The Gender Equity Movement has made great strides in recent years. While there is still much work to do, the movement has changed things for the better for women in a variety of different fields, including business and politics. As we recover from the pandemic, it is important to remember some of the most important voices in the struggle for gender equality.
Leymah Gbowee has been on a mission to bring equality to her native Liberia for decades. As head of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement, Gbowee used her influence to broker a peace in the Second Liberian Civil War. The international community celebrated Gbowee’s actions by awarding her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Since then, Gbowee has used her status to stand up for the marginalized and most vulnerable by organizing peaceful protests and demonstrations in support of gender rights.
Manal al-Sharif took the fight for gender equality to the very traditional Saudi Arabian government. Al-Sharif challenged the country’s prohibition against women driving cars by founding the #Women2Drive movement and went to prison for driving while female in 2011. Although al-Sharif was released on the condition that she cease her activism, she nevertheless persisted and helped end the ban against women driving in 2018. Al-Sharif continues her activism on behalf of gender equality by campaigning for women’s rights throughout the Middle East.
While American audiences might know Yara Shahidi as Zoey from the hit ABC sitcom Black-ish, she is also a student at Harvard and major activist for female empowerment. Serving on both the Young Women’s Leadership Network and Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative, Shahidi uses her celebrity status to help bolster both gender rights and rights for minority groups. A particularly vocal proponent of helping women from low-income communities get access to educational and career opportunities, Shahidi often speaks out against institutional racism. For her efforts, Shahidi is recognized as one of the most popular role models for young women in the world.
Sampat Pal Devi
Sampat Pal Devi is founder of the Gulabi Gang, a vigilante organization based in Indian that protects women from domestic abuse and girls from child marriage. Devi was herself forced into marriage at age 12 and has since used her experience as a touchstone to prevent it from happening to others. While Devi and the Gulabi Gang work to protect women, they also teach women useful self-defense techniques and other forms of training to ensure that they have confidence and can support themselves.