88 Women We Love
To celebrate International Women's Day, we asked our staff, supporters and friends to tell us about women they love and admire. We were so impressed with these inspiring women working to change their industries and the world that we just had to share them with you. So here, in alphabetical order, in honor of the billions of incredible women around the world that we are celebrating on International Women's Day, are 88 Women We Love.
Read our list and let us know what women you love!
1. Adjoa Andoh
Adjoa Andoh is a film, TV, stage and radio actress of Ghanaian descent, staring in a number of British stage and screen roles, including Doctor Who and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She gained notariety in the United States after her leading role in Invictus opposite Morgan Freeman.
2. Alice Munro
Alice Munro is a critically acclaimed author known for her contemporary short stories. She won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature for her lifetime of work, and we love that many of her stories focus on meaningful and empowering experiences for women and girls.
3. Amal Clooney
Amal Clooney may be in the news for snagging George Clooney as her husband, but we love her because of her work as an international lawyer focusing on human rights, genocide and war zone issues. She has represented some of the biggest news-makers, and serves on UN committees that focus on protecting women and children in conflict zones like Syria.
4. Amy Poehler
What's not to love about Amy Poehler? She's one of the funniest women on television known for her roles in SNL, Parks and Recreation and Baby Mama, and she's also working to empower girls through her educational comedy web series "Smart Girls at the Party."
Angela Merkel has been a prominent world leader since becoming the first female Chancellor of Germany in 2005. Since starting her career as a chemist and eventually becoming a politician she has chaired the G8 and was named the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2014.
Angelina Jolie does it all: she's an Oscar-winning actress turned filmmaker, she's the highest-paid actress in Hollywood, a mother of 6 and an advocate for many humanitarian causes. She has brought attention to "forgotten emergencies" as a UNHCR ambassador, and created awareness for refugees in war zones, education issues and women's rights.
Anita Renfroe is truly a "phe-mom-enon!" She's a comedian who's not afraid to say what every mom is thinking, and she appears on everything from Youtube to comedy tours to Good Morning America with her pop culture parodies.
8. Ann Curry
Ann Curry has built an impressive career as a news journalist and television anchor since her first job as an intern at an NBC-affiliate in Oregon. Since joining NBC News in 1990, Curry has travelled to some of the world's most unstable areas to hear and share people's stories, including Baghdad, Darfur and the Southeast Asia tsunami zone in 2004.
Known for her acting chops showcased in blockbuster hits like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Into the Woods, The Last Five Years and Twilight, Anna Kendrick is proving to be quite the star. On top of her professional skills, her hilarious and ultra-honest Twitter handle makes us laugh and love her even more.
10. Anna Quindlen
Anna Quindlen started as a copy girl at The New York Times, and went on to write for The New York Post, Newsweek and The Times where she won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. And this was all before she became an author of five best-selling novels!
11. Anne Lamott
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, the news and blog powerhouse that has quickly became one of the most widely-read media brands on the Internet. On top of being a self-made businesswoman, she's been named to Time Magazine's list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list.
13. Asma Jahangir
Asma Jahangir is a Pakistani lawyer and an award winning human rights and democracy activist. After witnessing violence against women growing up in Pakistan, she focused on prevention of persecution of religious minorities, gender equality, and extremism. She continues to be a dedicated human rights activist today.
14. Brene Brown
15. Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina became the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company, serving as Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999-2005, where she was named Fortune’s Most Powerful Woman in Business for 6 consecutive years. Since then, Fiorina launched the One Woman Intiative, a women’s empowerment fund focused on development projects in India, Pakistan, Egypt and the Philippines.
17. Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood rose to fame after becoming the fourth winner of American Idol, and has since then become the female vocalist of her generation, winning seven Grammys from her four albums. She has also become involved with numerous charities, including the HSUS, the USO, and the American Red Cross where she donated $1 million to relief efforts after the Oklahoma tornadoes in 2013.
18. Condoleeza Rice
Condoleeza Rice was the first female African-American Secretary of State, and she served during the Bush administration from 2005-2009. She focused on sustaining democratic, well-governed states around the world, and since then she has returned to Stanford as a political science professor.
19. Connie Britton
There are so many reasons to love Connie Britton! America fell in love with her as an actor on Friday Night Lights and Nashville, but we love her even more because she's a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador working to raise awareness about poverty eradication and women's empowerment efforts.
20. Dara Torres
21. Diane Sawyer
22. Ellen Degeneres
Hilarious and smart, Ellen Degeneres is a comedian, TV host, actress, writer and producer. She is part of special envoy for Global AIDS Awareness and has taught us all that it is always a good idea to dance.
24. Ellen McArthur
In 2005, Ellen McArthur broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe. Now, she helps children recover from cancer and invests in her foundation - not just traveling around the world, but changing it for the better.
25. Emma Stone
Emma Stone won our hearts in movies like Easy A, The Help, The Amazing Spider-Man and Crazy, Stupid, Love. She has established herself as a leading lady, lip-sync expert and a comedy star - and has made a difference in the world, too, by working with Stand Up to Cancer fighting women's cancer.
26. Emma Watson
While we love Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, we are even more impressed with her now that her Harry Potter days are over. As a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, she helped launch HeForShe - advocating for gender equality around the globe.
27. Freida Pinto
We first noticed Freida Pinto when she starred Slumdog Millionaire, and this Indian actress has proven herself to be a star. Beyond her growing film career, Freida is a Global Citizen standing up for women's rights.
28. Harper Lee
Author of Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee spoke out on race issues during the tumultuous 1960s. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature.
29. Helen Mirren
Academy Award winning actor Helen Mirren is often known for playing queens - Elizabeth I and Elzabeth II, for example. So it's no wonder that she is considered acting royalty, proving her performance chops on stage and screen for nearly 50 years.
30. Hillary Clinton
Former First Lady, Secretary of State and Senator, Hillary Clinton has served the United States in political office for decades. In addition, her work with The Clinton Foundation has served to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness and protect the environment.
Opportunity International believes in and invests in women around the globe, empowering them to build businesses, support their families and transform their communities. Not only are we inspired by the incredible women on this list, but our clients around the world inspire us every day. Take a moment to learn more about Opportunity invests in women!
31. Idina Menzel
Tony Award winning stage actress Idina Menzel became internationally known (especially by kids) when she voiced Elsa in the Disney blockbuster, Frozen. But Idina is no stranger to the spotlight - she originated the roles of Maureen in Rent, Elphaba in Wicked and, most recently, Elizabeth in If/Then.
32. Indra Nooyi
As current CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi leads one of the largest food and beverage businesses in the world. She is often listed as one of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes and one of the Most Powerful Women by Fortune.
33. Isabel Allende
Chilean-American writer Isabel Allende won the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to literature, incluing her novels The House of the Spirits and City of the Beasts. She is considered one of the world's most widely read Spanish-language authors and often uses her stories to pay homage to the lives of women.
34. Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall is the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, having spent more than half a century working with wild chimps in Tanzania. She is a world leader on conservation and animal welfare and a UN Messenger of Peace, and the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute.
After her story was told in the hit movie The Theory of Everything, the world has a glimpse into the wisdom and support of Jane Wilde Hawking. An author and educator in her own right, she supported her former husband Stephen Hawking through his health struggles for years.
36. Janet Yellen
Janet Yellen is the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. As a leading economist, Janet is the first woman leader of the governing body of the Federal Reserve Bank, implementing the monetary policy of the United States.
37. Jen Hatmaker
Blogger, author and speaker Jen Hatmaker challenged her readers to simplify and reduce consumerism in her bestseller, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Beyond this and her other acclaimed books, Jen blogs honestly and hilariously about her life raising kids, pastoring a church and challenging her community to serve the many needs of the world.
38. JK Rowling
Famed author of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling sparked the imagination in all of us as she transported us into her wizarding world. She is the UK's best-selling living author and has inspired millions around the globe with her incredible stories.
After suffering a spinal fracture as a teenager, Joni Earekson Tada became a quadriplegic and has since dedicated her life to serving those with disabilities. She has written over 40 books and founded Joni and Friends, a ministry serving the disabled community around the world.
40. Judi Dench
Dame Judi Dench has wowed audiences from screen and stage - winning countless awards including an Academy Award and a Tony. Off-stage, Judi supports marginalized people groups in Botswana, Colombia and India and works to provide accessible experiences for people with disabilities.
41. Julie Andrews
We fell in love with Julie Andrews in the 1960s, when she starred in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music - after originating the leading roles in My Fair Lady and Camelot on stage. Since then, we've been consistently impressed with her acting - but also with her grace and warmth.
42. Kate Middleton
There is just something about Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge that makes you love her. Maybe it's her classy style, her beaming smile, her atypical aproach to royalty or her active support of causes ranging from art education to drug rehabilitation - but one way or the other, we are fans of Kate.
43. Katie Couric
Katie Couric has served as a reporter for NBC, ABC and CBS over her long news career. On the Today show, CBS Evening News, ABC News, 60 Minutes and more, Katie told us what was happening in the world. Off screen, after her husband died of colon cancer, Katie became an active spokeswoman for cancer awareness.
44. Katie Davis
After graduating from high school in Tennessee, Katie Davis felt called to move to Uganda to serve orphans and children. Now 25, Katie oversees Amazima, a ministry sponsoring over 700 children in her community, runs Masese Feeding Outreach, a program providing meals to 1,200 children every day, and has adopted 13 Ugandan girls as her own children.
45. Kelly Clarkson
Ameircan Idol winner and plantinum-selling artist Kelly Clarkson has a powerful voice, and an equally powerful desire to make a positive change in the world. She partners with organizations around the world to support children, animals and Fair Trade initiatives.
46. Kelly Ripa
We love waking up with Kelly on her hit talk show every morning. She makes us laugh and keeps us updated on daily news - and is always so personable! She advocates for cancer research and runs a production company with her husband.
47. Kerry Washington
We are obsesssed with Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal - fixing Washington DC with smarts and strategy and lots of style. In real life, she is a member of the Creative Coalition and works to bring awareness to violence against women and girls with V-Day.
Kristina Keneally was the 42nd Premier, and first female Premier, of New South Wales, working for social justice and equal opportunity for women. Through her political career, Kristina worked for those with disabilities and now hosts television programs.
49. Lady Gaga
If there is one thing we love about Lady Gaga, it is that she is always entirely herself. Her theatrical performances, award-winning albums and work with relief organizations have made her an international star, but it's her love of individuality that makes her a star to us.
50. Lupita Nyong'o
Film star Lupita Nyong'o is beautiful, talented and smart. With a master's in acting from Yale, an Academy Award for her role in 12 Years a Slave and a People Magazine "Most Beautiful Woman" award, not to mention an award as "African of the Year", we can't help but love Lupita!
51. Lynne Hybels
Lynne Hybels started Willow Creek Community Church with her husband Bill in 1975. Since then, she has volunteered, spoken and written about Christian issues. Most recently, Lynne has been involved in places of conflict such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, caring for women who have suffered from violence and serving local peacemaking initiatives.
52. Lynsey Addario
We love Lynsey Addario because she shows us truth through incredible art. As a photojournalist, Lynsey focuses her work on conflcts and human rights issues, particularly those that focus on the role of women. She is the winner of both the MacArthur Fellowship and the Pulitzer Prize, as well as many other awards.
Madeleine Albright was the first female Secretary of State of the United States. As such, she influenced American policy in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, advocated for human rights and promoted US trade and business. We love her for her leadership and for the example she set for women in politics.
54. Malala Yousafzai
Malala has taught us so much about education, peace and standing up for what is right. She is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, recognized for her human rights activism in Pakistan where she was shot while going to school. Today, Malala has become the voice of girls' education - a cause that we love!
55. Malin Akerman
Malin Akerman is an actress, model and singer - and she is big believer in changing the world for the better. We love her for being a friend of Opportunity - she has visited Opportunity's clients in Nicaragua and took the Live Below the Line Challenge with us, eating and drinking on less than $1.50 a day in honor of those living below the extreme poverty line.
56. Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver is the former First Lady of California and a journalist and author. Beyond her relationship with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, we love Maria because of her storytelling talent. She won awards covering the 1988 Olympics and won an Emmy for producing The Alzheimer's Project. Today, she is a correspondent for NBC News.
57. Marissa Mayer
Marissa Mayer is the president and CEO of Yahoo! and is one of the most powerful business women in the world. As the leader of one of the world's largest tech companies, she has won honors from Fortune, Forbes and Time - and is a great example for young women everywhere.
58. Mayim Bialik
We love Mayim Bialik because she is hilarious and brilliant. She is both a rockstar actress - staring in Blossom in the 1990s and The Big Bang Theory today - and a neuroscientist. She earned her PhD in neuroscience, studying Prader-Willi Syndrome, and also wrote a book about parenting. She's taught us to go after all of our interests, no matter how varied they are!
59. Megan Tamte
Former teacher Megan Tamte founded clothing chain Evereve in 2004. Today, she oversees over 50 stores around the country. Megan's corporate success is a great inspiration to young women entrepreneurs - and she gives back to entrepreneurs around the world by partnering with Opportunity International!
60. Melinda Gates
At Opportunity International, we know that an investment in a hardworking woman like those on this list pays major dividends. Women reinvest about 90% of what they earn back into their families, creating sustainable change not just for an individual, but for an entire community. Because women are such a great investment, Opportunity provides about 90% of its loans to women - equipping them with the tools, resources and training they need to build businesses and provide for their families. Learn more!
61. Melissa McCarthy
62. Meryl Streep
63. Mia Hamm
65. Michelle Obama
66. Mindy Kaling
67. Missy Franklin
68. Oprah Winfrey
70. Rebecca Jarvis
71. Rigoberta Menchu
72. Robin Roberts
74. Sally Jewell
75. Samantha Power
76. Sandee Kastrul
77. Sarah Bessey
79. Shauna Niequist
80. Sheila Bair
81. Sheryl Sandberg
82. Sheryl WuDunn
83. Sonia Sotomayor
84. Tina Fey
86. Vicki Escarra
87. Whoopi Goldberg
88. Winnie Mandela
At Opportunity, we love women who are changing the world. And we get to work with millions of them on a daily basis. We would love to share stories with you of other women who inspire, amaze and encourage us - women who are working their way out of poverty and creating bright futures for their families and communities.
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