They're intelligent, they have a voice and they're not afraid to make it heard. Angelina Jolie, Emma Watson, Diane von Furstenberg, Malala Yousafzai and Jennifr Lawrence have created their own platforms to champion various causes close to their hearts. And while they may not always bring about immediate change, the awareness they create is far-reaching. ELLE salutes these powerful women who are looking to be the change they want to see.
Causes: Violence against women, breast cancer awareness
A Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and an advocate for breast cancer awareness, she’s pushing for women to stop being secondary issues. At the biannual African Union Summit last year, she said, "We need policies for long-term security that are designed by women, focused on women, executed by women. Not at the expense of men, or instead of men, but alongside and with men."
Cause: Gender equality
The UN Women Goodwill ambassador has raised the argument that gender equality should not just be an aspiration, but a reality. Now on a hiatus from making films, her HeForShe campaign aims to galvanise men as wel las boys to embrace gender equality. She explains, "If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are — we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom."
Diane von Furstenberg
Cause: Women making a difference
She gave us the wrap dress in 1974, which came to symbolise power and independence. Her advocacy group, The DVF Award, honours women who have made an impact in the world. Possessing as much charm as she does confidence, she's known to have said, "If I had gone to business school... my god, I would own the world!”
Cause: Education rights for women and children.
This Pakistani activist was shot in the head by the Taliban, but survived and went on to travel the world to champion a worthy cause. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement; she's spoken at the UN headquarters to call for worldwide access to education, and has opened a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon.
Cause: Hollywood's gender pay gap
The Oscar winner’s essay in newsletter Lenny Letter questioning why her take home pay for American Hustle was less than that of her male co-stars made fellow actresses cheer. “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable,” she writes. “F**k that.” She now joins Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Patricia Arquette and Cate Blanchett in speaking up about misogyny in the entertainment industry.