16 Of History’s Most Rebellious Women… #4 Had Bigger Balls Than ANY Man.
Today is International Women's Day, which means that it's not only time to celebrate the women in your life, but the women who have made your life possible. These historically rebellious women have paved the way for progress (no matter how ugly the process) and made some of the most significant political and social strides for their time. Get to know the 16 revolutionaries below.
Tawakul Karman, Yemen
Tawakul Karman is a 32-year-old mother of three and chair of Women Journalists Without Chains (a Yemeni human rights group). Arrested several times, Karman fights for the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh (in power since 1978). "The goal is to change the regime by the slogan we learned from the Tunisian revolution: 'The people want the regime to fall," Karman once said in an interview.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma
After 15 long years under house arrest in Burma, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was given her freedom in 2010.
She's known as "the Lady" to Burmese citizens, and she's been the foremost leader to democratize Burma over the years. She also fights for human rights and a peaceful revolution. Despite the fact that the current regime will not allow her to ever take power, the Lady and her supporters keep fighting for it to this day.
Ye Aung Thu/AFP
Corazon Aquino, Philippines
A self-proclaimed "plain housewife," Aquino led the Philippines' 1986 "people power" revolution -- not exactly housewife material. She became the president of the country after years of wading through the male-dominated political scene, taking significant steps towards true democracy in the process. After stepping down in 1992, Aquino advocated against policies she felt threatened the country's democratic ideals. Despite her death in 2009, she's still a powerful figure in the country's movements for peace.
Phoolan Devi, India
Phoolan Devi is also known as the "Bandit Queen," remembered for championing the poor and destitute in the country. She started a streak of violent uprisings throughout northern and central India, targeting the wealthy. Despite all of this, she was eventually elected to Parliament.
Angela Davis, United States
By the time Angela Davis was 26, she was a scholar, an activist and perhaps most compellingly, a Most Wanted Fugitive of the FBI. She was a leader during the Civil Rights movement, a loud and proud voice in the racially tense political and social landscape of America. By the late '60s, she held membership in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party and the American Communist Party. One of the most notable parts of her career was when she loudly supported three Black Panther inmates at Soledad State Prison. At their trial (which involved a prison guard's murder, a botched kidnap and escape attempt resulted in the death of a federal judge) Davis was accused of supplying them guns. She fled, and was eventually caught (but acquitted). Ever since, she's been giving her voice to the realm of academia.
Golda Meir, Israel
After several influential Zionist leaders were arrested in 1946 in Palestine, Meir became the primary negotiator between the Jews and the British Mandate, while maintaining contact with Jewish resistance movements. When the Arabs rejected the 1947 recommended partition of Palestine, Meir ensured that the young Jewish settlement would not be crushed in war. She also raised over $50 for the Jewish diaspora in the United States, and was one of the 25 signers of Israel's Declaration of Independence.
Vilma Lucila Espín, Cuba
Many leaders of the Cuban revolution were white, male, and privileged, but Vilma Lucila was none of those things. Considered the "First Lady" of the communist revolution, the chemical engineer took up arms against the Batista dictatorship in the 1950s. She surprised everyone by bucking the conventions of an acceptable Cuban woman, and inspired many in the process.
Janet Jagan, Guyana
Janet Jagan fell in love with Cheddi Jagan, a Guyanese dentistry student at Northwestern, she followed him back to his country in 1943. She was a dental assistant there, and she and her husband founded the People's Progressive Party, which was based around Marxist ideals. Eventually, she would become Guyana's first female president -- and by the time she was elected in 1997, the country had achieved the independence from Britain she had fought for during her years there.
Jiang Qing, China
Jiang Qing, at one point, was living in extreme poverty. She had a short career as an actress, and divorced several times. That's when things started to get interesting: She became a member of the communist regime in 1930s China, remembered as one of the most brutal and unapologetic revolutionary women in modern history. She climbed to the top of the Communist Party and became part of the Gang of Four, responsible for persecution and destruction in Beijing from the years 1966-1969. Jiang refused to apologize for the criminal charges that were eventually brought against her, spending 10 years in prison before committing suicide.
Nadezhda Krupskaya, Russia
Krupshkaya had a taste for insurrection and radicalism all her life. Together with fellow radical Vladimir Lenin, she helped set up the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class in 1895. Police arrested them both shortly afterward. Eventually, they were released and exiled to Siberia, where they married, and Krupskaya began running an international newspaper for Marxists. After World War I, Krupskaya returned to Russia to become an important figure in the Bolshevik Party.
Susan B. Anthony, United States
Once, a male schoolteacher told young Susan B. Anthony that she didn't need to learn long division because "a girl needs to know how to read the Bible and count her egg money, nothing more." That rude comment was a driving force in Anthony's life. She spent her years campaigning for equal pay for women, and eventually went on to publish a women's rights newspaper called The Revolution. Anthony died in 1906, sadly 14 years before the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
Emmeline Pankhurst, Britain
The leader of the women's-suffrage movement, Pankhurst pioneered women's rights and insurrection in the UK. She formed the Women's Social and Political Union, which embraced the motto "Deeds, not words." The WSPU was led by Pankhurst and her eldest daughter Christabel was known for public demonstrations that didn't shy away from violence. In other words, Pankhurst made sure that her point and the mission of her organization was getting across.
Harriet Tubman, United States
"There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other." That is what Tubman was once quoted as saying when she was asked why she decided to buck slavery. Born a slave, she escaped and went on to rescue more than 300 slaves on the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War, she was the first woman to lead a military expedition, and ended up liberating 700+ slaves in South Carolina.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Britain
Mary Wollstonecraft was a radical in 18th century Britain, asserting that she and her fellow women were more than just possessions for men. She went head to head with one of the most prominent political thinkers of the time, Edmund Burke, producing work like "A Vindication of the Rights of Men" and "A Vindication of the Rights of Women," respectively. She was a very strong and rebellious political voice during her time.
Joan of Arc, France
She was merely a French peasant who went on to do great things. Joan made her way to the court of the French prince of her time, impressing him so much that he gave her troops to command. She successfully fought and won many battles before being caught and burned at the stake for being a witch. However, history knew better: Eventually, Joan was canonized and remains one of the patron saints of France.
Boudica was the vengeful head of a native rebellion in 1st century A.D. Britain. Know as the Queen of the Iceni, the Romans decided to publicly beat Boudica, and have soldiers assault her daughters. Not long after, she led the revenge mission and slaughtered tens of thousands of Romanized Brits. Eventually, she was defeated, but instead of being captured she took her own life.