On March 8, 2012, women (and men!) across the globe came together for International Women’s Day to celebrate achievements made by women and to inspire future action. First observed in the United States in 1909, International Women’s Day is now a national holiday in nearly 30 countries—including China, Afghanistan and Cuba.
TakePart gives you 10 images of women around the world. Whether world game changers or local health providers, these are women who, whether they wake up in the morning with that intention or not, are leading by example for a better humanity.
Above, three Nobel Peace Prize Winners—(L to R) Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, human rights activist Tawakul Karman from Yemen and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf—exemplify what puts the “whoa!” in woman.
Photo: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Keeping Abreast of Public Health
Rita De Martino, a 27-year-old journalist from Venezuela, holds her defective breast implant manufactured by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).
Last February PIP, a French company, was indicted on charges of creating and distributing cancer-causing silicon breast implants. De Martino made her case public after Venezuela’s plastic surgery association claimed that PIP implants had not been distributed in the country.
Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Seeing Eye to Eye
As part of China's “Trip of Light” project to provide medical relief to Sudan, Doctor Mai Yan lead a team of opthalmologists that performed 250 eye-saving surgeries in a Khartoum hospital in one week during January 2012.
Photo: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters
Beyond the Breaking Point
Determined to tough out any training hardships that males endure, a recruit for China’s first female bodyguards stands firm as an instructor smashes a bottle over her head. Twenty women, mostly college graduates, are currently enrolled in the 10-month training program.
The top trainees will be selected to attend the International Security Academy in Israel.
Photo: David Gray/Reuters
Spinning Through Her 70s
Not your average 73-year-old retiree, DJ Wika Szmyt plays music at a club in Warsaw, Poland. Her setlist consists of disco, rumba and samba for her elderly crowd and popular hits for the youth.
DJ Wika Szmyt spins three nights a week, hoping to rejuvenate her older audiences while proving she can still please the younger ones.
Photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters
Taking Legal Action
An elderly woman casts her vote inside her home during parliamentary elections in the village of Kosmos, Kazakhstan. The election was intended to put a second party in parliament after deadly riots shook the country’s facade of stability. Contrary to the visions of Borat, Kazakh women have been an integral, if underrepresented, force in Kazakhstan since playing vital roles in gaining their homeland's independence from Russia.
Photo: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters
The Lady Occupies
Police arrest an Occupy London protestor on the roof of a controversial mining company.
Without women organizers, demonstrators and supporters, 2011's Occupy movements would have had a far lessened global impact.
Photo: Olivia Harris/Reuters
Blessing the Beasts
In January, Chinese volunteers rescued 1,000 dogs (some of which were pets) from being put down and marketed for food. Globally, as in America, animal rights activists are often led by women.
United for a Civil Future
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hugs Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Clinton’s visit to Myanmar represented the United States’ support of the military government’s journey toward democracy.
Photo: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Standing for Freedom
A woman flees as police shoot tear gas at anti-government demonstrators in Bahrain. Women have been central to Arab Spring movements. As both activists and targets, they share their strength and strivings for liberty with female revolutionaries past and present.