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6+ women who are making women’s equality a reality

A woman empowering women's equality wearing a yellow and black scarf.

Gender equality is not a fantasy. It’s achievable, it’s necessary, and although we’re getting closer, there is still endless work to be done globally.

Equal pay for equal work.
Freedom of movement.
Portrayal of women in the media.
Access to education.
Violence against women.
Reproductive and sexual health rights.
Marriage laws.

These are all things that seem as though they’re common sense in 2016, but women and girls around the world are still struggling to obtain them. In celebration of Women’s Equality Day, we’re highlighting some bad-ass women who are fighting the good fight on behalf of us all:

Malala Yousafzai

There are about 60 million school-aged girls around the world going without an education today, and it’s clear that this lack of education is a huge roadblock standing in the way of the hopes and dreams of so may girls dreams. Malala has spent so much of her young life being such a powerful advocate for girls’ rights to education that she has become practically synonymous with the issue worldwide.

Born in Pakistan and inspired by her father’s passion for education, Malala quickly became a national icon for girls’ rights, leading to her attempted assassination by the Taliban in 2012. Since then, she has won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work, raised millions for girls’ education with the Malala Fund, opened an all-girls school and written an outstanding memoir about her life that has inspired young readers everywhere.

Malala Yousafzai

Hillary Clinton

She’s a pretty obvious choice in 2016. Although there have been female presidents and prime ministers in other countries for years, Hillary is the first female presidential candidate in America’s history, which is a pretty big deal seeing as the USA is one of the most influential countries in defining global trends and culture. If she wins, it’ll no doubt be a monumental moment for the USA, and the world.

Hillary Clinton

Ai-jen Poo

Equality in the workplace is a big deal and widely discussed on a global level, but rights and regulations in industries that are largely female-dominated are often topics that are overlooked. Ai-jen is the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance in America, which focuses on worker’s rights for nannies, elder caregivers and housekeepers, and was behind the introduction of the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010.

Her work is helping enforce proper working conditions and compensation for millions of immigrant and female workers in America, and the international attention she had garnered from the likes of TIME, and CNN will no doubt have a positive effect on protecting women in these fields internationally as well.

Ai-jen Poo

Every female athlete in the Rio 2016 Olympics

The Rio Olympics may have had a number of setbacks, but one kick ass statistic for the record books is the number of female athletes who competed this year. 2016 set the record for the highest percentage of female athletes ever, with 45% of total athletes being female.

To put that into perspective, only about 34% of Olympic athletes were female in 1996, about 20% of Olympic athletes were female in 1976, and only 2% of athletes were female in 1900. Now, many of the bigger teams actually have more female athletes than male, including USA and Australia.

The amount of events available for females to compete in is on the rise as well, as 48% of events in Rio were for female competitors. This is also a huge improvement from numbers like less than 15% in 1928 and about 20% in 1980. Go team ♀!

Rio Olympics

Nadia Murad

There often is no better victim’s advocate than someone who has experienced similar treatment, and Nadia’s dark and painful past at the hands of ISIS has given her the strength to work towards helping women in similar experiences.

Nadia has been witness and victim to numerous atrocities including mass killings and her own sexual enslavement, and she now travels the world speaking about her experiences and the women still enduring these conditions to this day. She has spoken in front of the UN about human trafficking, the remaining Yazidi people (especially women) in enslavement and the realities of the ISIS issues we face today. She has devoted her life to being a human rights activist and imploring anyone who will listen to take action.

Serena Williams

After dominating the women’s tennis world for years, Serena is still subject to constant negative comments about her passionate playing style, appearance, wardrobe, cockiness – you name it – and is often criticized for doing things that are ignored when done by her male tennis counterparts. She doesn’t take the criticism quietly, and openly talks about the challenges of being not only a female but also a minority in the spotlight.

With every victory, every photo shoot, and every interview she is working to break down gender stereotypes and solidifying her spot as one of the best tennis players ever; male or female. Her Serena Williams Fund works to create equal access to education, including opening a school in Kenya with a mandatory minimum 40% of the school spots reserved for girls.

Serena Williams