Jane Goodall is known to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees and started her journey at the age of 26 at a time when women were discouraged from pursuing careers in science which was male-dominated, to top it off, she had no formal background in research and was driven by only her passion for animals.
Today she holds a Ph.D in ethology (the study of animal behaviour), she has written quite a few books, she has promoted conservation in the developing world, established several sanctuaries for chimps and has taken scientists under her wing to mentor them.
Bessie was an African American who became the First black woman to earn a pilot's license, of which she had to get in France because flying schools in the US denyed her entry based on the colour of her skin. But that certainly did not stop her from being a pioneer of women in the field of aviation.
Her interest for avaition was sparked when she began listening to and reading stories about World War I pilots. She then tragically died at the age of 35 in an accident during a rehearsal for an aerial show. She had goals of starting a flying school for African Americans when she returned to the U.S, but sadly never got to it. Today she remains a big inspiration to not only women in aviation but all women, she achieved all that she did against all odds.
Illustration by Bijou Karman
Namira has earned quite a number of ‘first’ titles including, the first female member of the astronomy society of Pakistan, first Asian ever to skydive over the world’s highest peak during the historic first Everest Skydive, first Pakistani to conquer the North and South Poles, and the Mount Everest and First Pakistani Astronaut!
In 2012 Salim was awarded the Medal of Excellence by the President of Pakistan and was the winner of the Pakistan Powerful 100 Award as well as the Pakistani Woman Power 100 Award.
Three years later, Salim founded ‘Space Trust’, a non-profit initiative that promotes space as the new frontier for peace and seeks to find innovative solutions for a more peaceful world. She says, “Space Trust will honor the peace, beauty, and preciousness of space.
The word 'unstoppable' was definitely created with Namira in mind, she shoots for the stars.
First documented person to kayak solo 600 miles down West Africa's Niger River, she was also the first woman to traverse Papua New Guinea. Salak has traveled solo to almost every continent, visiting some of the world's most remote places.
Although her travel history has broken many gender stereotypes, Salak still encounters resistance to the idea of a woman traveling alone through remote and dangerous regions. "I get a lot of raised eyebrows from the men. But on my trip down the Niger River, the village women crowded on the shore and raised their hands in a cheer. They yelled out, 'Femme forte' (strong woman) and cheered for me as I paddled by."
Mary Seacole was a Jamaican-born nurse who helped soldiers during the Crimean War. Seacole had a good education and developed an interest in medicine and nursing from her mother, who was a traditional healer.
At the start of the Crimean War in 1853, she went to London to offer her services. Her application to join Florence Nightingale’s nursing team was refused. Many nurses were turned down, whether because of their class background or, in this case, probably, ethnicity.
Instead of giving up, Mary Seacole sailed to the Crimea at her own expense. She and Thomas Day (a relative in the shipping business) opened the British Hotel near Balaclava a few months later in 1855.
Using it as a base, she would take mules laden with food, wine, and medicines across the country to the battlefield front lines at Redan, Sebastopol, and Tchernaya. She obtained special passes, which allowed her to look after the wounded and dying on both sides.
Illustration by Bijou Karman
Laurel Chor is an award-winning freelance visual journalist and National Geographic Explorer from Hong Kong. She is also a conservationist, journalist, photographer and filmmaker from Hong Kong.
She founded the Hong Kong Explorers Initiative, which encourages people to explore and appreciate the city's wild side. She has previously worked on western lowland gorilla conservation in the Central African Republic, Chinese white dolphin research in Hong Kong and an undercover documentary on the ivory trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo... In 2013, Jane Goodall appointed Laurel to be the ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute in Hong Kong.
In her visual journalism, she covers protests, natural disasters, and general current affairs in a raw and creative way. Click here to see her work.
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