Top 5 Female Activists - Part 2: Trailblazers
Posted on March 13 2019
Coming off the heels of our previous post featuring 5 pioneers of female activism, we are eager to explore and present 5 women who we consider to be trailblazers of social movement. These women were the voices for the seemingly voiceless, their words and strength never wavering through oppression and persecution. No doubt, their achievements were not only personal, but global, as the world has since made great strides on the road to societal equality. We still have some way to go, but thanks to these and countless other women, we already have one foot in the door.
She was the voice of the American feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s but her work and presence still resonates to this day. She co-founded Ms. Magazine and the Women’s Media Centre, two outlets which sought to increase the voices and visibility of women through media. She also starred in as well as produced several critically-acclaimed documentaries, authored several best-selling books, as well as active involvement in numerous civil rights organizations, all of which are geared towards equality and the betterment of lives of women. Her commitment to women’s rights is limitless as is the recognition of her work and contribution to this cause. For this, in 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Most famously known for being the widow of ex-Beatle, John Lennon, Yoko Ono forged her own path as a musician, artist and defender of peace and human rights. Active since the 1960’s, she has spearheaded several anti-war campaigns, and has consistently and openly voiced her disapproval of racism and sexism throughout the decades. In 2002, she created the LennonOno Grant for Peace, a monetary peace award granted to artists living in “regions of conflict”. She currently maintains a very colorful presence across various social media platforms showcasing her artwork combined with uplifting messages and social commentary.
This outspoken Egyptian rebel holds many titles including writer, physician, psychiatrist and activist. Her writings highlighted life as a woman in the Islamic world with particular attention to female circumcision; a practice she has vehemently advocated against. Her most notable publication, Woman and Sex, has been credited as the foundational text upon which the second wave of feminism was built. After being imprisoned for creating and publishing a feminist magazine called Confrontation in 1981, she went on to hold numerous high-ranking positions across many Egyptian State Offices. She is a true heroine of Egypt, establishing several woman-centric foundations and associations throughout her illustrious career. For her candid opinions and perseverance through persecution, she has received several awards for her work including honorary doctorates and peace prizes. At age 87, she shows no signs of slowing down, making appearances and sharing her voice and wisdom on features such as HARD Talk and the BBC.
Edna Adan Ismail holds many firsts in her homeland of Somaliland: the first girl to study in Britain, the first qualified nurse-midwife and the first Somali woman to drive. Up until July 2006, she was the only female minister in the Somaliland government. Like Nawal El Saadawi, she is an activist for the abolition of female genital mutilation. Her commitment to the betterment of the lives of women led her to establish the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, a non-profit institution which not only provides public healthcare, but also acts as a training center for nurses, midwives and other health professionals. Her lifelong contributions to her society earned her a spot in the Medical Mission Hall of Fame, multiple honorary fellowships and doctorate degrees, as well as being honored with the French Legion of Honor by the President of France in 2010.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins, this prominent professor, feminist, and author used her writings as a tool to challenge and address the issues of inequality within race, gender, class, and sexuality. She has published over 30 adult and children’s books in her career, several of which have either been nominated for or have won awards. Her book Ain’t I A Woman is also considered to be a key inspiration to the concept of feminist thought. In 2014, the Bell Hooks Institute was founded to celebrate and honor her many writings and achievements while promoting the end of oppression of all types through teaching, conversation, and critical thinking.
Please stick around for the concluding installation of this series where we (re) introduce some of the female activists of modern time.