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8 Women who changed the world

On this International Women's Day, let's celebrate the theme of #InspireInclusion by remembering and honouring eight amazing women who changed the world. Despite facing numerous challenges, these women have made an impact on our world through their strength, creativity, innovation, and leadership. In this blog, we will look at the lives and achievements of these eight extraordinary women and how their hard work, talent, and dedication continue to inspire our society and the world at large. Join us as we celebrate their contributions to humanity.

1. Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)

English novelist

A literary icon, Jane Austen was a famous English author whose books, even after all these years, are loved by people all over the world. Her famous works, like "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility," are English literature classics that have been turned into movies and TV series. Her books are famous for their wit (being funny and clever), social commentary, and focus on women's lives. Even though she published her works anonymously during her lifetime, she greatly impacted literature and how people view women's experiences. Austen was particularly good at observing how people behave in society, and she used that knowledge to write stories about love, society, culture and life which still hold true today. She remains an inspiration to female authors worldwide.

Portrait of Jane Austen, via Open University

2. Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

Polish-French physicist and chemist

Maria Salomea Skłodowska-Curie was a brilliant scientist who studied and worked on radioactivity. She was the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, and then went on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911, becoming the only woman ever to achieve this. Her research on radioactivity opened new doors to scientific advancements in medicine, technology, and our overall understanding of the universe. Thanks to her research, we now know more about how radioactivity works and how it can be used in cancer treatments. Despite facing many challenges as a woman in science, Marie Curie became a true trailblazer and an inspiration to many scientists. Her legacy continues to inspire us to push the boundaries of science.

3. Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)

French fashion designer

From science to becoming one of the most famous names in fashion – Gabrielle Bonheur, or Coco Chanel, was a French designer and businesswoman who changed fashion forever. Born in France, she taught herself to sew at a young age, a skill that would end up defining her career. Chanel transformed fashion with her timeless designs and innovative style. The term "little black dress" or LBD, which is now the necessary clothing item in every woman's wardrobe, owes its popularity to Coco Chanel. Her iconic creations, like the Chanel suit and the little black dress, have completely changed how people view femininity and elegance. She led the way in luxury fashion, and today, her world-famous brand continues to sell clothes, perfume, handbags and watches worth millions of dollars. Even after nearly 100 years since its creation, Chanel No. 5 is still one of the world's most famous perfumes!

4. Anne Frank (1929 – 1945)

German writer during the Holocaust

Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl during World War II who wrote a diary while hiding from the Nazis who wanted to hurt people like her. Even though Anne's life was short, her diary tells us a lot about the hard times she faced during the war. It is a symbol of bravery and strength. Even after all these years, Anne continues to remind us how terrible war can be and how people can stay hopeful and strong during difficult times. Anne's diary still inspires people today, showing us that one person's voice can change the world. She was a brave girl who showed us the power of hope, even in the darkest times. On days like International Women's Day, we remember Anne Frank and all the other strong women who changed the world.

5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933 – 2020)

Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an extraordinary woman who devoted her life to fighting for women's rights and social justice. She served as a judge in the highest court in the United States, the Supreme Court, for over 27 years. As a trailblazing lawyer and jurist, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dedicated her career to championing gender equality and civil rights. She broke barriers throughout her life, becoming only the second woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. During her time on the bench, Ruth Bader Ginsburg made several important decisions that helped to expand civil rights protections and promote gender equality. Even though she's not with us anymore, she continues to inspire future generations, like lawyers, activists, and advocates, to keep fighting for social justice and equality for all.

6. Billie Jean King (1943 – present)

American tennis player

Billie Jean King is an iconic tennis player who played at a time when sports were still very gender-biased. She challenged gender stereotypes and fought for equal pay and opportunities for female athletes. In 1973, Bobby Riggs, a retired tennis player, challenged Billie Jean King to a tennis match. He claimed that even at the age of 55, he could beat any female tennis player. This match was called the "Battle of the Sexes." Billie Jean King accepted the challenge and won the match in three sets. This was an important moment in women's sports because it showed that women could compete at the highest level and win. Billie Jean King's victory also helped to change people's attitudes towards women's sports. After the match, the number of girls playing tennis increased dramatically. Billie Jean King became a role model for young girls who wanted to play sports and be treated fairly. She is a true champion both on and off the court!

7. Indra Nooyi (1955 – present)

Former CEO of PepsiCo

Indra Nooyi is a successful woman of Indian-American descent and is a trailblazer in the corporate world. She served as the CEO of PepsiCo, one of the world's biggest food and beverage companies, for over ten years. Under her leadership, the company expanded its global reach and started selling more types of products all around the world. Indra Nooyi is a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders. She is known for her innovative business strategies, focus on taking care of the environment, and for supporting diversity. Her contributions to the corporate world have been widely recognised, and she continues to inspire people worldwide while making a positive impact on society.

Indra Nooyi LinkedIn

8. Jacinda Ardern (1980 – present)

Former Prime Minister of New Zealand

Jacinda Ardern, a politician from New Zealand, became the youngest female Prime Minister in the country's history in 2017 when she was 37 years old. She is known for her kindness and strong leadership style and has received praise from around the world for her compassionate response to the coronavirus pandemic and for her policies on climate change, social justice, and women's rights. In the October 2020 election, Ardern led her party to a landslide victory, earning a second term as Prime Minister. With her win, she made history by forming the most diverse cabinet in New Zealand's history, with eight women, five Māori, three Pasifika, and three LGBTQ+ members. Ardern is a strong advocate for women's rights, and her leadership inspires women everywhere to break down barriers and shatter glass ceilings.

Throughout history, women have made remarkable contributions to the world in various fields. From science and technology to art and literature, their stories and achievements continue to inspire us. They remind us to never give up, to be kind, and to keep working towards equality and excellence. As we celebrate the achievements of women who changed the world, it's important to also remember the countless women who are shaping our future through their bravery, strength, and vision. These women are making a difference in their communities, workplaces, and families every day. On this International Women's Day, join English Path to honour their legacies by supporting and encouraging the women around us and inspiring future generations to create a fairer and better world for everyone.

Frequently asked questions about women who changed the world

A1. International Women's Day, celebrated on March 8th every year, is a global day to recognise and celebrate the contributions of women to society across all fields and industries. This special day is celebrated globally and is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the ongoing challenges that women face and to call for action to address them. 

A2. The theme for International Women's Day 2024 is #InspireInclusion. This theme highlights the importance of: 

  • Inspiring Others: Raising awareness and understanding about the need for gender equality. 
  • Inspiring Women: Empowering women to feel included, valued, and motivated to reach their full potential. 

A3. Remembering how women changed the world inspires future generations and also reminds us of the progress we have made towards achieving gender equality. Women play an important role in building a better world for all of us, and it's important to recognise and appreciate their contributions. 

A4. There are many ways to participate in honouring these women. You can learn about their stories and achievements through books, articles, or online resources. Additionally, you can share their stories on social media platforms using the hashtag #InspireInclusion to raise awareness and inspire others. 

A5. Celebrating women on Women's Day promotes inclusion as we recognise and respect the talents and contributions of women from all walks of life. It sends a message of empowerment and equality. It encourages us to treat everyone fairly and makes sure everyone feels included.