The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.Albert Einstein
And it is indeed the women who walked alone, who had the courage to defy all odds that are our role models today. They were ordinary persons just like us, but what set them apart and made them great was their determination and strength. It takes pluck to go against the tide and these women have done exactly that. Through their efforts, they have gone down in history as a force to be reckoned with. And some are inspiring us even today. We bring you a list of such women who have inspired generations
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
Wife of Franklin D.Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, Anna was known for her activism and humanitarian deeds rather than just being the president’s wife. She was a champion of human rights, fighting for issues such as equal rights of women and racial discrimination. Following her husband’s death, she was appointed as a delegate at the United Nations General Assembly by the then President Harry Truman. Later, she headed the UN Human Rights Commission and was instrumental in bringing out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Till date, she is remembered as the revolutionary First lady who defied all norms and fought for what she believed to be right, even if it meant criticizing her husband’s policies. One of her very famous quotes sums up her life beautifully: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
Billie Jean King
Women tennis players today have Billie Jean King to thank for the respect and adulation they enjoy today. She was the first woman player to speak against the disparity in prize money given to male and female players. She was also the one who heralded a new era in women’s professional tennis by starting the Women’s Tennis Association in 1970, which created tournaments and allowed women to play for prize money. She has always been a supporter of equality and social justice, and has fought hard to get women their rightful place in a sport dominated by men. Her biggest feat was taking on the challenge thrown at women tennis players by Bobby Riggs, and emerging victorious in the match rightly termed— “Battle of the Sexes.” She has 39 Grand Slam titles, including a record 20 titles at Wimbledon to her credit and is still going strong in her fight for gender equality. In her own words, “I wanted to use sports for social change.” And that’s what she did.
A TV producer, philanthropist, actress, talk show host, and media moghul—Oprah Winfrey dons many hats. Born in poverty in Mississippi, she has come a long way from the rural acres where she spent her childhood. She is a rape and sexual assault victim, who ran from home at the age of 14 and spent her days on street. During the course of her days on street, she became pregnant, but the child did not survive. After that, she decided to turn her life around, and thus began her journey to become one of the most successful and most influential women of our times. After having faced financial discrimination at the workplace, she launched her own show in 1988. And the rest, as they say, is history. She went on to have her own cable network- OWN and became one of the richest African-American in North America. Apart from being a successful businesswoman, Oprah also does a lot of philanthropic work. Her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a school for gifted girls from South Africa has been instrumental in providing quality education to those who have no means. Apart from this, she is associated with multiple charities and works for the education and betterment of underprivileged. She said, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” And that’s how she reached where she is!
A member of the UK royal family, Princess Diana could have been content with living a life of luxury but instead she chose to use her royal status for the greater good. Princess Diana was involved in extensive charity work. From animal protection to AIDS, she engaged with numerous charities during her lifetime. She is most noted for her work with AIDS patients, becoming one of the first royals to work closely with such patients and raise awareness about the disease. At a time when it was still not known whether the disease could be contracted by touching an AIDS patient, Diana was seen shaking hands and hugging patients. She also worked hard in fighting against the use of landmines. Apart from this, she lent support for many causes such as cancer, animal protection, leprosy, and poverty. Diana lived life on her own terms and charted her own path despite being tied down by the royal dictum. She touched hearts and lives wherever she went with her kindness and generosity of spirit. In her own words, “I’d like to be a queen in people’s hearts”. And till date she rules over the hearts of people.
Heller Keller needs no introduction. She was an author, teacher, and an activist. A childhood illness left her both hearing and visually impaired, but that did not deter her from pursuing her dreams. She became the first ever visual and hearing-impaired person to earn a bachelor’s degree. Her desire to overcome her impediment was so strong that she learned how to speak and later went on to deliver many iconic lectures. She also wrote books and essays and was a regular contributor to various magazines and journals. She was also an advocate for the rights of the disabled and also supported various other causes such as women’s rights, labour rights, and women’s suffrage. Her pathbreaking work made her the recipient of numerous awards and honours. She famously said, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” And that’s how she lived her life—like a great adventure!
These women are just a few of the many other women who have inspired generations across the world. Do let us know your women role models in the comments below.
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