10 Stories of inspirational women

Sometimes we need a little reminder that everyone and anyone can achieve amazing things and, perhaps, even change the world. Whether it’s a world first, like Amelia Earhart flying solo across the Atlantic, or a simple act of defiance, like Rosa Parks, ‘the mother of the freedom movement’, refusing to give up her seat in a bus, we all have it within our means to make our mark in the world and make a difference. Sometimes, all we need to gain the courage to do something amazing is a little bit of inspiration from people who have gone before us. Here are the inspirational stories of ten women who did have the courage to do something incredible.

1. Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was a truly wonderful woman who dedicated her entire life to caring for the poor and dispossessed, and has been described as the most selfless person who has ever lived. She began her mission in Calcutta with just 13 members and in just a few years, her congregation had grown to more than 4,000 sisters, all over the world, offering and comfort to the poor and the sick. In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, but she never wanted fame. She spent nearly 30 years doing her work unnoticed, before the world began to take any notice of her at all.

2. Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks wasn’t a militant activist, or some kind of revolutionary. She was just an ordinary woman who, one day, decided she had had enough and, in one simple act of defiance, she set the wheels in motion that changed the face of America. When Rosa Parks was asked to give up her seat on a bus by a white man, she refused, even though she was legally required to do so at the time. She said later that she was simply tired of being treated like a second class citizen, but that simple, yet courageous act, sparked the civil rights movement in America and changed the lives of millions.

3. Amelia Earhart

In today’s world where long haul flights are just an everyday part of life, Amelia Earhart’s solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932 may not sound such a big deal. Back then though, not only was a flight across the Atlantic a feat in itself, Earhart completed the flight when women were still being held back in a male dominated society. The fight took her just under 15 hours to complete and, when she landed in a field in Ireland.

4. Princess Diana

When Diana became a princess, she could have just sat back and enjoyed her life as a member of the elite British royal family, but instead, she used her privileged position as best as she could to highlight important issues in the world, like AIDS and the use of landmines. As we now know, her own life was no bed of roses, but before her tragic death in 1997, she touched the hearts of millions, all around the world. Her own words summed up her attitude to life when she said: “Anywhere I see suffering, that is where I want to be, doing what I can.”

5. JK Rowling

JK Rowling is an inspiration to all single moms trying to make ends meet in difficult times and proof beyond all doubt that you should never give up on your dreams. She wrote her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as a way to make some extra cash, but the book was rejected by numerous publishers. She preserved, though, and eventually got 1,000 copies of the book printed. That one book deal lead to over 400 million copies of her Harry Potter books being sold worldwide, as well as the film franchise. That’s not bad for a single mom who was living on state benefits!

6. Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space and she made her ground-breaking flight in 1963, when she was just 26 years of age. We are talking serious girl power here because, not only was the Russian cosmonaut the first woman in space, she orbited the earth 48 times, which was more times than all four male American Astronauts had achieved combined.

7. Marilyn Monroe

Despite the image that she portrayed, Marylyn Monroe knew exactly what she was doing, and she gave the world what the world wanted to see. She was determined not to let the male movie stars get all the credit, so she worked hard at acting lessons to improve herself. She wasn’t just content with equality either, she once said: “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”

8. Oprah Winfrey

One of the most influential women of our time is Oprah Winfrey. She once said: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah is a generous and talented media personality and philanthropist. Born to a poor single mother, she is worth around $3 billion today. Her incredible rags-to-riches story continues to inspire millions of people today.

9. Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King is one of the greatest women tennis players ever, but she was a champion of women’s rights, as much she was a champion of a sport. She won 39 tennis grand slams and held the number one spot no fewer than six times. She also proved that women deserve as much respect for their achievements as men, when she defeated the self-professed male chauvinist Bobby Riggs in a match named ‘The Battle of the Sexes’.

10. Elizabeth Garett Anderson

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson is name that you may not have heard of, but she was a pioneer of women’s rights long before anyone else took up the cause for equality. She had ambitions to be a doctor in 1800s England, but was barred solely on the grounds that she was a Woman. Eventually she went to Paris, where she was allowed to qualify as a doctor and she then returned to London to set up her own private practice in Harley Street. She is another inspirational example of how you can beat the odds, if you really put your mind to it.

What are your favourite stories of inspirational women?

Stay happy!

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