Female athletes who will change society

LISTICLE | 03/02/2023
Uschi Horner

These 45 female athletes inspire us: they fight for the climate, for the rights of female athletes, for gender equality and show with their daring adventures that they are in no way inferior to men. From B for gymnast Simones Biles to Y for swimmer Fu Yuanhui.

Here comes Part 3 on female athletes who are changing the world.

To Part 1 Biles to Harila | To Part 2 Haug To Osaka


Asisat Oshoala, soccer player, 28 years old

The Nigerian recently celebrated her 100th goal, is under contract to FC Barcelona and is one of the highest-paid female soccer players in Europe. As a girl, she was banned from playing the sport, but today she is a star not only in her home country. With her Asisat Oshoala Foundation, she wants to ensure that sporty children get a chance - especially girls.


Laura Philipp, triathlete, 35 years

The multiple Ironman winner is a strong advocate for a topic that is still rather underrepresented in Germany: cycle-based training. The topic of femininity is therefore also at the top of her website and she lives by the motto: Work Hard. Have Fun. Kick Ass. On her Youtube channel, the German world-class triathlete talks openly about cycle topics and sports based on her experiences and shares her knowledge.


Megan Rapinoe, soccer player, 37 years old

Since coming out publicly in 2011, the professional athlete from the U.S. has campaigned tirelessly for the rights of the LGBTQ community and for equal pay and gender equality. She also raised her voice recently when the Supreme Court overturned abortion rights: "It's sad and cruel," she said in a press conference, and continues to fight.


Elnez Rekabi, climber, 33 years old

The world admired her courage: The Iranian climber became famous as a climber without a headscarf and was celebrated as a prominent face of the protests in her home country. But: After the competition in October 2022 in South Korea, it has become quiet around the climber. Her last Instagram post also dates from that time. However, Sportschau reports that the Iranian is taking part in a leadership program run by the International Olympic Committee. She was selected for the so-called Wish project, which aims to increase the number of female coaches at the Olympics.


Caster Semenya, track and field athlete, age 32

The South African intersex runner has been fighting with the world federation for years over her right to compete. The two-time Olympic champion filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in 2021 against the ruling of the International Court of Justice for Sport regarding a testosterone cap: to "fight for dignity and equality for women in sport.


Wojdan Shahrkhani, judoka, 26 years old

The Saudi Arabian was one of two women who competed for their country at the 2012 Olympics for the first time. Even though she was eliminated after her first fight, her participation had great charisma. At the 2016 Olympics, three female athletes took part, and in Tokyo, two again.


Mikaela Shiffrin, skier, 27 years old

The US American has just been crowned the best skier in World Cup history. Environmental issues are important to her: Shiffrin recently signed an open letter to the FIS in which well-known skiers call on the federation to do more to protect the climate. And in addition to her sporting ambitions (ABFTTB - the abbreviation on Shiffrin's helmet means "Always Be Faster Than The Boys"), she also has a great sense of humor, as shown in an Instagram video about her period: Previously, in an interview, an Austrian commentator had translated "cycle" as cycling.


Santhi Soundarajan, track and field athlete, 41 years old

Childhood in deepest poverty, later success as a track and field athlete - until her medal at the 2006 Asian Games was revoked because a sex determination test revealed too many male hormones. A year later, she attempted suicide, then worked as a day laborer in a brick factory. The Indian's life did not change until 2016, when the "Justice for Santhi" campaign was launched, drawing attention to the athlete's discrimination. Now she works as a trainer and encourages others.


Kathrine Switzer, marathon runner, age 76

She is considered the pioneer of marathon running. In 1967, she started for the first time in Boston over this distance, although women were not allowed. When a steward tried to rip off her bib, she got help, and the result was massive discussions about women's sports. She inspired women all over the world with this race - even as a TV commentator she later campaigned for a change in women's rights in sports.


Lia Thomas, swimmer, (presumably) 24 years old

The World Swimming Federation has decided in 2022 that only trans people with gender reassignment surgery before the age of twelve will be allowed to compete in competitions of their new gender. This decision was preceded by heated discussions - fueled by trans swimmer Thomas' historic title win at the collegiate championships in the United States. The Olympics will therefore remain an unfulfilled dream for Lia, but she is bravely fighting on: "Even though there have been difficulties along the way, transitioning and realizing myself has brought me so much joy and peace of mind. All people deserve the opportunity to be their authentic selves, free from harassment and discrimination."


Maria Toorpakai, squash player, 32 years old

Until the age of 16, the Pakistani dressed like a boy so she could play squash. To overcome discrimination and cultural barriers, the Canadian by choice has set up a foundation. The Maria Toorpakai Foundation encourages families to educate their daughters and enable them to play sports.


Lindsey Vonn, skier, 38 years old

She is one of the most successful skiers ever - the US American Lindsey Vonn. With the Lindsey Vonn Foundation, she supports disadvantaged girls with camps and scholarships. She also offers them the opportunity for "life-changing experiences". Recently, the Olympic champion became the first woman to race from the original start down the Streif in Kitzbühel at night, and then wrote to her followers, "And to everyone who has a dream: Never stop believing in yourself, you never know what you can achieve!"


Serena Williams, tennis player, 41 years old

Venus' little sister has been just as successful, earning around 95 million US dollars, the highest career prize money of any female tennis player. She is also an advocate for women's rights. In 2017, the vegan impressively showed what pregnant women are capable of: She played her way to the final at the Australian Open and won against her sister. More about Serena Williams.


Venus Williams, tennis player, 42 years old

She was the first woman of color at the top of the world rankings. When she won her first Wimbledon in 2000, the US American noticed the differences in prize money between women and men and has been fighting for equal pay for female athletes ever since. With her #PrivilegeTax campaign, she also supports a foundation that promotes educational programs for girls.


Fu Yuanhui, swimmer, 27 years old

In 2016, the swimmer explained her fourth place at the Olympics in Brazil with fatigue due to her period. In doing so, she breaks a taboo (especially in China), speaks from the heart of many female athletes and is celebrated for it. But her cheerfulness and warmth also make her a role model for many young Chinese women and women worldwide.

Swimmer Fu Yuanhui at a competition 2015

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Uschi Horner