North and the Boss Talk community have learned so much this Women’s History Month as we have highlighted just a few of all the amazing women in history! We are grateful for all women out there sparking change and conversations on how we can achieve gender equality across the world. To round out the month, here are a few women who are hard at work in the present day, changing the world through international humanitarian efforts and creating history that will be admired by future generations.
Elizabeth Scharpf (1978 – )
Elizabeth Scharpf founded the Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) and their SHE28 campaign following her experience working for the World Bank in Mozambique. It was here she came to realize the extreme lack of resources for menstruating women across the world and was disturbed by how this was holding women back from education and work. Along with her team, Elizabeth has grown an organization dedicated to eradicating the taboo of menstruation, sparking open dialogue and instigating policy at the local and global level through awareness campaigns. SHE has used innovative resources, new materials, and local processes to create pads and make menstruation tools more available to women worldwide.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (1955 -)
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of United Nations Women, which focuses on priority areas that are fundamental to women’s equality and that can unlock progress across the board. Under Phumzile’s leadership, UN Women launched the HeForShe Campaign, a movement that is working to achieve gender equality by encouraging all genders to take action against negative stereotypes and behaviors. Phumzile also previously served as the Deputy President of South Africa from 2005 to 2008, where she oversaw programs to combat poverty and bring the advantages of a growing economy to the poor.
Malala Yousafzai (1997 -)
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist who has spent several years fighting for the right for girls to be allowed to receive an education. Malala survived an assassination attempt from the Taliban and went on to publish her first book I Am Malala in 2013. The following year, Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy, becoming the youngest person to win this award. Malala is continuing her efforts through the Malala Fund, which is working to provide free, quality primary and secondary education for every child by 2030.
Sonita Alizadeh (1997 – )
Sonita Alizadeh is an Afghan advocate and rapper, using her voice to speak out against child marriages. After her mother attempted to sell her hand in marriage in exchange for a dowry, Sonita posted a powerful rap music video titled “Brides for Sale” with lyrics that questioned the practice. The video went viral in 2014 and sparked global conversation on child marriage. With the help of a nonprofit, The Strongheart Group, Sonita moved to the United States, became a high school graduate, and continues to speak up against child marriages. She was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Global Thinkers of 2015 and one of BBC’s 100 Women of 2015 and recognized as a champion and advocate of the Girls Not Brides campaign to end child marriage worldwide.
Rebeca Gyumi (1988- )
In 2018, Rebeca Gyumi was recognized with the 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize in honor of her challenge of and success over the Marriage Act in Tanzania, which allowed girls as young as 14 to be married with their parent’s consent. Thanks to a petition and campaigning spearheaded by Gyumi’s Msichana (meaning girl in Sawhili) Initiative, the High Court in Tanzania said in a landmark ruling that the Marriage Act was unconstitutional and discriminatory towards girls. The Msichana Initiative has continued its work, empowering girls through education and addressing challenges which limit education rights globally.