While every woman is born with the same remarkable divinity, same limitless potential, and same inherent worth, there are some women, throughout HerStory, who have challenged the status quo, defied societal expectations, and become heart-centered leaders of their time. These women's stories are important and timeless as they pave the way for girls, for future generations of women, to rise in their own power, heart-centered and self-loving.
While many remarkable women have existed and while all have stories worthy of sharing, here are just three of our favorite female trailblazers to include in tonight's bedtime story.
Dr. Jane Goodall
Very simply, Dr. Jane Goodall is the world's leading expert in chimpanzees.
In her early 20's, Jane Goodall worked as an assistant in a London film studio when a friend invited her to Kenya. There, she met a famous archeologist who offered to hire her on as an assistant. Jane, who had always wanted to work with chimpanzees, took a leap of faith and accepted the position. Lo and behold, Jane was assigned to study a family of chimpanzees in Tanzania.
At 26 years old, Jane became the second person to ever study chimpanzees in the wild, and she did so with no formal scientific training whatsoever. Jane did things unconventionally, becoming the first scientist to give her subjects names rather than assigning them numbers.
Academic scientists scoffed at her lack of education and what they considered an overly compassionate approach. Ten years later, Jane obtained her doctorate from Cambridge University (without a bachelor's or master's degree!) and has since obtained honorary degrees from nearly 40 universities all over the world.
In total, Dr. Jane spent 45 years studying wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. Since returning from the field, Dr. Jane has traveled the world leading initiatives and giving talks to improve the lives of chimpanzees, of animals in captivity, and of all living things.
In 2002, she was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace for her work.
Impossible to fit into any one title, Maya Angelou was successful at many talents as an American author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist.
Growing up as an African American in 1930's Arkansas, Maya experienced racial prejudice and discrimination firsthand as a child. She came from a broken home and spent most of her early childhood living with her grandmother.
At the age of seven, tragedy struck when Maya was raped by her mother's boyfriend. Maya's uncles, upon finding out, murdered the boyfriend. Small and afraid, Maya became virtually mute in the wake of such tragedy.
Later, in her 30's, a friend encouraged Maya to write a memoir based on her childhood experiences and history of abuse. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.
Maya also went on to publish a dramatic screenplay, Georgia, Georgia, becoming the first African-American woman to produce a screenplay. Apart from her many artistic talents and accomplishment, Maya was a fierce warrior for equality, tolerance, and peace.
She died in 2014.
Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan to two proud parents. At the age of ten, Taliban militants took control of the Swat Valley where she lived and began to enforce harsh punishments, including public executions, for anyone who dared defy their strict rules.
The Taliban banned girls in the Swat Valley from attending school and Malala's school was shut down. Malala, with a deep love for learning, began to write under a pen name for the BBC blog, sharing her experiences in Swat Valley with the world.
Luckily, the Pakistani army moved into the Swat Valley, forcing the Taliban militants to retreat and Malala's school was able to reopen.
Despite her fear and knowing that the Taliban remained close by in rural areas surrounding the Swat Valley, Malala began to publicly campaign for girls to go to school. In doing so, she won Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Price.
A few years later, at the age of 15 (and now a prominent voice and advocate for girls in Pakistan), the Taliban targeted and shot Malala in the head, neck, and shoulder while she rode the bus to school. Miraculously, Malala survived, and the United Nations declared her birthday, July 12th, as Malala Day.
Over the past five years, Malala has dedicated her life to advocating for girls' education, giving a voice to the world's most vulnerable female populations and even opening schools for girls around the world through her advocacy organization, the Malala Fund.
In 2014, at the age of 17, Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize and became the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate. She now attends Oxford University where she studies Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.