“We [Americans] really need a system that comprehensively looks at the fact that we need these workers in the United States, we need to be able to provide a pathway to citizenship. We need to be able to allow them to be here legally and to do the work that they are doing and that we need.” ~ Pramila Jayapal, Congresswomen

Summary: As the first Indian-American woman to serve in the House of Representatives, Pramila Jayapal set the tone for more diverse voices to be heard on the national stage of government. Jayapal also is a civil rights activist, having founded Hate Free Zone and having served as executive director of OneAmerica, a pro-immigration advocacy group. By fighting for the rights of immigrants and serving as a strong political leader, Jayapal demonstrates that women’s voices can be heard and can ignite vital change on a national scale.

Nationality: Indian-American

Industry: Politics

Q: Where do you think the future of the country lies? on elle.com

A: Many years ago, Gloria Steinem, who’s been a great mentor to me, said, “Every rung of the ladder that we climb, we have to have a hand outstretched to make sure that we’re pulling somebody else along with us.” I have always believed that. And I’m ready to do whatever I can now not only to elevate the issues that we need to elevate, but to build the movement that is going to be the future of this nation, and that is going to be women; it is going to be women of color; it is going to be young people; it is going to be all the people who refuse to accept that America can be great without all of our voices.