History Historical Badasses

Savitribai Phule was the feminist teacher from the 1850s we wish we had in high school

Because of British colonization, women’s rights were nonexistent in 19th century India; women were largely confined to domestic roles and were not allowed to receive an education. Despite such patriarchal restrictions, Savitribai Phule, an Indian teacher, and feminist, established the first school for girls in India in 1848 with the help of her husband, Jyotirao Phule. Savitribai’s trailblazing in women’s education is a testament to the resilience of feminists. 

Like most other married Indian women, Savitribai was not literate at the time of her marriage at age nine. After being educated by her husband and his friends, Savitribai enrolled herself in training programs for teachers at two institutions, the Normal School and an institution in Ahmednagar. 

Later, she began to teach alongside Sagunabai, another revolutionary Indian feminist. Eventually, the Bhides and Sagunabai founded their own school at Bhide Wada, the home of Tatya Saheb Bhide, a man who was inspired by the work of the trio. 

During this time, education was limited to male Brahmins (a caste) and involved the teachings of the Vedas and Shastras. Savitribai’s school was unique in that it taught mathematics, science, and social studies instead of Hindu texts. It was also open to people of all castes, including women. 

However, not everyone supported Savitribai’s endeavors; Savitribai would carry an extra sari with her to school because people would hurl stones and dirt at her while she was walking. By educating people of lower castes and women, Savitribai was radically changing the status quo. Knowledge is power, so her work empowered hundreds of people from historically marginalized communities in India. 

After being kicked out of their house by her husband’s father for their work in the community, the Phules lived with Usman Sheikh and his sister, Fatima Sheikh. Fatima is known as the first Muslim female teacher of India and opened a school alongside Savitribai. Their friendship exemplified feminist sisterhood and empowerment. 

Outside of her educational accomplishments, Savitribai was also a staunch feminist and poet. She authored two notable collections of poetry, Kavya Phule in 1854 and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar in 1892. Through her writing, she was able to encourage people from marginalized communities to break free from the chains of oppression by getting an education. 

Later, she founded multiple organizations to raise awareness for women’s rights, infanticide, and caste-based violence. The Mahila Seva Mandal forged gatherings between women of all castes and encouraged all of the women to sit together on the same mat. In her house, she created the House for the Prevention of Infanticide as a safe space for widowed Brahmin women to deliver their babies and leave them there under her care. At the same time, she campaigned against child marriage and lobbied for widow remarriage. 

After her husband’s death, Savitribai chaired a session for the Satyashodhak Samaj, an organization that serves the interests of non-Brahmins. At this time, a woman chairing an organization was unprecedented and revolutionary. Through these efforts, Savitribai also initiated the first Satyashodkah marriage, which is a marriage without a dowry, Brahmin priests, or Brahminical rituals. 

Savitribai also founded a clinic to take care of patients with the bubonic plague. She passed away in 1897 while taking care of a patient with the bubonic plague in the clinic. While she passed away more than a century ago, her legacy is honored annually in Maharastra on January 3rd, known as Balika Din (Day of Girls). 

Balika Din is a holiday dedicated to educating people about legislation that protects young girls and is dedicated to the welfare of young girls in India. Women are still actively discriminated against in India through sexual assault, sex-selective abortions, and patriarchal gender roles. Savitribai’s work was the first step towards promoting gender equality in modern India. 

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Music Life

“Born This Way” by Lady Gaga taught me to love myself and others

The iconic album Born This Way by Lady Gaga is regarded as one of her best bodies of work by fans and critics alike, nine years after its release. The album still resonates with listeners because it boldly experimented with the confines of pop music and dared listeners to take chances while living unapologetically. The album’s blend of genres illustrates the multifaceted identities of its intended audience, expertly blending pop, glam rock, heavy metal, country, and techno all into one coherent body of art. Born This Way particularly speaks to marginalized people and challenges the constraints placed on those who don’t fit in an oppressive, white supremacist, patriarchal society.  

Born This Way was released at the start of a new decade, in an ever-changing social and political climate. It feels like there is symbolism in the album being released at the beginning of the 2010’s with me having also just begun my teenage years. My body’s changing, my mind is evolving and the world around me is pushing for more equality, representation, and freedom. 

I was 13-years-old when the album came out, starting my awkward teenage years and just finishing seventh grade. Like most people coming into adolescence, I was an extremely insecure, self-conscious, and anxious individual. Learning how to love myself was proving difficult in a world that made it hard for young black girls to do so. There were times I felt becoming truly confident was hopeless. However, the power of art prevailed because in May of 2011, Lady Gaga released her second studio album titled Born This Way. The album is an anthem of self-love and acceptance that I desperately needed at the time. It greatly helped me learn to unapologetically love every facet of myself, even the parts I didn’t yet understand. 

The album takes a note from its own book and experimented with its marketing, song releases, and visuals. Around the time of its release, aspects of Born This Way were misunderstood by music critics, including but not limited to the album cover which displays Lady Gaga as the head of a motorcycle. Critics mocked the imagery, ignoring Gaga’s illustration and commentary of being made into a machine by oppressive industry standards.

Controversy also surrounded the second song on the album and one of the album’s awaited singles titled, “Born This Way” (named after the album). Among other criticisms, the song stirred controversy at the time for its reference of trans individuals on a mainstream song from a mainstream artist. Consequently, critics attempted to project their internalized prejudice onto a body of work that existed freely and challenged others to do the same, contradicting the entire purpose of the album. 

Admittedly, at 13 I wasn’t entirely knowledgeable about gender identity or expression. However, that didn’t stop me from resonating with the message of the song. When I listen to Born This Way, even now, I feel free from marginalization; for 4 minutes and 20 seconds, I simply feel unfiltered, uninterrupted fun. I especially remember the announcement for the song. Lady Gaga stood on the stage at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, dressed in her now legendary meat gown, belting “I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.” Unbeknownst to 12-year-old me at the time, this moment would change my life forever. 

In a 2016 article for Dazed, Jake Hall analyzed Born This Way’s impact years after its release. Regarding what the album meant for Lady Gaga as an artist while also being a pivotal pop-culture moment he states, “[Born This Way] was the moment that [Gaga] stopped being branded an artificial pop behemoth and started to become the searingly honest, sometimes over-emotional human being that we now know well.” From 2000 to 2009, pop music was very traditional in the sense that female pop artists had to conform to society’s hyper-feminine, heteronormative expectations of women. At the start of the 2010s, Lady Gaga deliberately sought to not just challenge those oppressive norms but obliterate them.

At the 2011 VMAs, Lady Gaga performed another album single from Born This Way titled, “Yoü and I.” During her performance, she played the role of Jo Calderone, acting as the male love interest in her own song, which further defied the expectations of what was expected from women in pop. These subtle normalizations of gender identity and expression as well as uplifting messages of finding perfection in uniqueness and marginalized identity helped me begin to slowly understand the world outside of myself.

At 13, I didn’t have it all figured out right away. I was still struggling with finding my confidence, but Born This Way laid the foundation for me to become the outspoken, open-minded, risk-taker I now am at 22-years-old. There’s a reason this album still resonates with fans almost a decade later. An album that encourages others to confidently become the best, most honest version of themselves without permission will never get old.

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Work Career Now + Beyond

Women don’t need to keep jumping through hoops to prove their worth

My first real-life work experiences have been at all female companies. My first internship in Washington, DC was with a non-profit called Running Start: a small, all-female nonprofit working to empower women to run for office in the United States. Running for office is no longer one of my goals. But there was something about watching these women inspire women that made me understand something fundamental about male leaders, and the work culture in DC.

While interning with Running Start, I worked on some research that would be going into a sponsorship proposal. Running Start sponsors women from all over the country to come to Washington, DC and intern on the hill. It is expensive to live in DC, so these proposals help Running Start fundraise. When writing these proposals, we have to back up what Running Start does with studies of female leadership.

Doing that research wasn’t anything special then, but some of the facts and concepts have been impossible to get out of my head. What I learned was this: the reason women don’t pursue leadership positions as often is not that they aren’t qualified, but because they seek more qualifications before pursuing them. Women see power coming from knowledge.

The reason men pursue these power positions is that they think power comes from confidence. And they are right: power does come from confidence. Women end up earning way more qualifications than they ever needed, all to get the same positions as the men, not because they need to, but because they think they need to.

In general, women think that in order to be in charge, they’re not allowed to have flaws. You’re not allowed to say “I don’t know.” So in order to prepare for leadership, they prepare to answer every question, accurately and fully. Women have a higher standard for ‘qualified’ than men do. They prepare all the knowledge they need in order to be successful when men take half of that information and run full speed into leadership positions. And women are still preparing.

Some of my peers at University feel this way. There are women on my campus majoring in international service and Arabic and wanting to go into the peace corps and going to grad school all because they want to run for office, or be a leader in their field.  Meanwhile the President of the United States has legal disputes and can barely spell his own name. Women are striving for perfection. Men don’t have to.

As a younger member of staff, especially a younger woman on staff, there is something intimidating about going into my supervisor’s office. After all, they are a supervisor. But when it is a woman, I have only experienced not only extreme care and empathy, but also intelligence, backed up with experience, and an ability to figure out what needs to be done. Without that empathy, all the workplace has is competition. When you make a mistake, there is no support to learn from it. When you succeed, there is no reward.

But my women supervisors have always been extremely careful to help me follow in their footsteps. To me, companies that function with empathy work more successfully as a team. When we support and uplift our coworkers, ultimately the company, and you, benefit from that work. And when we make mistakes, we need support, not negativity. My female supervisors have always supported my work, and supported me. I think that my work has improved because of it.

Male supervisors have a perception of confidence, knowledge, and facts. But in the current political era, it is time to double check that. Are they knowledgeable and factual, or just confident?

I do not mean any of this to offend anyone; these are simply examples of modern sociological phenomenons. But they are changing. As women become more empowered, they become not only more knowledgeable and factual but also more confident. Female leaders are incredibly intelligent. We all know that. But they also had the confidence to push past the facade of male superiority. And doing that takes more than the confidence men have, backed up by generations of favoritism.

As I have watched the incredibly qualified women in charge of me work, I know that they too are working hard to help women rise in the corporate ladder. That they are increasing not only female representation but intersectional female representation. And while men are working smarter not harder, women are working smarter and harder.

I have had the privilege to have only female bosses. This has definitely effected my paradigm. I am encouraged, empowered, and uplifted, all to succeed in a world where men are more likely to. I know what kind of boss I want to be when I am in charge: empathetic, but still confident, knowledgeable, and factual.

Mind Love Life Stories

I’m a 21-year-old Pakistani Muslim and I know marriage isn’t for me

I recently celebrated turning 21 when I returned to Pakistan during my winter break. 21 is an interesting age. I always believed it to be a young age, when you just arrive into your ‘actual twenties’ and start to discover the world on your terms. But recently, I have witnessed some old school friends tying the knot while others post honeymoon pictures on Instagram captioned #chillinwithbae.

And this terrifies me.

What was even scarier, though, was when I heard my cousin younger than we was set to be betrothed. Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t have anything against people who have chosen this path of early marriage. They must have chosen wisely and are probably happy with their lifestyle. But it’s made me realize that marriage is something I will not do now (or maybe ever?).

From a cultural standpoint, I’m aware that as I ascend the twenties ladder, the questions from the conservative side of my family will inevitably rear their ugly head. In fact, some have already appeared.

The common one? “Shaadi kab karo gi, jab ham boorhe ho jayein gaye?”

(When will you get married? When we’re old and wrinkled?)

Is it so wrong, that I, a Pakistani Muslim woman, have started to consider the concept of marriage and how it’s a path I may possibly not want to walk down on? I can literally hear the collective gasps of all the aunties, and maybe some uncles.

For me, a super type-A personality, marriage and relationships are not on my radar. I just entered my twenties and, simply put, I feel like the world is my oyster and its my time to seize the moment; carpe diem, if you will. And I know that this kind of mentality is a rarity.

But I also know what I want.

University and the simple experience of living abroad, have brought an abundance of independence with a desire to grow and challenge my ideas and alter my set-perspectives. All these have made it less likely for me to be tied down or enter a relationship, at least in my twenties.

I believe that your twenties are a time when you should go all out on taking risks and pursuing their goals. It’s an age when you’ve just left college and have dipped your foot in the real world, so to say. You’re at an age when its okay to take risks and try out new ventures.

For me, I see marriage as a major compromise, one which will require one’s dreams to be moulded, to be put on a hold so that a woman can raise kids or to allow her partner to shine in his/her career. Acting, writing, and learning are goals which I want to pursue whole-heartedly and on the love versus career scale, career will trump love many times over.

My father has raised three girls, including myself, and he’s raised us to always pursue learning, because, with learning and educating your mind, you gain a perspective. Not to mention, you’re more valuable in society. Once you have your education, no one can take it away from you. And it is perhaps, because of this, that the order of my life is bigger than university-job-marriage-settling down-children.

My life just can’t centre around a concept like marriage.

It’s 2019. Women are being unapologetic in their pursuit of higher education, government posts, leadership roles or even acting roles. They’re breaking the mould: Stepping out of the four walls of patriarchy which have kept them bolted to the ground. And it’s these women who have ignited ambition and desire in me.

So, #sorrynotsorry to aunties who make me feel like the “other” in the room, because, frankly, I’m too big for this room. I will certainly not align to what society deems “appropriate” for a girl entering her twenties, which is marriage. Ticking off domestic accomplishments, like making a round roti, are not on my to-do list for becoming the acceptable version for a future husband and in-laws.

I’m 21, Muslim, and Pakistani, and may never get married. And this year, I’m doing me.

Gender & Identity Life

I’m Muslim, and I used to be ashamed to call myself a feminist. Here’s what changed.

Anyone that knows me, knows how much of a proud feminist I am.

Ever since ninth grade, it has been my most significant identifier. My love for feminism even drove me to want to study Journalism and Women’s Studies in college. The more I read about women’s issues, the more I wanted to leave my own impact on the world.

But I wasn’t always like this. When I first started calling myself a feminist in high school, someone very close to me told me that it was against Islam and that it was “too western” of a concept. I remember feeling hurt, confused, and guilty. I love being Muslim, but I also love being a feminist. I didn’t understand why I had to choose between two things that are a big part of my identity.

It was odd to me that there was this perception about Islam, even within the Muslim community, that women are not granted their rights. Some believed that if Muslims were to become feminists, they would start questioning a lot of the principles interpreted from the Quran.

But it just didn’t make any sense to me that so many people would believe in something that treated people unequally. So, like anyone going through an identity crisis, I started doing my own research.

I found that everything that person had said to me, and so much of what others thought about women’s status in Islam, could not be further from the truth.

Everything that I had heard about how Islam oppresses women and strips away their rights was simply not true.

It is not Islam that does this. It is some people’s misinterpretation of Islam.

I learned that Islam was the first religion to give women the right to inheritance. Not only that, but they have full control of any money they inherit/earn. Moreover, Islam prohibited female infanticide, a practice common in pre-Islamic Arabia, and one that still exists in some countries outside the Middle East today. Islam also encourages women to get an education and work, something that was exclusive to men around the world at the time.

These were all advancements for women’s rights the west only made years later.

The prophet even made sure to include how integral it is for men to respect women in his Farewell Sermon, which he delivered before he died. In one of the sayings of the Hadith, Muhammad says, “The best men are those who are best to their wives.” He also believed that a daughter was a blessing and a father’s pathway to heaven.

I quickly realized that it would be un-Islamic of me to not be a feminist. In fact, it was this realization that drove so many women and men to develop Islamic feminism, a form of feminism based on the interpretations of the Quran and the Hadith (a collection of the prophet’s sayings).

It is our responsibility as feminists and/or Muslims, to take the time to develop our understanding of the belief systems around us. We have to stop acting like feminism and Islam are mutually exclusive when they are not.

Fashion Lookbook

I stopped wearing the color black for years, until this happened

The color black gets a bad rap. 

It’s usually viewed as drab and depressing. And people who regularly wear all black are equally viewed negatively. But, I find the color comforting and warm, even. Black is what I like to refer to as my “high energy” color.

When I was young, fashion wasn’t something I had ever thought about seriously.

I would either put on the outfits my mother laid out for me in advance, or I would carelessly reach into my closet and grab whatever was the comfiest. It wasn’t until junior high that I realized that clothing would be an art form and a true form of expression. This was when I was the most daring with my style choices. I mixed and matched clothes and fabrics and prints. And though some outfits were more successful than others, I remained a risk taker when it to came to my fashion sense.

[bctt tweet=”I remained a risk taker when it to came to my fashion sense.” username=”wearethetempest”]

During the latter half of my teen years, I discovered and quickly became obsessed with the 1980s and 1990s pop culture. I watched and rewatched films like The Breakfast Club and The Craft like it was my job. It was these films with the strongest influences that left the most lasting impression on me. I fell in love with the fashion that came along with the ‘80s and ‘90s goth and punk subcultures. It was the late 2000s and I lived in suburban NY, but I desperately wished to emulate the trends I admired from the previous decades.

[bctt tweet=” I quickly became obsessed with the 1980s and 1990s pop culture.” username=”wearethetempest”]

The only difference, of course, was that unlike, Ally Sheedy, Fairuza Balk, and Winona Ryder (the actresses whose closets I desperately wanted to raid), I was not a thin, white girl. This was an important distinction because I was already deemed as “other” in many ways. I knew that any deviation in more traditional clothing choices would make me stand out even more.

As a shy and perpetually anxious teen, being the center of attention was the last thing I wanted to do. So, imagine my surprise when I bought and wore my first vintage jet black dress and felt like a million bucks as soon as I stepped in it. When I walked down the halls of my small high school I got stares, of course, it was high school, but the heady confidence I felt was enough to overshadow any initial awkwardness I may have had.

With age came the knowledge of what I loved and which outfits and aesthetics I was fond of.

I loved long and flowing dresses. Lace tops. Velvet skirts. Tights. And more importantly, all black everything.

[bctt tweet=”‘When I first met you, I was so scared of you. I thought you hated me!’ ” username=”wearethetempest”]

As a black woman, I have noticed that a lot of my non-black friends and acquaintances tell me things like “When I first met you, I was so scared of you. I thought you hated me!” I think that a lot of this happens as a direct result the negative portrayal of black women within the media and society. Black women are viewed as these loud, overbearing, finger-snapping and neck-rolling caricatures. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a headstrong and assertive black woman (especially in a world that works hard to silence us at every turn), these characteristics are not universal.

For too long I was afraid to wear dark colors because I feared being viewed as even more intimidating and unapproachable.

[bctt tweet=” I feared being viewed as even more intimidating.” username=”wearethetempest”]

For thin white women, fashion is easy. They can go braless and pull on an over-sized tee and be considered a “trendsetter.” They can wear a pair of denim micro-shorts and mesh bodysuit and it will be deemed a “look.” Unfortunately Black and plus size women do not have the same luxury. They are either hyper-sexualized or viewed as sloppy and lazy. As someone who checks box in both of the categories, fashion felt like a space I could never actively participate in.

[bctt tweet=”Fashion felt like a space I could never actively participate in.” username=”wearethetempest”]

But, when I think of how safe and fierce I feel once I pull on my favorite black velvet skirt, I realize that this is my way if participating in fashion. I slide into a black crop top, draw on sharp winged eyeliner and black lipstick and all of these pieces and accessories become my suit of armor. 

I am armed and ready to take on a world that says that “true fashion” has to look and be a certain way.  

Race The World Inequality

Linda Sarsour is being attacked by Islamophobes and we need to defend her

She’s a devout civil rights activist, a firm believer in racial justice and she is unapologetically Muslim.

This past weekend, Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American from Brooklyn, co-chaired the Women’s March on Washington–what is said to be the largest march in American history. After organizing a successful march that nearly half a million people attended, she is now under attack by the far-right. They have coordinated a vicious attack campaign against her and we must stand up and defend her just like she has continuously defended our rights.

Image Source

She’s being called “anti-American” and “Jew hating” and being accused of having ties to terrorist organizations.

These are tactics by the far-right to undermine the progress Linda Sarsour is making fighting for the rights of marginalized communities. They are terrified by the idea of a successful hijabi Palestinian-American Muslim woman, so they are trying to take her down.

“I need extra prayers sisters and brothers,” Sarsour wrote on Facebook. “They have a coordinated attack campaign against me and it’s vicious and ugly. It’s not the first time, but it’s definitely more intense – the fact that my children see it is what is bothering me the most.”

Facebook Screenshot Linda Sarsour post

But many on social media quickly came to her defense and #IMarchWithLinda began trending on Twitter.

People showed their solidarity through tweets and commended her leadership and activism.


Sarsour, who is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, gave a powerful speech at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.

“You can count on me–your Palestinian Muslim sister–to keep her voice loud, keep her feet on the streets, keep my head held high because I am not afraid,” Sarsour said during her speech. “We know where we need to go and we know where justice is because when we fight for justice, we fight for it for all people, for all our communities.”

Sarsour has dedicated her energy and time to fighting for the rights of marginalized people. She is bold, passionate and not afraid to defend what she believes in.

We must do the same for her and call out the Islamophobic bigots who are targeting her. We cannot remain quiet when one of our community leaders is under attack because that means we are all under attack.

Her critics hate how vocal she is against injustice and they loathe the amount of support she is receiving. Linda Sarsour has taken a firm stance against hateful rhetoric and we must do the same by standing in solidarity with her.

History Lost in History Historical Badasses

4 badass Native American women from history

Growing up, the only two Native American women I learned about were Sacagawea and Pocahontas. Of the 800 pages in my American history textbook, only about a paragraph or so was dedicated to them. Basically, I graduated high school with extremely limited knowledge of Native American women and their role in United States history.

Between the four of these women, countless armies were led, several battles won, and serious levels of badassery achieved.

1. Pine Leaf

pine leaf

Pine Leaf, also known as Woman Chief, is definitely someone we missed out on learning in U.S. History. Born in 1806 to the White Clay (Gros Ventre) Tribe, Pine Leaf was a woman with a fearsome reputation and courage in her veins.

As the story goes, Pine Leaf was kidnapped and raised by the White Clay tribe at the age of 10, and grew to be an independent, strong warrior as a result. She became so respected in battle that she eventually became a leading warrior chief of her tribe for 20 years, earning the title Bíawacheeitchish. 

2. Running Eagle

Brown Weasel Woman, better known as Running Eagle, also won her name on the battlefield. She was a highly respected, incredibly humble member of the Piegan Tribe around 1825. By the time she was 15, she had already proved her mad hunting skills during buffalo raids.

After her husband was killed by Crow warriors in battle, she turned to the Sun Spirit to help avenge his death. Her warrior prowess allowed her to lead countless raids west of the Rocky Mountains. Offended by the fact a woman was leading the raids against them, the Flathead tribe killed her. But not before she made a serious tough-girl name for herself.

3. Awashonks

Fierce warrior and skilled diplomat Awashonks became sachem, or chief, of the Sakonnet tribe in modern Rhode Island in 1674.

She and her tribe supported Chief Metacom when he broke a treaty with the New England colonialists after being humiliated by them for years. This conflict eventually led to what is popularly known as King Philip’s War.

The war ended in white victory, but not before Awashonks brokered peace between her tribe and the colonials again.

What I’m trying to say is: Awashonks was a badass.

4. Annie Dodge Wauneka

Annie Dodge Wanueka

Annie Dodge Wauneka, born 1910, is known as a powerhouse and advocate within the Navajo community for improved education and health. In 1963, she became the first Native American to win the Freedom Medal for her efforts.

Her passion for healthcare was also clear from a young age. In 1918, an influenza outbreak took the lives of many of her peers at her boarding school. Despite her young age, Annie is said to have gotten right into the thick of things and assisted staff in caring for the sick.

When she got older, she became involved with the needy Navajo community, who inspired her to give back. She was also a member of the Navajo Tribal Council for a total of 8 years.  Yes, Annie, yes.

Y’all, why weren’t these women in my textbooks?

Their passion, dedication, and fearlessness would have been a refreshing break from reading about the antics of white-powdered wiggies.

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Here are 10 women more badass than the Suffragette movies

“I’d rather read about 10 badass women of color who were better activists and suffragettes,” you said, fuming in your pajamas.

Ask and you shall receive.

1. Cecilia Fire Thunder

cecilia fire thunder

Besides becoming a licensed nurse, opening two clinics in California (one in Compton, another in San Diego), Cecilia became the first female tribe leader of the Oglala Sioux. She even tried to get Planned Parenthood on the tribe land, and when that didn’t work, wanted to open an independent clinic so that Native American women on the land could get access to abortion. The members of her tribe impeached her, but hey, it gives her time to be coordinator of the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains and teach Lakota at the Ogala Lakota College.

2. Ida B. Wells


Everyone was talking about how women couldn’t vote, so in addition to that, Ida chose another topic for people to sit down and pay some attention to: lynching, and how black women couldn’t vote. This shook up the usual dialogue ’round the country. She also created a space for black women to talk about how messed up all this injustice was, called the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, so they could come together in their badassery.

3. Fusae Ichikawa

Fusaye Ichikawa

What do you do when there’s no female suffrage in your country? Simple: you become president of the first organization dedicated to improve female status in Japan, then you start up the Women’s Suffrage League of Japan because you’re that fed up with the lack of ability to vote, and then you get elected multiple times to serve on the Japanese Diet. Casual.

4. Sojourner Truth



“Ain’t I a woman?” Hell yeah you are, Sojourner! You were able to rescue yourself, your daughter, and your son from slavery. You spoke everywhere: abolition conferences, women’s rights conferences, and even grew the Union army by signing up black men—and when someone dared to call you a man, you flashed him.

5. Asra Nomani

asra noman

I wish I had a resume like yours, Queen — Washington Post, Salon, Time, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. But let’s talk about what you talk about: women’s rights in the Islamic community. Specifically, how Muslim women should be able to choose their partners. When her mosque exiled her, she organized the first Muslim prayer in New York—I’m not done yet—led by a woman.

6. Eva Perón


You know your baddassery is off the charts when there’s a musical written about you. Eva Perón began a foundation in her own name dedicated to help the poor. It did everything from build orphanages and hospitals to handing out scholarships for children. And there’s no party like a feminist party either: Eva started the Female Peronist Party, which ushered women into Argentina’s political sphere.

7. Doria Shafik

Doria Shafik

Besides having the best eyebrows in the entire world, Doria marched with the Bint Al-Nil Union and the Egyptian Feminist Union into Egyptian parliament for female equality. Then she took it to a new level: a hunger strike, which eventually led to Egyptian women getting the right to vote.

8. Michelle Bachelet


Who can become the Chilean president twice, Health Minister, Defense Minister, and the first executive director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women? Your answer is Michelle Bachelet. Her first presidency focused on helping all women, and was even inclusive of an indigenous tribe in Chile: the Mapuche.

9. Park Yeon-mi

woman talking into a microphone

She’s walked across the Gobi desert, spoken at a Summit in Dublin, and published a book at 21 years old — which is more than I’ve ever done. Yeon-mi has raised awareness about the North Korean regime and human trafficking. When she’s not speaking up for the unheard human voices, she teaches herself English with YouTube and a Friends DVD set. Again, I’m unaccomplished for my age.

10. Sufia Kamal

Sufia kamal

She’s beauty and she’s grace, she got all up in your face with the rights of Bangladeshi women. Mahila Parishad, the biggest female organization in Bangladesh, was her pride and joy for many years. She sat on that throne and many others, including the Indian Women Federation, the Bangla Academy Award for Literature, and learning seven languages.