5 Inspirational/Influential Women You Should Know
More often than not, women have been left out of the bulk of the history books. The recognition that they receive is a side note at best. In the past 100 years, women’s rights and influence has exponentially exploded in every aspect of life. Here are five women who touched different areas of women’s rights as we’ve navigated through this new arena.
- Katharine Hepburn: Katharine burst onto the movie scene during the golden years of Hollywood as a strong-willed woman. She not only was a business woman, but she continued to portray her strength on the silver screen. She played many roles of women who were smart, witty, and a force to be reckoned with. Her unique personal style was very edgy and taboo at the time. She wore masculine styled clothes with stark, sharp edges, and the most daring of all—pants. She popularized the evolution of fashion on film with her refusal to wear the traditional ball gowns. She broke the mould and brought pants into every lady’s closet in the USA, and much of the world. For her amazing performances, she won four Academy Awards for Best Actress, which is the most any woman has ever won.
- Benazir Bhutto: Benazir was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan (1992-1996), making her the first woman to govern a Muslim state. She was elected to office twice in a democratic vote. During her rule, she dismantled military dictatorship and fought for the rights of women. She was the leader of the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) through 2002. The party was a left-winged socialist party the strived to create equality and public ownership. Although her time in office wasn’t perfect, the fact that she was elected and held office is a major accomplishment for women in the Middle East.
- Florence Nightingale: Florence Nightingale is the founder of the modern profession of nursing. She would make rounds to the injured soldiers at night, earning her the nickname, “the Lady with the Lamp”. She cared for the soldiers after the doctors had left, and tried to improve their sanitary conditions. Her efforts saved many lives, and put a spotlight on the need for extra care in the medical profession. At the time, women did not work in traditional job roles, so her new concept broke the mold on how women can influence the working world. Women were seen as valuable assets in the workplace as well as in the home.
- Coco Chanel: At the turn of the twentieth century, French designer Coco Chanel changed women’s fashion forever. She came from a humble beginning with her mother as a laundry maid, and her father a roaming nomad peddling clothes. She became a business woman, designing and selling hats under her brand name Chanel. She inspired and influenced fashion, which in turn empowered and boosted the self esteem of the women of the world. She created jewelry, perfume, and other accessories to enhance a woman’s confidence.
- Emmeline Pankhurst: Emmeline Pankhurst was a british suffragette who shook societies view of women. After her husband died, she and her three daughters fought for women’s rights, with the main focus being the right to vote. She founded the Women’s Social and Political Union which lead hunger strikes and other protests to gain political attention. She not only fought for the women of Britain, she also worked to gain rights for women in Russia, and her work greatly influenced the suffragettes of the USA. Without her, so much of the political spectrum would look vastly different today.
The world would not be the same without any of these women, and countless others who are their contemporaries. Their work has brought us a long way, but we still have a distance to go. Women continue to strive towards equality in the workp
lace, as well as respect in the political, economic, and social spheres. One step at a time will get us there.