9 Brilliant Women Who Show Female Empowerment Is Necessary for Change

Feminism means equality which means that to be a feminist, you must seek justice for all. Sometimes feminism can be white-washed so that the movement is only focused on gender but if we really want to affect change, we must look at gender as well as other factors like race, socioeconomic status, and sexuality.   

Feminism Helping GIF by Libby VanderPloeg

When someone fights for change and equality, I admire them because they are doing what needs to be done and what a lot of people ignore. But, I cannot admire someone who is only fighting for a certain person or group’s equality. That is why I only look to feminists who are intersectional for inspiration. These nine amazing women all give me hope for a better future because they use their platforms and their voices to speak about injustice and they educate me about what I can do to help. 

1. Michelle Obama

Photo credit: Good Housekeeping 

Naturally, I had to put the best First Lady first! Michelle Obama truly illustrates what a First Lady is supposed to be. She set her own path, followed her own ambitions, and worked on causes that were important to her. She created Let Girls Learn, an initiative to advocate for global education for girls. Michelle Obama showed that representation matters and taught young girls and women to be smart and brave and strong. 

“Let's be very clear: strong men—men who are truly role models—don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.”

2. America Ferrera

Photo credit: Gwinnett Human Relations Commission

America Ferrera champions equal rights and uses her voice to uplift and empower others—as a feminist should. America Ferrera was a founding member of the Time’s Up legal defense fund. She also worked with the organization, Voto Latino, and went across America to get Latinx communities to vote in the midterms this past November. Last year, she came out with American Like Me, a book filled with essays of first-hand accounts of living in between cultures. 

“When I stopped thinking of other women as competition to me and started thinking about them as my partners in life, my whole experience of life changed.”

3. Emma Watson

Photo credit: Thought Co

While you may know Emma Watson most famously as Hermione Granger, Watson has become a powerful change maker that would make her character proud. In 2014, she gave a speech to the UN about feminism and how gender inequality is a global problem. She also is a strong advocate and supporter for the Time’s Up movement. And she founded Our Shared Shelf, a book club filled with amazing books written by even more amazing women. 

“Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality.” 

4. Malala Yousafzai

Photo credit: Thinking Heads

Malala Yousafzai has defied the odds more than once. First, she fought for an education when she was told that a girl’s education was not as important as a boy’s. Then, when terrorists retaliated against her efforts and shot her in the head, she again defied the odds and survived. In 2014, she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala shows us both the strength of a young person as well as the power of education. 

“Let us pick up our books and pencils. They are our most powerful weapons.” 

5. Sophia Bush

Photo credit: Pinterest

Sophia Bush is an actor but she is also a social justice warrior. She uses her platform to shed light on stories that are often left out of the news (i.e. police brutality, gender pay gap, and immigrants’ rights). She uses her social media to educate people about issues happening around the world as well as ways to help. I urge you to follow her on Instagram and Twitter—she will not let you down. And you can also keep up with her by listening to her new podcast!

“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.” 

6. Tarana Burke

Photo credit: Iowa Public Radio

Even though the phrase #MeToo went viral because of Alyssa Milano, Tarana Burke is the woman that created the original Me Too movement. Without her, so many stories would not have been shared and so many women would still be silent and silenced. Tarana gave sexual assault survivors a place to feel safe and heard. Besides creating this eye-opening movement, Burke is the Senior Director of Girls for Gender Equity which is a non-profit that helps young women of color achieve their goals. 

“My hope is that in fifty years we’ll have a generation that has grown up their whole lives hearing about consent and boundaries.” 

7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Photo credit: PBS

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a fighter. She has fought cancer THREE times, all while remaining an active speaker on the court and only missing court in January of this year since being appointed in 1993. She fought (and still fights) against gender inequality, both in and out of the courtroom. RBG was one of the only women in her class in law school. And she strikes down any court cases that discriminate on the basis of sex. 

“People ask me sometimes ‘When will there be enough women on the court?’ And my answer is ‘When there are nine.’” 

8. Gina Rodriguez

Photo credit: People 

While I am sure we all love to watch Gina Rodriguez as Jana Villanueva on Jane the Virgin, I love to watch what she does offscreen even more. Gina Rodriguez established the We Will foundation, which helps young women receive scholarships and promotes arts education. This past November, she went on a ‘voting tour’ with America Ferrera to encourage people to vote in the upcoming midterms. Rodriguez also has #MovementMondays which celebrates Latinx actors on her Instagram. 

“Now I can talk to more girls and tell them that any skin color, any economic background, any shape they were born into is perfect and right and strong and beautiful and enough because I’m sitting here. Not the stereotype.” 

9. Gloria Steinem

Photo credit: New Yorker

Gloria Steinem is an activist, journalist, and an all-around badass. She writes about controversial subjects and changes the narrative around them, like with abortion or female genital mutilation. She founded Ms. magazine which was one of the first publications for women that were about more than cooking or cleaning. Without Gloria Steinem, I do not know where the feminist movement would be today, surely not as far as its come today. 

“I would say that each of us has only one thing to gain from the feminist movement: our whole humanity.” 

Nicole Kidman Feminism GIF by Golden Globes

Oh, how I wish I could invite each of these women over for brunch! Alas, I cannot. But, I can follow them on social media, read their books, and listen to what they are trying to teach us. And I encourage everyone else to follow along with me because change is only going to happen with a collective effort. These women might be paving the way, but that does not mean the fight is over.  

 

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