To wrap up our celebration of women for Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite ladies in society who have made a difference. This list could go on for days but to keep it short(er), we’ve narrowed it down to our top ten. Not all of these incredible women are with us today but they left a legacy behind that is hard to ignore. From UN ambassadors to women’s rights activists, these are women worthy of acknowledgement.
An extraordinary talent, Alicia has only become more influential with time. Alicia has always been outspoken about issues and topics she’s passionate about: Black Lives Matter, Equality for Women, Supporting Children’s Rights, etc. She is outspoken about the arts needing to be a larger part of society and education. She makes beautiful music and spreads love as much as she can but she won’t back down from what is important. Her most recent action in resistance is embodying the no-makeup movement to encourage women to love themselves as they are. Alicia does everything she can to empower women whether it’s through her music or activist work. Songs like “Girl on Fire” and “Superwoman” have become anthems for women around the world.
“We’re all going to change. Otherwise, it’s boring. Who wants to stay the damn same all their life?”
Audrey Hepburn is my personal idol. The epitome of class, Audrey was well-respected by anyone who knew her. From the grueling work she put in to dance alongside Fred Astaire in Funny Face to her insistence on keeping her private life private, she was a force of nature. She was a huge children’s advocate and worked with UNICEF as a volunteer, ambassador and vital member of their organization. I’ve read several biographies about Audrey Hepburn, including one from her son, and many people don’t know that during one of her last trips to Africa, she was suffering from colon cancer. Audrey was the kind of human being who always put others before herself. She is someone I look up to everyday to emulate her grace, charisma, respect and kindness.
“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible!’”
She will forever be known to me as the woman who makes the world smile. Watching her show, you can’t help but laugh till it hurts every single time. She brings so much joy and happiness to so many people. Her philanthropy work knows no bounds. From giveaways on her show to working with organizations like St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Ellen has given more back to the community than any one person should feel the need to. When the world is in dark times, she begins her show with uplifting words of encouragement. There is a reason why President Obama honored her with the Media of Freedom, she is a light for everyone even when everything else in the world seems dark. Her activism for LGBTQ rights and animal rights is inspiring and her efforts to aid in relief during natural disasters is unparalleled.
“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.”
A self-proclaimed feminist, this brilliant woman has been fighting for women and children since her Harry Potter days. While many teenage and early-twenties are figuring out their lives, pushing boundaries for alcohol consumption and living up the last years of non-adulthood, Emma Watson was speaking to England’s parliament and the United States Congress. She was visiting children in underdeveloped countries and advocating for women around the world who aren’t able to have a voice of their own. She’s studied at Oxford, campaigned for issues and policies and done more in her 26 years than most of us will even think of doing in a lifetime. She has become a true role model for women and children at any age. While I had belly-baring superstars to look up to, my little cousins have the intelligent, unstoppable Emma Watson, otherwise known as Hermoine Granger. If she is the voice and the image of our future, there is so much to look forward to.
“Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It’s not prescriptive. It’s not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice. If you want to run for Prime Minister, you can. If you don’t, that’s wonderful too. Shave your armpits, don’t shave them. Wear flats one day, heels the next.”
I confess. I have never read a Harry Potter book, nor have I seen any of the movies in their entirety. However, I have mad respect for JK Rowling. This creative genius accomplished her dreams by writing on pages of loose paper that she kept in a shoebox. Her story is incredible. A single mother on relief in England, she made a name for herself and used her celebrity to do good. She donated so much money she was “downgraded” to a millionaire from a billionaire in 2016. She’s also politically active on social media, calling out public figures when she disagrees with them and standing up for issues she believes in. She is an inspiration to women everywhere and proof that if you don’t give up on your dreams, the success will find you when you least expect it.
“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.”
Ahead of her time and the ultimate feminist icon, Katharine Hepburn should make any list celebrating women. She was bold, fierce and unstoppable. She stood up to an industry that for several years was intent on bringing her down. She faced obstinacy and stereotypes in the face and refused to back down. Many of her films are now considered classics. She worked with only the best from Spencer Tracey to Cary Grant. Her talent was obvious and her passion unconquerable. She has been considered many times over as the woman who paved the way for all future women in Hollywood and included in lists of women who changed the world and changed history. She will forever be remembered for her fiery personality and independent lifestyle that broke the mold.
“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”
Controversial. Bold. Risque. Honest. If there are words to describe Madonna, these four fit the bill. While many might disagree where Madonna is concerned, I urge you to reconsider. Madonna’s career spans almost forty years. In those decades, she has grown and developed into a strong, unfiltered voice for women and marginalized people. She is an advocate for women, victims of sexual abuse, the LGBTQ community and more. Her philanthropy work is limitless having visited war-torn countries and underdeveloped communities. While her methods of resistance might not be agreeable to some people, she has a talent for demonstrating her beliefs in artistic and creative ways that are attention getting. She is willing to be bold and do whatever she needs to in order to incite change. To bring on a “revolution of love.” Whether or not you like her music, whether or not you agree with her risque methods, whether or not you agree with her controversial nature, she is a woman to be reckoned with.
“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”
The former first lady made it her personal mission to better the lives of children, not just in the US but around the world. A few of her contributions while in the White House included founding nutrition and exercise programs like the Let’s Move! Program. Schools removed soda and unhealthy food options and replaced them with water, fruits and vegetables. She was passionate about lowering the child obesity rate. She was also an advocate on women’s rights and providing equal education to women around the world. We take for granted the access to education women have in the US compared to countries that do not value women and their rights. There have been many iconic first ladies from Abigail Adams to Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy and Hillary Clinton. Michelle Obama joins their ranks.
“Every girl, no matter where she lives, deserves the opportunity to develop the promise inside of her.” - Michelle Obama
Shakira might not be the first celebrity that comes to mind when it comes to philanthropy but she is very much involved in issues that are close to her. She focuses her efforts on universal education and early childhood development. She’s worked as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador and was appointed by President Obama at one point to be on a commission that worked to improve education success for Hispanic students. One of the many things he has done include hosting a baby shower for UNICEF. Instead of asking for gifts during her second pregnancy, she asked people around the world to buy life saving gifts for vulnerable children around the world.
“I know what it’s like to feel that fear and the need of affirmation and appreciation. To build confidence in yourself is the toughest thing.” - Shakira
All you One Tree Hill fans are probably with me when it comes to Sophia. We all fell in love with her as Brooke Davis but what we didn’t know was that she is a passionate, fearless woman who fights for what is right. As someone who is steadfast in the women’s rights movement, equal rights movement, animal rights movement and even more, you’d think she has no time leftover for herself. She uses her celebrity status to promote issues that are important to her whether her followers agree or not. She’s ballsy and she’s brilliant.
“I live by two mottoes: “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and “Make no small plans.” - Sophia Bush
Other women we admire include Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, Ashley Judd, Debra Messing, Harper Lee, Gertrude Stein, Gloria Steinem, Janelle Monae, Jessica Alba, Lady Gaga, Lucille Ball, Nikki Reed, Nina Simone, P!NK, Reese Witherspoon, Selena Gomez, Shailene Woodley and Viola Davis. Make sure to check out our Fearless Women To Know series as well. We interviewed five incredible women doing extraordinary things to keep an eye on.