They believed they could…and they did….9 Empowered women who defied the odds and succeeded in making a difference or changing the status quo…from Oprah Winfrey to Lydie Hakizimana.
“DESPITE the voices of skepticism, she believed in her instinct. She set up a book store despite the talk that it would not survive its first birthday in a country with a poor reading culture. But Lydie Hakizimana did not give up on her dream and indeed she stood out of the crowd. Today her book store serves over 3000 schools across the country.” (source:The New Times Rwanda’s Leading Daily)
“Gaudence Mushimiyimana, co-founder and the executive director of a Rwandan organisation of women with disabilities (UNAB), shared her experience and how far UNAB has gone in empowering more than 500 women with disabilities.
“Taking a bold action needs a strong reason to do so, seeing disabled women chasing their goals always motivates me to help disabled women wherever they are because I know behind their disability there is ability. That’s why I started a private company that provides them with skills to succeed. I would like you to take a bold action to help a disabled person as well,” she said.” (source:The New Times Rwanda’s Leading Daily)
“Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical school, after overcoming several odds against her – including admittance to an all-male institution and financing medical school. With Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, and her sister Emily, who also became a doctor, she opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1856.” (source: one.org)
“Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in Africa when she took office as the President of Liberia in January 2006. She signed a Freedom of Information bill (the first of its kind in West Africa) and made reduction of the national debt a cornerstone of her Presidency. To investigate crimes committed during Liberia’s civil war, she established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and became a global icon with her commitment to fighting dictators, corruption and poverty through empowerment of women and girls.” (source one.org)
“Wangari Muaathai was a Kenyan scientist, professor, environmental and political activist. She was the first woman in East or Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree and is credited with founding the Green Belt Movement, a community initiative that seeks to empower women through civic education and environmental stewardship. In 2004, for her work on sustainable development, democracy and peace, she became the first African woman, and first environmentalist, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.”(source: one.org)
“Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist, and the first female judge in Iran. After Khomeini’s revolution in 1979 she was dismissed as a judge. She then opened a legal practice to defend people being persecuted by the authorities. In 2000 she herself was imprisoned for having criticized her country’s hierocracy. She won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially those of women, children and refugees. She is the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to win the prize.” (source: one.org)
“Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani advocate for girls education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. In 2009, when Malala was just eleven she began blogging about life under the Taliban, speaking out directly against their threats to close girls’ schools. (Pakistan has the second highest number of children out of school and two-thirds of them are female.) The blog on BBC Urdu garnered international attention while also making her the target of death threats. In October 2012, a gunman shot her and two other girls as they were coming home from school. Malala survived the attack and in 2013 published an autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. In October 2014, Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.” (source:0ne.org)
Misty Danielle Copeland is an American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States. On June 30, 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history.
Oprah Winfrey is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history. Born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in inner-city Milwaukee, she has stated that she was molested during her childhood and early teens and became pregnant at 14; her son was born prematurely and died in infancy.
Winfrey was then sent to live with the man she calls her father, Vernon Winfrey, a barber in Tennessee, and landed a job in radio while still in high school. By 19, she was a co-anchor for the local evening news. Winfrey’s often emotional, extemporaneous delivery eventually led to her transfer to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place,she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.
In 2004, Winfrey and her team filmed an episode of her show, Oprah’s Christmas Kindness, in which Winfrey traveled to South Africa to bring attention to the plight of young children affected by poverty and AIDS. During the 21-day trip, Winfrey and her crew visited schools and orphanages in poverty-stricken areas, and distributed Christmas presents to 50,000 children, with dolls for the girls and soccer balls for the boys, and school supplies. Throughout the show, Winfrey appealed to viewers to donate money to Oprah’s Angel Network for poor and AIDS-affected children in Africa.
From that show alone, viewers around the world donated over $7,000,000. Winfrey invested $40 million and some of her time establishing the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Henley on Klip south of Johannesburg, South Africa. The school set over 22 acres, opened in January 2007 with an enrollment of 150 pupils (increasing to 450) and features state-of-the-art classrooms, computer and science laboratories, a library, theatre, and beauty salon. Nelson Mandela praised Winfrey for overcoming her own disadvantaged youth to become a benefactor for others. Winfrey, who has no surviving biological children, described maternal feelings towards the girls at Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Winfrey teaches a class at the school via satellite. (source: wikipedia)