When I say ‘Famous Female Activists’, who comes to mind? Rosa Parks? Maud Wood Park? Eleanor Roosevelt? Amazing women, each of them, that changed history. But in fifty years, who will our great grandchildren look back on in admiration? What women are making history today? Well look no further darlings, Susan has you covered with this one. Check out my list of five famous figures that are waving the feminist flag for our generation.
“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”
Malala Yousafzai was born 1997 in Pakistan. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, was an education activist himself and ran a chain of schools in Pakistan. When Malala was born, Ziauddin vowed to treat Malala with fairness and equality and that she would go to school to get a full education just like the boys her age. These Feminist attitudes in Malala’s household contributed greatly to her growing up and winning a Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate.
When Malala was just 11, she began writing under the pseudonym, Gul Makai, for the BBC. She blogged about life under Taliban rule and how fewer girls dared to continue in their studies as a result of their ban on girls attending school,
What Malala did was dangerous, she gambled her own safety to give a voice to those who didn’t have one. As a result of her courageous rebellion against the Taliban, a masked gunman boarded Malala’s school bus in 2012 and shot her in the head, neck and shoulder.
Thankfully, Malala survived the attack and in defiance of her injuries and the traumatic experience of facing near death, bravely continued her work as an activist. She went on to speak at the United Nation on her sixteenth birthday on the need for gender equality in education and the day was officially declared ‘Malala Day’ and has been celebrated every year since.
Today Malala meets with young girls around the world carrying her message of equality. She has opened a school for Syrian girls and meets with Syrian refugees to give them hope and encouragement to battle for their right to education.
“I felt free once I realized I was never going to fit the narrow mold that society wanted me to fit in.”
Ashley Graham is a plus size model, entrepreneur and body positivity activist. She has been featured on the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Maxim to name but a few. She works tirelessly to promote body positivity, self-acceptance and female empowerment to women all across the world. She became an icon for the body posi movement soon after her appearance on the front cover of Sports Illustrated, making her the first size 14 model to land a cover on the magazine.
In 2016, Mattel produced a Barbie doll directly inspired by Ashley. The doll is curvier, has a little round tummy and most importantly, according to Ashley, her thighs touch. She was recently a judge on America’s Next Top Model where she provided her expert advice on how to become a female boss in the world of modelling.
She went on to create her own brand of plus sized lingerie (which is everything btw) and modeled it herself at last year’s New York Fashion Week, showing that bigger girls can be sexy too. Bravo Ashley.
‘Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.’
Okay we all know Emma Watson for her role in the Harry Potter movies but that is not what inspires me about her (although Hermione is a bad ass.) What I really admire about Emma is her feminist activism and her work with the He For She campaign and UN Women. He For She campaigns for male inclusion in the feminist movement and is something Emma has spoken out about frequently. It is actions like this that help destroy the stigma that feminism is the same as man-hating.
She launched the campaign with an inspiring speech at UN headquarters 2014, pointing out the flaws in barring men from the movement. She explained how feminism doesn’t only benefit women, but men also and stressed the importance of intersectionality.
When Emma is not shutting down sexist reporters or standing up against bullies online, she is empowering women through the medium of books. As part of her work with UN Women, she set up a Feminist Book Club, to share her favorite feminist reads with her fans. Not only is she encouraging girls to read and educate themselves, but it shows her dedication to the cause and her humble appreciation of her supporters.
“Outerwear to give a voice to a hidden problem.”
The Repeal project is one of the biggest social and political topics in Ireland today, especially among the youth. It seems anywhere you go, countrywide, you will see at least one fellow Repeal supporter wearing the projects signature jumper. Anna Cosgrave, sociology graduate from Dublin, had no idea of the power and support the movement would generate. She is the perfect example of how ‘a drop in the ocean’ can make all the difference and that just one voice, if it’s loud enough, can change everything.
‘Repeal’, is in reference to the campaign to repeal the Eight Amendment, a law passed in 1983, that made abortion illegal in Ireland. It was Anna who launched this pro-choice project by creating the jumpers, which sold out in 1 hour during their debut, and is now worn nationwide by men and women alike. Vivienne Westwood and famous feminist activist Gloria Steinem have even openly supported the project.
The Repeal campaign’s goal is to lessen the stigma surrounding abortion, and to ultimately make it fair, safe and legal in Ireland. Like minded pro-choice supporters, including myself, have taken to streets of Ireland to protest the Eighth, making people aware of the crisis (each day it is estimated 12 women have to travel to the UK from Ireland to have an abortion) and this is largely down to Anna’s contribution. Ireland hopes to see a referendum in 2018.
‘I pledge to create new waves in adult cinema, to show all of the passion, intimacy, love and lust in sex: where the feminine viewpoint is vital, the aesthetic is a pleasure to all of the senses and those seeking an alternative to porn can find a home.’
Erika Lust is a Swedish independent feminist erotic film maker. Erika is part of the new wave of pornography made by women for women that empowers female sexuality and promotes equality inside and outside the bedroom.
Erika’s goal is to steer clear of the chauvinistic films made in the past where verbal and physical violence as well as a lack of consent are normalized and women are cast as mere objects. She’s also taken part in TED talks, highlighting how problematic modern pornography can be, and has written a number of feminist friendly books.
Erika’s staff is made up of 85% women, and her cast is diverse in sexuality, gender, and race. It is activists like Erika who help women reclaim their sexuality when they have so often been ‘slut shamed’ and told that they’re not dirty. She helps normalize the idea that, yes, women love sex too! Erika also helps promote body positivity through her films with her intelligent casting of a variety of body shapes.