5 famous women activists to remember

By Kara Anderson

Countless women throughout history have worked tirelessly in pursuit of peace; here are five peace activists whose courage, love and determination we should never forget.

  1. Mother Theresa
Mother Teresa

Dedicating her life to the poor and sick, she earned the Noble Peace Prize 1979.

Mother Teresa founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic group of women committed to helping the vulnerable, including those with AIDS, terminal illness, blindness, leprosies, ect.

In 2016, the Roman Catholic Church canonized Mother Teresa as Saint Teresa.

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” –Mother Teresa

  1. Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman led hundreds of enslaved people over the course of 13 mission through the Underground Railroad to freedom from the South.

She also served as a spy for the United States Army during the Civil War. After the Civil War ended, she devoted her life to helping poor, formerly enslaved people and the elderly.

In 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department said Harriet Tubman will become the face of a new $20 bill, replacing Andrew Jackson.

  1. Mildred Lisette Norman Ryder

Mildred Lisette Norman Ryder walked seven cross-country walks for peace between January 1, 1953 and July 7, 1981.

She became know as the “Peace Pilgrim,” walking for 28 years. At the beginning of her personal journey for peace she promised she would “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.”

Without the support of any on organization, she walked rested more than 25,000 miles.

In 1952, Mildred Lisette Norman Ryder became the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail in one season.

“We seem always ready to pay the price for war.  Almost gladly we give our time and our treasures–our limbs and even our lives–for war.  But we expect to get peace for nothing.” –Mildred Lisette Norman Ryder

  1. Leymah Gbowee

Gbowee lead a women’s peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, which ultimately helped end the second Liberian Civil War in 2003.

The work of Gbowee and other women coalitions – staged pray-ins, nonviolent protests and peace-talks – resulted in the Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor going into exile. In 2005, Liberia’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected.

Gbowee, along with Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. She continues to work for gender equality and the end to war.

“Don’t wait for a Gandhi, don’t wait for a King, don’t wait for a Mandela. You are your own Mandela, you are your own Gandhi, you are your own King.” –Leymah Gbowee

  1. Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt at United Nations. Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

Eleanor Roosevelt used her role as first lady to help her husband Frankin. She pushed for the New Deal and advocated for women’s rights in the workplace, along with civil rights for African Americans. An outspoken humanitarian, she was the first first lady to hold press conferences in the White House.

After her husband died, she became a delegate for the United Nations, working towards human and women’s rights until her death in 1962.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

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