International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global celebration of the economic, social, cultural, and political achievements of women. Channel your inner feminist with these 10 inspiring women.
Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel revolutionized the fashion industry. During a time when women were expected to wear dresses and skirts, Coco Chanel brought the comfort of men’s apparel to women’s fashion with pants and suits, liberating women from the constraints of the “corseted silhouette.”
“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.” – Coco Chanel
Aside from being a mother of six, a UN diplomat, actress, and philanthropist, Angelina Jolie is a feminist. In 2013, Jolie changed the face of breast cancer awareness in a personal essay about her double mastectomy. Her story empowered women and encouraged them to come forward with their own breast cancer stories.
“We have a choice about how we take what happens to us in our life and whether or not we allow it to turn us. We can become consumed by hate and darkness, or we’re able to regain our humanity somehow, or come to terms with things and learn something about ourselves.” – Angelina Jolie
Gloria Steinem is probably one of the most recognized faces of feminism. She led the women’s liberation movements throughout the ’60s and ’70s, and co-founded the feminist magazine, Ms., in addition to co-founding several female groups that completely changed the face of feminism.
In 1993, Steinem was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2013, she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Power can be taken, but not given. The Process of the taking is empowerment in itself.” – Gloria Steinem
At just 19 years old, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person to have won the Nobel Peace Prize. As a child, Yousafzai became an advocate for girls’ education, her fight resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. In 2012, a gunman shot Yousafzai on her way home from school. Fortunately, she survived and has continued to speak out and fight for girls’ rights to education.
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” — Malala Yousafzai
Yoko Ono, most known for her peaceful protests with John Lennon, has been a voice for gender equality for years. In 1972, her essay, “The Feminization of Society” helped mark the female revolution of the ’70s.
“Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world. Just start thinking peace, and the message will spread quicker than you think.” – Yoko Ono
Beyoncé is a modern-day feminist. How so? She supports other women, she scrutinizes society’s impossible beauty standards, she’s made it clear she doesn’t need a man to support her, and she owns her sexuality.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man.'” – TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, sampled by Beyoncé in “Flawless”
Madonna – also known as the Queen of Pop – made a career out of pushing the limits of women (and sexuality) through her songs and music videos.
“I stand for freedom of expression, doing what you believe in, and going after your dreams.” – Madonna
Diane Von Furstenberg
DVF built her entire fashion empire on the concept of female empowerment. Her iconic wrap dress, created in 1974, became a symbol of power and independence for women everywhere. By 1976, more than five million dresses had been sold.
DVF also founded The DVF Awards, which recognizes women who have made positive impacts on the world through philanthropy, leadership, and hard work.
“I design for the woman who loves being a woman.” – Diane Von Furstenberg
Emma Watson, UN Goodwill Ambassador, actress, and HeForShe advocate, delivered a powerful speech at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland regarding gender equality. Since the launch of the #HeForShe movement, Watson has also launched a feminist book club fueling the conversation about what it means to be a feminist in 2017.
“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. These things are so irrelevant and surface to what it is all really about, and I wish people wouldn’t get caught up in that. We want to empower women to do exactly what they want, to be true to themselves, to have the opportunities to develop.” – Emma Watson
Coretta Scott King
While Coretta Scott King is most notable for her marriage to Martin Luther King Jr., and her work with Civil Rights, Mrs. King also devoted a lot of her time to women’s equality. In fact, she helped found NOW (National Organization for Women) in 1966 and played a major role in the organization’s development. She was also the very first woman to deliver the class day address at Harvard.
“I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation.” – Coretta Scott King
[Feature Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]