When women were warriors

When women were warriors

Many women have made history by asserting their rights in more than patriarchal societies, the place of women has changed enormously today and we owe it to women like that, so in honour of International Women's Day let us celebrate these warriors.

JEANNE D'ARC - 15th century

At the age of 16 she hears voices of saints telling her to go find the dolphin and help him to be crowned king in order to push the English out of France during the 100 years war, but she tells her family about these voices and they think she is crazy and want to lock her up. She leaves home to find the dolphin, gains his trust and ends up at the head of an army with a man's armour because obviously she is the first woman soldier. However, in a very restricted time in terms of opinion on women's rights, this has not prevented her from defending her convictions.


From her true sound Aurore Dupin, she is known for her books and her explicit letters exchanged with Musset, she is also an important woman in the evolution of women's rights. Firstly by taking a male pseudonym for writing and daring to wear men's clothes, but also because she was one of the first to defend the fact that a woman can have another purpose in life than marriage.
She corresponded with many famous writers and personalities, she published her first novel, Indiana in 1832 and then Valentine. In these books she defends the right of women to have passions, dreams and opposes all the oppressions they are victims of. And her talents as a committed writer were quickly recognized.


She spent her childhood between London, Dublin and Nairn in Scotland, she received a good education and her writings reflect a real intellectual capacity. She is the most famous suffragette in New Zealand, supported by other activists she presented a petition to parliament demanding the right to vote for women. This led New Zealand to become the first sovereign country to grant women the right to vote.


French artist and activist she was a cabaret star with a cheetah as a pet. She took part in the French resistance during the Second World War.
At that time European society was fascinated and also hostile towards women of colour, but Josephine Baker always remained herself. She is remembered as a great icon of elegance and her shows represented dance, burlesque comedy and many others. She challenged the idea that female sexuality could be defined or controlled and more importantly she showed that it had to be fun for women.


She was born in Notting Hill in London, studied physics and biology at St Paul's Girls school, then went to France to learn X-ray and crystallography at the Central Chemical Services Laboratory. She then returned to England to attend King's College. This British molecular biologist was involved in the discovery of the structure of DNA. She received the Louisa GRoss Horwitz Award of Honour after her death in 2008.


A pioneering British politician in the fight for women's rights and married to a feminist lawyer, she created the Women's Social and Political Union. She launched her activists into violent actions, bombings, public suicides, interruptions of political meetings etc. She then found herself on the front page of the newspapers and went to prison several times. The term "suffragettes" refers to women who campaign for the right to vote. Her fierce fight with the suffragettes contributed to the right of women to vote in England from the age of 21 in 1928.


Born in Warsaw to a father who was a professor of mathematics and physics and a mother who was a schoolteacher, the philosopher Auguste Comte's interest in these subjects grew. She leaves Poland for France where she will study mathematics. Working on a study of magnets and not knowing much about them, she will then ask for advice from the man who will become her husband Pierre Curie. This exceptional woman, she was the first scientist to receive the Nobel Prize, she is still today the only woman to have received two. She was rewarded for her research on polonium and radium.


She was an American computer scientist and mathematician working on the flight software for the Apollo missions, which led to the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Without her work and her code, man would not have set foot on the moon.


At the age of only 19, she joined the resistance in 1944 and was awarded the War Cross in 1946 for her dedication during the Second World War. Today she is 90 years old and if she had to do it again she would do it again because she has no regrets.


She is an emblematic figure in the fight against racial segregation and the mother of the civil rights movement. As a seamstress in Alabama, she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. At the time it was an offence and she was arrested, tried and charged with public disorder. But a few days later Martin Luther King took the lead in a protest movement for ethnic equality and the emancipation of minorities.


She is the first woman to fly in space, this young Soviet woman made history during her space trip in 1963. Today she is still the only woman to have made a trip into space, alone.


Born to a Jewish family from Lorraine, she was deported to Auschwitz at the age of 16. She lost all her family except her sisters during the Holocaust. They escaped death and married Antoine Veil. She later studied law and political science and entered the judiciary as a high-ranking civil servant. Then Minister of Health in 1974, she defended the bill on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. The Veil law was passed on 17 January 1975, a key moment in the history of women's rights.


An inescapable philosopher and feminist of the women's liberation movement in the 1970s, she is the author of the book "The Second Sex". Her sentence "One is not born a woman: one becomes one" is the best known and most representative quotation of her work and her fight for her convictions, at the time it created controversy.

If you are inspired by the journey of these exceptional women and would like to discuss it with people from all over the world you can go to the language exchange section of our site.

Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer