Celebrating Women of Impact

International Women's Day is a celebration of female empowerment and achievement. In the lead up to this day on March 8th, WiQ are shining the spotlight on women who have inspired generations through their bravery, achievements and advocacy.


Civil rights activist Rosa Parks (1913 -2005) refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama bus, which sparked the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott that helped launch nationwide efforts to end segregation of public facilities. The city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift the law requiring segregation of public buses. Rosa Parks received many accolades during her lifetime, including the NAACP's highest award.


Indra K. Nooyi is the chairwoman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo. Best known for its Pepsi soft drinks, the international powerhouse that Nooyi oversees is actually one of the world's largest snack-food companies. It makes and sells dozens of other products, including Doritos-brand chips, the Tropicana juice line, and Quaker Oats cereals. Nooyi is one of the top female executives in the United States and is also believed to be the highest-ranking woman of Indian heritage in corporate America.


Joanne Rowling (born July 31, 1965), who goes by the pen name J.K. Rowling, is a British author and screenwriter best known for her seven-book Harry Potter children's book series. J.K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh, Scotland, and struggling to get by as a single mother before her first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was published. The children's fantasy novel became an international hit and Rowling became an international literary sensation in 1999 when the first three installments of Harry Potter took over the top three slots of The New York Times best-seller list after achieving similar success in the UK. The series has sold more than 450 million copies and was adapted into a blockbuster film franchise.


Amelia Earhart (born July 24, 1897) was an American aviation pioneer and author. She was the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license and became the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932 and won the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment. She later became a visiting faculty member at Purdue University as an advisor to their aeronautical engineering program and a career counselor to female students. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean and was never heard from again. She was legally declared dead in 1939.


Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani education advocate who, at the age of 17, became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Born on July 12, 1997, Yousafzai became an advocate for girls' education when she herself was still a child. This resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. In 2013, she gave a speech to the United Nations and published her first book, I Am Malala. In 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize.


Born in 1918 in West Virginia, Katherine G. Johnson made the most of limited educational opportunities for African Americans, graduating from college at age 18. She began working in aeronautics as a "computer" in 1952, and after the formation of NASA, she performed the calculations that sent astronauts into orbit in the early 1960s and to the moon in 1969. Johnson was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, and she saw her story brought to light through a book and a feature film the following year.

Hannah Simpson