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.
  • U.S. Military Accused of Punishing Sexual Assault Victims in New Human Rights Report

    First women couldn’t be in the military because it was too “tempting” to have women on military bases.  Next, we could have women in the military, but they could only do non-combat duty.  Now, women in the military can be in combat.

    As a pacifist, I don’t want any of this; I’ve always been a pacifist and I’m sure I will die a pacifist.  As a feminist, however, I support a woman’s right to choose what do with her life, and that includes military service.

    What disturbs me about women in the military isn’t that they want to go and serve their country, or that they want to be able to fight for their country; it is the fact that sex, once again, is being used as an excuse for harassment, molestation and rape.

    For thousands of years, males — i.e. Adam and all non-feminist men after — have used the excuse “she made me do it”.  There is not a legitimate reason, ever, to sexual molest, rape, attack or violate a woman.  In actuality, these things have to do with power and control, not with sex.

    The military is the American bastion of male power and control.  The good old boys are going to have to suck it up and get a grip on themselves; they need to realize that the only thing they have legitimate power and control over is themselves, and begin to act accordingly.

     US Military Accused of Punishing Sexual Assault Victims in New Human Rights Watch Report

    Displaced by Violence, Columbian Women build their own City

    Traditionally women have been seen as and forced to be second class citizens. All throughout written history, they have been expected to obey their husbands, accept any and all violence. They have been supposed to tolerate adultery. They have been made to feed their families with little or no help from their man. Marriage was a business arrangement to solidify relations between countries, as a mediation between warring clans or families. Marriage also used to require a bride price. Marry my daughter and I will give you 10 horses, 12 goats, and 6 bracelets of silver. We like to think times have changed but women continue to cook, clean, have babies and never speak about anything important.

    Violence is happening around the world to men, women and children, but the women and children carry the brunt of the scars of the violence. Women may not look strong, but millions are strong. This is the story of such women and what they chose to do when violence drove them from their villages.

    To the bravery and strength of every woman who surmounts her poverty, illiteracy, and homelessness and carves out for herself and her children a better life: I say you are heroines. Be proud of yourselves and children be proud of your Moms. Their strength keeps you all alive. Their bravery has shown the people of Colombia that women and children do matter. It shows that violence does not always win.

    Displaced by violence, Colombian women build their own city



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    Anti-Abortion laws don’t decrease abortions

    How women respond to these closings, however, is another story.

    We do not have large enough surveys to discern behavior in different states or to track how it has changed over time — and in any case, people may not feel comfortable sharing the truth in a survey.

    Google searches can help us understand what’s really going on. They show a hidden demand for self-induced abortion reminiscent of the era before Roe v. Wade.

    This demand is concentrated in areas where it is most difficult to get an abortion, and it has closely tracked the recent state-level crackdowns on abortion.

    In 2015, in the United States, there were about 119,000 searches for the exact phrase “how to have a miscarriage.” There were also searches for other variants — “how to self-abort” — and for particular methods. Over all, there were more than 700,000 Google searches looking into self-induced abortions in 2015.

    For comparison, there were some 3.4 million searches for abortion clinics and, according to estimates by the Guttmacher Institute, there are around one million legal abortions a year.

    The 700,000 searches included about 160,000 asking how to get abortion pills through unofficial channels — searches like “buy abortion pills online” and “free abortion pills.”

    There were tens of thousands of searches looking into abortion by herbs like parsley or by vitamin C. There were some 4,000 searches looking for directions on coat hanger abortions, including about 1,300 for the exact phrase “how to do a coat hanger abortion.” There were also a few hundred looking into abortion through bleaching one’s uterus and punching one’s stomach.


    Search rates for self-induced abortion were fairly steady from 2004 through 2007. They began to rise in late 2008, coinciding with the financial crisis and the recession that followed. They took a big leap in 2011, jumping 40 percent. The Guttmacher Institute singles out 2011 as the beginning of the country’s recent crackdown on abortion; 92 provisions that restrict access to abortion were enacted. There was not a comparable increase in searches for self-induced abortions in Canada, which has not cracked down.

    Of course, we cannot know from Google searches how many women successfully give themselves abortions, but evidence suggests that a significant number may. One way to test this is to compare abortion and birth data.

    In 2011, the last year with complete state-level abortion data, women living in states with few abortion clinics had many fewer legal abortions.

    Compare the 10 states with the most abortion clinics per capita (a list that includes New York and California) to the 10 states with the fewest abortion clinics per capita (a list that includes Mississippi and Oklahoma).

    The number of new state laws that restrict abortion spiked in 2011. Women living in states with the fewest abortion clinics had 54 percent fewer legal abortions — a difference of 11 abortions for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44.

    Women living in states with the fewest abortion clinics also had more live births. However, the difference was not enough to make up for the lower number of abortions. There were six more live births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age.

    In other words, there appear to have been some missing pregnancies in parts of the country where it was hardest to get an abortion. Self-induced abortions could be playing a role, although more research must be done on rates of pregnancy and unintentional miscarriage in different regions.

    One recent survey in Texas also reported a surprisingly high number of attempted self-induced abortions. It found that 4.1 percent of Texas women were sure or suspected that their best friend had tried a self-induced abortion. The researchers asked about best friends because women may not feel comfortable admitting their own attempts. In fact, so much secrecy surrounds abortion today that it is likely that many women would not know that their closest friends had tried a self-induced abortion.

    According to another survey, which was published in Sociological Science, 34 percent of Americans who have been involved in an abortion — either they had one or they were the potential father — disclosed this to no one else. Among those who did tell others, they told an average of 1.2 people. We can expect that people would be even less likely to inform friends and family members about self-induced abortions.

    No one has the right to tell any woman what to do with her body. This is pure misogyny. Some women just don’t want to have children. They know whether or not they are ready to have children or not. If we ever get a 100% successful birth control, we will have less abortions. Abortions have been performed since the beginning of time in all civilizations and cultures. Women have always fought to control their bodies and their reproductive experiences. We can’t go back to the self abortion because we will have a spike in the number of women who die from the complications of the procedure. They people will scream again because women are dying. We are in a crazy circle of cause and effect. This decision is a woman’s decision, not a societal decision.

    Stop the War on Women



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    Just What is a Feminist?

    I chose my subject this evening because I read a social media comment which described a feminist as a woman somewhere between an angry alien and a rabid wild animal. Now, I did not respond to the individual because I continue to work for peace and compassion in the world and in my personal world.


    In case you are not aware, I am proud to be a feminist. A feminist is a woman. Just like any other woman. There are some differences. Feminists are men and women who believe females are people just like any man is a person.


    Feminists  also believe in equality. They believe that both sexes are born equal. Not every man can drive a race car at 100 mph, and not every woman can turn out a perfect Beef Wellington. Feminists do look at the world and see what is wrong and unjust. Some people look and turn away because what they see is horrific. For all of the wonderful people in this world of ours, there are many who are evil.


    A feminist looks at what is wrong in the world and sees it and then begins to look at how it can be changed. Whether a feminist man or woman, they will not turn away from the ugliness but will work, speak out, write, protest to change the wrong.


    We, as women, have the vote because of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and hundreds of Suffragettes (feminists) worked to make Congress to give us the vote. They even went to the dire length of handcuffing themselves to the White House fence. They were arrested, and once in jail they went on a hunger strike and the media told the world and we got the vote. This is of course, a simplified version of the tale.




    I became a feminist in the seventies. Abuse was the issue that ignited my heart and passion. I do not believe that one person has the right to hit another. Women and children have the right to live without violence and fear. If a woman is the abuser, she needs to face the same consequences as any man who batters.


    Women have the right to make their own decisions. To marry or not to. To pick her friends. Men have control over their bodies and the government would never think to tell them what to do with them. Even the man who hires the prostitute is usually protected from prosecution, while the woman is charged and will be in jail at least overnight. The government has repeatedly tried to control women’s bodies and how we choose to use them.


    A feminist is a person who feels that women should receive equal pay for equal work. We have never had this in the USA. My sister found out she was making less than the men in her department. She was, justifiably, upset.  She was doing more work than literally anyone in the company (when she left, her duties had to be spread over 5 people), yet she still made less than men with less education. Was that right? No.


    Some feminists are wonderful wives and mothers, both stay-at-home mothers and working mothers. It is what they choose to be and that is great. I, myself, have nine grandchildren. I have also marched for Hard Hatted Women. Women who wanted the right to work in construction. It is their right to choose how to support themselves and /or their families.


    So, like black lives matter, so do women’s lives. And for those who disagree, perhaps a long look in a mirror would be a good thing to try. Hugs, Barbara




    Women                                                                               Ok they

    should be                                                                             should be

    pedestals                                                                                little horses

    moving                                                                                     those wooden

    pedestals                                                                                 sweet

    moving                                                                                 oldfashioned

    to the                                                                                      painted

    motions                                                                                 rocking

    of men                                                                                   horses

    the gladdest things in the toyroom

    The                                                                                 feelingly

    pegs                                                                              and then

    of their                                                                          unfeelingly

    ears                                                                                To be

    so familiar                                                                     joyfully

    and  dear                                                                     ridden

    to the trusting                                                            rockingly

    fists                                                                            ridden until

    To be chafed                                                                the restored

    egos dismount and the legs stride away

    Immobile                                                                     willing

    sweetlipped                                                                  to be set

    sturdy                                                                             into motion

    and smiling                                                                   Women

    women                                                                            should be

    should always                                                                  pedestals

    be waiting                                                                          to men


    This poem was written by May Swenson. She has written prose and poetry. In 1970 Ms. Swenson was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. She has won many other awards for her moving and praiseworthy work.

    Guest Blog: STEAM Heat

    Hi, All!  It’s IdealisticRebel’s sister, and I’m hijacking her blog for the day (with permission, of course).

    Tomorrow, I will be participating in a panel hosted by the American Association of University Woman (AAUW) in what is being called a STEAM Conference which encourages young women, still in Middle School and High School, to enter traditionally male fields.

    You may have heard of STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Math.  AAUW recognizes that there is a growing need for women to enter the realms of digital Art as well, so STEM becomes STEAM, and I will be doing my part to encourage the young attendees to break out of traditionally female roles and join the ranks of the STEAM Women.

    What’re my credentials?  I’ve worked in male-dominated fields for 22 years — first in Architecture, as a Computer-Aided Drafter/Designer, and now as a Technical Support Analyst for a major software company in North East Ohio.  More than that, my first attempt at a college degree was in Engineering.  Currently, I hold 3 degrees — Associates’ in both Architectural CADD and Computer Networking, and a Bachelor’s in Network Security Systems.

    What’s my message?  It’s not the traditional one that so many women have heard all their lives:”math is hard” and “technology is for boys”.

    Math can be hard, but it can also be fun — and you really do use it everyday (try balancing your checkbook without it)!  Technology wasn’t made for boys, it was made for people and the last time I looked, Women And Girls Are People, Too (I know, this comes a shock to some people, but it’s a fact of life, nonetheless).

    Is it easy being “the only chick in class”, as I was for most of my last two degrees?  Not always, but that shouldn’t stop the next generation.  Because if enough girls and young women enter STEAM fields, they won’t be the only female in class; they’ll be part of the norm, no longer a sidebar, but the main article, as it were.

    That’s not enough reason to do it, of course; just to increase the numbers isn’t a reason why anyone should go into any field.  The reason should come from you:

    Because Science means that when you look up at night, you don’t just see “diamonds in the sky”, you see balls of hot gas, billions upon billions of light years away, with worlds swirling around them, and the fact that the light of those little diamonds left their home stars before the Earth was born blows your mind, and you want to know more.


    Because Technology means that you know the difference between a bit and a byte and you want to make Apps that make people’s lives easier.

    Because Engineering means that when you see an electric car go by on the road and your first thought isn’t that it looks cool, or even how much money it costs to run, your first thought is what makes it go?

    Because Art means that you play video games, alone or online, and you find yourself sketching the characters and want to make those characters you sketch come alive.

    Because Math  makes sense to you, because numbers never lie and they make the world a more orderly place.

    But mostly, just because you are YOU and you deserve to do what you love, no matter what that is, and no matter what other people think is ‘gender appropriate’.

    Because you’re a person, too, and people get to make their own choices.

    Make your choice, whatever it is, traditional or not.  Just be sure the choice you make is yours.

    Roger Bussey - Writer

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