We stand on the shoulders of so many phenomenal women - we thank them
We are in awe of the many trailblazing women through history who have paved the way for equality. From leaders to pioneers, innovators to activists – we are inspired by them.
Iris Apfel is an American interior designer, businesswoman and fashion icon, described as one of America's quintessential style-makers. Apfel was the first living person who was not a designer to have her clothing and accessories exhibited at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Jacinda Ardern is a New Zealand politician who was elected as the country's prime minister in 2017. Ardern is New Zealand's youngest prime minister in over 150 years and the world's second elected head of government to give birth while in office.
SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR
Simone de Beauvoir was a French existentialist philosopher, public intellectual, political activist and a social and feminist writer. In 1949, De Beauvoir published The Second Sex, an academic and passionate plea for the eradication of what she called the myth of the 'eternal feminine'.
Beyoncé is an American multi-platinum-selling recording artist, actress and philanthropist. Beyoncé has received the BET Humanitarian Award for her tremendous charitable efforts, specifically through her BeyGOOD initiative, and in 2021 she became the most-awarded woman in the history of the Grammys, after winning her 28th award.
Tarana Burke is an African American women's rights activist and non-profit executive. During the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal, the hashtag #metoo, which Burke had been using in her social work for over 10 years, went viral and a movement of breaking the silence of abuse victims erupted.
Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer who created trademark pieces that are still relevant 100 years on. Her elegantly casual designs inspired women to abandon complicated, fussy clothes, such as corsets and layers of tulle, and instead embrace comfort and a more fluid silhouette.
EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI
Empress Dowager Cixi was the longest-ruling woman in China's history. Through various means, Cixi acted as the de facto leader for five decades, and managed to impose authority in spite of the inferior position she was in as a woman.
Misty Copeland is an African American ballerina, author and social activist. Although introduced to ballet late at 13 years old, Copeland had a natural, innate talent and, following years of intense training, she became the first African American Female Principle Dancer in the prestigious 75-year-old American Ballet Theatre.
Laverne Cox is an American actress, documentary film producer and prominent equal rights advocate who was the first trans woman of colour to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show, with her part in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
Marie Curie was a Polish-French physicist, chemist and a pioneer in the study of radiation. Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and also the first person ever to win the award twice and for achievements in two separate scientific fields.
Angela Davis is an African American activist, scholar and writer who emerged as a prominent counterculture activist in the 1960s. She has authored eight books, lectured all over the world and spent her life fighting for civil rights, gender equality and prison reform.
Ava DuVernay is an American film director, producer, writer and distributor. DuVernay was the first African American woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the first to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.
Amelia Earhart was an American aviator and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the first person to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific. Earhart was an advocate for women rejecting oppressive social norms and following their passions.
Anne Frank was a diarist and World War II Holocaust victim. Frank's diary charts Frank's fears and uncertainties, along with her hopes and aspirations for the future. The diary has become a symbol of courage through adversity, read by tens of millions around the world.
Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter and civil rights activist who is credited with defining the 1960s golden age of soul music. Franklin's version of 'Respect' was not only a hugely successful hit song, but also an anthem of the civil rights and feminist movements.
Rosalind Franklin was a British chemist best known for her contributions to the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. Despite producing the X-ray photograph that was used as crucial evidence in identifying the structure of DNA, Franklin's key role wasn't acknowledged until after her death.
Elizabeth Fry was a British philanthropist and prison reformer, who has been called the 'angel of prisons'. After visiting Newgate prison, and witnessing the terrible conditions that the women and children were in, Fry created the Association for the Improvement of Female Prisoners.
Indira Gandhi was the first female prime minister of India. She served as prime minister from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. Gandhi has been described as "a woman of substance who fought valiantly for women's rights in a man's world”.
ELIZABETH GARRET ANDERSON
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was a pioneering physician and suffragette. She was the first woman to qualify in Britain as a physician and surgeon, the only female member of the British Medical Association for 19 years, and the first female mayor in Britain.
Melinda Gates is an American philanthropist consistently ranked as one of the world's most powerful women. She co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charity in the world. In 2019, Gates released her debut book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World
Sarah Gilbert is a British vaccinology professor at the University of Oxford and lead scientist behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. As soon as scientists published the genetic details of the virus, Gilbert's lab moved at full speed to develop a successful vaccine with the aim of saving lives.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death in September 2020. Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the court, and is widely regarded as a feminist icon.
The Spice Girls are one of the most iconic girl bands of all time. The group are remembered for the 'Girl Power' message, which became a mantra for women around the world. They are often credited with reinventing feminism and bringing it to the masses.
Jane Goodall is a British conservationist and scientist, best known for her ground-breaking studies of primates in the 1960s. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife, Education and Conservation to promote the protection of chimpanzees and their habitats.
Zaha Hadid was a British-Iraqi trail-blazing architect who became famous for her use of curving facades in a futuristic and innovative style. A revolutionary force in British architecture, Hadid helped bash stereotypes while infiltrating a field with a longstanding reputation as a male-held profession.
Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black person and the first South Asian to become vice president of the United States. Harris's career has been one of barrier-breaking accomplishments which lead to her becoming the highest-ranking woman in the history of the American government.
Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician who worked as one of NASA's 'human computers' from 1952. During her 33 year NASA career, Johnson's complex manual calculations of orbital mechanics were crucial to the success of the first crewed space missions.
Angelina Jolie is an actress and filmmaker who has received wide recognition for her humanitarian work. Jolie was the first person to receive the Citizen of the World Award from the United Nations, and works as a Special Envoy to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who produced around 200 original paintings, which fused together elements of surrealism and folklore with her often painful reality. In 1939, The Louvre purchased a self-portrait titled The Frame as its first work by a 20th-century Mexican artist.
Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, illustrator and performer. She rose to fame on social media by sharing her short visual poetry about love, heartbreak and womanhood. Kaur has been credited with revolutionising an ancient art form for today's world and for making poetry more accessible.
BILLIE JEAN KING
Billie Jean King is one of the most celebrated tennis players in history, and a trailblazer for gender equality in sport. The ground-breaking 'Battle of the Sexes' tennis match between King and her male opponent, Bobby Riggs, was credited with turning women's tennis into a serious sport.
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese multi-disciplined artist and activist, who boasts some of the highest auction prices of any living female artist. Kusama's most distinctive works are installations that immerse the viewer in her obsessive visions of endless dots or infinitely mirrored space.
Ellen MacArthur is a British yachtswoman turned environmental campaigner. In 2005, MacArthur set the record for the fastest person to single handedly circumnavigate the globe. She founded the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to encourage the planet's transition towards 'designing out waste' and becoming a circular economy.
Elizabeth Magie was a progressive inventor and feminist. Magie created The Landlord's Game as an expression of protest against the big monopolists of her time, intended to inspire reform, but which instead acted as inspiration for the hugely successful Monopoly board game.
Angela Merkel is a German politician, who in 2005 was the first female, and youngest person to date, to become Chancellor of Germany. Merkel is widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union and the most powerful woman in the world.
Nemonte Nenquimo is an Indigenous leader and environmental activist who belongs to the Waorani nation of the Amazonian Region of Ecuador. Nenquimo obtained global attention after launching a digital campaign titled, "Our rainforest is not for sale," and achieving a landmark victory in a lawsuit against the Ecuadorian government.
Michelle Obama is a lawyer, writer and the first African American First Lady of the United States. During her time as First Lady, Obama launched initiatives advocating family health and nutrition, accessible higher education for all, and for the global education of young women.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as 'AOC', was the youngest congresswoman in history to be elected to office in the US House of Representatives. AOC lives by the statement, "in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live.”
Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the UK suffragette movement, which fought for 40 years to give women the right to vote. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act was introduced, giving women over the age of 30, who owned property, the right to vote.
Rosa parks was an African American civil rights activist. Parks' breaking of segregation laws in 1955, and subsequent arrest, triggered the organised boycott of Montgomery, Alabama's city bus system, which in turn led to the US Supreme Court declaring Montgomery’s system of segregated seating unconstitutional.
Dolly Parton is an American singer, songwriter, actress, author, philanthropist and the most esteemed female country artist of all time. Over the years, Parton has utilised her fame and wealth to act as a charitable force, financially supporting a range of local and global causes.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch in British history. After her father, King George VI, died Elizabeth became Queen of England at the age of 27. She is Sovereign of 15 Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK, and Head of the Commonwealth.
Sheryl Sandberg is an American technology executive, billionaire, philanthropist and first woman to serve on Facebook's board of directors. Sandberg founded the Lean In organisation, whose mission is to "help women achieve their ambitions and work to create an equal world".
Mary Seacole was a Jamaican businesswoman and pioneering nurse who provided care for British soldiers at the battlefront in the Crimean War. She treated British, French and Sardinian soldiers, who were all allies, but also tended to the Russian soldiers from the enemy side.
Gwynne Shotwell is SpaceX's president and COO, managing the operations of the commercial space exploration company. SpaceX was the first private company to launch a spacecraft into orbit, and safely return it, and has plans to send the first people to Mars within the next ten years.
Marie Stopes was a British scientist, women's rights campaigner and pioneer in the field of family planning. Stopes made significant contributions to plant palaeontology and the classification of coal before changing her area of work and opening Britain's first birth control clinic in 1921.
Taylor Swift is an American pop and country music singer-songwriter and actress who became the first female artist to ever win the Grammy Award for album of the year three times in 2021. Swift supports many charities and generously donates to schools, libraries and wildlife foundations.
Valentina Tereshkova is a Soviet cosmonaut who, aged 26 and with no pilot training, became the first woman to fly into space in 1963. Tereshkova went on to be a prominent member of the Communist Party, often representing the USSR at international events.
Tanni Grey-Thompson is a British Paralympic athlete who as been described as one of the most gifted and courageous sportswomen of her generation. During her career as an athlete, Grey-Thompson attained 11 Paralympic gold medals and won the London Marathon six times.
Greta Thunberg is a Swedish climate change activist who gained the world's attention when she staged a school strike for climate change outside the Swedish parliament building in 2018, aged just 15. The following year, Thunberg led over a million students around the world in protest.
Harriet Tubman was an African American abolitionist, philanthropist and feminist, born into slavery. Tubman managed to escape slavery but returned to the South multiple times to rescue many other slaves by leading them along the Underground Railroad from Maryland all the way to Canada.
Alice Walker is an African American writer, poet and activist. Her novels, short stories and poems, including her most famous Pulitzer Prize winning, The Color Purple, are noted for their honest and insightful portrayal of African American women and culture.
Vivienne Westwood is a British designer, businesswoman and activist, considered one of the most unconventional and outspoken fashion designers in the world. Westwood has been an activist her entire adult life, often using her position as a platform to campaign for human rights and environmental issues.
Amy Winehouse is often called a musical genius, with a voice that has been described by Classic FM as "utterly unmatched, rare and modern-yet-powerfullynostalgic". Winehouse's debut album, Frank, earned her an Ivor Novello Award and has since reached triple platinum status.
Oprah Winfrey is an African American TV host, producer, actress, author and philanthropist. The Oprah Winfrey Show aired for 25 years and became a media and business empire for her. Winfrey is the first African American female billionaire and the richest Black woman in the world.
Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer and philosopher whose most famous book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was one of the first to argue for the equality of women. As such, Wollstonecraft is today regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani human rights activist and Nobel Laureate. At age 15, Yousafzai survived being shot in the head by the Taliban; an assassination attempt provoked by her public speaking about life under the Taliban and their threat to girls' education.