25 Women Who Shaped the Feminist Movement

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6. Gloria Steinem
> Occupation: Journalist, activist
> Known for: Ms. Magazine

A key player in the women’s liberation movement of the ’60s and ’70s, Gloria Steinem kick-started her journalism career by going undercover as a Playboy bunny to expose the poor pay and working conditions at the Playboy Club in NYC. Steinem remains an outspoken feminist in the media. While she is most famous for co-founding Ms. Magazine, the first female-run feminist magazine in the U.S., she also co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Women’s Media Center, and the Ms. Foundation for Women.

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7. Audre Lorde
> Occupation: Poet
> Known for: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Audre Lorde, who called herself a “black feminist lesbian mother poet” explored many conflicting and divergent identities in her poetry. Focusing on the intersection of lesbianism and blackness, she pointed out the interwoven nature of various types of oppression. By publicly exposing her own marginalized identities she hoped to help others find their voices and celebrate their differences. In 1991, she became the poet laureate of New York and has since been hailed as one of the foremost feminist voices of the 20th century. Though she died of cancer, her words from 1988 have helped inspire feminist activists to prioritize self-care: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

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8. Kate Millett
> Occupation: Writer
> Known for: Sexual Politics

Kate Millet’s book “Sexual Politics,” published in 1970, became a best-seller and a key influence on the women’s liberation movement of the time. The book rejected patriarchy as a governing ideology. Millett’s later works went on to explore and de-stigmatize mental health issues. She became a committee member of the National Organisation for Women in 1966 and an associate director of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press in 1978.

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9. Wangari Maathai
> Occupation: Environmental Activist
> Known for: Nobel Peace Prize

Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She founded in 1977 the Green Belt Movement, which focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights and helped Kenyan women plant over 20 million trees at their farms, churches, and schools. Throughout the ’80s the movement spread to many other African countries. In 2004, she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

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10. Gloria E. Anzaldua
> Occupation: Writer, scholar
> Known for: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Colour

Gloria Anzaldúa, a Chicana and feminist theorist who grew up on the Texas-Mexico border, is best known for her poetic book “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” and for co-editing “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Colour.” As an openly lesbian woman of Mexican descent, Anzaldúa helped define post-colonial, chicana, and queer feminism through her extensive writing and scholarly papers.