In March 2017 I've set up an Instagram challenge for myself - I decided to draw an outstanding woman every day - think of women who make history, who break gender, age and race stereotypes. I started this challenge having realised that the vast majority of my role models were male... It didn't help that from the early age I was told that I’m trying to get into men’s profession and that women can’t be real artists or designers. But while researching this project I've discovered so many amazing pioneering and inspiring women that my list of heroines has more than quadrupled. I've realised how damaged girls are by the lack of positive role models in traditional literature and history curricula. It makes them feel “invisible” and therefore, holds them back in their own self-development. (Which, in turn, reinforces the overall aims and social structures of the patriarchal culture.) I've also learned that women HAVE been active contributors to the social, artistic, scientific, economic, and political arena since the beginnings of time, so representing them is simply a matter of accurate, thorough scholarship.
Here my contribution to that.
Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in an airplane. 
She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. In 1935, Earhart became an advisor to aeronautical engineering in Purdue University and a career counselor to women students. She was also a member of the National Woman's Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.

"The most effective way to do it, is to do it."
Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia was an Italian philosopher of noble descent, who was the first woman to receive an academic degree from a university in 1678. She received a Doctorate of Philosophy after she had earned, but had been denied the degree of Doctor of Theology - officials in the Roman Catholic Church refused to confer the title of Doctor of Theology upon a woman. What makes this degree unique is that the university did not offer another Ph.D. to a woman for seventy years.
Josephine Baker - the American-French singer, dancer, and actress was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall, and to become the first world-famous entertainer. She also was a spy for the French resistance and a political icon of the civil rights movement in the US. After having made a name for herself in the US and Paris, Barker made "an experiment in brotherhood", as she put it, to form "a rainbow tribe". She adopted 12 children from all over the world and named them “The Rainbow Tribe.” Her dream was to prove that all the races and religions of the world could get along if raised together with kindness and respect. 

“I'm not intimidated by anyone. Everyone is made with two arms, two legs, a stomach and a head. Just think about that.”
French writer Simone de Beauvoir laid the foundation for the modern feminist movement. De Beauvoir published countless works of fiction and nonfiction during her lengthy career - often with existentialist themes - including 1949’s The Second Sex. Now reckoned as one of the most important and earliest works of feminism, at the time of its publication The Second Sex was received with great controversy, with some critics characterising the book as pornography and the Vatican placing the work on the church's list of forbidden texts. She marshalled evidence to show, on an epic scale, how women grow up to be more hesitant and self - doubting than men, and less inclined to pursue the basic existentialist goal of taking responsibility for their lives.

When she was 21, De Beauvoir met Jean-Paul Sartre, forming a partnership and romance that would shape both of their lives and philosophical beliefs. It lasted half a century from its beginning in 1929 to Sartre’s death in 1980. They wanted to share their lives but didn’t want to accept conventional limitations, so they agreed to remain primary partners while indulging in polyamory with others. Both De Beauvoir and Sartre would work for the French Resistance during the war. .

"Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it."
Marie Curie, a Polish-born French physicist. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences (physics and chemistry), first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris. As one of the most famous women scientists to date, Marie Curie has become an icon in the scientific world. 

A top student in her secondary school, Curie could not attend the men-only University of Warsaw. She instead continued her education in Warsaw's "floating university," a set of underground, informal classes held in secret. She had to leave the country to get a PhD. She was a first woman to receive a PhD degree from a French university.

Curie's efforts, with her husband Pierre Curie, led to the discovery of polonium and radium and, after Pierre's death, the further development of X-rays. Marie and Pier Curie were absolutely single-minded in pursuit of their research. In fact, when they were awarded a Nobel Prize, they refused to go and accept the prize personally, because it would interfere with their research. (What a love story!😍) All of her years of working with radioactive materials took a toll on Curie's health. She was known to carry test tubes of radium around in the pocket of her lab coat. She died of aplastic anemia, which can be caused by prolonged exposure to radiation.

“Have no fear of perfection; you'll never reach it.”
Maya Angelou, a trail-blazing American poet, writer and civil rights activist.

Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid was an Iraqi-born British architect. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. She received the UK's most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011. She was made a Dame by Elizabeth II for services to architecture, and became the first woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

She was described by the The Guardian of London as the 'Queen of the curve', who "liberated architectural geometry, giving it a whole new expressive identity." Her major works include the aquatic centre for the London 2012 Olympics, Michigan State University's Broad Art Museum in the US, and the Guangzhou Opera House in China. Some of her designs have been presented posthumously, including the statuette for the 2017 Brit Awards, and many of her buildings are still under construction, including the Al Wakrah Stadium in Doha, a venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

"I used to not like being called a 'woman architect.' I'm an architect, not just a woman architect. The guys used to tap me on the head and say 'you're OK for a girl.' But I see an incredible amount of need from other women for reassurance that it can be done, so I don't mind anymore."
Laura Dekker, the youngest ever person to sail around the world single-handed. At the age of 14 she announced her plan to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed. A Dutch court stepped in, owing to the objections of the local authorities, and prevented Dekker from departing while under shared custody of both her parents. In July 2010, a Dutch family court ended this custody arrangement, and the record breaking attempt finally began on 21 August 2010. Dekker successfully completed the solo circumnavigation in an 11.5-metre two-masted ketch, arriving in Simpson Bay,Sint Maarten, 518 days later at the age of 16.

"A house is kind of scary."
Mary Wollstonecraft, an English writer and philosopher who advocated for women's equality. In 1792 she wrote her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which is still a powerful tract today, with much that is still relevant to women’s lives. She argued, apparently outrageously, that women were capable of reason – all they lacked was education. An early role model, she translated and reviewed essays on natural history, and she was speaking the language of human rights before the term existed. She was also a first female war correspondent and salaried journalist, and her radical ideas influenced Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin. 
Her daughter was Mary Shelley, the famous author of Frankenstein.

“I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves.”
Selina Juul, 37, has been credited by the Danish Government for single-handedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25 per cent in just five years.The Russian émigré arrived in Denmark as a teenager and was struck by the opulence and, yet, waste, that contrasted with the empty store shelves of her childhood. Juul founded the group Stop Wasting Food in 2008 and continually pushes Danes to do just that. She started with a Facebook page offering tips how to reduce food waste. “I started the page as an angry consumer, but Denmark’s a small country, so it’s easy to get press coverage and the message spreads. Three months later, the country’s biggest low-cost supermarket chain, Rema 1000, agreed to replace all its quantity discounts [like buy two get the third free] with single item discounts to minimise food waste and I was speaking at the EU parliament.” Evidence of this improvement is everywhere. The charity fundraiser WeFood sells edible but unsellable groceries on the cheap. Supermarket chains REMA 1000, Coop and LIDL no longer offer quantity discounts that entice shoppers to overbuy, and many stores have “stop food waste areas” with discounted offerings nearing their best-by date. And several Danes created the Too Good To Go app to sell cut-rate, just-before-closing bakery and restaurant food. She basically changed the mentality of the whole country!

“Food waste is the lack of respect for our nature, for our society, for the people who produce the food, for the animals, and the lack of respect for our time and your money.”
Hedy Lamarr - born Hedwig Eva Maria Liesler in Austria, she came to be known as one of the most famous and talented actresses of her time. She was the first actor to feign an orgasm on screen, and she invented technology that would lead to the mobile phone. She fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, and secretly moved to Paris. There, she met MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood, where she became a film star from the late 1930s to the 1950s. She also took time out to invent a device that would eventually revolutionise mobile communications. Lamarr and her business partner, the composer George Antheil, were awarded a patent in 1942 for a "secret communication system". It was meant for radio-guided torpedoes, and the pair gave to the US Navy. It languished in their files for decades before eventually becoming a constituent part of GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. As is the case with many of the famous women inventors, Lamarr received very little recognition of her innovative talent at the time, but recently she has been showered with praise for her groundbreaking invention. In 1997, she and George Anthiel were honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award. And later in the same year, Lamarr became the first female recipient of the BULBIE™ Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, a prestigious lifetime accomplishment prize for inventors that is dubbed "The Oscar™ of Inventing."

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid."
Ruth Flowers, aka Mamy Rock - she was oldest and hippest DJ in the world.

At 68, Ruth Flowers decided to become a club DJ. It all started when Ruth became a widow. Just the day before, Ruth was sufficiently content living out her retirement with her beloved husband in a coastal vacation village in Portugal. But, in one day, her cozy house with a pool, her comfortable life, her daily routine, all of it only reminded her of the loss. Ruth and her husband lived together for 40 years. His death was the collapse of her world. All that awaited her ahead, just like myriads of other widows, was a future of quiet ageing, surrounded by memories of the past. Instead, a few years after her husband’s death, Ruth announced that she wanted to become a club DJ. She was 68. She had zero experience. Ruth’s friends concluded that sorrow drove her to madness. She had spent the majority of her life teaching children’s singing lessons and studying the works of Charles Dickens. .
She became smitten with the electronic world after accompanying her grandson to a London nightclub to celebrate his birthday.  Dumbfounded by the electric atmosphere the music and the lights energized her and made her feel young again. After joking with her Grandson of the idea to become a DJ an acquaintance  put Mama Rock in touch with a young French producer, Aurelien Simon who trained her in various clubs around the world introducing her to electro and house music. After just a few months, she was world famous and travelling to far-flung countries to perform her mix sets at the greatest clubs and most exclusive events. She kept on rocking till she passed away at the age of 82.

'Becoming a DJ is the best thing I’ve ever done’
Sojourner Truth was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She also was the first escaped slave to win a court case against a white man to recover her son from him. She is best known for her “Ain’t I a woman” speech delivered in 1851 given extemporaneous to attack racial inequalities in the United States. Her speech that was reprinted several times, especially during the civil war, made Truth a famous speaker in abolitionist and women’s rights circles. In the subsequent years she spoke over a hundred times before different audiences.

“I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear de lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen chilern, and seen ’em mos’ all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?"
Margaret Bulkley was a pioneering British Army surgeon who successfully fooled Victorian society into thinking she was a man throughout her extraordinary life. It’s one of the longest deceptions of gender identity ever recorded - 56 years. In the early 1800s and at only 18 years old Margaret started living as James Barry in order to study medicine in Edinburgh university. After graduating she signed up for the army fooling her colleagues with “strategically placed stuffing”. She even gained a reputation of a “ladykiller”. But her greatest accomplishments was rising through the ranks to one of the highest medical posts and performing the first successful cesarian operation in the British Empire. She was a public health advocate who fought for better nutrition, sanitation and care for prisoners, lepers, soldiers and their families. It wasn’t until she died in 1865 when the woman washing her body discovered her secret, making her the UK’s first female doctor more than 50 year before women were allowed in medicine.
Anna Komnene, twelfth-century Byzanthine princess, is the first known female historian in world history. She wrote a 15-volume Magnus Opum, the Alexiad, that until this day is one of the best sources for this particular era of Byzantine history and the only Hellenic source portraying the First Crusade (1096–1099). Anna Komnene is not only the first known female historian, she is also an outstanding one that certainly belongs in the same league of classic historians such as Herodot or Cicero. Only recently has the scientific community began to not only use her research for the writing of historiography but to also research her and the more we know about her the more an outstanding example of knowledge, early historical professionalism and education she becomes.
Martha Gellhorn was one of the first female war correspondents ever and one of the best American war reporters of the twentieth century. She reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career. She was in Spain with Ernest Hemingway, whose third wife she became in 1940; he dedicated For Whom the Bell Tolls to her in 1941. She rarely talked about her time with, and marriage to, Hemingway (they were divorced in 1946), quite rightly wanting to be her own person and not part of the Hemingway bandwagon. Though best known for her groundbreaking journalism, Gellhorn was also an accomplished fiction writer, author of 5 novels, 14 novellas and 2 collections of short stories, many of which were based on people and incidents she encountered during her prodigious travels. The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism is named after her.

“War happens to people, one by one. That is really all I have to say and it seems to me I have been saying it forever. Unless they are immediate victims, the majority of mankind behaves as if war was an act of God which could not be prevented; or they behave as if war elsewhere was none of their business. It would be a bitter cosmic joke if we destroy ourselves due to atrophy of the imagination.” .
Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space! ⭐️ 🚀 🌔
She was selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the first civilian to fly in space. Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile-factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver. She orbited the earth 48 times in 70.8 hours — just under three days. (By way of comparison, Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, orbited the earth once; and the four American astronauts who flew before Tereshkova orbited a total of 36 times.) Despite the success of Tereshkova’s flight, it was 19 years before another woman (Svetlana Savitskaya, also from the USSR) traveled to space. The first American woman to go to space was Sally Ride in 1983.

“If I had money, I would enjoy flying to Mars. This was the dream of the first cosmonauts. I wish I could realize it! I am ready to fly without coming back.” (she said that in 2013, at the age of 76)
Junko Tabei, Japan - the first woman to climb Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain. Junko Tabei went on to tackle summits in more than 70 countries, becoming the first woman in the world to scale the highest peak on each of the seven continents. She fell short, however, of her personal goal to climb the tallest mountain of every country in the world – a feat that would have required 195 expeditions. Despite a diagnosis of abdominal cancer in 2012, she continued to climb in countries including Oman, Niger and Luxembourg. Her last expedition was to Mount Fuji in July. She challenged cultural stereotypes in her homeland about a woman’s role in society while at the same time drawing on the deep spiritual feeling many Japanese people have for mountains.

“Everest for me, and I believe for the world, is the physical and symbolic manifestation of overcoming odds to achieve a dream.”
Manal Al-Sharif is Saudi woman who became a symbol of female emancipation when she was filmed behind the wheel of a car (women are prohibited to drive in Saudi Arabia). She posted the video on YouTube and called on women to participate in a Women2Drive campaign. During a second turn at the wheel, she was imprisoned for nine days on suspicion of a crime called "incitement to public disorder". She emerged, almost a year ago, to worldwide fame: an eight-minute film of her protest drive, shot on a friend's smartphone, spread across YouTube, in various iterations, at a rate of a million hits per day. Since then, Al-Sharif has used her notoriety as the "Saudi Girl Driving" to pursue radical change. She has led mass "protest drives", filed lawsuits against her nation's chauvinistic traffic laws, and recently started a feminist pressure group, My Right to Dignity, which aims to undermine the conservative excesses of an Islamic state which treats women as second-class citizens. Her work has been recognized by Foreign Policy, Time, and the Oslo Freedom Forum. For all the plaudits she is subjected to daily death threats, and fears for the safety of her parents and her six-year-old son. 

"I believe a society will not be free if the women of that society are not free.” 
Annie Londonderry, the first woman to cycle around the world in 1894-95! According to most accounts, two business men made a bet with one another that no woman could beat the record for cycling around the world, which the first man to do it, Thomas Stevens, had set 10 years earlier. They added some particular details; could a woman cycle around the world in 15 months (Stevens had taken 32), starting with zero cash and earn $5000 while at it?! The woman to attempt the challenge was in to win $10,000 if she succeeded. It’s not certain how Annie became the woman to take up the challenge, especially as she had never even sat on a bicycle at that point, however, Annie it was to be. She left behind her husband and three young children to complete the ride. Londonderry was a brilliant saleswoman and an exceptional storyteller, raising all of the money and attracting the media attention necessary for her trip to be a success. During her travels, she gave lectures about her adventures, often exaggerating her exploits. For instance, in France she described herself as an orphan, wealthy heiress, a Harvard medical student, the inventor of a new method of stenography, and the niece of a U.S. senator. While in the United States, she told stories about hunting tigers in India with German royalty and getting sent to a Japanese prison with a bullet wound. She also gave cycling demonstrations and sold promotional photos of herself, souvenir pins, and autographs. After the trip, she accepted an offer to write about her adventures as the "New Woman" and moved her family to New York City to continue her journalism career.

“I am a journalist and ‘a new woman’ if that term means that I believe I can do anything that any man can do.“
Ada Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer. She was born Augusta Ada Byron, the only legitimate child of Annabella Milbanke and the poet Lord Byron. Her mother, Lady Byron, had mathematical training (Byron called her his 'Princess of Parallelograms') and insisted that Ada, who was tutored privately, study mathematics too - an unusual education for a woman. At the age of 17 she became friends with inventor and mathematician Charles Babbage. It was through this friendship that she became intrigued by Babbage’s plans for a device called the Analytical Engine, which has all the essential elements of a modern computer. In 1842, she translated a short article describing the Analytical Engine by the Italian mathematician Lugi Menabrea for publication in English. Lovelace augmented the translation with her own notes about the analytical engine that were three times as long as the original paper and published in an English journal in 1843 with only her initials, “A.A.L.” In Note G of her elaborate paper, Lovelace wrote of how the machine could be programmed with a code to calculate Bernoulli numbers, which some consider to be the first algorithm to be carried out by a machine. Lovelace foresaw the multi-purpose functionality of the modern computer. Although Babbage believed the use of his machines was confined to numerical calculations, she mused that any piece of content—including music, text, pictures and sounds—could be translated to digital form and manipulated by machine. Lovelace’s ideas about computing were so far ahead of their time that it took nearly a century for technology to catch up. 

“I shall, in due time, be a Poet.”
Hannah Arendt, political theorist. Born in Germany, she emigrated to the US in 1940 to escape the Nazi regime. There, she became the first female philosophy professor at Princeton and also taught at the radical New School in New York. Arendt is especially famous for her concept of 'the banality of evil', which explained that horrific Nazi acts, for instance, didn't necessarily happen out of wickedness but out of mindlessness. In her major work, 'The Human Condition', she argued that humans are born as pluralities - they can become so many things; and that this potential is only fulfilled through political engagement. Arendt was keen to place the political above the economic at the heart of the human condition. Since Donald Trump's election, Arendt's book 'The Origins of Totalitarianism', explaining the rise of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler, has become a bestseller again, alongside Orwell's 1984.

"The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil."
George Sand
Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin (1804 – 1876), best known by her pseudonym George Sand was a French novelist and memoirist. During her prolific career as a writer, Sand penned novels and plays featuring rustic French landscapes and strong, feminist protagonists. In addition, Sand authored literary criticism and political texts. When the 1848 Revolution began, Sand started her own newspaper, which was published in a workers' co-operative. In many ways ahead of her time, George Sand attacked life with a vivacity and brusqueness that made her both a disgrace to proper society and the fascination of those inside it. George Sand saw herself as victim of the bourgeois lifestyle and chose to give her privileged life more dimensions by breaking conventions and acting independent of a man. When she began writing, she chose to use a pseudonym because her name was shared with her husband, and was no longer her own. By choosing a pseudonym, she created an independent identity for herself and found a way to be taken seriously in a male dominated sphere. During her time in Paris Sand developed her unique lifestyle; namely, wearing men’s clothing and smoking tobacco in public. Sand's male dress enabled her to circulate more freely in Paris than most of her female contemporaries, and gave her increased access to venues from which women were often barred, even women of her social standing. Also scandalous was Sand's smoking tobacco in public; neither peerage nor gentry had yet sanctioned the free indulgence of women in such a habit. Her list of lovers was growing as well. Perhaps Sand’s most noteworthy affair was with the Polish composer Frederic Chopin. She officially separated from her husband in the midst of her Bohemian life, which only added to her scandalous reputation.

"My profession is to be free."
Amal Clooney, a barrister at Doughty street Chambers, specialising in international law and human rights. Over the past three years, Clooney defended journalists imprisoned in Egypt and Azerbaijan and took Dogu Perincek, the Turkish MP denying the Armenian genocide, to court. Her clients have ranged from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to Ukranian ex-Prime minister Yulia Timoshenko. And she happened to be a very beautiful woman married to George Clooney. And that apparently overshadows the work she does. Earlier this month she gave a speech to the UN urging Iraq and the other UN states to support an investigation into ISIS's genocide of Yazidi people and Yazidi women being kept as sex slaves. Yet tabloid headlines ignored her speech and instead commented on her "baby bump" and cute yellow suite, openly acknowledging that fighting ISIS is secondary to "nailing an elegant maternity look". Seriously??

"Women's rights are human rights. Holding back women is holding back half of every country in the world".
The project has been featured on CNN International. 
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