Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day and what is a better way to do this than sharing some of the world’s most renowned women success stories.
Helen Keller, 1880–1968
An American social activist. At the age of 19 months, Helen became deaf and blind. Overcoming the frustration of losing both sight and hearing she campaigned tirelessly on behalf of deaf and blind people.
-“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”
Coco Chanel, 1883–1971
A French fashion designer. One of the most innovative fashion designers, Coco Chanel was instrumental in defining feminine style and dress during the 20th Century. Her ideas were revolutionary; in particular she often took traditionally male clothes and redesigned them for the benefit of women
Tegla Loroupe, 1973–
A Kenyan athlete. Loroupe held the women’s marathon world record and won many prestigious marathons. Since retiring from running, she has devoted herself to various initiatives promoting peace, education and women’s rights. In her native Kenya, her Peace Race and Peace Foundation have been widely praised for helping to end tribal conflict.
Dalia Mogahed, 1974-
A researcher, author, adviser and a consultant who studies Muslim communities. Dalia Mogahed is an American scholar of Egyptian origin. She is also the director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding at Washington, D.C, the president and CEO of Mogahed consulting, a Washington, D.C-based executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in Muslim Societies and the Middle East and she was selected as an adviser by the U.S president Barack Obama on the White House Office of faith-based and neighborhood partnerships.
-“Remember this: For all the ugliness in the world there is far more beauty. For all the cruelty there is far more kindness. And remember one more thing: Those who remind you of this simple fact, keep them close.”
Djamila Bouherid, 1935-
She was born to a middle-class family in colonial Algeria. When all the Algerian students repeated every morning “France is our mother”, Bouhired would stand up and scream “Algeria is our mother!”From this time, Bouhired was drawn to the revolutionary cause. Her brothers having already been involved with the underground nationalist struggle, Bouhired was quick to join and her profile would quickly rise in stature. During the revolution she worked as a liaison agent for the commander Saadi Yacef.
In June 1957, before a large planned demonstration, she was captured by the French and, she claims, tortured for information about that demonstration. She did not divulge any information under torture and reportedly repeated “Algeria is our mother” while being tortured.
Rosalind Franklin, 1920-1958
When people think of DNA they tend to think of just Watson and Crick, the two men credited with the discovery of the DNA molecule, and winners of the Nobel Prize. In fact it was Rosalind Franklin, another scientist, who laid much of the groundwork – with her famed ‘photograph 51’ capturing the molecule on film.
Maya Angelou, 1928-2014
Maya Angelou was an American poet and a civil rights activist. She published 7 autobiographies, 3 books of essays and several books of poetry. She was active in the civil rights movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. With the publication of “I know why the caged bird sings”, she was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Her books center on themes such as identity, racism, family and travel.
-“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”
Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016
She was an Iraqi-born British architect. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. She received the UK’s most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, she was made a Dame by Elizabeth II for services to architecture, and in 2015 she became the first woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
-“Yes, I’m a feminist, because I see all women as smart, gifted and tough” Zaha Hadid
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 1938-
She is the 24th and current president of Liberia, is the first democratically-elected female head of state in Africa. Following her election Sirleaf announced the creation of a “national peace and reconciliation initiative” to address the country’s divisions and begin a national dialogue that would bring the country together. In 2016, she was elected as the chair of the Economic Community of West African States, making her the first woman to occupy this position. Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2011 for her peace building work.
-“All girls know that they can be anything now. That transformation is to me one of the most satisfying things”
Lotfia ElNadi, 1907-2002
She was the first African Egyptian woman as well as the first Arab woman to earn a pilot’s license. ElNadi read an article about a flying school which had just opened in Cairo and determined that she would attend, despite her father’s objections. ElNadi flew in the international race between Cairo and Alexandria. Flying at speeds averaging 100 miles per hour, she steered her single-engine plane to the finish-line before any of the other competitors. As she missed flying over one of the two tents located at midpoint of the course, which was required as part of the competition, ElNadi was not declared the winner.
Finally, that’s how much women have contributed to the world. Those women believed they could, so they did.