Judy's 3: Women You Should Know

March 24, 2016

We've asked members of the Simmons community which women in history deserve more attention

As Women's History Month continues, Judy Benjamin — the Executive Director of the Simmons Leadership Conference —shared the the top 3 women in history she thinks you should know about.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch women's rights activist and best-selling author known as the leading opponent of female genital mutilation. Hirsi Ali gained international attention in 2004 following the murder of Theo van Gogh who directed her film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. This event is chronicled in her best-selling book, Infidel. Hirsi Ali founded the AHA Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping girls at risk from honor violence. In 2005 Time magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. 

Dame Stephanie Shirley

Dame Stephanie Shirley is a successful entrepreneur turned philanthropist. Shirley founded Freelance Programers in 1962 — a company that predominately employed women. She spent 25 years as Chief Executive, turning her business into a leading technology group. Shirley was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1980 Queen's Birthday Honors and in 2000 was promoted to Dame Commander in the New Year Honors for services to information technology. In 1986 she founded the Shirley Foundation, now one of the top 50 grant-giving foundations in the UK. 

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese Social Democratic stateswoman and politician in Myanmar. Following studies abroad in 1988, Suu Kyi returned to her home country of Burma and spoke out against the vicious rule of dictator U Ne Win and initiated a nonviolent movement toward achieving democracy and human rights. In 1989 the government placed Suu Kyi under house arrest where she spent 15 of the next 21 years in custody. In 1991 she won the Nobel Prize for Peace because of her ongoing efforts in Burma. She was released from house arrest in 2010 has since gained a parliamentary seat with the National League for Democracy party in Burma.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons