Know: Top 100 Inspiring Women


Activists & campaigners
Franny Armstrong Filmmaker behind The Age of Stupid, environmental activist and founder of the 10:10 campaign
Helen Bamber  Helen Bamber Founder of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, the Helen Bamber Foundation and campaigner for human rights.
Camila Batmanghelidjh  Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh The founder of Kid’s Company, which offers practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children
Shami Chakrabarti  Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty Director of Liberty, barrister and former lawyer for the Home Office
Margaret Chan  Margaret Chan the World Health Organisation Director of the World Health Organisation, battling international viruses, and championing improvements in all of our most pressing diseases
Sampat Pal Devi  Gulabi gang Leader of the Gulabi Gang in northern India, an all-women vigilante force
Shirin Ebadi  Shirin Ebadi at a media forum in Germany this month Iran’s first female judge, founder of the Human Rights Defenders Centre and the first Muslim woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Aparajita Gogoi   arpajita Coordinator of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in India
Lubna Hussein  Lubna Hussein at the cafe in Khartoum where she was arrested for wearing trousers. Sudanese writer and women’s rights campaigner, who asked to go to trial after being arrested for wearing trousers
Malalai Joya  Afghan Member of Parliament Malalai Joya Afghan politician and human rights campaigner who has shown phenomenal courage
Wangari Maathai  Wangari Maathai The Kenyan environmental and political activist who won a Nobel Peace prize for her work with the Green Belt Movement
Graca Machel  Graca Machel Former Mozambican education minister and advocate for the rights of southern African women and children
Somaly Mam   somlay mam Cambodian anti-sex trafficking campaigner and founder of AFESIP, rescuing women from brothels and supporting their recovery
Fatema Mernissi  Moroccan writer Fatema Mernissi Professor of sociology at Mohammed V University in Rabat
Pragna Patel  Pragna Patel, Chair of Southall Black Sisters Founding member of Southall Black Sisters, a landmark organisation in the history of black and Asian feminism
Lisa Robinson   Lisa Civil servant who made a stand and stopped a train carriage of sexist men
Nawal El Saadawi  Nawal El Saadawi Egyptian doctor, psychiatrist, feminist, university lecturer and writer
Zainab Salbi  zak Iraqi American CEO and founder of Women for Women International
Jasvinder Sanghera  Jasvinder Sanghera Director of Karma Nirvana, a charity helping victims of forced marriages and ‘honour‘ violence
Vandana Shiva  Vandana Shiva Environmentalist and founder of Diverse Women for Diversity
Art, film, music and fashion
Marina Abramovic Marina Abramovic with white lamb Yugoslavian Performance artist famed for her gruelling, intimate works that are legendary feats of endurance, self-exposure and risk
Marin Alsop Marin Alsop One of only a few female conductors and music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Kathryn Bigelow Kathryn Bigelow First woman to win the Oscar for best director in the 82 years of the Academy award’s history
Tacita Dean Tacita-Dean Turner nominated artist who is set to fill the Tate’s Turbine Hall
Zaha Hadid Architect Zaha Hadid at her Guangzhou Opera House Iraqi architect who has designed buildings all over the world and last year won the Stirling prize
Angelique Kidjo Angelique Kidjo Africa’s Grammy award-winning “premier diva”, who is politically outspoken and runs an education foundation
Lady Gaga Lady Gaga egg grammys Outlandish dresser, performer and politicised pop icon for the Twitter generation
Madonna Madonna The musical queen of reinvention – and still in the spotlight in her 50s on her own terms
Stella McCartney Stella McCartney The designer who has carved out her own successful career on her own merit, not just her connections
Mira Nair Mira-Nair--004 Film-maker behind The Namesake, Amelia and Monsoon Wedding, for which she became the first woman to win the Golden Lion at Cannes
Paula Rego paula rego Slade School of Art Turner prize nominated artist
Robyn Robyn Swedish electro-pop sensation who has topped the charts while keeping her clothes on
Cindy Sherman Cindy Sherman American artist and photographer, famed for her self-portraits in disguise, subverting notions of identity and gender
Patti Smith Patti Smith: Dream of Life The pioneering punk musician, poet and political activist broke through the male punk movement without chasing fame or money
Emma Thompson Emma Thompson Oscar-winning actor and human rights campaigner, recently working to raise awareness of sex trafficking
Rachel Whiteread Rachel Whiteread British artist who filled the Tate Turbine hall with boxes and took on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth
Xinran Xinran, author China’s first agony aunt broadcaster, and author of the Good Women of China
Business & trade unions
Carol Bartz Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz speaks during conference in San Francisco The first female CEO of a major software company, Yahoo
Andrea Jung Avon CEO Andrea Jung 11 years as chief executive of Avon make Jung the longest serving female head of a Fortune 500 company
Indra Nooyi Indra Nooyi PepsiCo’s boss is keen to help women – and other minorities – up the business ladder
Louise Arbour louise arbour Human rights lawyer taking to task leaders from Kyrgyzstan to Sudan over abuses of power
Brenda Hale Brenda Hale, supreme court judge The first woman and youngest judge to become a law lord, Hale is currently the only female justice of the UK supreme court
Helena Kennedy  Helena Kennedy, human rights lawyer Human rights lawyer who originally worked on sex-discrimination cases before setting up Doughty Street chambers
Gareth Peirce Lawyer Gareth Pierce Lawyer whose battles against miscarriages of justice have changed legal history
Jayshree Satpute Jayshree Satpute Human rights advocate working to help poor women in India at risk of dying in childbirth
Sonia Sotomayor Judge Sonia Sotomayor Supreme court judge has used her experience of the real world in her rulings
Aung San Suu Kyi Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, Burma, November 2010 The Burmese pro-democracy leader who has inspired the world with her non-violent resistance to a brutal dictatorship
Michelle Bachelet The president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet Former president and defence minister of Chile who is now head of UN Women
Gro Harlem Brundtland Gro Harlem Brundtland A woman with a remarkable CV: former doctor, prime minister of Norway and director of the World Health Organisation
Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton addresses the Munich security conference The US Secretary of State has outlasted her critics to become more popular than ever
Harriet Harman Harriet Harman. The woman who is deputy leader of the Labour party, shadow deputy prime minister and the first female solicitor general
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia, responsible for significant debt relief and instigating the investigation of civil war crimes
Christine Lagarde Christine Lagarde French finance minister – the first woman appointed to that role in a G8 country
Angela Merkel Angela Merkel The Chancellor of Germany who is arguably the most influential female politician in the world
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director of the World Bank The former finance director of Nigeria who is now a managing director of the World Bank
Dilma Rousseff Dilma Rousseff The teenage socialist guerilla withstood imprisonment and torture and went on to become the first female president of Brazil
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Thatcher in 1983 Like her or loathe her, Britain’s first female prime minister made her way in a man’s world and changed the way we think of women politicians
Science & medicine
Hawa Abdi Dr. Hawa Abdi One of Somalia’s first female gynaecologists, Hawa Abdi now uses her own money to run a small hospital
Jocelyn Bell Burnell bell burnell Astrophysicist who discovered the first pulsar and was the first female president of the Institute of Physics
Athene Donald Athene Donald An expert in the structure of “soft” matter, Donald researches unconventional areas for a physicist – such as revolutionary treatments for Alzheimer’s
Fabiola Gianotti Fabiola Gianotti, particle physicist Physicist leading the team working on the Large Hadron Collider at Cern
Jane Goodall KISSING TESS Primatologist and environmental campaigner, who has conducted groundbreaking work on chimpanzees and shortened the gap between our species
Molly Stevens Molly Stevens Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine, Imperial College London
Susan Wicklund Susan Wicklund Abortion provider Susan Wicklund has been forced to carry a gun and wear a bullet-proof vest to protect herself from protesters at her clinic in Montana
Sport & adventure
Rebecca Adlington rebecca adlington 100 top women Double Olympic gold swimmer aiming to increase her tally in 2012
Arlene Blum arlene blum Mountaineer Arlene Blum was the first American woman to attempt Mount Everest
Karren Brady Karren Brady The vice-chairman of West Ham United football club who became a champion of working women on The Apprentice
Eileen Collins Eileen Collins US astronaut who was the first female pilot of a space shuttle and the first female shuttle commander
Cathy Freeman Oly W 400m The first Aboriginal athlete to win an Olympic medal
Tanni Grey-Thompson Athletics - Dame Tanni Grey Thompson Press Conference - Sportcity Britain’s greatest Paralympian, changed the perception of Paralympic sport for ever
Kelly Holmes Sprinter Kelly Holmes The first British Olympian to win a double gold
Ellen MacArthur ellen macarthur top 100 women Sailor who completed solo circumnavigation race, the Vendée Globe, then broke the non-stop solo world record
Martina Navratilova martina navratilova 100 women One of the all-time greats of women’s tennis and gay-rights campaigner
Hope Powell hope powell top 100 women England women’s football manager who, this year, takes the team to the World Cup for the second time
Caster Semenya  caster semenya top 100 women Young athlete who overcame global gender taunts to win world championship
Venus Williams venus williams top 100 women First black woman tennis player to be world number one in the modern era
Martha Lane Fox martha lane fox 100 women Entrepreneur who founded and is leading the government’s campaign to get people online
Juliana Rotich Juliana Rotich A prolific blogger who founded as a means to uncover violence and crisis areas around the world
Cerrie Burnell Cerrie Burnell TV presenter tackling prejudices of disability head on
Rachel Maddow rachel maddow top 100 women The only openly gay American to host a primetime news show
Miriam O’Reilly Miriam O'Reilly Television presenter who was the first to win a claim of age discrimation against the BBC after being dropped from Countryfile
Oprah Winfrey Oprah Winfrey The talkshow host, actress and philanthropist is not satisfied with having conquered the US and is now taking on the whole world
Victoria Wood Victoria Wood Bafta-winning comedian and writer, finding humour in everyday women’s lives
Writing & Academia
Maya Angelou Maya Angelou Writer, academic and activist, who chronicled the African American experience in literature
Margaret Atwood  Margaret Atwood Novelist behind The Handmaid’s Tale, a cautionary story of a world without feminism
Judith Butler Judith Butler Superstar academic whose influential work Gender Trouble changed the way we conceptualise gender
Carol Ann Duffy  Carol Anne Duffy First tipped for the job 10 years earlier, she finally became the first female poet laureate in 2009
Eve Ensler Eve Ensler Playwright and activist, most famed for her taboo-busting play, The Vagina Monologues
Susan Faludi Susan Faludi Social historian, political analyst, and fact checker extraordinaire, who has challenged the mainstream consensus about women’s status
Germaine Greer Author Germaine Greer poses for photographers during a media launch in Melbourne Academic and feminist commentator who bulldozed her way into women’s minds
Shere Hite Shere Hite, feminist writer Feminist sex researcher who debunked the myth that most women were able to have orgasms through intercourse alone
Lynda La Plante Lynda La Plante top 100 women Screenwriter responsible for Prime Suspect, a brilliant vision of a woman in a man’s workplace
Doris Lessing Doris Lessing novelist top 100 women Novelist celebrated as writing a pioneering work of female emancipation, then spent half a century trying to shake off the status of ‘feminist icon’
Onora O’Neill Onora O'Neill Cambridge philosopher and crossbench peer who addresses issues including freedom of speech and stem-cell research
JK Rowling JK Rowling Author of the Harry Potter series, inspiring young readers and improving literacy levels in the process
Arundhati Roy Arundhati Roy Booker prize-winning author and one of India’s most important polemicists
Marjane Satrapi Marjane Satrapi Graphic novelist behind Persepolis, an autobiographical account of an Iranian youth
Jessica Valenti Jessica Valenti at home Pioneering blogger whose online activism dragged feminism into the 21st century
Alice Walker Alice Walker Lifelong political and social activist whose novel The Color Purple won the Pulitzer prize
Mary Warnock Baroness Mary Warnock Philosopher and writer, who has shaped government policies and is an outspoken supporter of legalised euthanasia

Courtesy :


3 thoughts on “Know: Top 100 Inspiring Women

  1. What an exhaustive list. Thanks for the share!


    • it took more than hour to collect, format and fill missing info. 🙂 Thanks for thanking us. It motivates 🙂


  2. Pingback: Know: The Guardian's Top 100 Inspiring Women | PROPEL STEPS | Festivalnet

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