Culling the list of women we admire for Women’s History Month was so arduous, it’s a miracle we finished before the month was over. But after much deliberation, we’ve narrowed it down to 11 women in a variety of different fields and from diverse backgrounds. They’re not all equally important, nor are they in any particular order—they’re just our subjective picks.
Sure, she’s George Clooney’s glamourous wife, but she is also one of the world’s biggest badasses, fighting injustices on behalf of the world’s most marginalized groups. As a lawyer (or “barrister,” as she’s called in her childhood home of Buckinghamshire), she represents victims of mass atrocities and sexual violence, and journalists imprisoned abroad by corrupt governments. The perpetrators she prosecutes? Oh, you know, mostly little organizations like ISIS and the governments of Sudan, Myanmar, and the Philippines. She, along with her husband, founded The Clooney Foundation for Justice, whose flagship program is Waging Justice for Women. “Because justice doesn’t just happen—you have to wage it,” she said recently in an interview with Time Magazine. “If you’re going to be focusing on human-rights abuses, then we have to be laser-focused on the abuses that affect the largest victim population—which is half the population of the world.” She is using her limelight to illuminate some of the darkest crimes against humanity—helping those who need it the most.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
We just can’t get enough RBG. Gender discrimination has seen no greater foe than this remarkable woman. This esteemed and beloved Supreme Court Justice got her start as one of nine female students enrolled at Harvard, where she excelled while also tending to her sick husband and raising children. She was the first in so many arenas—the first woman to serve on the Harvard Law Review, first in her graduating class at Columbia Law School, the first female professor to be tenured at Columbia, and the first Jewish female justice on the Supreme Court, where she fought tirelessly for gender equality for both women and men. This quote pretty much sums up both her life experience and everything she fought for: "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception.” We’d say RIP, RGB, but we hope her fighting spirit will live forever.
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
From the time her parents took her to the Florida Keys was 5 years old, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson has been committed championing ocean health. Now, as a marine biologist and policy expert, she has co-founded the think tank Urban Ocean Lab and the climate initiative The All We Can Save Project. But the thing we love the most is her podcast, “How to Save a Planet,” which she created with Alex Blumberg. The concept of climate change is so overwhelming that it makes us want to stick our heads in the sand, but through the podcast’s brilliant balance of humor and science (the tagline is, “Earthlings, we’ve got work to do”), Johnson has done what no one else has been able to—create a constructive dialog that leaves listeners motivated, not defeated.
Mackenzie Scott & Melinda French Gates
There are no two better women in the world to have married into (and divorced with) money. Mackenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, and Melinda French Gates, ex-wife of the one-and-only Bill Gates, have become two of the most effective philanthropists on the planet. After Scott (who’s also an award-winning novelist) and Bezos split, Scott donated $8.5 billion (yes, with a “b”) within a single year to organizations dedicated to racial equality, LGBTQ+ equality, democracy, and climate change. As for French Gates, aside from her work on the Gates Foundation, to which she and her husband donated $36 billion, she has just launched Pivotal Ventures, a new organization dedicated to advance social progress in America (read: paid family leave, equality in the workplace, etc.). Both of these women spent much of their lives being the quiet voices and brilliant minds behind their insanely successful (and philandering) husbands; and both suffered through not-so-quiet divorces. And, as if they didn’t have enough in common, they’ve now partnered on an Equality Can’t Wait Challenge to promote gender equality and expand women’s power and influence in the U.S. by 2030. Dream team, indeed.
At a springtime baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres back in 2018, the announcers went about business as usual. But for listeners, there was something remarkable: One of the voices coming through the speakers was female. At that game, Aurora, Colo.-native Jenny Cavnar became the first woman to call play-by-play on a big league broadcast since 1993. Since then, she’s gone on to help pave a new road into sports for women—and has made our nation’s pastime inclusive of more than just half our population. Just this past year, she was awarded the Sportscaster of the Year for 2021 by the National Sports Media Association.
One could (and we do) make an argument that Abrams is one of the most consequential women in the history of U.S. politics. What we love most about her, though, is her perseverance and passion, as demonstrated in the 2018 gubernatorial election in Georgia. The first Black woman to have been nominated for governor in the U.S., she narrowly lost the race to Republican candidate Brian Kemp. But instead of giving up, she fought tirelessly to address voter suppression through founding the Fair Fight Action. (In a ruling against Kemp, district judge Amy found that Kemp's office had violated the Help America Vote Act due to the cancellation of more than 1.4 million voter registrations, many of whom were minorities.) Two years later, her efforts in getting voter registrations approved essentially flipped the Senate majority. (Both The New York Times and The Washington Post credited Abrams with boosting Democratic votes in Georgia for the 2020 presidential election and an estimated 800,000 new voter registrations.) And, in all her “spare time,” she’s also a best-selling author, writing both nonfiction about how to enact change as a minority leader and fiction about law (she has a jurus doctor from Yale Law School, among other impressive degrees). She’s running again for governor in Georgia in 2022—we’ll be watching.
We love Dolly Parton for so many reasons—her music, her origins, her down-to-earth charm, and her philanthropy. But what’s truly wonderful about her is that through fame and fortune, she’s always 100 percent pure Dolly. She comes from a family so poor that her father paid the doctor who delivered her with a sack of grain and lived in a cabin that had “running water, if you were willing to run and get it,” she famously said. Perhaps because of her hardscrabble past, she’s never been afraid to admit things other stars won’t, saying, “I’m a self-made woman, and I’ve got the doctor’s bills to prove it.” Her style was directly influenced by the “trollops” in her small hometown in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee; she thought all that makeup and nail polish was beautiful. Now her rhinestones, towering blonde hair, and acrylic nails have taught generations of women that there’s more than one way to be authentic—and that femininity and business badassery are not mutually exclusive.
The actress best-known for her Emmy Award-nominated performance in “Orange Is the New Black” is also a major LGBT advocate, using her fame and personal transgender experience to spread awareness about transgender culture. In 2015, she won a Daytime Emmy Award for her role as executive producer for “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word,” which followed the lives of seven young transgender people, and joined a campaign to reform a law in Arizona that she feels targets transgender people. (We also loved the custom rainbow clutch she had made to support Aimee Stephens, a woman who was fired for being transgender, at the 2019 Emmy Awards.) We know, we’re gushing, but she’s also drop-dead gorgeous.
This ex-stripper turned rap phenom is raunchy and powerful—which is exactly why she gets our vote. (Dare we call it post-postmodern feminism?) While she may be polarizing, she has leveled rap’s playing field by getting (really, really) dirty. (In her most famous song to date, she stuck her WAP in the face of all those dudes who've been rapping about their, um, Private Johnsons for as long as we can remember.) She’s also been very outspoken about politics, using her platforms to promote police reform, health care, and tax reform, among other issues. Love her or hate her, she’s making her mark.
Here’s one to keep your eye on: Gitanjali Rao is an inventor, author, scientist, and engineer who lives in our home state of Colorado. Inspired by the Flint, Mich., water crisis, she created a device that can detect lead content in water and transmit the information to your smartphone. She has also developed a diagnostic tool for opioid addiction and an app that uses AI to detect cyberbullying at an early stage. And the kicker? She’s only 16 years old. (We know, we’re wondering what we’ve been doing with our lives, too.)
Have your own woman you’d like to nominate? Direct message us on our Instagram @miraflora.co.