Women of today can attend universities, vote for their own political candidates, and pursue their own careers. These freedoms and opportunities have been the fruits of many women leaders and predecessors who have fought actively and bravely for these fundamental human rights.

Modern women activists have continued their efforts to fight for equality. The campaign for bringing equality between genders in all aspects of society is still a priority for women throughout the world and has been this year’s theme for International Women’s Day. Last March 2019, marked as Women’s History Month, several awe-inspiring women have been recognized for continuing the advocacy for gender equality.

Yara Shahidi

She is an excellent example of a modern woman known for her roles as an actress, Harvard student, and activist. She had garnered renown as a TV personality in the sitcom Black-Ish and used her new-found fame and popularity to spread awareness and fight for gender equality and against structural racism. She was a part of the Let Girls Learn initiative founded by former first lady, Michelle Obama who went on to become an active member of the United Nation’s Young Women’s Leadership Network. This is the arm of the UN that encourages young women from poor communities to strive for better opportunities. 

Manal al-Sharif

Manal is a resident of Saudi Arabia, a West Asian Muslim country that is known for its very traditional beliefs and attitudes towards women. Because of this, the men that run social and political institutions such as the government have put very strict reins on the liberties and life opportunities given to women. In spite of the strict society she has been born in, Manal strived to empower women in her country. An example was her 2011 #Women2Drive movement, which was successful in lifting the driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia.

Leymah Gbowee

Leymah is a fearless pioneer and invaluable spokesperson for women’s rights. She has won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize in her efforts to end the second Liberian Civil War by founding and leading the Women of Liberia Mass Action for the Peace movement. She continued to work for more leadership and educational opportunities for women not only in Liberia but also in other countries in Africa when she founded the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa. In a position of privilege for fame and popularity and as a member of the African Feminist Forum and the African Women’s Leadership Network, she has selflessly used this power to help the marginalized people in the community.

Marley Dias

Another young woman working as an advocate for equality, Marley Dias harnessed the power of the internet and social media in order to raise awareness for the lack of racial diversity in children’s books. She started a social media campaign in 2015 called #1000BlackGirlBooks. The campaign encourages people to identify and bring forth children’s books or young adult novels that starred a black female protagonist. By 2019, the majority of the books collected were given and read by young girls in Africa. She also spoke for developing a popular culture with more racial and cultural representation in the United State of Women Summit.