• 8 February 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 (and to create some women-inspired wanderlust!). We have put together a list of 18 inspirational women from around the world, along with the destinations they call home. 

Every year on 8 March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. This is a day to commemorate women’s achievements and raise awareness about gender equality. It also gives us a chance to highlight the incredible women who have changed the world throughout history! From the activism of Rosa Parks and the scientific achievements of Marie Curie, all the way back to the reign of Cleopatra; women have been achieving great things for millennia in countries across the globe! Take a look at the world’s most inspiring women and where they are from, below: 

  1. Marie Curie, Poland

Marie Curie was a pioneering Polish-born physicist famous for her discovery of polonium and radium and research into radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 and the only person to win the award twice when she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1911. While Marie Curie completed her work in France, she had a strong love for her home country. Polonium – the first chemical element she discovered – is named after Poland.

Visit Poland: Full of history and beautiful scenery, Marie Curie’s home country is a stunning (and underrated!) European destination. Poland’s vibrant cities like Warsaw and Krakow are filled with unique culture, architecture and cuisine. Head into the outdoors to experience the serenity of nature amongst the unspoiled lakes and mountains. 

Old Town Market Square in Warsaw, Poland International Women's Day
Old Town Market Square in Warsaw, Poland.

Profile image: Unknown, Tekniska museet, CC BY 2.0 

2. Rosa Parks, USA

Rosa Parks became a symbol for the Civil Rights Movement in the USA when she refused to give up her seat for a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and was arrested in 1955. This single act of defiance inspired important Civil Rights Movement figures including Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks’ action led to a more than year-long bus boycott which ended with the U.S Supreme Court ruling that racial segregation on busses was unconstitutional. She is remembered today for her bravery, dignity and strength in the struggle to end segregation in the USA. 

Visit the USA: The United States of America is a vast and varied country. Travel to places in the East Coast, the West Coast, the Midwest or the South and you’ll enjoy totally different experiences! Alabama lies in the Southern USA. In the south, you’ll find rugged landscapes and the great Mississippi River. The south is drenched in far-reaching and often harsh history which you can learn about in your travels. Visit to experience mouth-watering cuisine, distinct accents and famous music in cities like Nashville and New Orleans. 

Profile image: John Mathew Smith & Laurel Maryland, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 

3. Oprah Winfrey, USA

Many of us will recognise Oprah from her impressive run as a much-loved TV show host. Today, she is celebrated as a “media mogul” and philanthropist who has received a great number of awards for her humanitarian work. While she was born into poverty in rural Mississippi, through hard work and determination, Oprah became the first black female billionaire and gives back through various charities. Oprah is one of the most well-known and influential people in the world! 

Visit the USA: Oprah has lived in a number of US cities such as Nashville, Baltimore and Chicago. One of the best ways to see the diversity of the USA is on a cross-country train journey or road trip!

View of Brooklyn Bridge and New York City International Women's Day
The bright lights of New York City are definitely on many bucket lists!

4. Malala Yousofazi, Pakistan

Malala Yousofazi has achieved incredible things at only 23! The Pakistani education activist survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012 at age 15. The group targeted Malala for being a vocal promoter of girls’ education. Since surviving the attack, this brave young woman continues to champion education rights. Malala has published books and gave a speech at the United Nations in 2013. At 17, she became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2020, she graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.  

Pakistan travel:
This South Asian country is home to deep history and beautiful natural scenery. However, most foreign offices advise against all but essential travel to most of the country due to political and armed force violence. While it may not be possible to safely visit Pakistan, you can gain insight into Malala’s family, her life growing up in Pakistan and what encouraged her to fight for girls’ education rights through her book I am Malala or the 2015 documentary He Named Me Malala.  

5. Anne Frank, Germany & the Netherlands

Immortalized through the diary she kept while hiding from Nazi persecution during WWII, Anne Frank gained fame after the war when her diary was published. She kept her diary throughout her time living in a secret annexe in The Netherlands. Today, Anne Frank is one of the most widely-known victims of the Holocaust. Her diary was published by her father Otto, who survived the war, after he learned that Anne wished to share her stories about her life in hiding. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank has sold more than 30 million copies and has been translated into around 70 languages. It offers a poignant look into what it was like to be living as a young Jewish girl during the Nazi occupation. Her father hoped it would show readers the dangers of discrimination, hatred and racism. 

Visit Germany and the Netherlands: Anne Frank grew up in Germany before moving to the Netherlands as a young girl. Germany is a country filled with historic cities and beautiful natural landscapes. Admire the magic of the Black Forest and experience the unique atmosphere of cities like Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. Travel to the Netherlands for art, culture, cuisine and wind-mill dotted landscapes. The capital city of Amsterdam is a long-time favourite of travellers! In Amsterdam, travellers can visit Anne Frank House – the former secret annexe which has now become a museum. 

Anne Frank House Netherlands International Women's Day
Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

6. Valentina Tereshkova, Russia

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to travel into space. The Russian engineer and cosmonaut was a textile worker who volunteered and qualified for the space flight thanks to her background as a parachutist. Today, she is the only woman in history to have completed a solo space mission. Since her time as a cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova remained active in Russian politics and was a member of the Russian Air Force. Her hard work and determination continue to inspire. Now in her 80s, she continues her hope of pushing frontiers, having shared her ambition of one day visiting mars. 

Portrait of Valentina Tereshkova Yaroslavl, Russia International Women's Day
A stained-glass window with a portrait of Valentina Tereshkova created in Yaroslavl, Russia.

Visit Russia: As the world’s biggest country, Russia is a riveting travel destination! Russia is a vast country of many contrasts; from the wilds of Siberia to the gilded architecture of St Petersburg and Moscow. Visit Russia to discover the imperial history, soviet monuments, modern cities and striking landscapes. 

7. Maya Angelou, USA

Today, Maya Angelou is best remembered for being a literary legend. The American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist published 30+ books and received numerous honours and accolades. She lived in Egypt and Ghana in the early 1960s and worked with American Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X. Maya Angelou also won several awards as a stage and TV actor. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the highest honour a US citizen can receive.

Visit the USA:  There is no doubt that the USA has had a major influence on modern art, music and literature. A trip to the USA is a real treat for arts and culture lovers! Visit Hollywood to walk in the footsteps of movie stars, wander through San Francisco to discover literary Beat Movement memorabilia, and see the incredible theatres, museums and galleries in New York. Not forgetting the music! Listen to Jazz in New Orleans, visit the home of Rock & Roll in Memphis, travel to Chicago to hear the blues and experience the beating heart of country music in Nashville. 

Profile image: York College ISLGP, CC BY 2.0 

8. Wangari Mathaai, Kenya

Wangari Maathai was an environmental and political activist from Kenya. Her campaigns showcased the power of grassroots movements and how powerful women can be! Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement which campaigned for the planting of trees as well as women’s rights and environmental conservation and impacted women’s lives in many African countries. She also worked in Kenyan parliament for several years. Wangari Maathai was the first women to win the Nobel Peace Prize when she won the award in 2004!

Visit Kenya: Kenya is an East African country famous for its natural beauty and incredible safari holidays! Visit the bustling capital of Nairobi, see the exquisite beaches and, of course, venture into destinations like the Masai Mara for an unforgettable wildlife safari! The Kenyan culture, wild landscapes and warm hospitality will make your trip one to remember.  

Cheetah seen on safari in Kenya International Women's Day
Cheetahs spotted in the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya.

9. Emmeline Pankhurst, UK

Emmeline Pankhurst was an activist from Manchester, England, who established the United Kingdom’s Suffragette movement and helped women win the right to vote. The group achieved its goal after decades of commitment and campaigning. As a devout activist for women’s rights, Emmeline Pankhurst without a doubt had a huge impact on the lives of women living today.

Visit the UK: The United Kingdom is a popular travel destination for travellers from across the world thanks to the abundance of things to see and do! See the scenic beauty and historic landmarks of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Learn about centuries of royal rule, see castles and stately homes, visit cities home to famous musicians like The Beatles, Queen and Elton John and much, much more!

Emmeline Pankhurst mural Manchester England International Women's Day
A mural to Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester, England.

10. Frida Kahlo, Mexico

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist known for her haunting and stunning self-portraits. Today she is one of the best-known artists of the 20th century! She struggled with chronic pain throughout most of her life. After a bus accident, she had to undergo over 30 surgeries. She taught herself to paint while she was recovering from the accident and surgeries. She explored themes of identity and death. In the years since her own death, her popularity has soared and she has become an important figure for feminism and LGBTQI+ rights.

Visit Mexico: Home to Mayan temples, lively cities, thick jungles, beautiful coastlines, world-famous cuisine, vibrant art and dynamic nightlife, Mexico is a destination like no other! This makes it a bucket-list favourite with many travellers. Travel to Mexico and enjoy a journey for the senses! 

Frida Kahlo art trinkets International Women's Day
Frida Kahlo is one of the best-known artists of the 20th century!

Profile image: Guillermo Kahlo, Frida Kahlo, 1932, CC BY-SA 4.0 

11. Cleopatra, Egypt

Cleopatra was the final ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt and is much more than just the great beauty she has come to be remembered by. Ruling Egypt for over 20 years, she was a formidable political force. The stories of Cleopatra’s life and reign have been told in movies like Antony and Cleopatra (1972) and Cleopatra (1963). 

Visit Egypt: You’ll get to take a journey back in time on a trip to Egypt. See the famous Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza. Cruise along the Nile River, ride camels through the desert, visit ancient temples and learn all about the history of this incredible destination! 

Great Pyramids and Sphinx Egypt International Women's Day
The Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx are iconic sites in Egypt.

12. Coco Chanel, France

Coco Chanel is one of France’s most iconic fashion figures. As a designer, she helped create new styles for women in the early 1900s, moving away from confined corsets to more loose, fluid shapes, ushering in new lifestyles and sense of freedom for women. Her legacy remains today as Chanel continues to be one of the most recognizable high-fashion brands in the world. 

Visit France: France is one of Europe’s most visited countries – with good reason! This is a destination that is home to world-famous wine, delicious cuisine, fine art and historic towns. Book a ticket to France to experience it all; from the beauty of the French Riviera to the bright lights of Paris! 

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France International Women's Day
The Eiffel Tower is one of Paris’s most beautiful (and most popular!) attractions.

Profile image: Justine Picardie, CC BY-SA 4.0 

13. Jane Goodall, England & Tanzania

Jane Goodall is a British Primatologist who is famous for the years she spent living with and studying Chimpanzees in Africa. In the 1960s she travelled to Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania to study chimpanzees in the wild, despite having no formal training. Her work led to a number of discoveries that offered new insights on the primates and opened doors for women in science. She established the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 and today she continues to work as a humanitarian and conservationist.

Visit Tanzania: Tanzania is another incredible East African destination. If you are searching for a quintessential safari experience, you’ll find it in Tanzania! Embark on a wildlife journey across the Serengeti and visit the stunning Ngorongoro Crater (known as the ‘Garden of Eden’ thanks to its abundance of wildlife). Once you’ve had your wildlife fix, head to the beaches of Zanzibar for some African island relaxation! 

Herd of Elephants, Tanzania International Women's Day
Elephants seen in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania.

14. Junko Tabei, Japan

Junko Tabei is a Japanese mountaineer who was the first woman to summit Mount Everest! She completed the trek in 1975 with her sherpa guide Ang Tsering. By 1992 she had become the first woman to complete the Seven Summits Challenge. In her later years, she continued to achieve great feats. She published seven books and led annual guided excursions up Mount Fuji to raise money for school children affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.  

Visit Japan: Japan is a land of contrasts. It is a place of old and new; of modern skyscrapers alongside ancient temples. Travellers can experience the neon lights of Tokyo, admire the beautiful views of Mount Fuji, see shrines and temples, encounter history in Hiroshima and much, much more!

Mount Fuji and Chureito Pagoda in Japan International Women's Day
Mount Fuji and Chureito Pagoda in Japan.

Profile image: Jaan Künnap, CC BY-SA 4.0

15. Miriam Makeba, South Africa

Known affectionately as “Mama Africa”, Miriam Makeba was a singer and anti-apartheid activist in South Africa. She was one of the first African artists to receive worldwide recognition, bringing African music to a western audience and one of her most famous songs is “Pata Pata”. Her music was also a way for her to criticise the apartheid policies. After testifying against apartheid at the UN, she lived in exile from South Africa in New York City for a while, even performing for President John F Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in 1962. She returned to South Africa after 31 years once former president Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. Miriam Makeba then became a goodwill ambassador for South Africa to the United Nations.

Visit South Africa: South Africa is a world in one country. It has stepped out of the dark days of apartheid to become a truly unique travel destination! Enjoy the golden beaches, wildlife safaris, incredible natural scenery, enticing culture or getaways to the award-winning winelands – the choice is yours! 

Table Mountain Cape Town South Africa International Women's Day
Table Mountain in Cape Town is one of South Africa’s most beautiful spots!

16. Amelia Earhart, USA

Amelia Earhart is famous for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was an aviation pioneer; setting a number of records, writing best-selling books about her flying experiences and was also pivotal in forming The Ninety-Nines which was an organisation of female pilots. In 1937, she mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. 

Visit the USA: If you’re an aviation enthusiast on a trip to the USA, there are a few aviation themed sites you need to visit! One of the most popular is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Millions of people visit every year to learn more about the history of US air and space travel. You can see the 1903 Wright Flyer (the original flying machine!), the Spirit of St. Louis and the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore during the moon mission. 

Smithsonian National Air and Space Travel Museum in Washington DC International Women's Day
See gear from the Apollo 11 mission and more in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

17. Audrey Hepburn, Belgium  

Audrey Hepburn was an actress, style icon and humanitarian. She starred in several films and stage productions throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, winning an Oscar for her performance in Roman Holiday (1953). In the late 80s, she became a special goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Her work took her to UNICEF projects in Asia, Africa and Central and South America before she passed away in 1993. After her death, her children and partner continued her humanitarian work in her honour. 

Visit Belgium: Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium and lived in several European countries. While it may be relatively small, Belgium offers a wealth of travel experiences! From the medieval canals of Bruges to the cosmopolitan yet historic streets of Brussels. This is the home of the Tintin comics as well as world-famous Belgian beer and chocolate! Yum! 

Bruges, Belgium International Women's Day
Explore the beautiful medieval city of Bruges in Belgium.

Profile image: Hans Gerber, CC BY-SA 4.0 

18. Greta Thunberg, Sweden

At the age of 15, Greta Thunberg made waves across Sweden and the world as an environmental activist. In 2018, her “School Strike for Climate” went viral and gained massive support. A few months after she began, 20,000 students in Australia, the UK, Belgium, the US and Japan joined the strike and it gained international recognition. Today, she continues to inspire action, has spoken at a number of international events including a 2019 UN climate summit and has been nominated for two Nobel Peace Prizes. 

Visit Sweden: Vikings, Northern Lights, Scandinavian food and design – Sweden has it all! A trip to Sweden offers a journey filled with distinct Swedish style in cities like Stockholm along with scenic landscapes and even ancient history!  

Old Town Stockholm, Sweden International Women's Day
The Old Town in Stockholm, Sweden.

The world is filled with amazing women and incredible places! If these inspirational figures and the destinations they call home have inspired wanderlust in you, why not start planning your next trip? Take a look at Expat Explore tours, rest assured that you can book with confidence and get ready to explore more as soon as travel is possible again! 

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