March 08, 2023 is the International Women’s Day. On the occasion of this important date, we would like to introduce you to women who have achieved great things in history. We also recommend books if you want to deepen your knowledge about these legendary women. Be curious!

International Women’s Day 2023

International World Women’s Day 2023 will take place under the theme #EmbraceEquity. Women from around the world are advocating for a gender-just, prejudice-free world where discrimination is stopped and diversity is celebrated.

Under the hashtags #EmbraceEquity, #WorldWomensDay and #IWD, women post pictures of themselves embracing diversity – for an inclusive world where we all have an equal place. You too can join in under the hashtag and support this year’s movement!

Things to know about International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was first officially celebrated on March 19, 1911 in the United States, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and Austria. But years before that, women’s labor movements around the world were advocating for a day to strengthen women’s rights. One achievement of these efforts included the right to vote, which was not allowed for women in Germany until 1918.

To this day, women demonstrate for equal rights on International Women’s Day and campaign against discrimination. One of the most important issues is equal rights for women in all areas of society, from the right to equal pay to equal rights in raising children (e.g. paid leave for fathers and childcare options that meet their needs).

By the way, since 2019, International Women’s Day has been an official holiday in Berlin, as well as in entire countries, including Armenia, Cuba, Laos, Uganda and Vietnam.

Now let’s move on to historical women who had a significant impact on our history.

#1 Cleopatra

January 69 B.C. – August 30 B.C.

Bust of Cleopatra VII – Altes Museum – Berlin – Germany 2017/ Author: José Luiz / Jbribeiro1 / Wikimedia

Many myths surround this Egyptian ruler, who was described as beautiful and highly intelligent. She was the last female pharaoh and spoke nine languages, including Egyptian, Arabic, Syriac and Ethiopian. Cleopatra is famous to this day because she managed to maintain Egypt’s independence from the then powerful Roman Empire. This was thanks to her clever rule, which also included skillful dealings with Caesar.

Book tip: Cleopatra. The Queen Who Challenged Rome and Won Eternal Glory (Alberto Angela).

#2 Joan of Arc

probably 1412 – May 30, 1431

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France / Pascal Bernardon / Unsplash

Joan of Arc was a French national heroine and has also gone down in history under the names Joan of Arc or Maid of Orleans. During the Hundred Years’ War between France and England, which, contrary to its name, lasted in phases from 1337 to 1453, Joan of Arc, in 1429, at the age of only 17 and with a small army, successfully recaptured the city of Orléans, important to France, from the English. Her bravery encouraged the soldiers at her side.

In another battle, she was captured by the Burgundians – allies of England – and handed over to the English. She was accused of being a heretic and burned alive at the age of only 19. Centuries later, she was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1920.

Book tip: Joan of Arc (Gerd Krumeich)

#3 Marie Curie

November 7, 1867 – July 4, 1934

Marie Curie / Author: Henri Manuel / Wikimedia

Marie Curie was one of the most important chemists and physicists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Born in Poland, she moved to Paris as a young woman to study at the Sorbonne University. She is considered the founder of radiochemistry and was awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of radioactivity. She was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the elements polonium and radium and for the ionization of radium. Polonium is used, among other things, in space travel as a heat source in satellites, and radium was used until the 1960s for luminous dials on watches and alarm clocks, until its radiation effects, which are hazardous to health, became known.

Book tip: Marie Curie: The first woman of science | The eventful life of the first Nobel Prize winner – biography (Barbara Goldsmith)

#4 Maria Montessori

August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952

Marie Montessori / Author: Unbekannt / Creative Commons Lizenz / Wikimedia

You probably know Montessori schools or have even been to one yourself. Maria Montessori, who gave her name to the school, developed an educational method that literally became popular as Montessori education.

Montessori education focuses on the independence of the child and adolescent. The child becomes the “master builder of his or her self,” as the concept is often described. In open lessons, the child is taught to help himself. This is combined with free work, where the child can develop and learn independently.

Unlike the reward-and-punishment system on which classical education is based, Maria Montessori believed in the child’s natural inherent motivation, which must be awakened and encouraged by attentive teachers. Learning is individualized to the child, his or her learning pace, gifts and talents.

Montessori education has been used in Montessori schools worldwide since 1907.

Book tip: Maria Montessori: Little People, Big Dreams. (María Isabel Sánchez Vegara)

#5 Rosa Luxemburg

March 5, 1871 – January 15, 1919

Rosa Luxemburg / Source: Henri Manuel / Creative Commons Lizenz / Wikimedia

Rosa Luxemburg is considered one of the most influential fighters of the labor movement and for political equality. The democratic socialist and SPD supporter went down in history as a convincing and courageous critic of war and capitalism. Luxemburg’s resistance to brutalization and militarism earned her several prison terms, including for “lèse majesté,” “incitement to class struggle” and “high treason.”

She paid the highest price with her life: Rosa Luxemburg was murdered in January 1919 by political enemies who later sympathized with the NSDAP. Whether and to what extent Luxemburg’s work was democratically oriented is still disputed today; she is mainly revered by representatives of left-wing movements.

Book tip: Rosa Luxemburg: A Life (Ernst Piper)

#6 Frida Kahlo

July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954

Frida Kahlo / Author: Guillermo Kahlo / Wikimedia
Frida Kahlo / Author: Guillermo Kahlo / Wikimedia

The Mexican Frida Kahlo, whose full name was Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderón, is one of the most important painters of the 20th century. Her works are mainly located in Surrealism, with which, however, she did not identify herself throughout her life.

This is exactly what is so special about her: According to art connoisseurs, Frida Kahlo created her own style, which is composed of naturalistic and typically Mexican elements. Frida Kahlo’s sense of fashion was also striking; she staged herself in self-portraits with colorful clothing and jewelry. To this day, the beautiful woman with the remarkable eyebrow is considered a role model for female self-determination, creativity and autonomy.

Book tip: Kahlo (Andrea Kettenmann)

#7 Simone de Beauvoir

January 9, 1908 – April 14, 1986

Simone de Beauvoir / Author: Moshe Milner / Wikimedia (Link:
Simone de Beauvoir / Author: Moshe Milner / Wikimedia (Link:

She is considered one of the most famous and successful writers, feminists and philosophers: Simone de Beauvoir created a life’s work that strengthened the women’s movement worldwide. Her book “The Other Sex,” published in 1949, is considered a milestone of modern feminism; even then, it led to admiration, but also to resistance.

In 1970, she founded the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes, a feminist movement that still campaigns for equal rights for women today. Simone de Beauvoir was also a famous author, writing novels, essays, novellas and memoirs. In her private life, she was involved with the successful multitalented Jean-Paul Sartre.

Book tip: Simone de Beauvoir: A Modern Life | The first comprehensive biography of the great philosopher (Kate Kirkpatrick)

#8 Marilyn Monroe

June 1, 1926 – August 4, 1962

Marilyn Monroe / Author: MARIOLA GROBELSKA / Unsplash

The U.S. film actress thrilled millions of viewers beyond the borders of the United States. Marilyn Monroe began her dazzling career as a photo model and extra. Smaller film roles followed until she celebrated her first successes as an actress in the early 1950s. Her star shone so brightly in Hollywood that film studios began to court the blonde beauty.

But Monroe’s life also had dark shadows: Three failed marriages, several miscarriages, addiction to pills. The film industry, on the other hand, liked to see her as the naive blonde, which was abhorrent to the strong woman, as Monroe showed in a clear, feminist stance. She is thus considered a woman who knew how to assert herself in the film industry despite the male-dominated, sexist image of women at the time, which continues to inspire today.

Book tip: My Story (Marilyn Monroe)

#9 Anne Frank

June 12, 1929 – March 1945

Anne Frank lacht naar de schoolfotograaf / Author: Unbekannt / Wikimedia

Annelies Marie Frank, her full name, was a girl of Jewish descent who was murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. Anne’s family had tried to escape the Nazi terror in Germany by fleeing to the Netherlands. Here Anne Frank lived with her parents and sister Margot in a hiding place in Amsterdam. For more than two years they were not allowed to leave the hiding place, had to be quiet, lived like ghosts.

It was an almost unbearable situation, which – contrary to the hopes of the time – led to a bad end. After the Gestapo learned about the hiding place, Anne Frank, her mother and her sister were sent to several concentration camps, where they suffered from catastrophic hygienic conditions. Finally, they died in 1945 due to the brutal, inhumane treatment of the Nazis.

As the sole survivor of the family, father Otto Frank preserved Anne Frank’s diary and shared it with the public. In it, Anne wrote about her time in hiding in the Netherlands.

Book tip: Diary (Anne Frank)

#10 Michelle Obama

January 17, 1964

Michelle Obama / Author: Joyce N. Boghosian, White House Photographer / Wikimedia (Link:

Michelle Obama is known to most people as the wife of former President Barack Obama. But this role alone does not do her justice. As First Lady, she presided over numerous charitable organizations, helped out in soup kitchens in the USA and was always committed to the weakest in society. In addition, she remains committed to the education of women and girls to this day, for example with the Girls Opportunity Alliance.

After her time as First Lady of the United States, she wrote her memoirs, which sold over 10 million copies worldwide. She gained further notoriety with the Netflix documentaries Becoming and American Factory. In addition, Michelle Obama is considered a fashion icon who also advocates the importance of healthy eating. A real power woman who still has a positive influence on world affairs today!

Book tip: BECOMING: My Story (Michelle Obama)

A warm greeting to the women of the present day

International Women’s Day is meant for every woman on this planet. Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to send a warm greeting to you, dear women. We wish you all the best and us all a future in which gender equality has become a matter of course – not only on Women’s Day, but also on every other day of the year. In keeping with this year’s motto: #EmbraceEquity!

Tip: Want to support International Women’s Day on social media? Then remember to use the hashtags #EmbraceEquity, #WorldWomensDay and #IWD in your posts!

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