1. “It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference.”
Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As an elected member of Parliament and former assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Maathai pursued her political passions such as environmental and gender justice. Best of all, she was once referred to as “too strong-minded for a woman.” #goals.
2. “Men have singled out women of outstanding merit and put them on a pedestal to avoid recognizing the capabilities of all women.”
Huda Sha’arawi created the first Egyptian Philanthropic Society for women, in addition to being the founder and head of the Egyptian Feminist Union. When she wasn’t representing Egypt internationally at women’s conferences, Sha’arawi also made time to found a school for girls and implement women-run social services. She’s one of the most outspoken and unapologetic Egyptian women in recent history.
3. “It is no country’s destiny to be poor.”
The first female Prime Minister of Mozambique, Luisa Diogo fought the spread of HIV/AIDS and advocated for increased healthcare access in her country. She also is a strong supporter of gender equality, and sits on the Council of Women World Leaders to promote political participation of women.
4. “The seeds of success in every nation on Earth are best planted in women and children.”
Setting more records in African political offices, former President of Malawi Joyce Banda also served as the first female Vice President! While in office, Banda worked to increase human rights and went on after her tenure to form the Joyce Banda Foundation for education. Increasing accessibility to primary and secondary education for children, particularly orphans, makes her a woman after our own hearts.
5. “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
Another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the current President of Liberia. Upon entering office, Sirleaf made education free and required for all elementary school kids. She has passed record-setting legislation to increase transparency in the Liberian government. We’re not sure which is cooler: the fact that she also sits on the Council of Women World Leaders, or that she’s the aunt of Retta, a.k.a. Donna Meagle from Parks and Recreation.