Women Who Changed The World — That You've Never Heard Of

Photo: Courtesy of We are the XX.
Women have always been excluded from history, and that has got to stop, Kassidy Brown and Allison Rapson, co-founders of the media company We Are the XX, believe. At the 2015 TEDxBarcelonaWomen conference in June, Brown and Rapson said they're more than ready to roll up their sleeves and start rewriting.

To do so, they'll use the four fundamental, universally applicable pillars they live and work by every day:

1. All people — men, too! — have a stake in feminist issues.
2. Feminism is inclusive.
3. Embracing femininity is necessary for progress.
4. Feminism is an integral part of everyday life.
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We are unfamiliar with the story of female leadership.

We are the XX
The duo spoke of traditional history as "a calculated tragedy, and one that has left us unbalanced and ill-equipped for the future." They explained that where children in schools are taught to revere and remember the men who have shaped history, female role models, more often than not, are forgotten. Brown and Rapson titled their talk, "A Call to the End of the Genocide of Female Voices."
"It's not that women can't lead, or that they haven't led, it's that we are unfamiliar with the story of female leadership. How can we as women, as people, be truly powerful if we do not have access to our full human history? There are secrets that belong to you," Rapson said.

And the proof was there for all to see. Brown and Rapson opened with a series of images of powerful women who have helped shape history, even if they have not made it into the majority of textbooks. Just four of those amazing women are:

Mary Magdalene, who, according to Christianity, accompanied Jesus on his travels and witnessed his crucifixion.

Ada Lovelace, the likely author of the world's first algorithm.

Edmonia Lewis, a Black and Native American sculptor who joined the ranks of art's elite in the 19th century.

Wu Zeitan, the only female emperor in more than four millennia of Chinese history.

We believe that there are as many definitions of feminism as there are women on the planet.

Allison Rapson
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Later, Brown and Rapson spoke just as pointedly about the pioneering women making history now, such as a badass motorcyclist fighting street harassment in Egypt and a transgender woman building a dating site in the Philippines.

Together with Refinery29, Brown and Rapson traveled the world to share the stories of these modern-day powerful women for a forthcoming documentary series. The trip to Barcelona was their first adventure post-filming.

"It was a cathartic moment for us," Rapson told Refinery29. "We want to see more women onstage."

And what did they make of feminism in Spain?

"We can ask that question a lot," Rapson says. "We believe that there are are as many definitions of feminism as there are women on the planet. The context that women find themselves in is circumstantial; it might look a little different, but inwardly it feels the same."
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