When searching for examples of strong female leaders, People magazine is probably the last place someone would look for inspiration. However, there are many well-known women in popular culture using their status and influence as a force for good, by calling attention to critical world issues far beyond the Hollywood bubble. In honor of International Women’s Month, we’re highlighting the efforts of women who are making using their celebrity to make a difference.
As a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie has called attention to the devastating conditions in refugee camps around the world. While many celebrities simply donate money in hopes of being recognized, Jolie goes ten steps further to personally visit the areas she is trying to help. To date, Jolie has completed more than 20 field missions to countries such as Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Haiti, and Afghanistan. According to a study highlighted on YPULSE.com, Jolie is #4 on a list of celebrities who have most influenced teens to volunteer. In leading by example, Angelina Jolie has solidified her reputation as a strong role model and leader to women everywhere.
Bigelow made Hollywood history with her Oscar win for Best Director, the first female to do so in the award show’s 82-year history. What makes her win even more poignant, however, is the subject her film, “The Hurt Locker,” tackles – a gritty look at the War in Iraq. Bigelow wasn’t afraid to tackle this a difficult subject, and the result was a powerful message that went far beyond the movie screen. This recognition could not have gone to a better person, or come at a better time. Kathryn Bigelow has used her talents to create a memorable work, and has become a leader for women who aspire to be a part of the entertainment industry by showing them that anything is possible.
Amid all of the excitement during the opening ceremony of this year’s Olympics, you may have missed the incredible story of 21-year-old Alpine skier Marjan Kalhor, who is the first woman from Iran to compete in the Winter Olympics. Coming from a country often criticized for its oppression of women, Kalhor became an instant leader to the women of her country, and women in similar situations around the world. At a press conference before her events, Kalhor told the media, “I am very glad to be here, not just for myself, but it can be a very good incentive for the women in Iran . . . I want them to know if they want to, they can. I want them to know it is possible.” Though she came in last place for both of her events, the fact that she was competing at all was a triumph in itself.
In his declaration of 2009’s Women’s History Month, President Obama wrote, “Each year during Women’s History Month, we remember and celebrate women from all walks of life who have shaped this great Nation.” Each of these women has truly shaped the thoughts and actions of current and future generations. They, along with many others, should be recognized for their ability to draw attention away from trivial issues, leading through their actions and abilities to inspire everyone to make an impact.
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