There are so many inspiring stories about women and girls who are taking a stand and changing our world for the better. There is the story of 16 year old Malala Yousafzai, an activist for girls’ right to education in Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban last year, but who has since recovered and recently delivered a historic speech at the United Nations and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. There is the story of 13 year old Talia Joy Castellano, the honorary Cover Girl who won the hearts of millions with her self produced YouTube make up tutorials and her bravery in the face of her ongoing cancer battle. Talia passed away earlier this month, and in a heartwarming turn of events, people around the globe have taken it upon themselves to complete her bucket list, written a mere five days before she died. Finally, there is the story of Marte Deborah Dalelv, a Norweigan woman who was jailed in Dubai for having sex outside of marriage after she reported being raped to the police. She shared her story in the hopes of raising awareness of the deeply conservative customs in Dubai, and was recently pardoned and released.
All of these stories have made headlines, revealing the strength, courage, and tenacity of women worldwide, but there are many other stories of incredible women doing amazing things that never make the front page. Looking to fix this, entrepreneurs Jennifer Jones and Cynthia Hornig launched Women You Should Know in 2011, an online community that celebrates women who are changing the world and making a difference, and who deserve to be recognized and lauded for their achievements. I recently asked Jones about her experiences since launching the website, and I’ve included her answers below.
What have you learned since launching this website?
That you don’t have to be moving a mountain to be doing something of great importance. That women are truly amazing and across the board, we seem to thrive when the going gets toughest (in life, business, career, health, etc). That women are the mothers of reinvention. That women do help other women and hold each other up, despite what reality TV would like us all to believe. That the need for the type of brand we’re building is greater than we could have ever imagined. That there are women we should all know EVERYWHERE doing really remarkable, important and cool things… finding them and telling their stories has been the most rewarding work I have done in my entire professional career.
What kind of impact are you hoping it will have?
In its short life, the impact we’ve already seen is the positive affect our site has on women. For the women we profile, it gives them a strong voice and puts a much deserved, but rarely received spotlight on how they are making things happen in their world, whichever world that might be. In certain cases, the women don’t even realize how extraordinary they are until they read or see their own story on our site. That’s a magic moment for us. For the women who consume our content, which is so varied and engaging, it’s a place they come to learn, think, be entertained and moved. It’s an incredible feeling to know we are that kind of resource for our readers and a place where women can be inspired by one another.
Which profile inspires you the most?
Since I have no children, I can’t defer to the old standby response, “That’s like asking me to choose which one of my kids I like best.” What I will say is that so many of the women we have profiled have inspired me for different reasons. Some for their unfathomable courage, some for their enviable tenacity, some for their creativity. But if I HAD to pick just one it would be our profile of Dr. Anita Sengupta, a 35 year old NASA engineer and EDL expert whose sheer brain power blows my mind! She is the woman who, working amongst a legion of male colleagues, designed the first-of-its-kind, colossal parachute that performed flawlessly in getting Curiosity, NASA’s most ambitious rover, into Mars’ atmosphere and onto the planet’s surface. Without her engineering feat, Curiosity would not be roving right now. Talk about the ideal female role model for STEM… why she is not on the cover of magazines and newspapers is beyond me.
There are so many wonderful women in this world, and sadly not all of them will have their stories told by the mass media. However, it is wonderful to know that websites like Women You Should Know are out there, telling these important stories and providing a community and support system that inspires women around the world. If you want to know more, you can visit their website at www.womenyoushouldknow.net or follow them on Twitter at @WomenYSK