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Ask anyone who is trying to be anyone in this world and no one will tell you it’s easy. We didn’t want to play the gender card but this feat is especially hard when you’re warding off negative associations that come with being a woman.

Whether it’s about community, work, or life in general, breaking the mold we’re supposed to be in may get you spiraling, demotivated, or stuck. So in the spirit of Women’s Month, here are five excellent women who are fitting representation of what we can achieve when we believe in ourselves:

1. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

“Research shows that when women are empowered as political leaders, countries often experience higher standards of living with positive developments in education, infrastructure, and health care.”
— Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago at the International Women’s Day Celebration in IRRI Laguna

It’s nearly 3 years since the country mourned the passing of former senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, but her legacy as a witty, brave, intelligent, and great leader is not lost on anyone. She has lived a rather admirable life as a political figure — who even ran for the presidency during the 2016 Philippine presidential election while struggling with cancer.

2. Hidilyn Diaz

“Parati kong sinasabi na dream high kasi ‘pag alam niyo kung anong gusto niyong gawin sa buhay, madali na lang puntahan… Trabahuhin niyo, work hard on it at mararating niyo ang success.”
— Hidilyn Diaz

Filipino weightlifter and airwoman Hidilyn Diaz made her mark in the country’s athletics when she snagged the silver medal for the women’s 53-kg weightlifting category at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. She has come a long since way since placing 10th for the same category at the 2006 Asian Games.

3. Malala Yousafzai

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
— Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize for her activism and defiance of the Taliban for the right of education among girls — this resulted in an assassination attempt by the movement she has survived seven years ago.

4. Rosa Parks

Photo from Sheroes of History

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
— Rosa Parks

Popularly known as “the first lady of civil rights,” American activist Rosa Parks is a fighter for the rights of African-Americans. She’s best recollected for her rather brave acts concerning the Freedom Train and the Montgomery bus boycott.

5. Jessica Cox

Photo from jessicacox.com

“Handicaps are mindsets. Whatever it is that stands in the way of achieving something, that’s when it’s a handicap. I prefer to see them as obstacles or challenges. This is how I’ve been my whole life. I don’t know any different. I just live my life through my feet.”
— Jessica Cox

If there’s one great example of perseverance and smashing boundaries, it will be the story of the world’s first armless pilot Jessica Cox. The Filipino-American aviatrix wasn’t born with arms, but that didn’t stop her from achieving what she did in life. In fact, she’s also a badass martial artist and an outstanding motivational speaker!

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