Making gender equality a reality.

14 Fierce Women’s Rights Advocates To Watch In 2014

Posted on January 21, 2014 by Women Thrive

This post originally appeared on Buzzfeed Community.

Extraordinary women like Malala Yousafzai and Beyoncé are championing women’s rights in a big way, but they aren’t alone. Around the world, plenty of inspirational women and men are making waves in support of equality for women and girls.

1. Pooja Taparia



The World Health Organization reports that India has the highest number of sexually abused children worldwide. That’s why in 2007 Pooja founded Arpan, an organization to prevent child sexual abuse and heal those who have been affected by abuse and exploitation. So far, she and her colleagues have directly helped 50,000 children and adults.

2. Edna Adan Ismail

Edna Adan

Edna started a hospital in her home country of Somaliland, which has the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality in the world. Diane Lane has called Edna her personal hero, but Edna isn’t resting on her laurels. Her next goal is to dispatch 1,000 life-saving midwives throughout the country.


3. Lydia Sasu


Lydia takes women’s empowerment head on as she organizes farmers, fish producers, and other women across Ghana. The farming co-operative she started works in 50 rural communities to promote female leadership, as well as access to land, education, technology and other resources to empower women and their communities.

Donate to Support Our Work 

4. Neema Namadamu


Neema heads up the organization Maman Shujaa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the DRC, it’s common for girls to believe their calling is to serve men. But Neema sees wider horizons for the country’s girls, which is why she works to inspire women leaders. She has an ambitious plan for girls in her country: “I’m not interested in making a little noise—I’m looking to CHANGE THE PARADIGM!”


5. Dr. Christine Dranzoa


War may have ravaged her native Uganda, but Christine is a professor with a mission. She serves on the executive board for the Forum for African Women Educationalists, which advocates for girls’ education in 32 African countries. Coming from humble beginnings, Christine credits determination for her success so far. “I was very hard working. Very disciplined. High integrity. And setting for myself goals. And no one could derail me from them.”

6. Ruwani Renuka



Women make up 52 percent of Sri Lanka’s population, but only 2 percent of elected officials. Ruwani and her colleagues at the Social Transformative Action Network for Development (STAND) want women to be more involved in decision-making processes and make their voices heard. Even in the face of persistent poverty and inequality in Sri Lanka, STAND is helping women open doors to expanded economic and leadership opportunities in their communities.

7. Suraya Pakzad



Despite the personal danger, in 1998 Suraya founded the organization Voice of Women in Afghanistan to educate women and advocate for women’s rights. She now runs a range of projects that support disadvantaged and oppressed women, and was even named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 people who most affect our world.


8. Linda Chukwunyere



As Chief Operating Officer of the African Youth Development Foundation, Linda dedicates her days to transforming the lives of women and children in rural communities of Nigeria. Her mission is to change attitudes about women as local economies grow, including helping widows to get back on their feet.

9. Maria Alicia Calles

Maria Alicia

Maria Alicia founded Unión de Mujeres Campesinas Hondureñas to fight for agriculture reform so that men and women farmers have equal footing in her native Honduras. Despite only having a limited education, this activista Hondureña works tirelessly to make sure that the voices of rural women are part of important decision-making throughout the country.


10. Dr. Sakena Yacoobi


Defying all odds, Sakena founded the Afghan Institute of Learning in 1995 to provide Afghan girls with education and access to better health services. It began with two schools in refugee camps and by 2001 had reached 1.4 million women and children, including 80 underground homeschools inside Afghanistan. Today, her organization reaches over 400,000 women and children annually through learning centers, schools, health programs and training.

11. Renee Marcelle


Human trafficking and sex slavery in Nepal take a devastating human toll. In 2010, California native and lawyer Renee Marcelle took action to combat the practice, co-founding the Journey Home Foundation. She spends her days providing pro bono legal support for low-income women and children.


12. Jamila Afghani


Jamila is the founder of Noor Educational & Capacity Development Organization in Afghanistan. Jamila has survived polio and a gunshot wound to the head, but still dedicates her life to empowering women and building their capacities for a strong, peaceful, and prosperous nation.



And two pretty fierce men, too…

13. Sirajul Islam Rony


Sirajul is the president of Bangladesh National Garments Workers Employees League, which advocates for economic and human rights for garment workers—no small feat, as Bangladesh’s garment industry is the second largest in the world and employs about 4 million people. Considering that 80 percent of garment workers in the country are women, he’s doing some serious work expanding their rights.



14. Juhudi Mbwambo


Juhudi founded Elimu Community Light to empower marginalized groups, especially young girls, in his home country of Tanzania. In Tanzanian culture, girls are not given the same access to education as boys because they have more domestic duties at home. Why is helping girls so important to Juhudi? “I believe women are the center of societal change,” he’s said.


15. Want to meet more inspirational women?

Meet our partners from around the world fighting for a more equitable world for men, women, boys and girls.





Submitted by African Youth D... on

Thanks to all of you at Women Thrive Worldwide for recognizing our Chief Operating Officer, Linda Chukwunyere as one of the 14 women activists to be watched in 2014.That recognition also applies to all of us at the African Youth Development Foundation (AFRYDEF), an organization based in Nigeria with the mission to cost-effectively transform the lives of youths; women and children in the rural communities of Africa through facilitating sustainable youth and rural development initiatives in their communities.Wooowww....this just came at the right time, the start of a new year! Little did we know that our programs are being recognized by international organizations like yours. By this, you have rightly prepared us to do more in 2014 and we hope to expand our projects to the unreached and highly impoverished women and children in the rural communities of Nigeria.We greatly appreciate you, all at Women Thrive Worldwide and the management of the Buzzfeed Community for finding our COO worthy of this honour.We are most grateful and highly encouraged.Thank you, thank you, thank you!- AFRYDEF Team 

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.