“I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.”


Women have always been at the forefront of positive societal change – the inspiring stories here only reaffirm that. From breaking down barriers to achieving great things, they have always managed to rise above it all and emerge victorious. Today and every day, they continue to be a source of strength for us all. Thank you, inspiring women, for everything you have done and continue to do!

Every day, we can make the world safer for everyone, not just one gender. We hope these stories will inspire you to be part of the solution.

Leymah Gbowee

Stories of resilience: Leymah Gbowee is founder of women's peace movement

Image via Gbowee

Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist who was instrumental in ending the Second Liberian Civil War. She is the founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation in Africa.

In 2003, Gbowee led a peaceful mass demonstration in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. The women vowed to remain until the president resigned and the fighting stopped and they were successful in their efforts shortly afterwards. In 2011, Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the women’s peace movement, bringing Christian and Muslim women together to pray for an end to the war and protest against the ongoing violence.

Her story is a powerful example of what women can achieve when they come together to demand change.

Viola Desmond

Viola inspiring business owner and women civil rights activist

Image via Canadian Encyclopedia

Viola Desmond was a Black businesswoman and civil rights activist in Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1946, she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat in a whites-only section of a movie theatre. Her defiance sparked a significant protest against racial segregation in the province.

Desmond’s case helped to challenge the existing laws that mandated segregation and she became an important figure in the civil rights movement in Canada. Today, her story continues to inspire teachers to teach children the importance of standing up for what is right.

Desmond’s story is a reminder that each of us has the potential to influence change, no matter how small our actions may seem.

Zahra’ Langhi

Zahra’ Langhi is a Libyan women’s rights activist and the co-founder of the NGO Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace. It was during the Libyan revolution where she witnessed the mistreatment of women that she became inspired to make a change.

The organization she co-founded works to promote women’s participation in the peace-building process and Langhi’s work supports women affected by conflict and violence.

Zahra’ was one of five women leaders named by The Rockefeller Foundation in 2018 who introduced transformative change worldwide. She is an excellent example of what one person can do to make a difference in the lives of others.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala - inspiring women and girls education activist.

Image via Malala Fund

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani women’s education activist. At age 17, she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala advocates for women’s education by speaking out against the ban on girls attending schools in Pakistan.

In 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while riding home from school on a bus. Despite having severe injuries, she survived and continued to fight for the right of all girls to receive an education. As a result, she has become a powerful voice for women’s rights and education worldwide. Malala’s story is inspiring girls everywhere to fight for their right to education.

Rai Reece

Rai Reece - inspiring Humber professor

Image via Humber Today

Rai Reece is known for researching Black women in prison and jail as a Humber professor of Criminology and Ethics in the Social and Community Services faculty. She stated that not much work has been done on women in general and even less on racialized women. Reece is an expert on women in prison, race, and feminism and often gives talks on these topics.

Reece isn’t just an advocate for women – she takes it a step further and pushes for equity. For the last 15 years, she has been helping women in jail at the provincial and federal levels. She speaks out and provides support for prisoners diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. In addition, she interviews incarcerated women and women post-release to study the social issues they experience.

Reece has won the Humber College Research Excellence Award for her project “One Seed at a Time.” The purpose of this project was to give women in prison the opportunity to gain apprenticeship credits in landscaping, followed by placement in an actual job within the field.

Reece’s work is inspiring because it not only brings attention to the struggles of women in prison, but also provides them with tangible opportunities to improve their lives.

At IGNITE, we have student advocates who are here to support you through your Humber and UofGH journey.

Looking for more inspiration? Students share the women who inspire them most.

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