International Women’s Day: Women activists who have made an impact around the world

International Women’s Day is a holiday meant to recognize the progress women around the world have made towards equality and freedom, while also advocating for greater progress and equity.

For centuries, women in various areas of the world have struggled to gain financial and political independence in many patriarchal societies. When the holiday was instituted nearly 110 years ago, women were discouraged from working outside the home as were handbagsyoupursue a career in the arts, education, science, or media.

March 8 is a day to reflect on the progress made by women and gender activists, while also honoring women in contemporary society who are a beacon of hope for millions of young women. The theme of International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, which calls for equal opportunities for women and an end to gender bias.

The five women below are modern women involved in media, politics and education who have been inspiring other women across the Earth for decades.


  1. Oprah Winfrey
  2. Angelina Jolie
  3. Emma Watson
  4. Malala Yousafzai
  5. Beyoncé

1. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is an award-winning talk show host best known for her show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ which aired from 1986 to 2011. She is regarded as a female and African American pioneer in the television industry who has interviewed various high profile religious, political influencers and cultural, including former President Obama and Prince Harry.

Additionally, Winfrey was the only black billionaire during the 20th century and the richest African American of the century with an estimated net worth of over $2.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Over the decades, Winfrey has dedicated her life to philanthropic endeavors through organizations such as ‘Oprah’s Angel Network’ which raised funds to rebuild the homes of people affected by Hurricane Katrina. He has also donated tens of millions of dollars to various non-profit organizations and received the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

2. Angelina Jolie

Beyond the silver screen and red carpet, Angelina Jolie has spent years advocating for women’s rights and environmental conservation, as well as working with non-profits to help end human trafficking. She became a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in August 2001 at their headquarters in Geneva and has spent millions helping the organization resettle Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

She is also a human rights advocate, founding the Jolie Legal Fellowship, which provides funds to lawyers and prosecutors to protect human rights in developing countries across the Earth. Additionally, Jolie has raised money for organizations fighting against sexual assaults in the military and has provided funds to civilians in war-torn nations such as Yemen and Ukraine.

"Maleficent" star Angelina Jolie is a proud parent to daughter Zahara Jolie-Pitt.

“Maleficent” star Angelina Jolie is a proud parent to daughter Zahara Jolie-Pitt. (Getty Images)

3.Emma Watson

Another Hollywood icon and female role model over the years has been Emma Watson, who initially gained fame playing Hermione Granger for the ‘Harry Potter’ film franchise. Likewise, she has for years gained an international presence on the world stage as a leading advocate for gender, sexual orientation, class and race equality.


Notably, she gave a speech in September 2014 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City for the initiation of the HeForShe campaign, where she called for gender equality and advocated demonizing feminist groups. The speech garnered Watson worldwide attention in the press and recognition from other feminist advocates.

4. Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is an international icon of women’s education and women’s rights and is also the youngest Nobel Prize winner and the second Pakistani to receive the award. She has for years advocated the right of women to receive a formal education in Pakistan despite resistance from elements of the Taliban through threats and assassination attempts.

Malala Yousafzai nearly lost her life in 2012 after a failed assassination attempt by the Taliabn in Pakistan for her advocacy for women's education.

Malala Yousafzai nearly lost her life in 2012 after a failed assassination attempt by the Taliabn in Pakistan for her advocacy for women’s education. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Files)

In October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head by a gunman acting on behalf of the Pakistani Taliban while traveling on a bus. She was left in critical condition but eventually recovered from her injuries. The incident led to international condemnation and a fatwa ordered against her life by religious fundamentalists in the region. Death threats and physical violence have not stopped Yousafzai from her mission to defend the education rights of women in the Middle East.

5. Beyoncé

Beyoncé is one of the best-selling and best-performing artists of her generation who has amassed a large fortune and cultural influence over the years.

The superstar is also a self-described feminist and women’s rights advocate who has used her fame and fortune to advance social justice causes such as her organization Chime for Change which seeks gender equality across national borders.



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