8 Icons For International Women’s Day: From 1800 to Modern Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

On this day, we think about how far we’ve come in terms of women’s rights– and what we still need to do to ensure women across the world are safe and equal.

To commemorate this special day, I want to discuss 8 incredible icons from throughout the years. Each and every one of these women made a difference to the world.

From women’s rights to LGBTQIA+ rights, these icons help to give anyone a voice.

I’ll be honest, this list could go on and on and on… I might have to create a few more of these blog posts in the future!

In this blog post, I’ve put together 8 icons for International Women’s Day, including women who have campaigned for many important causes!

1. Mary McLeod Buthune

Mary McLeod Bethune was an American educator and civil rights activist, living and working in the United States.

Born into a family of former slaves, she fought for civil and women’s rights throughout her life.

After training to be a teacher, she used her role as an educator to push women’s education, starting a school for African American girls in Daytona, Florida.

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This later merged with a private institute, becoming the “Bethune-Cookman School.”

She became president of this school in 1923, making her the first-ever black woman to be president of a college in the US.

She also influenced political figures in issues relating to black rights, and she was invited by Franklin D. Roosevelt to be part of his “Black Cabinet”.

2. Millicent Fawcett

Millicent Fawcett is a well-known female icon in the UK, campaigning for women’s suffrage alongside many other women and men in Britain at the time.

Calling herself a suffragist to distance herself from the more violent suffragettes, Fawcett was instrumental in pushing women’s voting rights at the start of the 20th century.

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She headed the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies to further this aim.

She also co-founded Newnham College in Cambridge, an all-female college at the University of Cambridge, to promote women’s education across the country.

3. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was an incredible artist who used her work to look at stereotypes of female beauty, miscarriage, injury and more.

Through subversive and often disturbing paintings, she expressed her personal struggles and the struggles of women in society at the time.

She also raised the profile of women in art, showing that it wasn’t just male artists who could create important pieces of artwork.

4. Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is an incredible women’s rights activist, campaigning hard for women to have access to equal rights, from reproductive choice to equal pay.

Since the 1960s, she has campaigned for women’s equality, working alongside women from all backgrounds to achieve as much as possible for the cause.

This included work on the notorious Equal Rights Amendment, where Gloria’s struggle was portrayed in the show ‘Mrs America‘ a few years ago.

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She also spent time travelling across America, speaking to young women in schools and colleges.

Starting out as a writer, she has written many important exposΓ©s, including her time spent as a Playboy Bunny undercover.

She uses her writing to shine a light on the treatment of women across the globe, co-founding Ms Magazine in 1972 to bring women’s stories to the forefront.

5. Alice Walker

Alice Walker is a writer and activist, fighting for civil rights, women’s rights and other important causes for many years.

She worked alongside Gloria Steinem to bring the voices of women of colour to the forefront, coining the term “womanist” to mean a feminist of colour.

She also took part in the Washington March of 1963, where Martin Luther King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

From protests against the Iraq War to civil rights marches, Alice Walker is an incredible female icon who continues to fight for marginalised groups.

6. Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is a well-known actor who uses her position in the limelight to campaign for important causes.

She discusses trans rights in the media, refusing to shy away from crucial, current topics.

In June 2016, she was involved in a video tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, created by the Human Rights Campaign.

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She was also the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of British Vogue, chosen by guest editor Meghan Markle.

Cox has made many political statements about the lives of trans people and people of colour across the world, and she continues to fight for these important issues today.

7. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I first heard about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie when she made her famous speech “We Should All Be Feminists”.

In this TEDx talk, she spoke about the need for women’s rights across the world, and why women have the right to be angry about their position in society and in history.

She also shared her experiences as an African feminist.

Adichie has spoken out about other important causes, including LGBTQIA+ rights, and she continues to use her fiction writing to give female voices a central role.

8. Raquel Willis

Raquel Willis is a current writer and activist, fighting for issues relating to gender non-conforming people and people of colour.

Willis spoke at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, speaking out on behalf of trans women.

Raquel Willis
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In her writing and editing career, she was executive editor of ‘Out’ Magazine, becoming the first trans woman in this position.

In 2020, she started as the new Director of Communications for the Ms. Foundation for Women.

She also designed the Black Trans Flag, using her activism to speak up for marginalised groups and give a voice to those who have been previously unheard.

How are you marking International Women’s Day this year? Do you have any iconic women to add to this list? Who is your personal role model?

Let me know all your thoughts in the comments πŸ™‚

Happy reading x

51 thoughts

  1. What a great list of powerful influential women. I know about Laverne Cox from Orange Is The New Black. Thank you for sharing your post.



  2. This is a great group of women, and, of course there are always more that could be added to the list.
    I would include all the unsung women, up and down the country, who are campaigning for disability rights and the right to be heard.


  3. Might I suggest Mary Seacole? After not being accepted into the British War Office to join the nursing staff to help the soldiers during the Crimean War. But instead of giving up, she found a way to get over there so she could help them anyway

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a great post to highlight some remarkable women! As you say, you could probably do one of these posts a day, there are so many inspiring women. I find many of the ones you’ve highlighted inspirational, and didn’t know of the work of a few, so thanks for highlighting them : )

    Liked by 1 person

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