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High 5: Figures in women’s history


In honor of Women’s History Month, here are five female activists from across the globe who have inspired millions of people. 

Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate rose to prominence in 2019 for holding a solitary protest demanding action on climate change. As a physics student at Makerere University, she felt compelled to address the very real threats climate change posed to her home country. Nakate co-founded the Fridays for Future Uganda Chapter and has since become a powerful voice for the voiceless. Through her speeches on international platforms such as the COP26 climate conference, she advocates for environmental reform, particularly for countries on the frontlines of climate change.

Alicia Garza is an American activist, writer and strategist best known as a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. With a background in social work and a commitment to racial justice, Garza has long been involved in community organizing. In 2013, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Garza used the now-iconic phrase “Black Lives Matter” on social media. This sparked a global movement that continues to support the fight against police brutality and racial injustice.

Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist, has become a household name since her 2018 school strike for climate action. Despite being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, Thunberg’s determination to fight climate change is unwavering. She began her solitary strike outside the Swedish Parliament, inspiring millions of students worldwide to join the Fridays for Future movement. Thunberg’s activism extends beyond protests. She has delivered powerful speeches at the United Nations Climate Action Summit and the World Economic Forum, urging world leaders to take concrete steps towards a sustainable future.

Randa Siniora is a Palestinian human rights activist known for her work in documenting ongoing human rights violations by Israel against Palestinians. She is also a women’s rights activist and currently serves as the general director of the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling. In 2018 she became the first woman from Palestine to address the United Nations Security Council addressing women’s issues in the region, and how the ongoing occupation by Israel has amplified them. 

Michelle Bachelet, a physician and politician, has served as the president of Chile twice and is currently the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Bachelet’s own experience of political exile during Chile’s dictatorship shaped her commitment to human rights and social justice. After a career in medicine, she turned to politics, becoming the first woman elected president of Chile in 2006. During her presidency, Bachelet focused on social programs and human rights reforms. In her current role as U.N. High Commissioner, she addresses human rights violations across the globe and promotes accountability and human dignity.


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