Marie Currie 1867-1934
Marie Curie changed the world not once, but twice. She founded the new science of radioactivity – even the word was invented by her – and her discoveries launched effective cures for cancer.
Born in Warsaw, Curie studied physics at the University of Paris, where she met her future research collaborator and husband, Pierre. Together they identified two new elements: radium and polonium, named after her Poland. After Pierre died, she raised a small fortune in the US and Europe to fund labs and develop cancer treatments.
Marie Curie was a woman of action, as well as an enormous intellect. During World War I, she helped equip ambulances with x-ray equipment and took them many times to the front lines.
Rosa Parks 1913-2005
In 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American living in Montgomery, Alabama, challenged the racial segregation that existed in parts of the United States by refusing to give up her seat on a bus so that a white person could sit. Her protest was supported by many other African Americans and sparked the civil rights movement that, in the 1960s, eventually won equal rights.
Marie Stopes 1880-1958
Marie Stopes, birth control advocate and sex educator, was born in Edinburgh but studied science at University College, London. In 1918, she published the very popular Married Love, a second book entitled Wise Parenthood – which dealt explicitly with contraception – appearing soon after.
A controversial figure, especially for his views on eugenics, Stopes, however, was a key figure in publicizing his cause (a first birth control clinic was set up in a poor working-class area of North London in 1921) and in bringing women throughout the world the opportunity for planned pregnancy.
Malala Yousfzai 1997-Present
Malala Yousafzai was born in Pakistan on July 12, 1997. Yousafzai's father was a teacher and ran an all-girls school in her village, however, when the Taliban took over her town, it imposed a ban on all girls going to school. . In 2012, at age 15, Malala spoke publicly about women's rights to education, and as a result, a gunman got on her school bus and shot the young activist in the head.
Yousafzai moved to the UK, where she became a fierce presence on the world stage and became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, aged 17. Malala is currently studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford.
Ada Lovelace 1815- 1852
Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician and the world's first computer programmer. Lovelace was born into the privilege of being the daughter of a famous unstable romantic poet, Lord Byron (who left his family when Ada was just 2 months old) and Lady Wentworth.
Ada was a charming society woman who was friends with the likes of Charles Dickens, but she is most famous for being the first person to publish an algorithm intended for a computer, her genius being years ahead of her time.
Lovelace died of cancer at age 36, and it took nearly a century after her death for people to value her notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine, which has become recognized as the first-ever description of a computer and software.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg 1933-2020
Throughout her career as an attorney, judge and associate justice on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg's commitment to the principle of equal justice under the law has transformed the legal landscape in the US - especially for women.
Ginsburg's work began at Harvard Law School, where she was one of nine women in a class of 500 students, according to an obituary in the New York Times. Although she was at the top of her class when she graduated as a transfer to Columbia Law School, she faced many difficulties in finding employment. Eventually, in 1963, she became a professor of law at Rutgers Law School, where she turned her attention to gender discrimination. She defended six cases before the Supreme Court as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, winning five.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court, where she served 27 years.
Each one of us (insert date of birth - present/future)
Not all of us play roles that will go down in the history books.
But each one of us can make a difference in the smallest things in everyday life.
We cannot let ourselves be silenced.
We can advocate for gender parity and women's rights. We can educate those around us.
We can teach our children to respect a No, and that they too do not be silent or close their eyes to injustice.
We can stop the perpetuation of sexist culture, of 'harmless' jokes, of 'I meant no harm', of excuses used to justify the unjustifiable.
We can teach our girls, first and foremost by example, that they have the right to be whoever they want, to speak up and always demand the respect they deserve.