Mother and Baby

15 empowering baby names based on feminist icons

Section: Girls baby names

Picking a baby name can leave you in a bit of a pickle. 

Unless you are the lucky ones among us who have had a moniker decided by the age of 18 (what!) it can be difficult to decide which, er,  Name Road you'd like to venture.  

Since 2018 saw the rise in names from our grandparent's era, such as Mabel and Arthur, some will have their eye on something old-fashioned. Others may have a hankering for a moniker tipped to be the most popular in 2019. Maybe even some will pick a wonderfully bizarre name like Petal Blossom Rainbow à la Jools Oliver...

However, If you'd like a name with a bit of oomph, girl power and a fantastic meaning behind it, then may we recommend you check out the following baby names inspired by feminist icons. 

It will be a great story to tell her, that's for sure. 

Feminist baby names:

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1) Simone

Who? Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) 

The author made waves in 1949 by publishing a book named The Second Sex which was touted as pioneering, progressive and 'well-before it's time'. In the (and at the time, extremely controversial) book, de Beauvoir critiques the social constructs faced by women.

Name meaning: One who hears 
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2) Emmeline

Who? Emmeline Pankhurst  (1858-1928) 

Emmeline headed the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote. She was named by Time as one of the 100 influential women of the 20th century, who concluded: "she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back".

Name meaning: Industrious and hardworking
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3) Marlene 

Who? Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) 

The Hollywood actress was one of the first women to wear trousers and suits on screen (then seen as taboo!) and famously said, "I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men."

Name meaning: Tower
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4) Eleanor

Who? Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) 

Full name Anna Eleanor Roosevelt served as the First Lady of the United States from March 1933 to April 1945, making her the longest serving First Lady of the US. She became the first First Lady to take on responsibilities beyond merely hosting and entertaining in the White House and had a newspaper column which addressed women's rights. 

Name meaning: Light
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5) Barbara

Who? Barbara Walters (born 1929)

Barbara Walters the first female co-host of a news show and became the first female co-anchor of an evening news broadcast for ABC News, which was unheard of at the time. 

Name meaning: Stranger; Foreigner; Traveler from a foreign land
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6) Malala 

Who? â€‹Malala Yousafzai  (1997)

Malala, was shot by the Taliban in 2012 in retaliation for her activism, which led the family to relocate to Birmingham. In 2014, Malala was awarded the Nobel peace prize for Let Her Fly and was the youngest ever to do so. 

Name meaning: Freedom fighter
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7) Ashley

Who? Ashley Graham (1987)

Ashley Graham is proving you don't have to be waiflike to be a succesful model. She was the first plus size model to star on the cover of Sport's Illustrated and made it into Forbes' 2017 list of the World's Highest Paid Models. She boldly stated, 'I felt free once I realized I was never going to fit the narrow mold that society wanted me to fit in."

Name meaning: Ash wood
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8) Gloria 

Who? Gloria Steinem (1934) 

This trail-blazer is a social political activist who led the American feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Gloria was a columnist for New York magazine, and a co-founder of Ms. magazine

Name meaning: Glory
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9) Angela

Who? Angela Davis (1944) 

Angela Davis is a political activist, writer and scholar. She was a key leader in the Black Power movement and has relentlessly fought for the progress of women's rights for over six decades. 

Name meaning: Messenger of gods
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10) Maya 

Who? Maya Angelou (1928-2014) 

The feminist icon inspired both women and African Americans to overcome gender and race discrimination through her literature, public speaking and campaigning. Over 50 years, she had written 36 books, seven autobiographies and racked up over 50 honorary degrees. 

Name meaning: Great
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11) Emma 

Who? Emma Watson (1990)

The Harry Potter actress captured everyone's attention with her moving speech in front of the United Nations that launched a new initiative for gender equality. She continues to campaign for equal rights and has since launched the #HeForShe movement and her own feminist book club. 

Name meaning: Whole
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12) Angelina 

Who? Angelina Jolie (1975)

The Hollywood actress has done extensive humantarian work for UNICEF and ONE Campaign. She also shared her breast cancer awareness story when she underwent a double-masectomy, which inspired many. 

Name meaning: Messenger
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13) Yoko

Who? Yoko Ono (1961) 

The artist is famous for her peaceful protests with the late John Lennon. Her 1972 essay, "The Feminization of Society" was especially poignant and helped mark the female revolution of the '70s.

Name meaning: Sun and child 
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14) Rowan 

Who? Rowan Blanchard (2001)

She may be only 17, but Disney actress and activist has been very vocal around the importance of Intersectional Feminism. "The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. "

Name meaning: River in Paradise
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15) Madonna 

Who? Madonna 

All hail The Queen of Pop who has tirelessly pushed the limits of female sexuality in both her image and music and today has redefined what a woman in her fifties should dress like. An icon. 

Name meaning: My lady 

Which is your favourite? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!


  • Author: Aimee Jakes Aimee Jakes
  • Job Title: Shopping and Community Editor

Aimee is the Shopping and Community Editor at Bauer Media where she works on fitness, fashion and beauty content across a number of titles such as heat, Closer and Grazia.

Her hobbies include truffle mac and cheese, Class Pass and relentlessly checking (and scolding!) the weather app.

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