10 Female Discoverers Who Are Changing the World

Discoverer Spotlight

Discoverer Spotlight Featured

The past few years haven't been easy on women, but that hasn't stopped them from taking the world by storm. And I mean the whole world. From shedding light on conservation efforts to paving new pathways for marginalized and underrepresented women, these female powerhouses aren't letting anything stop them. That's why we're pointing a spotlight on 10 women living their best lives and changing the world while they do it. With women as kickass as these, every day is International Women's Day.  

Ami Vitale

View this post on Instagram

Photo by my friend Joe. Join me today, Friday, at 3pm EST (12pm PST) on @natgeo's Facebook live discussion. This month, I am curating the @natgeo#YourShot assignment, Chasing Moments. In my discussion, I'll talk about my editing process and speak about the ultimate outcome of the assignment at Facebook.com/ngm In this photo, Shaba tries to borrow my hat at Reteti elephant sanctuary in Northern Kenya. My heart is happy here where I get to share these incredible stories that show us what we can achieve and the very best of humanity. When we truly understand each others stories, we are transformed, and no matter where you go, the joy of human emotions remains the same. #DontLetThemDisappear @nrt_kenya @tusk_org @conservationorg @kenyawildlifeservice @sandiegozoo @thephotosociety @natgeo #elephants#saveelephants #stoppoaching #kenya #northernkenya #magicalkenya #whyilovekenya #africa #everydayafrica #photojournalism #amivitale

A post shared by Ami Vitale (@amivitale) on

I had the pleasure of seeing Ami Vitale speak as part of the National Geographic Live Speaker Series, and I can't remember the last time I felt so inspired. Vitale's life has been the opposite of boring, and she's been front and center documenting some of the most impactful stories of the last decade. From the birth of endangered panda bears, to the efforts of the first ever community-run elephant sanctuary in Africa, her storytelling has given proper attention to incredible people and events around the world.

Cassie De Pecol

View this post on Instagram

Hey! 👋🏽 A few updates for NOLA and Connecticut friends out there! 👩🏼‍🏫 • • • 🔆New Orleans | Saturday, March 4 | 🔆 I'll be speaking at noon at the @womenstravelfest. If you haven't done so already, you can head to the link in their bio to register. The event starts tonight! Hope to see you tomorrow and if you've registered, would love to know! Leave a "🎒" emoji in the comments below! • • • 🔆Connecticut | @uconn School of Business | Monday, March 6 | 🔆 I'll be speaking at 6:45PM! Tickets are limited but the link is in my bio if you're interested in attending to hear my talk! Leave a "🏀" emoji in the comments below if you've registered so I can look forward to seeing you there! My home state, woot! 🤘🏽 • • • On another note, I am back in the US after a whirlwind adventure with @quarkexpeditions in Antarctica. We cruised through a category 10 "storm" on the Beaufort Scale with 30-40ft waves and 50 knot winds. Safe to say, many of us were in our rooms throughout most of those two days as we crossed through. The Captain told us that it was the worst storm he'd seen since 2005 and also, that had we not left earlier than originally planned, the storm would have been, and I quote, an "unsurvivable" one. What a fantastic Captain to ensure our safety. It was an adventure and I honestly wouldn't have had it any other way even if I was a little uneasy about the waves 🌊🇦🇶💙 • • • Thanks for the pic @takingtimeout as we touched down on Paradise Island 👌🏽

A post shared by Cassie De Pecol (@cassiedepecol) on

In 2017, Cassandra De Pecol made history when she became the first documented woman and fastest person to travel to all 196 Sovereign Nations. Titling her adventures Expedition 196, De Pecol took a mere 18 months and 10 days to accomplish this tremendous feat. Cassie is a discoverer in all definitions of the word, and she doesn't do anything half way. Whether it's training for another triathalon or changing the world through Her International, a nonprofit that provides grants to female-driven projects around the world, De Pecol is making literal waves around the world.

Oneika Raymond

Boss traveler, journalist, and host of two Travel Channel web series, Oneika Raymond is making some serious moves. Raymond tells it like it is, using her platforms to educate others about, not only different nations around the world, but what it really means to travel as a black woman. This fearless female has visited over 100 countries, and speaks plenty of truth about self love and confidence on both her Instagram and her blog. Oh, and did I mention she's fluent in English, French, and Spanish, and is currently learning German?

Marlina Moreno

View this post on Instagram

When I first created my Wild Bucket List (i.e. a list of all my dream wildlife experiences) back in 2012, gorilla trekking was the very first thing that I wrote down. ⠀ Today just so happens to be my gorilla trekking anniversary (thanks Facebook for the reminder), which got me thinking about why I began traveling in the first place. In doing so, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the wild experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have as a traveler — experiences that have helped me mold my passion into purpose. ⠀ What started out as a simple list of wild experiences that just sounded cool has since developed into something much more significant to me, and I can only hope that for others it might be the same. ⠀ So, what’s on your Wild Bucket List? ⠀ P.S. For anyone dreaming of gorilla trekking, I wrote an in-depth guide on my blog, MarGoneWild.com. Click the link in my bio to check it out! 🦍 ⠀ ⠀ . . . . . Cover photo by @peterhogel | Wildlife shots by yours truly. #margonewild #wildbucketlist #wildlifeconservation #ecotourism #gorillatrekking #uganda #wildlifewednesday

A post shared by Marlina🦒Mar Gone Wild (@marlinamoreno) on

Conservation never looked so artistic. Marlina Moreno, conservation biologist and nonprofit founder, is bringing a passion for wildlife to the forefront of her travels. Her efforts focus on animal conservation and protecting threatened wildlife communities, and her nonprofit Project:Conservation helps those in the conservation world share their stories. This Latina adventuress highlights the beauty of Africa and South East Asia while taking strides to protect the species that call those regions home.

Mirna Valerio

This ultramarathon runner, author and educator is living her best life and I am fully here for it. Mirna Valerio is changing the narrative about athletes and what it means to break the mold. Calling out racist and sexist stereotypes is her game and she's embracing the world and inspiring others to do the same. Valeiro is a trailblazer, both physically in her exploration of the great outdoors and spiritually, carving a new way for others who have felt excluded. Her positive message is moving us that much closer to a more inclusive world.

Edurne Pasaban

View this post on Instagram

Nice photo by Joachim Stard in #chamonix @goretexeu

A post shared by Edurne Pasaban (@edurnepasaban) on

At 16 I was worrying about getting my driver's license, but when she was 16 Edurne Pasaban summited Mont Blanc. This mountain-climbing rockstar became the first woman to summit the world's 14 peaks higher than 8,000 meters. That's right, she's been to the top of Everest and K2, and even lost a couple of toes along the way. But nothing has ever held her back, and now the mother and adventuress is helping others in the mountaineering world. Her nonprofit, the Edurne Pasaban Mountaineers for the Himalayas Foundation (MHF), funds education projects in Himalayan communities.

Cherae Robinson

View this post on Instagram

• absolute mood •

A post shared by Cherae Robinson (@sasyrae) on

Travel innovator and entrepreneur Cherae Robinson has combined tech and travel to inspire a new generation of explorers. Robinson is the founder of Tastemakers Africa, a mobile app that connects travelers with unique people and experiences in Africa. Bringing modern innovation to African travel, this pioneer is changing the narrative and hoping to expand visitors' view of the continent beyond safaris and get at to heart of its people.

Elena Nikolova

Speaking of trailblazers, Elena Nikolova is shattering misconceptions with her blog Muslim Travel Girl. From sharing travel tips about loyalty programs to exploring Halal travel, Nikolova is opening up the travel industry for other Muslim women. Breaking barriers and spreading tolerance is her superpower, and she's just getting started.  

Melise Edwards

Melise Edwards is the kind of cool I dream about. Rock climber slash neuroscience researcher sounds like an impossibility but Edwards is expanding people's perceptions of what women can achieve. This African American woman is a champion for representation, both on the mountain and in the lab. She's also an avid believer in giving back, and works with Vertical Generation mentoring kids and teaching them to love the outdoors.

Karen Ramos

View this post on Instagram

What do you get when you combine a white male hunter, a black pediatric doctor, a female combat vet, indigenous leaders from different tribes, a typeA politician, POC community leaders and trailblazers, out in the mountains of Wyoming...? . . You get the outdoors industry version of MTV’s REAL WORLD.. With lit 🔥 conversations about race and oppression, emotion filled tense moments, uncomfortable realizations about white supremacy .....but mostly unwavering support and love for one another to discontinue the cycle and break the systems so deeply rooted in excluding marginalized narratives from access for our public lands. . . To the people tagged above.. each one of you thank you for showing up, thank you for being present and thank you for your bravery. Every person present and part of this years ELP program contributed a brick to the foundation that really shook shit up @shift_jh . . To my fellow leaders, I appreciate you. I see you. Thank you for not throwing any blows or leaving early. Picture: @jaylyn.gough #diversifytheoutdoors #inclusion #equity

A post shared by Karen Ramos (@naturechola) on

Karen Ramos is out here proving that advocating for diversity and equality can be  fun and even silly. The Latinx-Indigenous explorer is not here for anyone's judgement and she's embracing the world one wide grin Instagram post at a time. The founder of Get Out, Stay Out, a nonprofit aimed at connecting indigenous-migrant children with the outdoors, this full-time student doesn't seem to be slowing down and you'll love following her for some grade-A inspiration.

Enjoy this article? Share it with a friend

Discover the World’s Best Destinations, with your free weekly travel guide sent straight to your inbox.