2021 Women’s History Month

This Women's History Month, Womankind staff share stories of heroines who inspire us. Trailblazing women who've paved the way with their achievements, their thoughts, their determination. New stories drop on Instagram daily, so follow @iamwomankind for more, or check back on this page.

"Professional tennis player Na Li is my personal hero and favorite female tennis player. Born in Wuhan, China, she was the first Grand Slam singles champion from Asia, male or female. In 2019, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, becoming the first Asian-born player to receive the honor."

Former world No. 1 Chris Evert writes: "Tennis has exploded in China. That kind of exposure is crucial to our sport, and it would never have happened without Li. At tournaments, I've seen her charm the crowds. When she smiles, everyone melts. She's just such a breath of fresh air. Her friendly on-court demeanor, as well as her hilariously-witty post-match interviews, bring a smile to everyone's face."

Na Li was also a maverick who stood up to the centralized Chinese sports system, which allowed her to be an independent professional player. Over the years, she has donated millions of dollars to help underserved children and women. In 2020, she also made a considerable donation to her hometown Wuhan to fight the coronavirus.
 
"Anna Akana is a true force of nature. She’s funny and witty and creative, but the part that resonates with me the most would have to be her identity as an Asian-American female. Growing up, I didn’t see many people who looked like me in films and on television. Granted, when you’re a kid watching cartoons about talking cats and fighting turtles, none of the characters are truly made to look like you. But it was only until high school and college where I actively started to expose myself to Asian personalities and culture in an effort to reconnect with my roots. Anna is now just one out of a plethora of Asian and Asian American celebrities that have blessed us with their work. But I know from personal experience that she was able to reach her audience and make an impact with the content that she creates and produces to the world. Over the years, I've seen her put her heart and soul into carefully crafted YouTube videos. With topics ranging from relationship to mental health to skits of pure comedy, Anna uses creative liberties to broadcast her most authentic self in a way that people can also relate to and learn from. And with the ever-prevalent caricatures and stereotypes ingrained in mainstream media, I am grateful that Anna Akana has shown us what it truly means to be Asian American female."
 
"Across time, there are many women that have inspired me. Arundhati Roy, a South Asian radical author and political activist is one that'll truly be remembered as having made her mark on history. Whether it's reading her provocative novel, "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness" or watching YouTube videos of her advocating for social justice, I've seen her bravely and boldly advocate for women and oppressed groups around the world. Roy once said, "There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard." This Women's History Month, I'm channeling these words of hers in my everyday work with survivors of gender-based violence to remember that I too can take deliberate action to center all voices- both quiet and loud."
 
"Though Harriet Tubman is a popular figure in Black American history, I didn't know much about her until I became an adult. The more I learned of her, the more I related over time. The sacrifices she made in order to lead others to 'freedom' has always helped to inspire the kind of person I would like to be. I think when you have experienced persecution and loss of liberty, it is a privilege to opt out of the fight for freedom. Once you know hurt, you have no choice but to fight with, on behalf of and in support of those who have also been hurt. There is no such thing as standing on the sidelines because your liberty and freedom will always be tied to theirs. Once all hope is lost for them, it is only a matter of time before the dim light you tirelessly try to keep fed, dies as well."