In honor of International Women’s Day, here are a few impactful and influential women from around the world.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie of Nigeria
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author, activist, and public figure. She has written the novels “Purple Hibiscus”, “Half of a Yellow Sun”, and “Americanah”, as well as short story collection “The Thing Around Your Neck” and her most recent work, the essay “We Should All Be Feminists”. In 2014, Adichie delivered the popular TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story”, and has even been quoted in Beyonce’s music single “Flawless”. Her impact has reached far beyond Nigeria, and she has used her platform to influence public policy on race, sex and gender issues, feminism, and beyond.
“We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.”
-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
Emma Watson of England
Emma Watson is an English actress and activist. Watson rose to fame in her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series, which she acted in from 2001-2011. From 2011 to 2014, Watson split her time between film projects and obtaining a college degree, studying at Brown University and Worcester College, and graduating from Brown with a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 2014. In that same year, Watson was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped launch the campaign HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate for gender equality. She was pronounced first place on the AskMen list of “Top 99 Outstanding Women 2015”, and placed number 26 on the TIME 100 list of the World’s most influential people. Emma Watson uses her platform to advocate for girl’s education, help deconstruct the negative connotations that surround feminism, and get men involved in the effort toward gender equality.
“If not me, who? If not now, when?”
― Emma Watson
Catherine De Bolle of Belgium
General Commissioner of the Federal Police of Belgium since 2012, Catherine De Bolle was nominated as the head of The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (better known as Europol) in May 2018. She became the first female executive director of Europol, an international government agency that supports the 28 states of the European Union in their fight against international crime and terrorism. Throughout her career, De Bolle has contributed to the fight against human trafficking, and has helped create priority in information-sharing among the European Union. She says she is used to taking on roles traditionally held by men, and has acknowledged that there is still a persistent gender imbalance not only in the law enforcement field, but globally in the workplace.
Emma Bonino of Italy
Born in Bra, Italy, in 1948, Emma Bonino has spent her life as a politician and advocate. She currently serves as a Senator for Rome, but has held positions as the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, member of the European Parliament, and member of the Italian Senate. In the early 1970s, as a recent graduate, Bonino fought for abortion rights, and participated in the foundation of the Information Centre on Sterilization and Abortion (CISA) in Milan. She has had an extensive career in Italian politics and still fights for the rights of women and migrants.
Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education, novelist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (the youngest ever). In 2012, after speaking out publicly on behalf of females and their right to an education, Yousafzai was shot in the head. After months of surgeries and rehabilitation, the young activist reunited with her family in their new home in the U.K. and continued campaigning around the world for the educational rights of girls. Yousafzai is now studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford, and continues to fight every day to ensure all girls receive 12 years of free, safe, quality education.
“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”
― Malala Yousafzai