To write about every inspirational woman would be to write about every woman who is, has or will live. All women are equally wonderful in their own unique ways so this is not a 'top five' list but simply a look at the stories of five amazing women, whose brilliance overcame obstacles and left (or will leave) a lasting impression on the world.
1. Helen Keller
Helen Keller went blind and deaf at 19 months. For most, at the time, this would have been the end of any aspirations for an affective life in the world. But at six Helen began learning to communicate through touch and was educated first by a private tutor, then at a school for the blind and finally graduated as the first blind-deaf person to gain a Bachelor of Arts. Keller went on to become a public speaker and activist, for women's rights and for the working classes. She was an icon for the deaf community and spoke about the joy she found in life. Perhaps the most inspirational thing of all about Keller is that she said... "Helping others was the key to lasting happiness."
2. Malala Yousafzai
At just eleven years old, young Malala began blogging from her home in Pakistan where she was under Taliban rule. Malala believed in education for children and girls but this was something the Taliban was against.
In an attempt to silence her, the Taliban boarded her school bus and shot her. Surviving the shooting, Malala has gone on to campaign passionately for children and girls' right to an education. She was the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, named three times as one of the globe's most influential people, has published two books and did this all before she was 18. Malala now studies at Oxford University, her story has only just begun.
3. Marie Curie
Marie Curie was a Polish born scientist whose passion for her subject saw her overcoming early grief (she lost her mother at 12), poverty (although from an educated family they were cripplingly poor), gender discrimination (her husband had to fight to get her the credit for her work) and an inner battle against frequent depressive spells. Curie's work in physics and chemistry led her to become the first female professor at the University of Paris and to win not just one Nobel Prize, but two (the first and only woman to do this). Her work has had a huge impact on the scientific world and continues to this day.
4. Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin not only barged through the barriers put up against women in the sciences, engineering and livestock worlds, but was also one of the first people with autism to speak publicly about her experiences.
An advocate and role model for people on the autistic spectrum, Temple Grandin has brought empathy into the cattle industry, with her inventions that help calm and relieve stress to cattle in their last moments. Grenadine had it tough, having to navigate a world that was hostile to her senses as well as hostile to her personally. But she overcame all those obstacles and her words, "Different, not less," are an inspiration and lesson for us all.
5. Beatrix Potter
Best known for her stories of Peter Rabbit and friends, Potter was a home-educated girl who loved science. Her studies of mycology (fungi) earned her respect amongst scientists and her drawings are still used today by mycologists. Potter was rejected by a number of publishers and so self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was quite successful (if you count selling 45 million copies, spawning a TV series, film and international franchise as successful). One of the most inspiring things about Potter was her passion for the countryside. During her life, Potter used her money to buy up farmland which, on her death, she bequeathed to the National Trust, preserving and safeguarding those environments for years to come .
I'm sure you can think of and know many inspirational women, not just famous ones, but people that inspire you every day. Never let anyone tell you women are not as good.
All my love, Athena xx