20 Amazing Women Who Are Changing the World

Even though International Women’s Day is March 8, these 20 women are proving that it doesn’t matter what day it is — it’s always a good time to celebrate the advances made by women in the past few years.

From the first openly transgender state representative to the first black female artist to paint an official First Lady portrait, these ladies are changing what it means to “act like a girl”.

Keep scrolling to learn more about these 20 boss women, and how they’re changing the world.

Meghan Markle was the most Googled person of 2018.

Meghan Markle
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The Duchess of Sussex is still making waves in the English royal family. From wearing dark nail polish to hugging onlookers, inch by inch she’s creating a royal protocol that works for her.

She’s given millions of little girls around the world the opportunity to see themselves as princesses, and continues to champion the causes that she’s passionate about, including “the arts, access to education, support for women and animal welfare.”

Tidying up is all the rage thanks to Marie Kondo and her new Netflix show.

Marie Kondo SXSW
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

If you haven’t heard about the life-changing magic of tidying up over the past few weeks … well, you should’ve. Netflix’s latest sensation, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” has overtaken the internet, encouraging people to reclaim control over their lives and get a clean, fresh start — and it’s all thanks to Kondo and her clutter-free ways.

After becoming the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, Malala Yousafzai continues to inspire.

Malala Yousafzai
Richard Stonehouse/Getty Images

Yousafzai, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 after surviving a terrorist attack, is currently 22 and studying at Oxford. But in her off time, she’s appeared on David Letterman’s Netflix show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” shocking us all by explaining that she forgives her attackers, and casually writing her third book, “We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World,” which was published in January 2019.

“I forgive them because that’s the best revenge I can have,” she told Letterman. It’s a lesson we all can keep in mind.

Christine Blasey Ford delivered an emotional testimony in front of the entire world.

christine blasey ford
Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images

Ford’s name was everywhere for months, due to her connection with Brett Kavanaugh, a then-nominee for the Supreme Court. After a dragged out process, she agreed to testify about her claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in high school.

Ford was lauded by people all over the world, who supported her for coming forward with her story. As many as 1,600 men took out an ad in The New York Times supporting her, teachers suspended class to watch the hearings, and the world ground to a halt to follow along in real-time.

Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” shattered records, reaching and maintaining the number one spot on Amazon for 47 days.

michelle obama
Jose Luis Magana/AP

Just because her time as First Lady has ended does not mean that Obama is ready to step out of the spotlight. Her memoir, “Becoming,” was No. 1 on Amazon for 47 days, breaking a record held by “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

She didn’t hold back in the book, revealing her struggles with IVF and a miscarriage, two topics that are still taboo.

In addition to her book, Obama has no shortage of inspirational quotes that, if you’re having a hard day, are exactly what you need to hear.

Angela Merkel has been called “the leader of the free world.”

Angela Merkel
REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

As Germany’s first female chancellor, a position she was elected to in 2005, Merkel has been called the de facto leader of the European Union and the leader of the free world by many news outlets. Forbes named her the most powerful woman in the world in 2018.

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Throughout her term, she has expanded Germany’s polarizing open door immigration policysteered her country through a financial crisis, and was one of the key female leaders to break into the “boys club” of international politics.

Danica Roem is the first openly transgender woman to serve in any US state legislature.

danica roem
Steve Helber/AP

Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017, after out-raising the state’s self-described “chief homophobe,” Robert Marshall.

Her persistence should be an inspiration to us all. According to The Washington Post, she knocked on doors more than 75,000 times while campaigning.

Serena Williams continues to dominate the tennis world, and is a role model to young black girls around the world.

Serena Williams
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Since her and her sister Venus didn’t have anyone to look up to when they were coming up in the tennis, they assumed the roles themselves. “Venus and I started out being successful, continued to be successful, and we were also unapologetically ourselves. We were not afraid to wear braids. We weren’t afraid to be black in tennis. And that was different,” she told Allure.

Besides upholding her reputation as one of the greatest women’s tennis players ever, Williams founded the Serena Williams Fund to “promote equity for all people,” and is a United Nations goodwill ambassador.

Emily Weiss transformed her blog into one of the hottest new cosmetics brands, Glossier.

emily weiss glossier
Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

For a few years, Weiss was mainly known as the over-achieving NYC intern on “The Hills.” But now, you’d be hard-pressed to call her anything other than a boss.

Weiss successfully transitioned her blog, Into the Gloss, into Glossier, one of the buzziest makeup brands amongst millennials, with some of her products reaching a 10,000-person waiting list.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking Washington by storm as the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez 9
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Ocasio-Cortez stunned the political establishment when she unseated the 10-term incumbent in her congressional district Joe Crawley, and continued to demolish expectations when she did the unthinkable: she won.

From teaching her fellow congresspeople how to use social media effectively to searching the capital to find Mitch McConnell, Ocasio-Cortez’s impact is already immediately reverberating throughout the country. She even earned praise from Steve Bannon.

At just 20 years old, Emma González is one of the most recognizable faces of the push for gun control.

emma gonzalez
REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

González, one of the survivors of the Parkland shooting, first took the internet by storm with a viral speech at a gun control rally.

Even though she’s still a teenager, she — along with her classmates — created Never Again MSD, a student-led political action committee dedicated to passing stricter gun control laws. The group was responsible for the March for Our Lives, one of the largest protests in American history. She gave an emotional speech there, too.

González, alongside fellow survivors, were added to the shortlist for TIME’s Person of the Year for 2018. 

Nadia Murad became the first Iraqi to be awarded a Nobel Prize in 2018.

Nadia Murad
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Murad rose to prominence when she escaped from captivity, after three months of being held as a sex slave for members of ISIS in 2014. Rather than let this silence her, she became a global figure in the human rights movement, and advocates for the Yazidi people, an Iraqi minority that ISIS frequently targets.

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She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for her refusal to “accept the social codes that require women to remain silent and ashamed of the abuses to which they have been subjected.” Murad is also the first ever United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

She’s using her platform to educate people about what’s going on in her home country. The 2018 documentary “On Her Shoulders” explains to viewers about the Yazidi genocide, her struggles with becoming a world figure, and how she’s attempting to effect change. As Indiewire wrote, “People like Nadia can’t fix the world, but this vital documentary is proof that it’s heroic enough just to be heard.”

Tarana Burke created the #MeToo movement, which is still making waves throughout Hollywood.

Tarana Burke
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Burke originally started the #MeToo movement over a decade ago, to expose how widespread sexual assault is and to show survivors that they aren’t alone. When Alyssa Milano encouraged her followers to respond to her tweet with “Me too,” in October 2017, she revitalized the movement again.

Since then, dozens of people have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct, the movement took over Hollywood, and Burke has become a feminist hero. High profile Hollywood figures were criticized worldwide after allegations, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Matt Lauer, all thanks to a movement Burke created.

In one year alone, Melinda Gates pledged $560 million to improve women’s access to contraception in developing countries.

Melinda Gates
Getty Images

Melinda, along with her husband Bill, co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is working towards improving global health and education.

Between the two of them, they’ve donated almost $10 billion towards four global funds dedicated to combating the death of children: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; the Global Polio Eradication Initiative; and the Global Financing Facility.

Shonda Rhimes had a hand in four shows on TV right now, and recently signed a deal with Netflix, proving that we’re all living in Shondaland.

Shonda Rhimes
Getty Images/Leon Bennett

In addition to her powerhouse “Grey’s Anatomy,” Rhimes is also a producer on “How to Get Away with Murder,” “For the People,” and “Station 19,” making up a solid chunk of the media we consume.

But her reach is only growing — Rhimes signed a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix, ensuring that more content is on its way. Since two of her shows, “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Scandal,” were groundbreaking each in their own way, we can expect more revolutionary TV in the future.

Nancy Pelosi is the first female Speaker of House, and the highest-ranking female American politician ever.

nancy pelosi
Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Aside from prompting one of the biggest memes of 2019, Pelosi has successfully broken a few glass ceilings in her time. She became the highest-ranking female politician in US history when she was elected Speaker of the House in 2007 — and then re-assumed the position in 2019.

Halima Aden was the first contestant to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, and the first model to wear a hijab on the cover of British Vogue.

halima aden
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Glamour

Representation matters. And for women all over the world, seeing Aden wear her hijab not just in a pageant but on the cover of both British Vogue and Vogue Arabia was likely very moving.

Aden grew up in a refugee camp, and has expressed a desire to go back to help out the kids living there. “I want to go back to the camp – it’s important for people to see others who have left. I want to say, ‘I’m here! I’ve lived a day in your life, but I grew older and I grew wiser and now I’m doing this,'” she told Vogue.

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Gillian Wearing designed the first statue of a woman to be erected in London’s Parliament Square.

Gillian Wearing
Neil Hall/Pool photo via AP

Wearing received the honor of designing the first female statue to be erected in Parliament Square in April 2018. The statue depicts Millicent Fawcett, one of the most influential feminists of all time. Fawcett was president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, and tirelessly worked to get the British government to recognize women’s right to vote.

Wearing was specifically chosen to create the statue by Caroline Criado Perez, who jump-started the campaign to get a female statue in Parliament Square. “Other designers and artists just didn’t get it like Gillian did. For me, it was very important (Millicent) was middle aged,” Criado Perez said.

Amy Sherald is the first black woman to paint an official First Lady portrait.

amy sherald
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Look no further than these heartwarming photos of a little girl staring at Michelle Obama’s portrait to see how Sherald’s work is inspiring the next generation to follow their dreams.

Sherald was chosen to paint the former First Lady’s portrait, which was unveiled in February 2018, to much acclaim from the Obamas.

Seeing the photo of the child gazing at her painting prompted Sherald to share her own story on Instagram. “There was a painting of a black man standing in front of a house. I don’t remember a lot about my childhood, but I do have a few emotional memories etched into my mind forever,” she wrote, “… seeing that painting of a man that looked like he could be my father stopped me dead in my tracks … I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could. What dreams may come?” She finished the post with #representationmatters.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, is the first female CEO of a major automobile manufacturer.

mary barra
Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Barra’s career in the auto industry began when she was just 18 years old, when she entered a General Motors technical school. As many as 33 years later, she was named the company’s first female CEO, and the first woman in the auto industry to ever hold that title.

She inherited the company at a disastrous time, and since then has carefully navigated the auto giant through a tumultuous time in the industry. And she’s been doing a solid job — GM’s fourth quarter earnings were higher than projected by two billion dollars. In a stereotypically male field, Barra is changing the game.


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