I am constantly inspired by the women who are making a difference in this world by being brave, taking risks, changing the way we think, and improving the lives of others. In honor of International Women’s Day, here are six empowering women who will motivate you to make a difference, too.
The 33-year-old made headlines last year for becoming the first black principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre in its 75-year history. Unlike her peers, Copeland didn’t start taking lessons until she was 13, but the prodigy was dancing en pointe within three months. Her memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina sheds light on how she overcame tremendous obstacles and adversity all while exhibiting tremendous strength, grace, and beauty, on and off the stage. Check out her form on Instagram.
Sometimes it feels like getting ahead is impossible. Liz Murray, 35, grew up in the Bronx to parents who were drug-addicted and both contracted HIV. When her mom died of AIDS in 1996, she moved to a homeless shelter with her dad. Despite her difficult life, she graduated high school in two years, won a scholarship to Harvard, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of public service. Nowadays, she’s a mom, author of a bestselling book, pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at Columbia University, and is an inspirational speaker. If she can’t motivate you, no one can.
Surely you’ve heard of the 46-year-old Facebook Chief Creative Officer. Maybe you’re “Leaning In” right now. As a female entrepreneur myself, I can tell you that people will discourage you and tell you “no,” but that’s all the more reason to push harder for leadership positions. The more women who follow Sheryl’s example and advice the more opportunities there will be for women everywhere.
If her new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover is any indication, the 29-year-old UFC fighter is the new face of beauty. A source of strength, power, and confidence, Ronda was the UFC’s first Women’s Bantamweight Champion and the first woman to win an Olympic medal in judo. When she’s not challenging societal norms and kicking ass, you can find her on the big screen in films like The Expendables 3, Furious 7, and Entourage.
The 60-year-old India-born PepsiCo CEO has made a name for herself by accurately predicting a shift away from junk foods towards healthier options. She’s removed tons of sugar, aspartame, salt, and saturated fat, along with acquiring healthier brands. Indra is a tough, hands-on CEO, but she’s also known for being funny, warm, kind to employees, and a champion of woman’s issues. This is a strategy I can get behind.
While overseeing Google video in 2006, Susan suggested that the company by a small, competitive start-up called YouTube. Fast forward to 2015, when Time named the 47-year-old YouTube CEO “the most powerful woman on the internet.” For her latest project, YouTube has funded over 50 videos showcasing women’s perspectives in honor of women’s history month. “YouTube has always been a platform where women of all ages and backgrounds can find their voice and tell their stories,” she said in a recent statement. “Through our global YouTube Spaces program and new partnership with the U.N., we’ll strengthen female voices on YouTube and around the world.” Bravo.