Throughout history are many female icons who have paved the way for the advancement of women. And the 21st century has seen a new generation of women continuing this amazing work in the fight for equality and representation. Here are five of my personal favourite female icons who are using their voices and actions to inspire change.
1. Jameela Jamil
Jameela Jamil, an actress and activist, is the breath of fresh air we sorely need when it comes to our body-centric culture. Tired of a woman’s value being measured by her appearance and weight, she started the I Weigh movement, a campaign to show “how amazing we are beyond the flesh on our bones”. She has also criticised magazines who have airbrushed her photos and called out celebrities who promote harmful weight loss supplements to impressionable teens. This female icon uses her platform to openly and honestly condemn the system, rather than contribute to it, and I so admire her for that.
Links: @jameelajamil @i_weigh
2. Malala Yousafzai
At only 21 years old Malala Yousafzai is an activist for female education. As a young girl, she put her own life on the line in the pursuit of equality, openly defying the Taliban by advocating for girls to receive an education. Against all odds, she survived a horrendous attack by the Taliban and has dedicated her life to getting girls, the majority of whom are refugees or displaced, into school. She is an incredibly brave female icon, giving a voice to the voiceless through her book We Are Displaced, and making real change by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon.
Links: @malala @malalafund
3. Emma Watson
Actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, has been a very strong voice on the feminist movement of the 21st century. Her honest and sincere speech launching the UN’s HeForShe campaign encouraged a new way of thinking about gender inequality as a human rights issue, affecting both men and women. She also started Our Shared Self, a feminist book club to read and discuss feminist literature. From an intelligent witch at Hogwarts to a loud and proud feminist, Watson is a female icon who has been a long time role model for girls all around the world and I’m sure has much more in store for us.
4. Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern, the current Prime Minister of New Zealand, has been a breath of fresh air in politics. For one, she’s not a man, but also she talks with passion rather than bullet points and she was even pregnant in office! What’s interesting about Ardern is that the traits used against females in leadership positions – emotion, compassion, sensitivity – are actually her strengths, and have enabled her to lead her country with grace after the terrifying attacks in Christchurch.
5. Amy Schumer
Actress and comedian Amy Schumer is very vocal about feminism and women’s issues. Her comedy show Inside Amy Schumer brought a female perspective to a male-dominated industry, exploring issues such as gender roles, consent, body image and self-esteem. But Schumer doesn’t just talk the talk. She is a strong presence at the Women’s March and last year attended the Kavanaugh protests where she was even arrested and detained for speaking out. I absolutely loved her new Netflix special Growing and if you haven’t seen it, it’s an absolute must watch.
I highly recommend following these female icons on social media to increase the amount of positivity we see on our screens and hopefully inspire change in the way think and act about feminist issues. And there are of course so many more incredible female icons out there creating change, these are just a few of my favourites who I think are doing a stellar job.