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Cool Women to Read About on Our International Day

Do the disingenuous brand tweets about International Women's Day make you wish you were dead? Keep your chin up, and read about these great women who got through worse things.

At Broadly, we believe that every day is International Women's Day; however, in honor of today's observance, we have decided to highlight some of the most fascinating, determined, and genius women that we've featured on the site in the past few months.

Photo by Christopher Bethell.

Nadia Murad, Yazidi rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee

Nadia Murad's video testimony at the United Nations went viral last year for good reason—it was the first time a former ISIS sex slave had spoken out in such detail about the suffering endured by enslaved Iraqi Yazidi women. Broadly followed Murad—now a Nobel Peace Prize nominee—as she traveled to London to raise awareness of her community's dire plight.

Rokudenashiko and some of her work.


Rokudenashiko, artist

Megumi Igarashi—also known as Rokudenashiko, or "bastard child"—gained international notoriety in 2014 after Japanese authorities seized a vulva-shaped kayak she had 3D printed and arrested her on charges of distributing obscene materials. For over a year, she has been undergoing a slow-moving trial but refuses to back down; her goal, she says, is to normalize the vagina in Japanese society. We visited her gallery in Tokyo to learn more about her art and her activism.

Screencap via YouTube user Peralta Colleges

Ericka Huggins, civil rights activist

Ericka Huggins joined the Black Panthers when she was 19. She became one of the leading female voices in the party, fighting institutionalized racism and FBI surveillance all the way. Broadly spoke to her about Black Panther feminism, police harassment, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Eisenman.

Nicole Eisenman, artist

In 2015 Nicole Eisenman won the prestigious MacArthur "genius grant" for salvaging the representation of the human figure from the void of formless, post modern art. Her work is rich in radical, feminist symbolism; In one of Eisenman's deceptively simple oil tableaus a hanged woman gives birth around a circle of men. In an interview with Broadly, the artist opened up about coming of age as a queer person, extra-terrestrial beings, and the existential crisis that is life.

Michele Wallace on the cover of Ms. magazine in 1979.

Michele Wallace, author

Michele Wallace is a prolific scholar, author, feminist, and champion for black women. She might be best known for her first book, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, which eviscerates the trope of the bold, sassy black woman—denied her own narrative—and crusades for something that we should all have: visibility. Her work is as salient today as it was 30 years ago, making Wallace as enduring as she is smart. Broadly spoke to her about how the black patriarchy has been ignoring black women since the civil rights movement, and why young black feminists give her hope.

Photo by Luke Gilford.


Mia Isabella, actress and model

From Chicago, to Paris and Las Vegas, Mia Isabella transformed herself from fashion focused, straight-A student to the queen at the helm of a transgender porn empire. She splashed onto tabloids in 2015 when an anonymous source exposed an alleged sex scandal between she and Kylie Jenner's rapper boyfriend Tyga. In an interview with Broadly, Mia opened up about transphobia, survival, and how she took over the adult entertainment industry.

Virginie Despentes (left) and a friend. Photo courtesy of Virginie Despentes.

Virginie Despentes, writer and filmmaker

For those who have read her incisive memoir/manifesto King Kong Theory, the radical French writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes—whose violent rape at the age of 17 forms the basis of much of her work—needs no introduction. For everyone else, we interviewed her.

Photo by Alfredo Pecastre courtesy of Coffee House Press.

Valeria Luiselli, author

The Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli has captivated both academics and layreaders with her erudite yet eminently funny brilliance. This month, the 32-year-old is the second Mexican author ever to be nominated for a National Book Critic's Circle award, for her acclaimed postmodern novel The Story of My Teeth. We got coffee with her to discuss grad school (bad), personal essays (usually bad), and her work (great).

Photo courtesy of Dawn Porter.

Dawn Porter, director

Dawn Porter is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. This year, her documentary TRAPPED—which focuses on abortion providers in the South and Midwest struggling to remain open due to onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions placed on them by conservative politicians—won the Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking at Sundance. She spoke to Broadly about the process of making the film, releasing a staunchly pro-choice documentary in an age of increasing extremism, and how things are really not fine.

Amanda Nguyen (right) with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Image via Twitter.


Amanda Nguyen, activist

After Amanda Nguyen learned that her rape kit had an expiration date—in Massachusetts, where she was sexually assaulted, untested rape kits are only kept for six months, unless the survivor requests to extend the cutoff—she set out to fix the confusing and often ineffective way that US law enforcement deals with sexual violence. Her non-profit, Rise, now advocates for systematic legal protections for victims of sexual assault. We spoke to her about her advocacy and the broken criminal justice system.

Photo by Amy Lombard.

Theresa Rebeck, writer and director

Theresa Rebeck created Smash, wrote the first scripts for Harriet the Spy and Catwoman, and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Hollywood insiders have called her "stubborn," which is film industry lingo for incredibly successful woman. We visited her at her home in Brooklyn.