Today, in honor of International Women’s day, the 8th of March 2020, I want to talk about 8 of many amazing women that influenced the course of history in diverse ways over time. What makes them outstanding is that each of them followed the calling of their heart, using their unique gifts to express their truth.
That eventually led to them having such an impact on their surroundings, even until today, and into the future. There is no greater proof that it doesn’t matter what age we are, who we are or what we do. It only matters that we listen to our heart and follow through. That is what creates our purpose and the echo of our influence – extending way beyond our physical life.
I’m sure that the examples below will provide you insights into fascinating lives and will offer you the inspiration and motivation to follow your own calling.
Malala is a Pakistani schoolgirl engaging in women’s right to education. She started blogging anonymously for the BBC about living under the Taliban at age 11. Her blog revealed her views on education and life and directly spoke against the Taliban’s threats to close girl’s schools. Gaining international attention by raising her voice put her in danger.
She defied death threats of the Taliban to campaign and in consequence, they voted to kill her. Malala was shot in the head by a gunman of the organization who had entered the school bus she was in. One single bullet pierced her head, neck, and shoulder, injured her badly, but conquering the initial struggles Malala survived. After her recovery, she published her autobiography, “I Am Malala, THE GIRL WHO STOOD UP FOR EDUCATION AND WAS SHOT BY THE TALIBAN”.
She has become a global advocate and spokesperson for human rights, education,
“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
Benazir was the first female to be elected prime minister of a Muslim country – at only 35 years old. She studied abroad and became involved in politics after returning to Pakistan when her family – as opponents of the military dictator – was put under house arrest. After these events, she started to campaign for the restoration of democracy and spoke about the abuse of human rights in her country.
Benazir became the first woman to lead a political party and played a key role in transitioning Pakistan from a dictatorship to a democracy. Her main goal was to implement social reforms and to help women and the poor.
Benazir was assassinated in 2017 and later named one of seven winners of the United Nations Prize in the field of human rights.
“Ultimately, leadership is about the strength of one’s convictions, the ability to endure the punches, and the energy to promote an idea. And I have found that those who do achieve peace never acquiesce to obstacles, especially those constructed of bigotry, intolerance, and inflexible tradition.”
Wangari was born in Kenya and grew up in close touch with nature. This later led her to develop a fervent motivation to protect and conserve the natural landscape. Promoting her concerns she became an environmental activist later on. After pursuing studies and a doctorate abroad she got to be the first East African woman to receive a PhD in Nairobi.
She then followed an academic career and used her influence to successfully campaign for equal benefits and rights for the female staff at the university. In the 70ies, she engaged in planting trees throughout Kenya and with that founded the Green Belt
Wangari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to prevent conflict by protecting scarce resources.
“I don’t really know why I care so much, I just have something inside me that tells me that there is a problem, and I have got to do something about it. I think that is what I would call the God in me. All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet. It must be this voice that is telling me to do something, and I am sure it’s the same voice that is speaking to everybody on this planet – at least everybody who seems to be concerned about the fate of the world, the fate of this planet.”
Anne – the little Dutch Jewish girl whose diary changed hearts and minds – we all remember her. She lived her short life with her family hidden in secrecy at a tiny place to escape the Gestapo during the Second World War. The conditions in that confined space were inhuman and lastly, Anne perished in the Holocaust – only one month before the concentration camp she had been taken to was liberated.
Her thoughts and feelings that she captured along the happenings around her reflect surprising maturity and still are read widely across the world. Anne’s diary has become one of the most famous records of the Holocaust, providing insight into the human aspects of the events during that time. A moving and heartfelt testimony of history.
“It’s difficult in times like these; ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
Frenchwoman Coco was one of the most innovative fashion designers of all times, breaking the rules of common clothing – and with it the way of living – during the 20ies. She revolutionized women’s clothing by introducing simplicity and style as she cared for women not just looking beautiful but also feeling comfortable. She wanted women to be able to take part in more activities than their current clothing allowed.
Coco was the first to suggest trousers and suits for women and redesigned male clothing for the benefit of women, taking away the corset. With that she influenced the liberation of women greatly and directly hit the nerve of the time. Her fashion reflected the social and political changes back then and never lost its popularity.
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Her work in the field of radioactivity was ground-breaking, she discovered two new elements (polonium and radium), and helped develop the practical use of X-rays. Marie was a true pioneer in the scientific field, not at last because of the discrimination of women in science at her time. She also was the first female professor at the University of Paris and thus opened doors for women in this field.
Awarded with the Nobel P
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”
Millicent dedicated her life to campaign for equal rights for women. She felt born as a suffragist naturally, and became active at early age, due to her life circumstances and a personal calling. She led the biggest suffrage organization in Britain and played a key role in gaining the right to vote for women.
Later on, her passion for literature and education led her to help found Newnham College in Cambridge. She wrote a short book that gained success for her ability to simplify complex matters and clear understanding. Apart from that she became well known as a good speaker in times when women rarely appeared in public positions and engaged in supporting personal rights.
„Women, your country needs you. As long as there was any hope for peace, most members of the National Union probably sought for peace and endeavored to support those who were trying to maintain it. But we have another duty now. Let us show ourselves worthy of citizenship, whether our claim to it be recognized or not“
Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard was a remarkable woman of her time. A German abbess, mystic, composer and author spending most of her life rather withdrawn in dedication to religion. But her influence spread among kings, popes,
Her life was accompanied by visions that gave her the gift of prophecy, which she recorded in writing. She founded a convent, wrote lyric poems with her own musical settings and enjoyed inventing her own language. Some of her writings deal with the lives of saints, natural history and medicine. Her reflections were revelatory, showing a rare quality of scientific observation for the time she lived at.
Further, miracles were reported in her presence and in 2012 eventually, she was formally canonized.
Written by Elena from YOUniverse Community
Disclaimer: This article hasn’t been written to provide historical facts but rather to inspire you with the example of how single personalities have left a lasting impact. We are aware of how the matter of reality shifts through perception and thus prefer not to limit viewpoints by other fixed points of view. Thus this article doesn’t mention sources of information, nor does it claim the right to be right. It rather weaves a carpet of timeless possibilities. If you are keen on history, kindly do your own research and have your own experience of what you find