Women’s History Month
To mark the end of women’s history month we wanted to share the stories of some women who have made history and who are still making history today. Who would you put on your list?
- MARIA DA PENHA
A Brazilian scientist and survivor of domestic violence. Thanks to her, the Brazilian government made the Maria da Penha law — officially recognising domestic violence for the first time and setting up specialist courts and shelters for women fleeing domestic violence.
- JUNKO TABEI
Born in a small town, she defied expectations of her family and society to pursue her passion of mountain climbing. In 1975 she was the first woman to climb Everest and at 53 she completed the challenge of climbing the highest mountain on each continent.
- AILBHE SMYTH
A passionate activist since she was a student, she set up the Women’s Studies department at University College Dublin, defended reproductive rights and led the historic campaign to repeal the 8th and allow free, safe, legal and local abortion for women in Ireland.
- KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW
Critical theorist who developed intersectional theory. Intersectional theory looks at how identities like gender, race, sexuality, economic status can overlap and magnify oppression and discrimination. She writes widely on civil rights and black girlhood.
- HAIFAA AL MANSOUR
First female film-maker in Saudi Arabia.While growing up there were no cinemas in Saudi Arabia, but in 2013 her film was the first Saudi film submitted to the Oscars. Her films are about women because she says their stories are too important not to tell.
- ROSALIND FRANKLIN
British chemist who was part of the team that discovered the double helix structure of DNA. Although her work was key she was not awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine alongside her male colleagues. None of them publicly acknowledged her contributions.
- TALENT JUMO
Zimbabwean women’s rights activist focused on building community, sisterhood and campaigning for sexual and reproductive health rights for all. She runs Katswe Sistahood which gives health and legal advice as well as running training for women.
- KATHERINE JOHNSON
NASA mathematician whose work contributed to the first US space flights. Her skill and expertise meant that she was personally asked to make the calculations for the first American to orbit the Earth. She battled misogyny and racism to do the work she wanted.
- VIRALI MODI
Indian disability rights activist and survivor campaigning for accessibility in public places and fighting marginalisation of disabled people, particularly women. Her petition to the Indian railways led to ramps and narrow, aisle-size wheelchairs being used.
- RIGOBERTA MENCHU
An indigenous Mayan activist from Guatemala. She has fought for justice for all Mayans affected by the 36 year genocide the government enacted against them, especially survivors of sexual violence. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her advocacy.