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Women We Should All Know About: The Icons of This Century

Our education system lacks diversity in its lessons. I said that once to a school board member, and now I am saying it again in an article. It angers me that many students do not know the powerful strides that Gloria Steinem, Nellie Bly, Nellie Wong, Mary Brave Bird, Florynce Kennedy and so many other women have made. We need a more diverse and inclusive education system that teaches leaders of all races, ethnicities and genders. The typical cisgender and white male historical figures whose stories have been extremely cleansed by the patriarchy are no longer relevant in our progressive world. Viva la revolution.

In compliance with the feminist movement, I feel like I must contribute by providing a list of some modern-day female activists everyone should know. These women are icons that hopefully will be in our daughters’ and sons’ textbooks in the future.

1. Ilhan Omar

From refugee to state representative, this woman is a living embodiment of the “American Dream.” Omar first ran for State Representative in Minnesota in 2016, alongside many other powerful women on the ballot. However, what makes her different from the others is her unique path to office.

Omar was born in Somalia during a time of civil unrest. When she was eight years old, she and her family fled the country to Kenya, where she lived in a refugee camp for four years. Eventually, her family found their way to Minnesota. Throughout high school and college, she began to develop a passion so strong that it led her into office.

In 2016, she became the first ever Somali-American politician. Ever since then, her fight for immigrant, refugee and women’s rights have been steady and powerful.

2. Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory

Perez, Sarsour and Mallory are three women who truly know how to generate change. They are the women who orchestrated the now annual Women’s March. Women across the nation were left speechless after Trump’s election in 2016. As many of us mourned the death of progressive social movements, Perez, Sarsour and Mallory planned a movement that would shake the Third-Wave Feminist Movement.

They are the co-chairs of the Women’s March. They have led many protests including the “Day Without a Woman” and “Power to the Polls” protests. What makes them different from some other groups is their new approach to women’s movements. Perez, Sarsour and Mallory all focused on inclusivity within the women’s movement — no longer was feminism confined to white women. They expanded the movement to include the needs of every woman, not just a select few.

The momentum that the Women’s March stirred will certainly take up chapters in history books. I cannot wait for my kids to ask me who they are.

3. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi

You may not know their names, but you definitely know their cause. In 2012, one of the most controversial murders of our lifetime occurred. Trayvon Martin, an innocent 17-year-old boy from Miami Gardens, Florida, was shot multiple times by a deranged racist named George Zimmerman.

People were outraged. Even more fuel was added to the fire when Zimmerman was found not guilty of a murder he clearly committed. This trial, and the racial bias of it, got some women so angry they started a movement.

Less than a year later, in 2013, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi got together and organized an entire movement. They are the founders of the Black Lives Movement; They are true leaders of change who are worthy of an entire textbook chapter.

The movement gave the entire black community a new voice that had been hushed for far too long. The black community benefits from their efforts as a whole, and the organizers wanted to emphasize the importance of black women’s voices as well as black men’s voices.

4. Emma González

Calling someone out on their B.S. has never been the same. Ever since Emma González called out the NRA in front of national television just a few long days after she survived the third deadliest school shooting in American history, her name has been in everyone’s mind. González was a main organizer of the March for Our Lives movement, the largest gun-control movement this country has ever seen. Her resilience and passion are seemingly unmatchable. She was an inspiration to everyone with the way she confidently and valiantly stood eye-to-eye with Marco Rubio and the spokeswoman of the NRA, Dana Loesch.

Although she is one of the younger activists on this list, her constant activism and determination are admirable. I am sure she will be in history books, and I am sure she will take on some amazing projects in the future.

5. Tokata Iron Eyes

She may not be as known as well as the other women on this list, but she is just as much of a queen as the rest are. This 15-year-old girl made headlines when she and her friends started the #NODAPL movement in 2016.

Tokata Iron Eyes is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She was born and raised on the same reservation that was under the threat of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This pipeline would transfer oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

Takata Iron Eyes knew the damages the pipeline would cause to her tribe and their land. There would be devastating environmental and cultural impacts as well as health concerns within the community. She knew what she was protesting for, and she knew she was going against the president himself, who was a strong supporter of the pipeline.

She is the youngest person on this list, but this makes her even more inspiring. I cannot wait to see what other amazing things this environmental activist will do in this world.

One of the predicted happiest days of my life will be when my child asks me who these women are in their textbook. We all should know who these daring women are — they have outdone the evil that is sadly still present in today’s world. May we all aspire to be like them, and may we all raise our daughters to be like them as well.

Christina Pugliese is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications and history with a minor in women's studies at the University of Florida. She loves traveling and learning, so it didn't surprise anyone that she wanted to be an investigative reporter. She has told stories from many different cities, and she wants to tell more! This planet has so many unique experiences to offer, and she needs to experience them all. When she is not traveling, you can find her volunteering, shopping, writing, discussing politics, or planning her next trip.
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