Women Who Are Taking the World by Storm

According to famed American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, “each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” The following women are a few of many that stood up for themselves, broke glass ceilings and claimed the success on the other side—success that spans far beyond a promotion or a degree, the kind that inadvertently works to support the future endeavors of all women. At this stage in our lives, we come to an important crossroad, one where we can either choose to passively accept the boundaries placed before us, or to further develop the movement catalyzed by the influential women before us. I hope that you are inspired by some of these diverse women's achievements to choose the latter, and maybe even realize your own potential.

1. General Lori Robinson

The military, one of the most stereotypically male dominated professions, has had a controversial footprint from the beginning in terms of female involvement. Even today, some of the most qualified women are denied access to top ranking programs following the same training and accomplishments as their male counterparts. Despite these downfalls, one woman, Air Force General Lori Robinson, seized the highest position in U.S. military ever held by a woman in 2016, according to taskandpurpose.com, when she took over as leader of the U.S. Northern Command. Responsible for defending the U.S. homeland and supervising military actions in North America, General Robinson undoubtedly earned the respect of all American citizens, proving that when you are simply excellent at what you do, you cannot be ignored.

2. Michelle Obama

Arguably one of the classiest first ladies of all time, Michelle Obama inspired women all over the world while serving as the the First Lady of the United States and continues to use her platform to advocate for various causes. Earning an undergrad from Princeton University followed by a J.D. from non-other than Harvard Law, Michelle proved to women everywhere that it is possible to excel mentally and personally, and tie it all together with a bow of impeccable elegance. She extended her reach to causes emphasizing the importance of girl’s education, post-secondary education and healthy school lunches for youth. Being part of the first African-American family to take the White House, her influence is unique from that of any other first lady, pushing for inclusivity by demonstrating the effects of the very persistence and tenacity that she advocates.

3. Malala Yousafzai

Yousafzai dominated the news after being tragically shot after speaking out against the Taliban in response to their restrictions against female education in 2012. She became a national icon and inspiration for oppressed girls all over the world and chose to take a stance when she was just fifteen years old. In fact, according to Britannica.com, she gave her first speech on the subject when she was only eleven years old after her father took her to a local press club to protest school closings. Writing for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Malala contributed more than thirty five entries, describing life under Taliban rule. Ultimately, Yousafzai’s incident led to the introduction of the Right to Education Bill and the publishing of her book "I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban," which received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

4. Tina Fey

Taking on feminism in a new light, comedian Tina Fey has commented on the feminist movement a variety of times from both a serious and comedic perspective. From encouraging women in calling themselves feminists not humanists, to her infamous "Saturday Night Live" quote, “bitches get stuff done,” Fey seems to have found a balance in promoting her stance, while seamlessly maintaining her amusing demeanor. Hollywood is well known for putting stars’ political and social stances under a microscope, but this hasn’t seemed to scare her off or sway the authenticity of her responses—the true definition of a she boss.

5. Ellen DeGeneres

One of the most beloved talk show hosts on television, Ellen DeGeneres rounds out my list of diverse influential women. From her generous donations to charities to her overarching charismatic personality, she truly has created an iconic name for herself, receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2016. Since "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" has been on TV for nearly twenty-four years, America has developed a strong connection to the host who came out to her TV audience as a lesbian in 1994, prompting a new conversation on sexual orientation. The use of her wide-ranging audience to promote the ideals of love and humor are conveyed through her famous phrase, “be kind to one another.” In short, we need more Ellens in this world.

The “strong” woman takes a variety of forms and is not limited by race, profession or personality. The bravery and successes of each of these women transcend into all of our lives and work to inspire us to realize our own power. They each have traits that every one of us could embody to create a better world, but what they all have in common is the desire to lead, the capacity to persevere and the grit to succeed. With luck, our generation will follow suit.

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