Women’s rights activists are the brilliant women who have been trailblazing the fight for women’s equality and justice for decades. Check out the list of prominent women’s rights activists.
Many women’s rights activists and feminist who fought for women’s suffrage, created platforms for the discussion of women’s issues, always inspire us to show people what it means to be a strong and fierce woman.
Indeed, all these women are truly brave and powerful who invested in the feminist movement in immensely. Here is the list of powerful feminists and women’s rights activists who have contributed largely to women’s rights and the feminist movement.
Read and remembers these names, we have a lot to thank them for.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 10) Kimberle Crenshaw
Kimberle Crenshaw, an American leading scholar of critical race theory and civil rights advocate, made a lasting mark on the feminist movement.
She is especially known for the introduction of the term “intersectionality”. She used it in her essay ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics’.
Crenshaw is the co-founder of the African American Policy Forum that is focused on expanding racial justice, gender equality and all human rights internationally.
She is also a professor at UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School specializing in race and gender issues. Her works had a crucial role in the writing of the South African constitution and many other global initiatives for women’s rights.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 9) Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Somali-born American activist, feminist and writer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the daughter of Hirsi Magan Isse, a famous politician in Somalia’s opposition party.
Ayaan is widely known for fighting for the rights of Islamic women. The thing is that she grew up in a strict Islamic family and experienced abuse (e.g. female genital mutilation) that she advocates against so passionately.
What makes this woman really unique and important figure is that she is the first woman from an Islamic country to publicly criticize problems and mischiefs related to Islam.
She has a foundation named after her that gives a helping hand to Islamic women to escape the abuse that they face by their families. Additionally, Ali was named as one of the most influential people in 2005 by Time magazine.
Ayaan Ali raised a huge controversy in 2004 with her documentary ‘Submission’, directed by Theo Van Gogh. It opened the eyes of many people on how Islam justifies abuse towards women.
The documentary made Ali and Van Gogh a lot of enemies within the Islamic world. In 2004, Van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim assassin.
Ali’s first book, The Caged Virgin: A Muslim Woman’s Cry for Reason, highlights her experience of the familial abuse of Islamic women. This book has a special significance because it is one of the first anti-Islam works written by an Islamic woman.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 8) Dorothy Height
Beloved American educator, women’s rights activist and civil rights activist, Dorothy Height was focused on improving the conditions and opportunities for African-American women.
As the president of the National Council of Negro Women, she was a leading figure in addressing the rights of women and African Americans. Among her numerous honors are the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Height worked with the “Big Six” of the Civil Rights Movement (Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, A. Philip Randolph John Lewis and James Farmer) on different campaigns and initiatives.
In her later years, Height befriended the president of the United States, Barack Obama, who called her “the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement.”
Hillary Clinton once said about Height:
She understood that women’s rights and civil rights are indivisible. She stood up for the rights of women every chance she had.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 7) Angela Davis
Activist, scholar and writer, Angela Davis has worked as a professor advocating for the oppressed, gender equity and prison reform. She has authored several books, like Women, Race & Class and Women, Culture & Politics.
After spending some time lecturing and traveling, Davis continued to lecture until retiring in 2008.
Angela’s research interests are African-American studies, feminism, critical theory, social consciousness and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons.
By the way, she co-founded Critical Resistance organization that is known for working to abolish the prison–industrial complex. In 2017, she was a speaker and honorary co-chair at the Women’s March on Washington.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 6) Alice Walker
The next one in our list of women’s rights activists is Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet, Alice Walker. She is a critical figure for the women of color in the feminist movement.
Before joining Gloria Steinem as an editor at Ms. Magazine, Walker was involved in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King. Her most famous and beloved book, ‘The Color Purple’, became a significant work in telling the story of black women. Furthermore, it was later adapted into a Broadway musical and a movie.
Walker was the first to use the term, ‘womanism,’ that included black women in feminism. Along with her other prizes, such as National Book Award, the LennonOno Peace Award, she was honored with the O. Henry Award and the Mahmoud Darwish Literary Prize for Fiction.
In 2006 Walker was included in the California Hall of Fame.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 5) Bell Hooks
Gloria Jean Watkins, aka Bell Hooks, is a beloved American author, social activist and feminist. The majority of her writings cover the topics of race, capitalism, gender, class domination and oppression.
Hooks has published about 30 books and many scholarly articles addressing race, class and gender issues in education, history, art and mass media. Notably, she founded the Bell Hooks Institute at Berea College in Kentucky in 2014.
Her famous book, ‘Ain’t I a Woman’ that was published in 1981, became a central work in discussions of racism and sexism. Publishers Weekly ranked this book among the “twenty most influential women’s books of the previous twenty years.”
Bell Hooks is frequently cited by feminists as someone who provided the best solution to the difficulty of defining the term “feminism” that has a diverse meaning.
As Hooks noted, if feminism can mean everything, it means nothing. Answering the question “what is feminism?” she once said:
Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 4) Betty Friedan
Women’s rights activist, feminist and beloved writer, Betty Friedan is known for her book ‘The Feminine Mystique’ published in 1963. The book explores the idea that women should find other fulfillments that are beyond traditional roles prescribed by the society.
By the help of this book, she encouraged women to seek new opportunities for themselves. It was sensational book during the period of its release as it created a social revolution.
‘The Feminine Mystique’ scattered the myth that every woman wanted to be happy homemakers. The book is also credited with promoting second-wave feminism in the United States.
In 1966, she co-founded the National Organization for Women serving as its first president. Today, this brilliant woman is remembered as one of the leading figures of the 20th-century women’s rights movement.
Moreover, the significant work that she started is still being conducted by the three organizations that she helped to form.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 3) Simone de Beauvoir
Besides being a famous French writer, Simone de Beauvoir was also an existentialist philosopher, intellectual, feminist, political activist and social theorist. Even though Beauvoir didn’t consider herself a philosopher, she had a big influence on the feminist theory and feminist existentialism.
She is especially known for her book ‘The Second Sex’, published in 1949. It is regarded as a pioneering work of contemporary feminism movement. She also wrote several novels, such as ‘She Came to Stay’ and ‘The Mandarins’.
In her book ‘The Second Sex’, she criticizes patriarchy and the second-rate status granted to women through the course of the history. Though the book is now considered one of the most important works of feminism, during the period of its publication the book faced huge controversy. Even Vatican placed ‘The Second Sex’ on the church’s list of forbidden texts.
Simone De Beauvoir died of pneumonia at the age of 78 and is buried next to her lifelong partner, Jean-Paul Sartre at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 2) Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second Supreme Court justice ever after Sandra Day O’Connor and was appointed to this position by President Bill Clinton.
In general, she belongs to the liberal wing of the Court. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she started law school at Harvard, being one of the few women in her class.
Then she transferred to Columbia Law School and later became a professor of civil procedure at the Rutgers School of Law and Columbia Law School.
This remarkable woman spent a significant part of her legal career as a supporter for the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality.
Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, ensuring that women’s voices were heard in law.
She encouraged women to speak up about their experiences with sexual harassment and expressed her support for the #MeToo movement.
It’s about time. For so long women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it, but now the law is on the side of women, or men, who encounter harassment and that’s a good thing.
In 2009, she has been named one of 100 Most Powerful Women in the world. Moreover, Glamour magazine included her in the list of ‘Women of the Year 2012,’ and Times magazine included her in the list of 100 most influential people in 2015.
Prominent women’s rights activists and feminists 1) Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem, also referred to as the “Mother of Feminism”, led the women’s liberation movements during the ’60s and continues to do it until today.
She is a well-known American feminist, journalist and social-political activist. Due to all of her efforts and achievements, she was included in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. Furthermore, in 2013 Gloria was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Being the co-founder of the Ms. Magazine, the columnist for New York magazine and the member of several female groups, she helped to change the face of feminism.
Steinem is also a media spokeswoman on issues of equality. Although she is considered to be a liberal feminist, Gloria has distinguished herself as a radical feminist.
After publishing an article, “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation” in 1969, Steinem became famous as a feminist leader. Currently, this outstanding women’s rights activist travels internationally as a lecturer.
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