10 Incredible Women Who Are Fearlessly Standing Up For Women's Rights Everywhere

Happy Women's Equality Day.

On Aug. 26, 1920, women were granted the right to vote in America. The country has made enormous progress on women's rights in the near-century since, and much of that is credited to the many women — and men — who tirelessly fought for gender equality.

Though the efforts are collective, there are some outstanding icons to whom we're indebted for fighting the good fight. Be it raising awareness or campaigning for women's issues, here are some of the icons of the global movement, with their differing focuses and opinions, who have contributed to the conversation.


1. Gloria Steinem

Over the past few decades, journalist and activist Gloria Steinem has become the face of the feminist movement. She has taken on female reproductive rights, violence against women, female genital mutilation and pornography, among many other issues.

Now, even at 81, Steinem continues to travel, write, give speeches and remains outspoken about social justice today. 

2. Bell Hooks

Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name Bell Hooks, is one of the most cherished figures in feminism. A vocal advocate of diversity in the movement, Hooks stressed the importance of economic and racial inclusivity in feminism, pointing out that different groups of women have different struggles that the movement has to address. 

And then there are those in the art world that have made a huge impact, too ...

3. Yoko Ono

Initially known for her peace activism with The Beatles' John Lennon, Yoko Ono made her own as an artist and musician. Her 1971 manifesto, The Feminization of Society, still resonates today, and her powerful performance art continues to deliver strong messages of equality and peace.

4. Bikini Kill

Spearheaded by frontwoman Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill was the pioneer of riot grrrl, a '90s feminist  movement amidst an overwhelmingly male-dominated hardcore punk scene. Though short-lived, the riot grrrl movement had a lasting impact on many women-centric music and cultural discourse. 

But where would we be without some of these institutional figures?

5. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Perhaps the most beloved of all Supreme Court Justices, Bader Ginsburg was introduced to many socially conscious youth by becoming a meme appropriately named Notorious R.B.G. 

But long before she achieved Internet-famous status, Bader Ginsburg — sitting in one of the nation's most powerful positions — fought for women's rights in the law and fiercely reprimanded her male colleagues for denying women contraceptive coverage. 

6. Roxane Gay

Writer Roxane Gay shook feminism with her collection of essays in Bad Feminist. The book widened the values and diversity of the movement by stating that a feminist can enjoy things that seemingly go against the movement's values. She also took issue with feminism's biggest flaw: its lack of intersectionality that often excluded women of color, trans women and queer women. 

Of course, there are these young women making waves on the international stage, giving a voice to highly oppressed women across the world ...

7. Malala Yousafzai

At only 18, Yousafzai's list of accomplishments is astounding. A champion for girls' education in Pakistan, she has been the near-fatal target of the Taliban, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founded an organization that helps girls go to school. Oh, and she recently aced her GCSE exams, too. 

She hasn't claimed to be a feminist, but as a young Muslim girl, her tireless efforts to educate young girls shows that the struggle for equality isn't exclusive to "any one culture and faith."

8. Emma Watson

In September 2014, the Harry Potter star gave a momentous speech at the UN on feminism. But what Emma Watson was lauded for, besides her eloquence and passion, was her effort to encourage and include men into the conversation. 

Sadly, many still consider feminists to simply mean "men-hating women," but Watson rightfully stressed the importance and impact that men can have in the fight for gender equality. And the actress-activist continues to champion women's rights and raise awareness about the injustices in other parts of the world.

And finally, these female entertainers who represent an inclusive type of feminism that we can truly get behind ...

9. Beyoncé

Queen Bey is perhaps pop culture's embodiment of everything a strong, talented woman is capable of. Her fearless embrace of the term "feminist" during her 2014 VMA performance planted it solidly in mainstream society and likely introduced the movement to many young girls who look up to the multifaceted entertainer. 

Couple that with her risqué music videos and performances, Beyoncé shows us that feminists come in many forms, including being confident and expressive in one's sexuality on their own terms.

10. Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox propelled to national fame with the Netflix show Orange is the New Black, but she has since emerged as one of the faces of a growing social justice movement: transgender rights and, particularly, transgender women. 

Trans women of color occupy a particular space in the discourse of equality. They are often at the receiving end of violent transphobia, sexism and racism. As someone who has had to claim her womanhood, Cox is a vocal advocate of intersectional feminism and has said that the disavowal of some feminists of trans women as "real women" sets back both women's and trans rights.

Feminism is an ever-evolving, ever-growing movement. The inclusion of different values and beliefs is important, because ultimately, feminism is the fight for justice and equality. And if the movement can win women the right to vote, imagine what else it can achieve with a diversity of inputs, opinions and efforts. 


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