13 women

Here Are 13 of the World’s Most Influential Women You Don’t Know Yet





You already know about the Power Women: the celebrities and moguls, the world leaders and dignitaries, the stars who can dominate a news cycle with a single tweet. Lots of these women—like Nicki Minaj, Caitlyn Jenner,Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel—are on this year’s TIME 100. But influence and fame are not the same thing, and this year’s list also includes women whose impact far exceeds their fame. You may not know who they are (yet). Here’s why you should.

  • Jaha Dukureh

    jaha dukureh
    Neilson Barnard—Getty Images
    The Gambian activist is a leader in the fight to end female genital mutilation, a practice that affects more than 200 million girls worldwide. Dukureh herself was cut in Gambia when she was just about a week old. At 15, she was sent to the United States to marry a much older and unknown man. When she got married, she learned that she had been subjected to the most extreme form of genital mutilation: her clitoris and labia had been removed, and her vagina had been stitched shut with only a small hole for urination and menstruation. Now remarried and the mother of three, she’s leading a movement to end female genital mutilation worldwide, and raising awareness about the the practice in the United States: after herChange.org petition got more than 220,000 signers, the Obama administration announced it would commission a report to study the problem.


  • Jaha Dukureh

    jaha dukureh
    Neilson Barnard—Getty Images
    The Gambian activist is a leader in the fight to end female genital mutilation, a practice that affects more than 200 million girls worldwide. Dukureh herself was cut in Gambia when she was just about a week old. At 15, she was sent to the United States to marry a much older and unknown man. When she got married, she learned that she had been subjected to the most extreme form of genital mutilation: her clitoris and labia had been removed, and her vagina had been stitched shut with only a small hole for urination and menstruation. Now remarried and the mother of three, she’s leading a movement to end female genital mutilation worldwide, and raising awareness about the the practice in the United States: after herChange.org petition got more than 220,000 signers, the Obama administration announced it would commission a report to study the problem.
  • Dr. Laura Esserman and Dr. Shelley Hwang

    Dr. Shelley Hwang and Dr. Laura Esserman
    Jim Wilson—The New York Times/Redux; Evan Kafka for TIME
    These oncologists are pioneering an approach to breast cancer that is more personalized and far less invasive than the current standard treatment options. They’re on the front lines of a medical movement that now questions whether difficult repeated surgeries and radiation for early-stage breast cancer, known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), should be the standard of care or whether active surveillance and certain drugs may be sufficient to contain these pre-tumors in some women. Since 20-25% of breast cancers diagnosed through screening are DCIS, Dr. Esserman and Dr. Hwang’s research could affect how breast cancer is treated for thousands of women, and could help prevent needless mastectomies.
    • Christiana Figueres

      Christiana Figueres
      Frederic Stucin
      The Costa Rican diplomat was appointed the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010. She’s orchestrated successful international climate conferences, including the landmark Paris meeting in 2015. The Paris Agreement, which requires nearly 200 countriesto commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and invest in addressing climate change, has been widely hailed as the most ambitious climate agreement in history.

      Guo Pei

      guo pei
      Miguel Medina—AFP/Getty Images
      One of China’s most daring and prolific fashion designers is taking the international fashion scene by storm. Known for fantastical designs inspired by the Chinese Imperial Court, Pei designed Rihanna’s famous fur-lined yellow gown with the enormous train from the 2015 Met Gala. Despite her massive following in China, Pei had not shown her work in a major fashion show until January, when she debuted at Paris Fashion Week.

      Mona Hanna-Attisha

      Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
      Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images
      The Flint pediatrician was one of the first to connect the dots between the elevated lead levels in Flint water and health problems in children. As the complaints of Flint parents fell on deaf ears, Dr. Hanna-Attisha was one of the main whistleblowers alerting the public to the Flint water crisis, which is thought to have affected more than 8,000 children under the age of 6. Thanks to her research and activism, officials are now facing criminal charges for allowing Flint children to drink contaminated water.

      Hope Jahren

      hope jahren
      Matt Ching
      The University of Hawaii geochemist and geobiologist is known for her research using stable isotope analysis to analyze fossil forests. She made waves this year with Lab Girl, a bestselling memoir about botany and her life as a scientist, that doubled as a call to action to protect the Earth’s plant life. She’s also beenoutspoken about gender dynamics and sexual harassment in the academic sciences.

      Yayoi Kusama

      Yayoy Kusam
      Alex Majoli—Magnum for TIME
      The 87-year old Japanese artist (who was a contemporary of Andy Warhol’s) is known for her abstract expressionist work that often includes polka dots, patterns, and nets. She works in painting, sculpture, drawing, film and installation, and she’s considered one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists. Her installation Infinity Mirrored Room opened the Broad Museum in Los Angeles last fall and drew praise from Adele among many others.

      Sunita Narain

      Sunita Narain
      Courtesy of Centre for Science and Environment
      The director of the Center for Science and Environment has long been one of India’s most prominent environmentalists. She’s led campaigns against Coke and Pepsi for including high levels of pesticides in their sodas (an allegation which both companies vehemently deny). She has campaigned for decades to reduce air pollution in New Delhi. She brings social awareness to her environmentalism, recognizing poor and marginalized populations as crucial for environmental progress.

      Diana Natalicio

      Diana Natalicio
      Joel Salcido
      As President of the University of Texas at El Paso since 1988, Natalicio is thelongest-serving president of a public research University. In the nearly three decades since she took the job, UTEP has transformed from a small commuter school to a major public research university, with a student body that is more than80% Mexican-American (with another 5% who commute directly from Mexico.) She’s a major thought leader in the best ways to help low-income, first-generation students succeed in college.

      General Lori Robinson

      Gen. Lori Robinson
      U.S. Air Force—The New York Times/Redux
      She’s currently the Commander of the Pacific Air Forces, but General Lori Robinson just got a big promotion. In March, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that President Obama will nominate General Robinson to be the next head of the Northern Command, putting her in charge of all military activity in North America. If confirmed by the Senate, she will become the first woman to lead a U.S. combatant command, one of the most senior roles in the U.S. Military.

      Kathy Niakan

      Kathy Niakan
      Courtesy of The Francis Crick Institute

      This developmental biologist is the first ever to receive regulatory approval to use a powerful new gene-editing technology on human embryos. In February, the United Kingdom’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority approved Dr. Niakan’s application to use CRISPR–Cas9 to permanently change the genome of human embryos. Her research will lead to a better understanding of which genes are crucial to embryo development, and could help develop new treatments for infertility. Her study is likely the first in what will be a series of experiments in which we make ever more impactful changes to the genome, not only to improve our understanding of disease, but to cure them as well.

      Ibtihaj Muhammad

      ibtihaj muhammed
      Daniel Shea for TIME
      As the first Muslim woman who observes hijab to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Fencing team, Ibtihaj Muhammad is already a pioneer. But she’s also taking political risks, by speaking out against anti-Muslim rhetoric. Her upcoming appearance at the Olympics, wearing hijab, is being hailed as a moment of pride for American Muslims.
  • What Artists Need

    Creative people, or we could say artists, have some needs to be able to fully access their creativity.

    They need to love and to be loved. We, as creative people, need intimate relationships, emotional and intellectual friendships. Creative people need wide-ranging relationships. They also need human warmth, the occasional handshake. They need people who respect their work and who respect and care about them.


    They need love, intimacy, and friendship more than they need gallery shows or tenure. The flow of love through our human lives is what we need and what we must attain.


    Relating needs to be more than a nice idea. Creative people need to relate well to others. Van Gogh loved the idea of complement as an essential life accomplishment. He looked at human relationships and color relationships to be essential. He loved to use blue and yellow in his paintings and he felt that men and women need to and can support one another in life. The inability to accomplish this is one of the thousands of reasons for depression.


    Creative people can be great composers, painters, writers, a great intellectual or a great soul. We need to climb down off of our high horses, tear our enemies lists to shreds. We need to stop criticizing and blaming others for our own failures. We are special but not completely unique.


    Therapists suggest that artists consciously make a point of caring for others. Give without taking.

    Feel, rather than steel yourself to the actions and comments of others. Count to ten and perhaps count more than once.


    Manage your ego. Someone else’s success is not a personal affront to you. Moderate selfishness. Share credit when it is earned. We have hungers and desires but so does every living human being. Reduce your sense of injury. Let the old hurts which continue to haunt you go. Open up and let them drift away. They are heavy baggage.

    Buddha told a story about an angry man. He had been injured emotionally by someone. He held that anger like a charcoal briquette just out of the fire. He held on to it day after day and in the end, he was the only one injured. He had a terribly bad burn and the other person was just fine and went on with their life as always. The angry man was scarred for life.


    We live in a harsh world and it needs every bit of beauty we can add to it. It also needs our kindness, gentleness, compassion and love. These can change the world. Not completely, but it can and will make a difference. It can start with all of us.


     Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2013

                                   Black Mountain, NC


    How do Creative People Repair Themselves?


    People are harmed by certain experiences like being abused, discounted, lied to, shamed, beaten, ignored, tyrannized and hated. People are harmed by encountering too many disappointments, rejections, criticisms, unfulfilled dreams, and unsuccessful outcomes.


    Creative people often feel the pain of these experiences more deeply than the accountants and the business moguls. Many creative people are born with depression, anxiety or family love. Every human being is hurt in some way by the people of the world. We can find it harder to live, care, try and be calm. Most of us, in some time of our lives realized, we need repair. But how do we make that happen?


    This question is dangerous because it indicates that there is only one way for you or I to repair or heal ourselves. There is just one answer to the question.


    Often, it is difficult to begin to do the self repair work. The damage is everywhere. It is in the brain. It is in the way we breathe, in the way we see, and what we are attracted to. Often, when we know that we are emotionally injured, we try to repress it or to pretend there is nothing wrong. What humans become during war shows the power of emotional damage on the human psyche.


    Support, from friends, a psychotherapist and loved ones, uses our creative gifts to heal the self and are often successful. Talking to your subconscious and reassuring it that you are safe and in no danger can help. Talking to a therapist can help. reveling in your successes can help. Creating the beautiful art to fill the world can help. Artists, all kinds of artists, are very important in the world. No matter what your media is, you add to the beauty, kindness, compassion and love in the world. Even if you have no one close to you who gives you unconditional support, be your own support. Believe in yourself.


    Friends are very important to “listen and support” during the down days. And don’t forget your family, your “WordPress family” who will be honest with you. I have found that readers are honest and forthcoming with good advice.


    Musicians, writers, photographers and painters, print makers, sketchers all have the fullness of creative ability. Some of the most highly respected artists felt some days that they had no talent.

    Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, for instance all went through periods when they felt they had no talent. Some of their “friends” encouraged this thinking. But over a hundred years in the future we consider them some of arts’ masters. Follow your heart and the needs of your soul. If your hands want to write, then do so. If your eyes want to see a mountain through a lens, then allow it.


    There is discussion about making sure that students who are majoring in math and science all be given art classes. This is to help them be able to deal with people better, to develop ideas better, and to enrich their lives.


    ” I cannot help it that my pictures do not sell. The time will come when people will see that my paintings are worth more than the price of the paint and my own living.”

    —Vincent Van Gogh


    “Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle. And not mind being eccentric, and make distinction between good and evil.”

    —Vincent Van Gogh


    “Do you know what frees one from this captivity? It is every deep serious affection. Being friends, being brothers, love, these open the prison by supreme power, by some magic force. Where sympathy is renewed, life is restored.”

    —Vincent Van Gogh




    Lake Michigan

    Lake Michigan


    Inner Peace

    Inner Peace

    To Find Your Artistic Voice


    The thing about creativity is that it is a gift that makes many of us artists Artistic life means we look at the world differently than some others do. We look at the same days in a week and we see very different experiences.Things just seem to feel, smell, look different to us. For writers, photographers, painters, designers, musicians and all other type of artists there is an extra special something. I don’t know anyone who can give it a name that fits all types of art, but it is as real as a sunrise or the North Star on a black, black night.

    There is no greater glory than to work hard for what you love most. Even the seemingly ugly elements of nature are adorned with beauty. Be patient with those struggling to find their artistic voice.The artist who is frustrated and working hard doesn’t seem reasonable. If you find yourself in this place work on grace in your work.

    As artists, we know that ultimately we will never fully understand all of the work we create. If we can’t understand it, there will be many who can tell in great detail what we were saying, but few of them even have a clue.

    The more we use our artistic voice, the closer we become to artistic purity. What is pure for me as a painter or photographer may look like soot to someone else. But we know we have create purity. Even death cannot take it away from you. Don’t let obstacles interfere with your work. Raise your voice and let all of that purity out.

    Bob Marley, musician and lover of human beings

    Bob Marley, musician and lover of human beings

    Love is important here. It seems to belong to every aspect of living. Love yourself first and others that share your life…that are part of your world. This love is what conquers;  that blankets your artistic voice. So love is like the right lens, mixing the right color, singing your best aria, writing your best, playing the best viola you can or playing the best guitar riff you can.  Exercise love and you will uncover your voice.



    My best thought on artistic voice is to communicate. And keep communicating until someone begins to hear and see you and your work. At the point of life where you can identify what you believe, then you will evolve with every note, click of the camera, brush stroke, pen stroke, or song that fills the air. As you evolve, your artistic voice becomes stronger and louder and more self-fulfilling. So love yourself, create all you can and bring all of that positive beauty and magic into this world. Each time you create, you help to get rid of some of the negativity in the world..

    The Three Stages of Women

    The Three Stages of Women


    I encourage you to raise that voice, heal the obstacles and negativity and give the world a glimpse of what is possible.

    O Great Spirit

    The Native Americans Truly Honored our Planet

    There are indigenous people around the world who have given us a heritage and inheritance for honoring Mother Earth and our planet. We have knowledge of their wisdom and it is available if we want it.

    Many people in the world today do value and honor our planet. Some of the changes that are happening are part of the life cycle of the planet but many we have caused ourselves. Whether changes are man-made or part of the life cycle of the planet- such as the ice age- we can help to heal our planet and help her to heal herself.

    Planning green areas in cities are a great help, planting trees, and not allowing big business to pollute the air and water are other important things we can do. Recycling is a help and helping to organize recycling where it is not now available is another idea.

    There are so many poets and authors who remind us of how important the landscape around us is. It is healing and soothing. It lifts the spirits and lights up the soul. We are so lucky to have this source of beauty around us whenever we want or need to see beauty. Painters and photographers have immortalized the beauty they saw and it adds to our joy to see the world through their cameras and paint brushes. I am a great fan of the Impressionists. I love the way the used light to enhance their brush strokes and to make you feel as if you were there in their shoes standing at their easels. How grateful I am for that gift they left to all of us.

    The Natural World

    …If one looks long enough at almost anything, looks with absolute attention at a flower, a stone, the bark of a tree, grass, snow, a cloud, something like revelation takes place. Something is “given,” and perhaps that something is always a reality outside the self. We are aware of God only when we cease to be aware of ourselves, not in the negative sense of denying the self, but in the sense of losing self in admiration and joy.”
    —Excerpted from “From May Sarton’s Well”, Compiled by Edith Royce Schade


    Blanket Flowers from my garden. Photo by Barbara Mattio

    Metroparks Zoo, Photo by Barbara Mattio


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