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While under the tyranny of a corrupt dictatorship, three brave sisters – Minerva, Patria and Maria Mirabal – set out to create a safe, just world for the people of the Dominican Republic. The Mirabal Sisters, who called themselves “Las Mariposas” (“The Butterflies”), resisted the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and participated in clandestine acts against his political reign. They were assassinated on his orders on November 25, 1960, which turned them into folk legends and symbols of the power of feminine resistance. November 25th was chosen as the International Day For The Elimination of Violence Against Women to commemorate the day of their assassination. These brave women grew up in a middle-class family on a farm in the Dominican Republic. They were intelligent, college-educated women who went on to marry and have families of their own, in addition to their political activities. Due in part to the influence of their…

A September 2015 poll called her the Best Female Athlete Ever. Ronda Jean Rousey is a mixed martial artist, judoka, and actress. The Bronze Medal winner in the 2008 Summer Olympics, she was the first American woman to win a medal in the sport of judo. Her other achievements include: One-time UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion Winner of twelve consecutive MMA fights The youngest of three girls, Rousey struggled with speech and language development as a child due to a condition called apraxia which affects speech and sound. Her family relocated from California to North Dakota so Ronda could receive more intense speech therapy at Minot State University. Struggling with the death by suicide of her father, Rousey endured many childhood difficulties.  Earning a GED after dropping out of high school, Rousey chose not to pursue a traditional line of work. She started studying Judo with her…

Susan Burton is an amazing woman who proves that no matter what life throws your way, you can overcome it! She’s proof that it’s never too late to recreate yourself, improve your future, and create a life you’ll love living! Born and raised in the projects of East Los Angeles, her childhood was harrowing and full of challenges. She was further devastated in her young adulthood when her five-year-old son was accidentally struck and killed by a police car. Devastated by the loss of her son, Burton turned to drugs to alleviate her grief and was eventually arrested and convicted for her use of crack cocaine. She became addicted to crack cocaine while struggling through the grief process with no therapy in an underprivileged, disadvantaged community. Burton went on to spend most of the 1980s and 90s in and out of jail. She was arrested and confined to jail or…

Margaret H. Woodward is a decorated member of the United States Air Force. Born in 1960, Woodward was raised in India and Pakistan, where her father was employed by the US Agency for International Development. Her family later relocated to California. She went on to graduate from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering. She then attended Air Command and Staff College at Air University. Woodward went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Aviation Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. A great believer in education, she earned a second Master’s Degree in National Security Strategy from National War College. Woodward joined the US Air Force the year after obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree. She spent the majority of her military career refueling aircraft. While she was growing up in Pakistan, she dreamed of one day flying an aircraft. She was saddened an annoyed when…

The youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for the education of girls and women. In a culture where girls were at one time banned from attending school, Malala’s efforts at education reform for girls has become an international movement. Injuries she suffered in 2012 following an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman, ignited an outpouring of support for Malala and her cause. Dubbed the most famous teenager in the world, she used the ensuing fame to become a rising activist for the education of women and girls. Her story is chronicled in the documentary, He Named Me Malala. Other notable achievements include: Named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential Global People from 2013 to 2015 Received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize in 2012 Was the co-recipient, along with Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 Of Sunni Muslim decent, Malala was named after a famous…

Martha Stewart has become an iconic American businesswoman. The founder of Martha Stewart Living, she’s found amazing success in a variety of business endeavors. Stewart has written several bestselling books, is involved in broadcasting, merchandising, and has branched into e-commerce. In addition to her best-selling line of products, her popular Martha Stewart Living magazine, and syndicated television shows have made hers a household name. Born in New Jersey into a middle-class family, Stewart is of Polish-American heritage. Always in possession of a strong work ethic, she began babysitting when she was only ten years old for the children of team members of the New York Yankees, including Gil McDougald, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra. At fifteen, she started modelling and doing television commercials. She continued to model while attending Barnard College, majoring in European History and Architectural History. Following her marriage, Stewart began her career as a stockbroker. She and…

Mila Kunis, with her dark hair and exotic looks is such a part of the celebrity scene in America that it’s difficult to imagine Hollywood without her. She’s a famous American actress who relocated from the Ukraine to Los Angeles at the age of seven. She says of her childhood in the Ukraine, “I grew up incredibly poor and went to school and had a very average upbringing.” Milena (Mila) Kunis was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. Her parents made the difficult decision to move to the US because they could not envision a future for Mila and her brother in their native Ukraine. The move proved particularly trying for Kunis. Her family arrived in the US on a Friday and she and her brother were enrolled in elementary school the following Monday. She struggled to adapt to American schools and says she cried every day. She could not understand the…

In 2004, Claudia de la Cruz participated in the Miss World Pageant representing the Dominican Republic. While often admired for the beautiful woman she is, there is far more to de la Cruz than her physical beauty. Also an actress, television host, and model, Claudia has become an activist for girls and women up to thirty years old. She founded the organization, Da Urban Butterflies to help girls and women of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, particularly those living in urban areas, learn leadership, community activism, and empowerment. Advocating for local community and worldwide involvement, she helps young women take charge of, and actively participate in, the world around them. Although, a native of the Bronx, Claudia is proud of her Dominican ancestry and wants to help other young women of color find this same sense of pride. She is a graduate John Jay College of Criminal Justice, earning a…

In 2014, Forbes listed Chinese actress Yao Chen as the 83rd most powerful woman in the world. Born in the Fujian province of China, the star of rom-coms and action flicks has been dubbed the Angelina Jolie of China. Yao Chen made her acting debut in 2005’s My Own Swordsman. She went on to play in the show, Undercover, and made her stage debut as the heroine of A Story of Lala’s Promotion in 2009. Chen won the Golden Eagle Award for Best Actress in 2010. A media darling Chen is a beautiful, young woman, wife and mother. She could settle comfortably into her own little world and simply bask in fame if she chose to do so. Far from hiding behind her fame, Yao Chen uses it to advocate for the charities and environmental and human rights causes she supports, one of which is the United Nations Refugee Agency.…

Born to immigrant parents – her father was Australian, while her mother was Cuban – Soledada O’Brien is a broadcast journalist and executive producer. O’Brien is also a television anchor and correspondent. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Al Jazeera America, and HBO. She has also co-anchored CNN’s American Morning and was the anchor of the CNN morning news program, Starting Point. Because Interracial marriage remained illegal in Maryland until 1967, O’Brien’s parents married in 1958 in Washington, D.C., where marriage laws were not as restrictive. One of six children, she valued education and enrolled in Harvard-Radcliffe College in 1984 as a pre-med and English and American literature major. She completed her education at Harvard University in 2000 and embarked on a career as a medical reporter with WXKS-FM in Boston. She followed this position with a job as Associate Producer at WBZ-TV in Boston. After that, she was…