the 10 most influential women you should know about.
International Women’s day is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than discussing our favourite, most influential women and why you should know about them too.
“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women.”
Lawyer, writer, community outreach-worker, former First Lady and overall icon, Michelle Obama is a huge role model to many women. An advocate for women’s and young girls right to an education, she started the ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative in 2015, to help educate 62 million girls around the world who aren’t in education. The former First Lady also launched the ‘Girls Opportunity Alliance’ in 2018, a program that empowers young adolescent girls around the globe through education. Obama also uses her status to speak out about the oppression that African women experience, expressing that, “[a]ny man who uses his strength to oppress women is a coward.” To which we say, “Amen!”
FKA Twigs ( Tahliah Debrett Barnett).
“As a woman […] we can be sensual, knowing, strong and powerful.”
Singer-song-writer, dancer and actress, FKA Twigs is a creative genius and is responsible for some of the most thought-provoking music of our age. Crediting her Mother for helping her grow into the creative artist she is, Twigs creates music and performances which empower women to sexually express themselves. The performer also recently opened up about her abusive relationship with Shia La Beouf and is an inspiration to women suffering in similar relationships. She stated in an interview with Elle Magazine that getting stuck in an abusive relationship can “happen to anyone”.
“I am as powerful as a man, and it drives them crazy.”
Back to politics and there’s no doubt that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the woman of the hour.. Taking office at 29 years of age, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest women to serve in the United States Congress and the youngest member of the 116th Congress. The politician famously gave us a master class on deflecting to misogyny when responding to congressman Ted Yoho when he publicly called her a “bitch.” The congresswoman made a powerful speech about violence against women in response. She is also an advocate for universal healthcare, immigration reform and environmental awareness.
“The younger generation right now is mobilizing and organizing […] young people are actually getting on the front lines now.”
Social Activist and all round queen, Ilwad Elman works at Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Mogadishu. Elman was voted the African Young Personality (female) of the Year in the 2016 Africa Youth awards and made the 2019 shortlist for the Nobel Peace prize. Ilwad Elman is the founder of the first rape crisis centre in Somalia and is passionate about helping women and starting a conversation about sexual violence.
“I do not need some guy around in order to get inspiration, in order to make a great record, in order to live my life, in order to feel okay about myself.”
If singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift’s music wasn’t enough of an inspiration, the artist has been a big influence on women around the world by being outspoken about the sexist criticism women in the music industry, and society, endure. Songs such as “Shake It Off and “Blank Space” are responses to criticisms Swift has received. The singer also won a civil case regarding a sexual assault by Ex-DJ David Mueller, and inspired women everywhere to speak up about their own experiences with sexual assault.
‘When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!’
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg had to be on our list. Starting the ‘School strike for climate’ movement in 2018, Thunberg has made her voice heard. Since then she participated in UN conferences, made speeches at high-profile events and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Did we mention that she’s 18?
“There is always a light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
Poet and activist, Amanda Gorman stunned us with the power of her words at the U.S. inauguration of President Joe Biden. Reading her poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ she is the youngest poet to deliver the Presidential inaugural poem. The piece went on to receive international acclaim and two of her books achieved best-seller status soon after. At the age of 16, Gorman also founded a non-profit orginisation to support poetry workshops. Now only 22, Gorman will be an inspiration to women for many years to come.
‘We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.’
Activist for human rights, specifically the education of women and children in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzia is the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Soon after being attacked, Malala created the Malala Fund alongside her Father, which aims to support education for children across the globe. At age 11, Malala anonymously blogged for BBC Urdu and gave accounts of attending school as a girl in Pakistan. An inspiration for many, Malala Yousafzia is an icon of our time.
“The success of one woman should be inspiration for the next.”
Professional tennis player and all round superwoman, Serena Williams is one of the most influential women in sports. With 23 singles Grand Slam titles to her name, the mother of one has no doubt earned her icon status. Self-love, equal rights and equal pay advocate, Williams uses her platform to promote messages of equality and confidence and we love her for it!
Lizzo ( Melissa Viviane Jefferson)
“You need to be like you, and never let anybody stop you or shame you from being yourself”
Singer, rapper, songwriter and flutist, Lizzo is the queen of confidence. She made sure everyone knew her name in 2019, being named the entertainer of the year in 2019 by Time magazine, releasing her hit “Truth Hurts” and gracing us with a killer Coachella performance we won’t forget. An advocate for body positivity, Lizzo is famous for her self-love anthems. In an interview with Vogue, she claimed she is “body-normative” explaining that she wants to “normalise” her body and that body positivity has become “too commercial”. Powerful, confident and talented, Lizzo is truly an inspiration.
Here's to all the amazing women out there!