The past decade will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most transformative periods for women. Female-led activism has defined the past ten years – from women’s rights, to environmentalism, to the fight against terror – women of all backgrounds have been leaders in many of the most powerful movements.
Women-led protest movements have created platforms for everyday women and public figures alike to stand together and voice their thoughts, concerns and stories. Now, personal biography-writing service StoryTerrace, has unveiled some of the most influential female activists of the decade according to professional storytellers.
Also known simply as Malala, Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for her human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her native northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. In 2012, Malala and two other girls were shot by a gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism, that consequently launched her profile as an activist into superstardom. The attempt on her life sparked an outpouring of support and public denouncement of the Taliban, and her advocacy has grown into an international movement.
In the past few years, Greta Thunberg’s face has appeared on nearly every news outlet and has more recently been feuding with the president of the United States on Twitter. But she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change. Greta’s emotionally charged speeches have gained momentum and become huge influencers for major climate change movements, including Extinction Rebellion.
The #MeToo movement was sparked by claims of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, many involving household names including Alyssa Milano and Reese Witherspoon. The #MeToo movement has since encouraged millions of women across the world to tell their own stories and speak out against sexual abuse. The campaign has had a worldwide effect and has the phrase “MeToo” has now become embedded in our vernacular.
The Lionesses – England women’s football team
The women’s World Cup that took place from June to July 2019 sparked great interest throughout the world, which was not only great for women’s football, but for women’s sport in general. This year, the Lionesses made it to the semi-finals of the tournament – inspiring young sporting women across the nation.
Personal stories of female power
While celebrities and stars may have great influence on the world stage, it is also vital to recognise the influence and impact that everyday women can have in shaping society and how their stories can affect and inspire future generations. StoryTerrace, a tailor-made biography writing service, have documented hundreds of incredible life stories, and now share some of the most amazing personal stories to come from everyday women, who have all in-turn, contributed to building the country that we know today.
Janet Hanson – Stories from an Active Life
(Founder of the Active Birth Movement and one of the first natural birth pioneers in the UK)
Janet was born in South Africa; her father was Harold Hanson, one of Nelson Mandela’s top defence attorneys in the Rivonia trial. As a teenager, Janet once served Mandela tea and biscuits at her father’s house. After a bad experience with the birth of her first child, Janet became obsessed with innovating and developing birthing practices – she created the Active Birth Movement, organised the famous Birthrights rally on Hampstead Heath, and began speaking at conferences around the world.
She opened the Active Birth Centre in North London, which to this day runs classes, workshops and training in pregnancy yoga and natural birth, and co-wrote The Encyclopedia of Pregnancy and Birth with Yehudi Gordon along with a book on water birth. Since the book’s release, 80% of NHS hospitals in the UK have been supplied with birth pools. Janet is one of the true pioneers of natural birth and her influence continues to spread internationally.
Alina Wallace – Unity is Strength
(The story of the Jamaican nurses who helped to build the NHS)
From 1948, the British Government funded recruitment drives to attract qualified nurses and trainees from the Caribbean to come to Britain – this played a huge part in creating the NHS which we cherish so dearly today. One particular group of nurses from Jamaica, who previously had no knowledge or experience of British culture, made the journey to the UK to work in the NHS. They later set up a charity known as the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) to help those facing discrimination and share harrowing personal experiences, which still stands today.
Alina Wallace, one of the key members of the NAJ, has worked with StoryTerrace to document the lives of the Jamaican nurses, their travel and work in the UK to build the NHS, and the creation and work of the NAJ. It is an incredible tale of overcoming adversity, culture shock and adaptation, the beginnings of a treasured British institution, and the philosophy of the NAJ on sharing ideas and educating people on important health and social issues.
Susie Cornell – Totally Driven
(From the party lifestyle, to a hospital bed, MS campaigner and MBE holder)
Susie cut her teeth on the beaches of Majorca as a beach party seller for the Barbarella Discotheque Night Boat Party in the 70s. She lived a life of glamour; she dated footballers, she came second at the Miss Barbarella Hot Pants competition and became a radio DJ, ‘Birmingham Sue’, on Radio Majorca. But one day she woke up and she couldn’t get out of bed… She went through hundreds of tests until she was finally diagnosed with MS. No one really knew what it was in the 70s and she thought her life was over, until her sister recommended treatment at the Peto Institute in Hungary. This showed Susie that there was a new approach to treating her illness, which focused on exercise and the effect of digestion on health. She went on to use her contacts to campaign for better treatment for MS and improve the understanding of the illness. She published books, exercise videos, and went on to open The Cornell Centre which specialised in natural treatments. She has an MBE and is the Deputy Lieutenant of Essex.