International Women's Day 2022

Migrant women who are changing the world

This March 8th marks International Women’s Day (IWD) a celebration of the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. The theme for 2022 is Break The Bias, which aims to “Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality”.

In honour of IWD 2022, we’re highlighting five female migrants who uphold these values. Continue reading to discover more about these pioneering women whose work continues to shape the modern world. 

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende

Allende is a novelist who shot to fame in Venezuela and later in the United States. She was born in Peru and her father was a first cousin of Salvador Allende, the former President of Chile. After her mother remarried a diplomat, Isabel spent much of her childhood in Bolivia, Beirut, and Chile.

When Salvador Allende was deposed in 1973, his extended family went into exile. After fleeing Peru, Isabel Allende’s family settled in Venezuela for 13 years. It was there that she wrote The House of Spirits, her debut novel. 

Allende’s novels feature her personal experiences, historical events, and elements of realism. Her career spans over 20 novels and a haul of awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Approaching her 80th birthday, Allende continues to publish books and inspire female writers.

Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani was a mathematician who became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, known as the Nobel Prize of Mathematics. Born in Iran in 1977, Mirzakhani won the gold medal for mathematics in the Iranian National Olympiad while still in high school. As a result, she was granted direct entrance to college. 

After completing her Ph.D. at Harvard University, Mirzakhani became a professor at Princeton University in 2004. Five years later, she moved to Stanford University, researching hyperbolic and symplectic geometry.

Maryam passed away in 2017 aged 40, but her birthday, 12th May, now commemorates the Celebration of Women in Mathematics Day.

Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba spent her life advocating for the liberation of black Africans and the African diaspora. A promising music career saw her leave South Africa for the United States, where she recorded dozens of albums in English, Sotho, and Swahili. She became the first Grammy-winner born in Africa for her album An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba, recorded with actor turned singer Harry Belafonte. 

When Makeba used her newfound success to speak out against apartheid, the South African authorities revoked her passport. Her exile from South Africa would last for over three decades, during which she also lived in Guinea and Belgium. Makeba would eventually return to South Africa thanks to the intervention of Nelson Mandela

Back home, she would continue her music career while creating an orphanage for children with HIV and life-changing disabilities. 

Anne Hidalgo

Anne Hidalgo

​​Ana “Anne” María Hidalgo was born in the Spanish province of Cádiz. Her family moved to France when she was two, fleeing poverty and the turbulent General Franco regime.

She grew up in an underprivileged neighbourhood in Lyon. After university, she began her career as a civil servant in the labour inspection department in Paris in 1984. A decade later, she joined the Socialist Party as an advisor to Lionel Jospin, working on employment equality.

Under the guidance of former president François Hollande in 2000, she began climbing the ranks in the Socialist Party. Her ascent would coincide with an increase of female members of the party and new-age socialism. In 2014 she became Mayor of Paris, the first migrant and female to hold the role.

Despite being an ally of current president Emmanuel Macron, it’s rumoured that Hidalgo will run for the position in 2022.

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi is one of the most famous female entrepreneurs in the world. She is the first South-Asian female to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company (PepsiCo in 2006). And in 2014, she ranked 13th on the Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

Nooyi was born and grew up in India where she received three bachelor’s degrees from the University of Madras. She would later attend the Yale School of Management where she earned a Master’s degree in Public and Private Management in 1980. Before joining PepsiCo in 1994, Nooyi held positions with companies such as Motorola and Johnson & Johnson.

A keen cricketer and guitar player, she currently serves on the board of Amazon and the International Cricket Council (ICC).

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