Our 18 Most Inspiring Women

by Sue Taggart

There are so many inspirational women, that it’s difficult to narrow it down to only 18! We wanted our selection to reflect on our collective values and interests and so the women we have chosen represent our diverse backgrounds, interests and generations. We would love to hear who inspires you.


Ruth Bader Gingsburg

The only woman currently serving on the US Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg exercises influence over the laws that govern the United States. Like Justice O’Connor before her, Justice Ginsburg helps make the decisions of the highest court in the US, making her not only one of the most influential, but one of the most powerful women in the world. Her decisions and opinions provide legal precedent for the US now and for generations to come.



Benazir Bhutto (1953–2007)

The first female prime minister of a Muslim country. She helped to move Pakistan from a dictatorship to democracy, becoming Prime Minister in 1988. She sought to implement social reforms, in particular helping women and the poor. She was assassinated in 2007.


Diana, Princess of Wales: (1961-1997)

“Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back.”

1917 marks the 20th year of her death. The “People’s Princess’ will be forever remembered for her ability to relate to everyone she came in contact with – she was genuinely interested in people from every walk of life. She was celebrated for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and led a nobel Peace Prize-winning campaign to ban landmines.

She was involved with dozens of charities including London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, of which she was president from 1989 until her death.


Dr. Jane Goodall

Dame Jane Morris Goodall DBE, is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. She is best know for her work protecting chimpanzees. Through more than 50 years of groundbreaking work, Dr. Jane Goodall has not only shown us the urgent need to protect chimpanzees from extinction; she has also redefined species conservation to include the needs of local people and the environment. Dr. Jane Goodall’s discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools is considered one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century scholarship. Her field research has transformed our understanding of chimpanzees and redefined the relationship between humans and animals in ways that continue to emanate around the world.


Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993)

British actress. Influential female actor of the 1950s and 60s. Audrey Hepburn defined feminine glamour and dignity, and was later voted as one of the most beautiful women of the twentieth century. After her acting career ended in the mid 1960s, she devoted the remaining period of her life to humanitarian work with UNICEF.


Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie is perhaps most influential in her role as a UN High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador, advocating on behalf of refugees around the world. Angelina is an example of using the influence one has gained through Hollywood to draw attention to the needs of those in less-fortunate circumstances. While others may talk about world issues, Angelina puts rubber to the road. Not only does she directly impact the communities in which she works, but she inspires others to get actively involved as well. Angelina is one of very few famous examples of celebrities practicing what they preach


 Aung Sang Suu Kyi

“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.”

Burmese opposition politician Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest at the hands of Burma’s military regime for her pro-democracy campaigning, only gaining release in 2010 following an international campaign to she her freed. In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, with the committee stating “Suu Kyi’s struggle is one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades.”


Wangari Maathai : 

No longer with us but an eco leader that left a mark in our world – Wangari is an internationally re-nowned environmental activist and Nobel laureate. Wangari was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, Co-Chair of the Congo Basin Forest Fund, Assistant Minister of Kenya and the list goes on…needless to say she spent her life advocating for our planet in every way she could.

 Photo Credit: Janet Mayer / PR Photos

Photo Credit: Janet Mayer / PR Photos

Stella McCartney:

A leader in the green fashion movement, Stella proves to us that fashion and environmental sustainability can co-exist. Stella has built a successful fashion brand with good values and social responsibility. She makes pieces that will last but not at a cost to our planet.


Michelle Obama:

Where do we start? She’s a beacon of grace and hope for many reasons but has been a true leader in promoting healthy families. She was the founder of “Lets Move, a public health campaign whose main purpose is to lower child obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle for children. Because of this robust initiative, over 500 museums and gardens in all 50 states now provide healthy food choice exhibits and Walmart lowered cost of fruits and vegetables by 1 billion and pledged to lower sugar and trans fat content in products. These are only a few of the accomplishments – thanks Michelle for guiding our American families to lead healthier lives.


Rosa Parks: (1913 – 2005)

“I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.”

Also know as “the first lady of civil rights”, the African-American Rosa Parks was a pioneer of civil rights in a racially segregated Alabama in 1950s. In 1955, she refused to give away her seat to a white passenger in a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, thereby, disobeying the bus driver’s orders. This act of hers sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott that crippled the state capital’s public transport system.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


Gwyneth Paltrow: 

Gwyneth is the founder of the site Goop (which we admit to reading almost daily!) where she focuses on sharing ways for us to make our souls and planet healthier.  She shares green recipes, green fashion companies, and soulful methods to keep our mind healthy.  Not only does Goop have a serious Cult following but she was recently awarded for lobbying for the environment! Great job, Gwyneth!


Mother Teresa: (1910 – 19970)

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Mother Teresa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner (1979), aimed at looking after those who had nobody to look after them through her own order “The Missionaries of Charity”. She worked tirelessly towards her goal until her ill-health – that included two heart attacks, pneumonia and malaria – forced her to step down in March 1997, following which she took her last breath in September 1997.


Margaret Thatcher: (1925 – 2013)

“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”

Margaret Thatcher was loved and hated equally for some of her controversial policies but she never gave up. She was known as the ‘Iron lady’ for her uncompromising politics and leadership style. From being a grocer’s daughter to graduating from Oxford University to becoming a bannister, she went on to becoming Britain’s first female Prime Minister elected in 1979 and the country’s fifth longest serving leader. She was also a great friend of, and admired greatly by President Regan.

Photograph by Yu Tsai Diane Von Furstenberg

Photograph by Yu Tsai

Diane Von Furstenburg: 

Mostly known for her wrap dresses and women’s rights advocacy, DVF is also an advocate for our environment.  She’s designed some of her dresses in organic wool and has raised funds to support Al Gore’s “The Climate Project” among many other environmental causes.


Oprah Winfrey 2007 CFDA Fashion Awards - Red Carpet The New York Public Library New York City, New York United States June 4, 2007 Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage.com To license this image (14223130), contact WireImage: U.S. +1-212-686-8900 / U.K. +44-207-868-8940 / Australia +61-2-8262-9222 / Germany +49-40-320-05521 / Japan: +81-3-5464-7020 +1 212-686-8901 (fax) info@wireimage.com (e-mail) www.wireimage.com (web site)

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage.com

Oprah Winfrey

Rising from poverty to become the first African-American woman billionaire, Oprah Winfrey embodies the American dream. Through television, movies, books, and radio she speaks to women the world over. CNN and Time have called her “arguably the most influential woman in the world.” Through book recommendations, philanthropic activities, human rights awareness, and political activity, Oprah influences women around the world.


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