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10 Influential Women You Should Know From Around the World


1. Madeline Stuart from Australia

Madeline Stuart is a model from Australia who became the first professional model who has Down’s Syndrome. Stuart is an advocate for inclusivity in the modeling industry and she has appeared at many high profile events such as New York Fashion Week.

2. Thelma Fardín from Argentina

Thelma Fardín is an Argentinian actress who is an advocate against the violence against women that affects so many in Argentina and across Latin America (see: #NiUnaMenos). Fardín herself accused another Argentinian actor of rape and since then she has been an advocate for others to speak out and fight for their rights. The actions of Fardín have sparked a movement similar to the #MeToo movement in the United States which is called #MiraComoNosPonemos which translates to “look what you do to us.”

3. Parisa Pourtaherian from Iran

Paris Pourtaherian is a sports photographer from Iran who is the first woman to photograph the beloved national football team in their stadium. In Iran, women are not permitted to enter the stadium and Pourtaherian did not let this stand in her way because she climbed onto a rooftop nearby to photograph the match anyway.

4. Sylvia Rivera from the United States

Sylvia Rivera was a transgender activist from the United States who dedicated her life to gay and transgender rights. Rivera worked alongside Marsha P. Johnson where they were involved in the Stonewall Riots which is credited as the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. Rivera was known for her dedication to transgender youth, specifically by fighting for homeless transgender youth.

5. Jaha Dukureh from The Gambia

Jaha Dukureh is a Gambian women’s rights activist who specifically fights against female genital mutilation. A survivor of female genital mutilation herself at just one week old, Dukureh founded Safe Hands for Girls which is an organization which aims to end female genital mutilation. Dukureh met with cabinet members of the government in The Gambia and due to her efforts, female genital mutilation is now illegal in The Gambia.

6. Mona Hanna-Attisha from the United States

Author of the book, What the Eyes Don’t See, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who comes from an Iraqi family of scientists, is a pediatrician who has made significant discoveries on the effect of the Flint Water Crisis on children in Flint, Michigan. Dr. Hanna-Attisha is an influential advocate for children in Flint, Michigan and the need for government intervention because of dangerous levels of lead in children’s blood.

7. Yasmin Abdullahi from the United Kingdom

Yasmin Abdullahi from the United Kingdom created a Muslim football club called Sisterhood FC. Abdullahi created Sisterhood FC to give girls in the UK an opportunity to play football in their hijab and to have more representation in the world of football.

8. Sheikh Hasina Wajed from Bangladesh

Sheikh Hasina Wajed from Bangladesh is serving as the 10th Prime Minister of Bangladesh and has been serving since 2009. Hasina Wajed is the longest serving Prime Minister in Bangladesh history and is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders which includes current and former presidents and prime ministers who are women from around the world.

9. Kathrin Jansen from Germany

Kathrin Jansen from Germany is a drug researcher who oversaw the development the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19. Jansen was inspired to become a drug researcher and developer after falling ill often as a child. Jansen has worked on numerous vaccines including the HPV vaccine by proposing that proteins can be used to create a vaccine.

10. Tarana Burke from the United States

Tarana Burke is an activist from the United States and the creator of the #MeToo movement. Burke is the creator of a non-profit called JustBe, Inc which was founded to empower young Black girls specifically in schools in Alabama. Burke used the phrase “me too” to empower people through empathy and fighting against sexual violence.

Resources to learn more about influential women:

1. Forbes: The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2020

2. Business Insider: The Most Powerful Women in the World 2021

3. Time: 100 Women of the Year

4. History: 11 Bold Women Who Changed the World

Claudia Neu is a teacher who helps students learn and grow in their aspirations to change the world. When she is not working with children or reading, you can find Claudia cuddling with her cat or trying to keep her houseplants alive. Check out her instagram @claudianeureads for more book recommendations and reviews. Favorite genres: contemporary fiction, thriller or suspense, and young adult.

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