The world celebrates today Women’s Day. As these past years have proudly shown, women are capable of anything and their rights matter. From fighting gender equality on the work field, sexual abuse, and the still very important #metoo. But women have been fighting these and many other types of abuse for a long time. Here are five women who have been very important actors in this fight but you don’t know are changing the world as we speak.

Berta Soler

Born in 1963 in Matanzas, Cuba and the current leader of the Ladies in White. A group that was originally founded by the wives and female relatives of political prisoners who protested on their behalf.  These women protest their imprisonments by attending Mass each Sunday wearing white dresses to symbolize peace and silently walking the streets. Actions that have been violently reprimanded by the government in the past. Since 2011 the group transformed into a general human rights group open to Cuban women.

Her husband was arrested in 2003  during Cuba’s “Black Spring”, an action taken by the government in which 75 dissidents including 29 journalists were imprisoned. Later on, she became the leader of the Ladies in White group, is even described by the Associated Press as “one of Cuba’s leading dissidents”. She fought for the release of her husband as he fell ill, who later received the permission for surgery after 2 days of protest. Despite being offered the possibility to emigrate to Spain, she decided to stay in Cuba to fight for Human Rights.

She was one of the 5 women chosen to receive the 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought of the European Parliament.

Asieh Amini

An Iranian poet and journalist born in 1973 that has dedicated her carrier to the fight against the death penalty in general, but more specifically against the stoning of women and minors in Iran. Stoning or lapidation is a type of death penalty still used in many countries against women and children.

At a young age, she was chosen as the cultural editor of the newspaper Iran. A position that was unusual for women at the time, being responsible for 28 pages.  When asked to quit because how others colleagues viewed her and her position, she answered “Why? That’s their problem, not mine”.

Her activism work began when she met a 16-year old girl, who had endured a lifetime of sexual abuse. As a result of that abuse, she was forced into sex work and was sentenced to death by stoning. Amini investigated her death and wrote a story. Her editor-in-chief prohibited the publication of the story and fired her soon after.

On October 2006  she founded the “Stop Stoning Forever Campaign”, in which she worked with well-known feminists in the country.  She has won different awards for her work among which we find the Hellman/Hammet Award by Human Rights Watch in 2009.

 

Maria Corina Machado

Born in 1967 a political activist for the rights of the Venezuela people, especially supporting the mothers of the country who have lost their family members to starvation, lack of medicines, criminality or government acts against protesting students.

She served as an elected member of the National Assembly of Venezuela where she was several times violently mistreated. During the celebration of Venezuela’s Declaration of Independence, she assisted as a member of the National Assembly and was attacked and injured by government supporters who threw stones and bottles at her. She was also the founder of the volunteer civil organization Súmate.

During the 2014 Venezuelan protests, Machado was one of the leading figures in organizing protests against the government of Nicolás Maduro. Standing since then side by side to all of the women in Venezuela who protested against all of the human rights violations led by the Venezuelan heads of state.

In 2015 she received the Cádiz Cortes Ibero-American Freedom Prize.

Rashmi Misra

In one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, this women fight against the education problems that girls encounter in India.

To make a change in the education system in India she founded a school (VIDYA) on her own where she used her home to provide children from poor families a good education. Efforts that later turned into international fonds that made it possible to open schools across the country.

One of her biggest obstacles was finding where to build the schools. Many citizens were against schools filled with poor children being built in their societies.

She now focuses on spreading the word about this problem and empowering young women to study.

 

Obiageli Ezekwesili

An activist born in 1963 that not only was the co-founder of one of the pioneering international non-governmental organization to prevent global corruption and criminal activities but helped bring attention to the Boko Haram kidnappings.

After the 300 girls were abducted from Chibok (Nigeria) by Boko Haram a Jihadist militant organization, she used the Bring Back our Girls advocacy group to bring international attention to that matter. The hashtag #bringourgirlsback went viral internationally.