Phenomenal Women – Priyanka Chopra

If anyone watches the series Quantico, then you will have heard about Priyanka Chopra.  A firm favourite in the WoK HQ office she is an Indian actress who started out her career as Miss World in the year 2000.  A multi-talented performer who has had roles in tense dramas both in Bollywood and Hollywood she has a crossover appeal for both cultures.

Not content with being an entertainer Priyanka does lots of humanitarian work and especially enjoys working with young people in her native India.  She has twice been a UNICEF Ambassador and does voluntary work in the areas of health, gender equality and education to name a few.

If all of these achievements aren’t enough, she is also a recording artist with three albums under her belt.  No doubt we will be writing a more extended profile on Priyanka in the future, but for now, we wanted to leave you with a quote from her:

“Financial independence is paramount. My mom always says that when a woman is financially independent, she has the ability to live life on her own terms. I think that was the soundest advice that I ever got. No matter where you go in life or who you get married to, you have to be financially independent – whether you use it or not.”

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Phenomenal Women – Iman

Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid or Iman as she is better known is a world-renowned supermodel and entrepreneur.  Born in Somalia to a relatively wealthy family.  Well educated, Iman decided to attend University to study political science, and it is while she was there that she was discovered and embarked on her modeling career.  Her striking features soon elevated her to the title of supermodel.

After 14 years as a model, Iman decided to create her own brand of cosmetics focusing on shades and tones appropriate for darker skin which in those days were more challenging to find.  Exploiting a gap in the market, she is now a successful businesswoman.

Also known for her marriage to David Bowie, Iman is a devoted mother and also pursues philanthropic activities including ambassadorships and award wins.  When David Bowie died in 2016, she paid tribute to him saying

“the struggle is real, but so is God.”

Phenomenal Women (girl) – Anne Frank

One of the most distressing and compelling books that I read in my childhood was the Diary of Anne Frank.  Anne was born in Frankfurt, Germany and was held captive with her family during Nazi occupation.  The diary she wrote which was published posthumously shares her experiences of hiding with her family in the two years preceding their capture.

The diary is compelling because of its simplicity, written by a young girl there is an honesty and candour that both engages yet creates consternation as the tension and fear in some entries is almost palpable.

This entry from her diary demonstrates the optimism of youth which also creates a bittersweet, moment considering how well-known she has become.

I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …

And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! …

I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me!

When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”

Phenomenal Women – Eva Peron

As a fellow South American Eva Peron holds a special place in the hearts and esteem of all of us here at WoK HQ.  An inspiring feminist and role model Eva Peron or Evita as she was known as a woman who embodied grace both physically and mentally.

Eva was an actress as well as First Lady to Argentinian President Juan Peron and used her role as the First Lady to fight for labour rights and specifically women’s rights.  As someone born in poverty who had worked her way to prosperity and recognition her humility was something that carried her a far way on her journey through life.

When asked why she helped other women she said:

“I demanded more rights for women because I know what women had to put up with.”

Phenomenal Women – Coretta Scott-King

Most well known for being the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, Scott-King was always an activist and a civil rights campaigner, but the spotlight shifted to her talents and achievements after the tragic death of her husband.  Not only did she become a widow and single mother to four children but she also picked up the mantle to fight racial segregation and oppression that her husband had left.

Some of her notable achievements included founding the King Center, campaigning successfully to have a day of commemoration for her husband as a public US holiday and finally winning the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2004.

Up until her sad passing in 2006, she remained a vocal advocate for change and lent her voice to many campaigns including anti-apartheid demonstrations and LGBT+ campaigns.  Her speeches were almost as legendary as her husbands, and one of our favourite quotes by her is:

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”

Phenomenal Women – Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi holds the record for being the first and only Prime Minister of India, A respected and trail-blazing politician she held office on two occasions making her achievement even more notable.  Her first term ran from 1966 to 1977 and then she was in office from 1980 until 1984 when she was assassinated.

As a female premier Gandhi bucked the trend by being known for her ruthless determination and her strength of character.  She initiated war against Pakistan and was instrumental in the creation of “Bangladesh.”  Although many people found her approach controversial and didn’t agree she is no doubt one of the most influential and most powerful women in politics to date.

Such was the strength of feeling against her that she was assassinated by her own bodyguards in an apparent coup.  Notably, despite her famous name, she is not related to political activist Mahatma Gandhi.

 

 

Phenomenal Women – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

I am sure that you have all heard of Nelson Mandela, but there is not as much information about his first wife, Winnie Mandela.  Winnie Mandela was a fierce woman who stood beside her husband as he fought against apartheid in South Africa.  Not only was she a passionate activist but she also held political office and headed the African National Congress Women’s League.

Born in South Africa to parents who were disappointed that she was a girl Winnie spent her young years as a tomboy as a way to belatedly fulfill their wishes.  Unsurprisingly it wasn’t long before she had her first experience of injustice within the racially oppressive Apartheid system and this early interaction with hate would set the wheels in motion for her future battles against injustice.

A little-known fact is that Winnie also experienced prison life in South Africa after being arrested for her role in a protest against the discriminatory South African laws.  Sadly the strain of extended separation and increasingly divergent political views split the Mandelas apart in 1996, but Winnie Mandela remains a real heroine for Justice in her own right.