As we celebrate International Women's Day this week and Women's History Month, what a great excuse to look at some of the coolest, bravest, and most inspiring women that have helped us get to where we are today.
1. Margaret Hamilton
Hamilton was the lead software engineer for the USA’s Apollo Project. Below you can see her standing next to the code she and her team wrote, which was responsible for 1969’s moon landing. And who says women can’t go far in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects? Aged 81 today, Hamilton is – or at least, should be – considered a key part in the birth of software. She was busy coding a decade before Microsoft was even a thing.
On a side note, despite being a male-dominated industry, Hamilton wasn’t the only lady behind the moon landing. Take Katherine Johnson, for example. An African-American mathematician, she calculated the trajectories for many moon landings. She, and her badass lady squad, were also the centre of 2016’s film Hidden Figures.
2. Sophie Scholl
When it comes to activism, ladies have been pretty damn good at fighting for the good stuff. Sophie Scholl is a prime example. Born in Forchtenberg, Germany, she led the non-violent student resistance group, White Rose, against Hitler. She was executed in 1943, just 21.
We’ve all heard of Anne Frank, and the sense of hope she had even in her last days, but she wasn’t the only one to inspire people to stand up. Traudl Junge, who was Hitler’s secretary from 1942 to 1945, said after seeing a memorial for Scholl, 'I saw she was born the same year as me, and she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler. And at that moment I actually sensed that it was no excuse to be young, and that it would have been possible to find things out.'
3. Hoda Katebi
Let’s be real: the fashion industry is overwhelmingly whitewashed. But not if Hoda Katebi has anything to say about it. A Muslim-Iranian, based in Chicago, this political fashion blogger is only interested in intersectional, ethical fashion. Her blog, Joojoo Azad, has helped to shed light on many clothing brands which have violated human rights and the environment.
She’s fearless, and proud of it. Last month, Katebi had a live interview on America’s channel WGN, about her blog and book. The conversation abruptly turned to nuclear weapons, as Katebi was told she, 'didn’t sound like an American.' Educated and unapologetic, she reminded viewers to not be blinded by stereotypes. She challenged us to consider 'the legacy of [USA] and all of the violence it has not only created but created the capacity for.'
4. Gwen Moffat
Climber Gwen Moffat has been a free spirit her entire life – even now, age 93. She became the first female British mountain guide, after ditching the army for a life in the mountains. She’s a badass, whose survived blizzards alone on Ben Nevis, lightning strikes on La Meije mountain, and often climbed barefoot.
If anyone can inspire you to do what you love, simply because you can, it’s this woman. She’s driven a generation of adventures, particularly showing women that they can be just as independent and resilient as any guy.
In 2015, filmmaker Jen Randall and writer Claire Carter made a short film, Operation Moffat, which follows the pair as they try living by Moffat’s legacy, and invite others to do so too.
5. Sarla Thakral
Most of us know of Amelia Earheart, and rightfully too. She was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic. But have you ever heard of Sarla Thakral?
Thakral was India’s first ever female pilot. She earned her licence in 1936, age 21. This happened while Thakral already had a four-year-old daughter. At 24, her husband died in a crash, which seemed to spark the end of Thakral’s flying days. Instead, she went to Lahore’s school of art. She designed sarees and made jewellery as a successful entrepreneur, dying at the good old age of 94 in 2008.
It makes you wonder who the next batch of inspiring women will be. What will the next generation be remembered for?