Girl Power: Five Incredible Women Who Helped Advance Women’s Rights

By: Jillian James

  1. Malala Yousafzai

Malala is a Pakistani advocate for girl’s education and inspired the world with her remarkable story of survival. In 2012 a member of the Taliban came onto Malala’s school bus and shot her in the head. She had become a target for the Taliban after speaking out and advocating for Pakistani girls’ right to education. She miraculously survived the murder attempt and went on to speak across the world about the importance of access to quality education. In 2014 she became the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize.


  1. Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Ginsberg has worked tirelessly for many years as an advocate for women’s rights. After graduating from Cornell University, she originally enrolled in Harvard Law School and was one of only nine women in her class of approximately 500. She would later transfer and graduate in the top of her class from Columbia Law School.

She had a rough start to her legal career and was turned down from many jobs because of her gender. She would later be hired as a professor at Rutgers University and become the co-founder of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the U.S. to focus exclusively on women’s rights. As a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsberg became an outspoken and influential national leader.


  1. Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem was a leader of the second wave feminist movement that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. After graduating from Smith College, she became a journalist and writer. She went undercover as a Playboy Bunny waitress to expose Playboy’s sexist and demeaning treatment towards their workers and wrote and spoke out about several other women’s issues such as legalized abortion. Today is still incredibly involved in politics and continues to give speeches about women’s rights.

  1. Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was raped at the young age of eight and after her assault she didn’t speak for over four years. During that time she read every book that she could get her hands on and focused on self-education. She would later write the famous book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which is about overcoming racism and trauma through the power of education and inner strength. Since then she was written an extensive collection of books and poems and became a professor at Wake Forest University. She became a national symbol of the strength and tenacity of women and inspired other women to tell their own stories.


  1. Serena Williams

Sometimes called “the best athlete of all time”, Serena Williams proved to the world that women could be dominant athletes. She is known for ushering in a new era of tennis with her sister, Venus, and for inspiring girls and women across the world to get involved with athletics. She had to overcome adversity and sometimes wasn’t accepted by the tennis community because she was black. She overcame several injuries and setbacks to become known as the best female tennis player the world had ever seen and broke gender and racial barriers in athletics.