Women from across the globe who have made a difference

Wangari Maathai  1940 – 2011

Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai

Kenyan environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights.

Malala Yousafzai 1997 –

USA : Malala Yousafzai Press Conference

Yousafzai is a Pakistani schoolgirl who defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to education. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and has become a global advocate for women’s rights, especially the right to education.

Shirin Ebadi 1947 –

Nobel Laureates meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama

An Iranian lawyer and former judge, Ebadi fought for human rights in Iran – representing political dissidents and founding initiatives to promote democracy and human rights for especially women, children and refugees. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 and was the first ever Iranian to receive the prize. She has been in exile in the UK since June 2009 due to the increase in persecution of Iranian citizens who are critical of the current regime.

Thuli Madonsela 1962 –


South Africa’s courageous former public protector, Madonsela has stood firm as she fulfilled her mandate to strengthen constitutional democracy and promote good governance. Her work ethic and dedication to truth has earned her the respect of the world.

As a human rights lawyer and expert on equality and policy, she was part of the team that drafted the country’s constitution in 1996. She gave up a scholarship at Harvard to do this.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi 1945 –


Burmese opposition politician Suu Kyi was under house arrest for 15 years for her pre-democracy campaigning. She only gained release in 2010 following an international campaign to set her free. She won a Nobel prize in 1991.

Benazir Bhutto 1953 – 2007


“Democracy is the best revenge.”

She was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan (1993-1996) and the first woman to head a Muslim state. During her leadership, she ended military dictatorship in her country and fought for women’s rights. She was assassinated in a suicide attack in 2007.

Emily Hobhouse 1860 – 1926

She was a British welfare campaigner, who brought to the attention of the British public and worked tirelessly to change the horrendous conditions in the British concentration camps in South Africa in which more than 28 000 incarcerated Boer (Afrikaner) women and children died during the Second Boer War. About 20,000 black people living and working on these farms also died in the camps.

Lord Kitchener had used the scorched-earth policy of destroying Boer farms and creating the concentration camps as part of a campaign against Boer guerrillas fighting against the takeover of their independent republic.





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