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Women Who Inspire WOMEN OF LYN By Alyssa Caggiano

Today is International Women’s Day, which means it’s a day to celebrate and honor women

around the world who have fought or continue to fight for women’s rights. As women, we face a

number of challenges and obstacles, and there’s still more progress to be made. Although there

are countless women around the world who have aided in women’s rights and opportunities, here

are a select few that inspire us at WOMEN OF LYN:

1. Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is one of the most known education activists for women. Yousafzai

grew up and attended school in the Swat Valley of Pakistan before the Taliban started

targeting girls’ schools in 2008. Over the course of a year, she built up her platform to

speak about the Taliban’s threats to women’s education through blogging for BBC.

Although her identity was revealed, she continued to advocate for women’s right to

education. By 2012, the Taliban viewed her as a threat and shot her in the head. Although

she was in critical condition, she survived with no serious brain damage and continued to

advocate for women’s education. In 2013, she gave a speech at the United Nations to

urge world leaders to focus on policies regarding education and women’s rights. Her

continued dedication allowed her to be the youngest Novel Peace Prize winner in 2014

and was appointed as a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2017.

2. Mariana Costa

Another woman known for advocating for women’s education, especially in technology,

is Mariana Costa. In 2014, Costa founded Laboratoria in Peru, which aims to educate,

and train economically challenged women in Latin America. Her organization was

founded because of the millions of women who lack access to higher education and

opportunities in Peru alone. With its success, Laboratoria has expanded into Peru, Chile,

Mexico, and Brazil and have trained thousands of women. Furthermore, about 60% of

graduates are hired as interns once finishing the program. With her success in educating

these women in coding and programming, she earned the Change Agent Abie Award in


3. Leymah Gbowee

Leymah Gbowee had sparked changed within her country and among women. The

Liberian civil war started in 1989 when she was 17 years old. Gbowee became a social

worker and specialized in trauma to help ex-child soldiers deal with the effects of the

war. She believed women taking leadership in change and became a Liberia Coordinator

of the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) of the West Africa Network for

Peacebuilding (WANEP). By 2003, she started the Women of Liberia Mass Action of

Peace and began protesting the war. Eventually, a peace treaty was mandated, and the

war ended due to the political pressure she created. Gbowee later earned a Nobel Peace

Prize in 2011 for her efforts in leading the peaceful protests. In 2006, she co-founded the

Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A) to promote women’s

leadership in peace and governance across Africa. Gbowee continued to help women by

launching the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA) in 2012 to provide educational

and leadership development opportunities for both women and girls.

4. Wai Wai Nu

Wai Wai Nu is known for her advocacy for the rights of marginalized women and ethnic

groups in Burma, as well as against gender-based violence and crimes. In fact, Nu spent

seven years in political prison before being released in 2012. She founded the Women’s

Peace Network in Burma to bring peace among Burma’s ethnic communities and

empower women’s rights. Specifically, she aims to reduce discrimination among

Buddhist and Muslim communities, as well as Rohingya people, who are marginalized in

Burma. Her passion for peace led her to start the Yangon Youth Center to learn, teach,

and share ideas among youth regarding leadership in peacebuilding policymaking.

However, Nu noticed that violence against women still prevailed and co-founded Justice

for Women in Yangon in 2014 to provide pro bono legal consultation for women. Her

work earned her the N-Peace Award in 2014, the World Movement for Democracy award

in 2015, and the Impact Hero in 2019.

These women reflect the power each of us have in creating change. Whether it is to help educate,

lead, protect, or inspire, we all have the ability to create a better tomorrow for our fellow bosses

to come.

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