International Women’s Day: 11 inspiring women you may not have heard of (And some you probably have).
- Shirley Chisholm (top right) was the first black woman to be elected to the US Senate. In 1972, she ran a ground-breaking and unrelenting campaign to become the first black Democratic candidate, male or female, to the Presidency. On the campaign trail she survived three assassination attempts, and although she was ultimately unsuccessful, she paved the way for a host of non-white politicians. During her time in office as Senator she hired only women, half of them black, and later claimed she had faced more discrimination in her career because of her gender than her race. Her campaign for President was also the subject of a 2005 documentary, Chisholm 72, Unbought and Unbossed, which I have been trying unsuccessfully to torrent for months now. (If you have it, please seed!!!)
- Bessie Coleman (bottom right) was the first American, black or white, male or female, to earn an International Pilots Licence. Faced with prejudice in the US, she made the long trip to Paris in 1920 to earn her wings from a sympathetic war pilot. On her return to the States, she drew huge crowds of blacks and whites to watch her perform daredevil stunts, and developed a reputation for taking huge risks and sparing nothing to put on a great show. This risk taking would ultimately cost her her life, as she was killed when a routine stunt went wrong. She didn’t live long enough to fulfil her dream of starting a school for young black pilots… but it is nice to think her legacy may have inspired that amazing movie Soul Plane. (sorry, I had to)
- Christa McAuliffe (centre right) was an ordinary history teacher until she won a competition to be sent into space as part of the ill-fated Challenger Space Shuttle launch. She would have been the 11th woman in space, but the first civilian. She makes this list not because she broke down barriers, but because her story really resonated with me. She captured the spirit of a nation of stargazers and schoolchildren, many of whom watched her final moments live on televisions in their classrooms. NASA’s report into the disaster found that one of the main reasons it affected so many people worldwide is because of Christa’s presence - she was one of us. I still get chills when I watch the 73 seconds of launch footage.
- Geraldine Ferraro (centre bottom) in the footsteps of Chisholm, was the first woman to run for Vice President in the US. On the 1984 campaign trail, she clocked up more miles travelling the country than her running mate, and the (winning) Republican Reagan-Bush Sr pairing combined! In substance too, Ferraro more than held her own, even edging Bush Sr in the VP debate. But things took a turn for the worse when the press took a closer look at her husband’s questionable financial dealings. This harmed Ferraro’s campaign irrevocably, and it makes me wonder what she could have achieved if her man hadn’t held her back. Typical men, eh? In her life she also worked as a lawyer for the New York DA, where she focused mainly on helping victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
- Marta (bottom left) is widely recognised as the greatest female football player of all time. She is a FIVE time FIFA World Player of the Year, (one ahead of Messi!) has led Brazil to four major trophies with a strike rate of 80 goals in 72 games, and at 27, she is still in her prime. She is also a United Nations goodwill ambassador for sports, and I had the privilege of watching her play against Team GB’s women last summer in the Olympic Games - sportingly, she let us win!
- dream hampton (lower centre-left) is probably most famous for publicly calling out her childhood friend Christopher (Biggy) Smalls for his misogyny, before going on to have a storied career as a music journalist. She also ghost wrote Jay-Z’s autobiography Decoded, and directed the video for one of my favourite songs of the last few years - QueenS by THEESatisfaction. She also appeared last year on the Google+ debate “Hip Hop on Trial”, where she totally put KRS One in his place, no mean feat.
- Aung San Suu Kyi (centre) is probably the world’s most famous female political figure. She spent between 15 and 21 years under house arrest in her native Burma while a military junta took power and crushed all political opposition. Amazingly, she won the 1990 Burmese election with almost 60% of the vote while still in captivity, though the military ignored the result. As leader of the Opposition, she continued her fight for democracy using peaceful and diplomatic methods, and was finally released for good in 2010. On her release one of the first things she did was start a Twitter account, but unsurprisingly later claimed she was “too busy” to keep up with social networks. I hope she never discovers Tumblr - she’d get nothing done! Anyway, I kept a picture of her up on my wall at uni to remind me how lucky I was to be free to do whatever I wanted with my life. I wish I had her sense of purpose.
- Naomi Sims (upper centre-left) is widely regarded as the first black supermodel. In 1969, when Life magazine made her covergirl, she laid the foundations for Beverly Johnson, Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, and countless others. The New York Times claimed her breakthrough was a watershed moment for the “Black is Beautiful” movement, with generations of young black girls finally growing up with women who looked like them in the media. She then turned down a number of Hollywood films, disappointed at the narrow stereotypical roles she was offered. Though she had a relatively short career on the catwalk, she went on to forge her own multi-million dollar beauty empire, and even publish a few books. “Independent, earning paper and proper!”
- Fanny Blankers-Koen (top centre) has a kind of unfortunate name, but times were different back then. She made headlines worldwide when she triumphed at the 1948 London Olympics, winning four gold medals. In those days, female athletes were not celebrated on the same terms as their male counterparts. There were many less events for females to enter, which makes Fanny’s achievements all the more remarkable. The majority of female athletes were young girls, and as a woman of 30 and a mother of two, she was seen as too old to compete. Many even criticised her for not staying at home and looking after the kids! Shortly after returning to the Netherlands a quadruple Olympic medallist, she gave birth to a third child, so it was revealed that she had triumphed in London while pregnant! Usain Bolt is amazing and all…but I doubt he could have done it while withchild (although actually…he probably could.)
- Delia Derbyshire (top center-left) I don’t know if I can really make the case that a white woman from Coventry is a hip-hop pioneer… but I’m going to try anyway. If you watch this video you’ll see some vintage analog beat matching, performed by Delia herself in the 1960s. The so-called Sculptress of Sound was the mastermind behind all of those clunky computerised soundtracks of British television throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. She is perhaps most famous for her recording of the Doctor Who theme song, which perfectly captures her style. I can’t stand the tv show, but I can appreciate the music regardless. She was working without Pro Tools, Macbook Pros and the electronic music staples of today, but still crafting out-of-this-world music. Nowadays she is cited by Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers as a huge personal influence on their music, though I dread to think what she’d make of Skrillex.
- My girlfriend (top left) Lucy is the most amazing woman I have ever met. She is so kind and sweet and beautiful and she is a champion simply because she puts up with me. I don’t know how she does it. Nice one, grrrl.

International Women’s Day: 11 inspiring women you may not have heard of (And some you probably have).

- Shirley Chisholm (top right) was the first black woman to be elected to the US Senate. In 1972, she ran a ground-breaking and unrelenting campaign to become the first black Democratic candidate, male or female, to the Presidency. On the campaign trail she survived three assassination attempts, and although she was ultimately unsuccessful, she paved the way for a host of non-white politicians. During her time in office as Senator she hired only women, half of them black, and later claimed she had faced more discrimination in her career because of her gender than her race. Her campaign for President was also the subject of a 2005 documentary, Chisholm 72, Unbought and Unbossed, which I have been trying unsuccessfully to torrent for months now. (If you have it, please seed!!!)


- Bessie Coleman (bottom right) was the first American, black or white, male or female, to earn an International Pilots Licence. Faced with prejudice in the US, she made the long trip to Paris in 1920 to earn her wings from a sympathetic war pilot. On her return to the States, she drew huge crowds of blacks and whites to watch her perform daredevil stunts, and developed a reputation for taking huge risks and sparing nothing to put on a great show. This risk taking would ultimately cost her her life, as she was killed when a routine stunt went wrong. She didn’t live long enough to fulfil her dream of starting a school for young black pilots… but it is nice to think her legacy may have inspired that amazing movie Soul Plane. (sorry, I had to)

- Christa McAuliffe (centre right) was an ordinary history teacher until she won a competition to be sent into space as part of the ill-fated Challenger Space Shuttle launch. She would have been the 11th woman in space, but the first civilian. She makes this list not because she broke down barriers, but because her story really resonated with me. She captured the spirit of a nation of stargazers and schoolchildren, many of whom watched her final moments live on televisions in their classrooms. NASA’s report into the disaster found that one of the main reasons it affected so many people worldwide is because of Christa’s presence - she was one of us. I still get chills when I watch the 73 seconds of launch footage.

- Geraldine Ferraro (centre bottom) in the footsteps of Chisholm, was the first woman to run for Vice President in the US. On the 1984 campaign trail, she clocked up more miles travelling the country than her running mate, and the (winning) Republican Reagan-Bush Sr pairing combined! In substance too, Ferraro more than held her own, even edging Bush Sr in the VP debate. But things took a turn for the worse when the press took a closer look at her husband’s questionable financial dealings. This harmed Ferraro’s campaign irrevocably, and it makes me wonder what she could have achieved if her man hadn’t held her back. Typical men, eh? In her life she also worked as a lawyer for the New York DA, where she focused mainly on helping victims of sexual and domestic abuse.

- Marta (bottom left) is widely recognised as the greatest female football player of all time. She is a FIVE time FIFA World Player of the Year, (one ahead of Messi!) has led Brazil to four major trophies with a strike rate of 80 goals in 72 games, and at 27, she is still in her prime. She is also a United Nations goodwill ambassador for sports, and I had the privilege of watching her play against Team GB’s women last summer in the Olympic Games - sportingly, she let us win!

- dream hampton (lower centre-left) is probably most famous for publicly calling out her childhood friend Christopher (Biggy) Smalls for his misogyny, before going on to have a storied career as a music journalist. She also ghost wrote Jay-Z’s autobiography Decoded, and directed the video for one of my favourite songs of the last few years - QueenS by THEESatisfaction. She also appeared last year on the Google+ debate “Hip Hop on Trial”, where she totally put KRS One in his place, no mean feat.

- Aung San Suu Kyi (centre) is probably the world’s most famous female political figure. She spent between 15 and 21 years under house arrest in her native Burma while a military junta took power and crushed all political opposition. Amazingly, she won the 1990 Burmese election with almost 60% of the vote while still in captivity, though the military ignored the result. As leader of the Opposition, she continued her fight for democracy using peaceful and diplomatic methods, and was finally released for good in 2010. On her release one of the first things she did was start a Twitter account, but unsurprisingly later claimed she was “too busy” to keep up with social networks. I hope she never discovers Tumblr - she’d get nothing done! Anyway, I kept a picture of her up on my wall at uni to remind me how lucky I was to be free to do whatever I wanted with my life. I wish I had her sense of purpose.

- Naomi Sims (upper centre-left) is widely regarded as the first black supermodel. In 1969, when Life magazine made her covergirl, she laid the foundations for Beverly Johnson, Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, and countless others. The New York Times claimed her breakthrough was a watershed moment for the “Black is Beautiful” movement, with generations of young black girls finally growing up with women who looked like them in the media. She then turned down a number of Hollywood films, disappointed at the narrow stereotypical roles she was offered. Though she had a relatively short career on the catwalk, she went on to forge her own multi-million dollar beauty empire, and even publish a few books. “Independent, earning paper and proper!

- Fanny Blankers-Koen (top centre) has a kind of unfortunate name, but times were different back then. She made headlines worldwide when she triumphed at the 1948 London Olympics, winning four gold medals. In those days, female athletes were not celebrated on the same terms as their male counterparts. There were many less events for females to enter, which makes Fanny’s achievements all the more remarkable. The majority of female athletes were young girls, and as a woman of 30 and a mother of two, she was seen as too old to compete. Many even criticised her for not staying at home and looking after the kids! Shortly after returning to the Netherlands a quadruple Olympic medallist, she gave birth to a third child, so it was revealed that she had triumphed in London while pregnant! Usain Bolt is amazing and all…but I doubt he could have done it while withchild (although actually…he probably could.)

- Delia Derbyshire (top center-left) I don’t know if I can really make the case that a white woman from Coventry is a hip-hop pioneer… but I’m going to try anyway. If you watch this video you’ll see some vintage analog beat matching, performed by Delia herself in the 1960s. The so-called Sculptress of Sound was the mastermind behind all of those clunky computerised soundtracks of British television throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. She is perhaps most famous for her recording of the Doctor Who theme song, which perfectly captures her style. I can’t stand the tv show, but I can appreciate the music regardless. She was working without Pro Tools, Macbook Pros and the electronic music staples of today, but still crafting out-of-this-world music. Nowadays she is cited by Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers as a huge personal influence on their music, though I dread to think what she’d make of Skrillex.

- My girlfriend (top left) Lucy is the most amazing woman I have ever met. She is so kind and sweet and beautiful and she is a champion simply because she puts up with me. I don’t know how she does it. Nice one, grrrl.

Posted 9 3 2013

#sorry - i started writing and i couldn't stop #international womens day #idw #shirley chisholm #bessie coleman #christa mcauliffe #geraldine ferraro #marta #dream hampton #aung san suu kyi #naomi sims #fanny blankers-koen #delia derbyshire #beb 

  1. theladyafterwards said: You’re awesome for writing this - GF is a lucky lady. Thanks for teaching me about some previously unknown women!
  2. impossiblyblack posted this