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International Women's Day: saluting badass female film characters

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The fight for more female characters on screen continues. Actresses everywhere are demanding more serious roles for women, and condemning those who set them aside as sexual objects or sexy sidekicks. Still, there are some female characters throughout the years that have managed to inspire us in spite of the sexism of the industry, and they are sure worth celebrating. 

1. Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson in the Harry Potter franchise (2001-2011)

Let’s be honest. Harry and Ron wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds without Hermione. The brains of the golden trio, she was studious, clever, kind and brave, and taught young girls everywhere that women should never be afraid to show off their intelligence. Or to be a straight-up badass...

2. Elizabeth Swann, played by Keira Knightley in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (2003-)

The development of Elizabeth’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean is just amazing. She starts off as a damsel in distress, but soon gains control over her life and eventually becomes the new King of the Brethren Court. Brave, daring and a warrior, Elizabeth Swann is one of the strongest female characters in film.

3. Princess Leia Organa, played by Carrie Fisher in the Star Wars franchise (1977-2016)

A long-standing feminist icon, Leia is one of the rebellion leaders that bring about the destruction of the Death Star. A fighter for freedom and justice, Leia is also the founder and General of the Resistance against the First Order.

4. Mulan, voiced by Ming-Na Wen in Mulan (1998)
In order to save her elderly father from a certain death, Mulan sacrifices herself and disguises herself as a boy in order to take his place in the army. Even after she is discovered and repudiated, she still fights against and defeats the Huns, saving the whole of China in the process. Talk about an inspiration! 

5. Erin Brockovitch, played by Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovitch (2000)

Erin Brockovitch is an unemployed single mother who, after being hired by her lawyer out of pity, is given a real estate case. She finds evidence that the water in the area is seriously contaminated, and damaging the health of the neighbours; the whole thing becomes a major class action lawsuit for which she wins 333 million dollars for the plaintiffs without having any previous legal experience. The best part? It is based on a true story.

6. Hypatia, played by Rachel Weisz in Agora (2009)

A female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in the 4th century, Hypatia is condemned to death for challenging the geocentric Ptolemaic system after discovering that the earth is not flat. A true example of a warrior, Hypatia fights to save knowledge and for her right to stick to her beliefs against those blinded by religion. 

7. Frida Khalo, played by Salma Hayek in Frida (2002)

One of the best artists of all time, Frida Khalo's life was as inspiring as her work. Struggling with the wounds from a bus accident during most of her life, Frida fights for her ability to express herself through her art, while also trying to keep her body and life together. 

8. Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, played by Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning in The Runaways (2010)

Joan Jett and Cherie Currie made history when they formed the first ever all girl punk-rock band. But they were only teenagers, and the industry took advantage of them by exploiting their sexuality and appeal. Eventually, the band broke up, but we still get to see how fierce, strong and determined they were to get what they really wanted, even with all the obstacles presented to women in the 70s.

9. Precious, played by Gabourey Sidibe in Precious (2009)

Precious is perhaps one of the most inspiring characters in film. She is a poor black teenager from Harlem who, pregnant from her own father's second child, struggles to find her way to escape her family who have only abused her and raped her. 

10. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe in Hidden Figures (2016)

These three black women worked for NASA during the Space Race, and that means they were surrounded by white men at a time when segregation was still going on. But they fought their way into success despite everything and became the first black woman to calculated flight trajectories for NASA, the first black woman to become a NASA supervisor, and the first black female engineer. 


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