation of the first in the history feminist Ms magazine. From that moment, Gloria paid special attention to the women’s media representation, which led to the emergence of the Women’s Media Center fighting against gender discrimination in newspapers, on the screen or the radio. She once told, ”Many institutions are designed to undermine our self-authority in order to get us to obey their authority”.

 

Kate Millett

Kate Millett was the one who challenged patriarchy in all its manifestations. Her views were radical enough and became the engine of second-wave feminism. Kate was not like other human rights defenders “out of the people”, since due to her vast prestigious education and Manhattan background she looked arrogant and unattainable. Most of all, she repelled by her brutal honesty.

At the same time, a woman, who, from her childhood, was subjected to violence by her father and involuntarily became a resident of a nursing home, thought not only about the rights of women. She worried about family issues, as well as the attitude to mental health in the US. Most of her initiatives and works were the consequences of her own personal challenges, which made her frantically motivated activist.

 

Ann Jones

 

Globally thinking Ann Jones did not limit itself to a geographical framework. She drew public attention to the defenseless position of women in the war zones of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Being primarily a journalist, she tried to make sure that any oppression remained in public memory, visible, not hidden. Documentary shootings, numerous interviews, photo projects… She managed to disclose how much a woman is physically displaced and mentally destroyed following the burdens of warfare.

In her early work, Anna opened the door to the world, where a woman takes a step toward violence. Women Who Kill surprisingly humanely shows them as the victims of circumstances, affection and suffering.

 

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine tries to influence society through creativity. She pays the most attention to the problem of racial discrimination. Her key invention is so-called whiteness. “It’s important that people begin to understand that whiteness is not inevitable, and that white dominance is not inevitable.” In one of her works Rankine thoroughly depicts the cases in which the rights of minorities are infringed on this basis. In addition, her latest initiative is to create a “Racial Imaginary Institute”, a collaboration of creators aimed to resist the racist stereotypes prevalent in the US.

 

Nikki Giovanni

Being a popular African American poet, Giovanni shared similar perceptions as Rankine. Nikki more than once used her creativity to address the problems of separating people by skin color and other prejudice. Many of her works were made under the influence of the Black Power movement and were militaristic in nature. It gave Giovanni the name “Poet of the Black Revolution”.

 

Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi  is literally the one who has been capable of empowering a noticeable social change and pushing the whole nation to its feet. She is a fighter for the rights of those who are disadvantaged on any grounds in Iran within the Defenders of Human Rights Center.

She worked as a defense lawyer for the dozens of human rights cases in Iran. It is noteworthy that she never took money from her clients, ‘’We had 6,000 political cases we defended without charge. I did consulting in my office, my husband had a job as an engineer, our office was our own, so no rent – so with political prisoners I took no pay.”.

Ebadi received Noble Peace Prize for trying to democratize her country and protect fellow citizens, but for the first time in history she was deprived of this award by the state.

 

Rebecca Solnit

Solnit’s activism mostly concerns issues of the environment and human rights. Despite the fact that she gained special popularity in the last two years due to her feminist attacks against Donald Trump, Rebecca has been involved in human rights campaigns for several decades. In her publications, she manages to unite and confront issues of politics, culture and the crisis of climate change.

”Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others,” wrote Solnit in 2016.

 

Manasi Pradhan

Manasi Pradhan is the one who empowers thousands Indian girls and women to fight for their better future. An activist makes education accessible to them, creating opportunities to make their voice valuable in the hierarchical Indian community. At one time, Manasi herself went a long way from the daily walking about 15 km to the only school in the region to obtaining two bachelor degrees, in law and economics. In addition to Honor for Women’s National Campaign in India, Pradhan is involved in several of world-class organizations (like WWO), where she defends the rights of women in her homeland.

 

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Rigoberta Menchú Tum from Guatemala has spent many years fighting for justice in her colonial country. She grew up in a village inhabited by the Maya people, which was attacked by the Guatemalan army and was threatened with enslavement. After the civil war, she sought to ensure that the perpetrators of torture and genocide did not go unpunished. For this, she appealed to the European courts, which eventually supported her initiative. Rigoberta is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to protect the interests of Guatemalan indigenous people.

 

Winona LaDuke

Another activist who cares about the fate of indigenous peoples is Winona LaDuke.  She devoted her attention to the tribal lands of North America. In particular, LaDuke created a project to buy out the territory of Minnesota from non-Natives and its further use for the provision of the local tribe.

Since 80’s she has fought for the rights of indigenous women (within the Indigenous Women’s Network). LaDuke drew attention to the issue of forced sterilization to which native American women were subjected.

Besides, LaDuke is concerned about environmental issues, being executive director of Honor the Earth.

 

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson can be regarded as a pioneer among environmental activists. Her major contribution referred to the use of synthetic pesticides, which provoked inevitable consequences for the climate on Earth. Carson’s merit lies in the fact that her struggle went from words to deeds, when thanks to her publication this type of production was banned in the US.

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