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.
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
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.
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 different nations around the world and 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?
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 Southeast Asia while taking strides to protect the species that call those regions home.
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 long felt excluded in the travel and athletic spheres. Her positive message is moving us that much closer to a more inclusive world.
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.
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.
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 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 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.