Mother and Baby

20 empowering baby names inspired by feminist icons

Section: Girls baby names
Feminist names

With so many names to choose from, picking the right name for your new arrival can be a tricky task. 

If you're in search of a name with a bit of oomph, girl power and a fantastic meaning behind it, then you might like the sound of some of these baby names inspired by feminist icons. 

It will be a great story to tell your little one when they're older, that's for sure. 

1. Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline-Pankhurst

Name: Emmeline

Meaning: Industrious and hardworking

Who? 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".

2. Malala Yousafzai

Malala

Name: Malala 

Meaning: Freedom fighter

Who? 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. 

3. Simone de Beauvoir

Simone

Name: Simone 

Meaning: One who hears 

Who? 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.

4. Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

Name: Eleanor

Meaning: Light

Who? 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. 

5. Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg

Name: Greta 

Meaning: Pearl

Who? At just 18 years-old, Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg has already had a huge impact on people's views of environmental issues. She's a Swedish environmental activist who is internationally known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. 

6. Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem

Name: Gloria 

Meaning: Glory

Who? 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. 

7. Angela Davis

Angela Davis

Name: Angela 

Meaning: Messenger of gods

Who? 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.

8. Barbara Walters

barbara walters

Name: Barbara 

Meaning: Stranger; Foreigner; Traveler from a foreign land

Who? 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. 

9. Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Name: Maya

Meaning: Great

Who? 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. 

10. Michelle Obama

Michelle obama

Name: Michelle 

Meaning: Who is like God?

Who? She was the First Lady from 2009 to 2017 and in that time, she left her mark in the White House with her Let Girls Learn initiative, to empower girls across the globe and gain better access to education. She continues to work closely with the Girls Opportunity Alliance, a program within the Obama Foundation that supports grassroots leaders working on girls' education.

11. Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Name: Ruth 

Meaning: Compassionate friend

Who? She became the second female Supreme Court justice ever, and used her position to advocate for women's rights. During her career, she co-founded the Women's Rights Law Reporter in 1970 and the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), working to make sure women's voices were heard in law.

12. Alice Walker

Alice Walker

Name: Alice 

Meaning: Noble, exalted

Who? An important voice for black women in the feminist movement, Walker is most famous for writing The Color Purple. She is also the co-founder of Wild Tree Press, a feminist publishing company and her passion and efforts to making sure Black women's voices are heard continue to this day.

13. Emma Watson

Emma Watson

Name: Emma

Meaning: Whole

Who? 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. 

14. Tarana Burke

tarana burke

Name: Tarana 

Meaning: Born during the day

Who? She's an American activist from The Bronx, New York who first started the powerful Me Too movement. Back in 2006, Burke began using #MeToo to help other women who shared similar experiences to stand up for themselves.

15. Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox

Name: Laverne 

Meaning: Springlike

Who? You might recognise her from Orange is the New Black, but Laverne has also tirelessly campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights and transgender representation in Hollywood. She continuously uses her platform to bring awareness to issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

16. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

aoc

Name: Alexandria

Meaning: Defender of mankind

Who? You may know her as AOC and she rose to fame after winning a seat in the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections for New York’s 14th district despite being an underdog. She has helped a new generation of voters have a passion for politics, especially amongst young women.

17. Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan

Name: Betty 

Meaning: Oath of God, or God is satisfaction

Who? She was an American feminist writer and activist and her 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique is often credited with sparking the wave of feminism in the 60s and 70s and popularising the feminist movement throughout America.

18. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Name: Chimamanda

Meaning: My God will never fail

Who? Most famous for her ‘We should all be feminists’ Ted Talk (which if you haven’t watched already, you should), her important writings have been vital in modern day feminism and the representation of women’s rights and African culture.

19. Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King

Name: Billie

Meaning: Resolute protection

Who? We’ve all heard of the phenomenal tennis player, Billie Jean King. She set up the first ever all-woman’s tour, but she really made her name at Wimbledon’s Battle of the Sexes, where she took on men’s tennis champ (and anti-feminist) Bobby Riggs, winning 6-4 6-3 6-3.

20. Laura Bates

Laura Bates

Name: Laura 

Meaning: Laurus nobilis

Who? Sick of being catcalled and harrassed on the street, she founded the Everyday Sexism Project website in April 2012, where women and girls could share their experiences of sexism they experience every day.


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  • Author: Lorna White Lorna White
  • Job Title: Digital Writer

Lorna is the digital executive and regular contributor for Mother&Baby. After running the Yours magazine website which specialises in content about caring for kids and grandchildren, she has now brought her expertise to the UK's #1 leading pregnancy and parenting magazine. Lorna specialises on a range of topics from potty training and nutrition, to everything and anything that will keep your tot occupied!

Other contributors

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