Baby Girl Names Inspired by Real-Life Modern Heroines

Jess Richardson | Nov 8, 2019 Pregnancy
Baby Girl Names Inspired by Real-Life Modern Heroines
Image: iStock

Baby Girl Names Inspired By Real-Life Modern Heroines
iStock

When it comes to naming a baby, what's a better source of inspiration than the women whose lives and work in the 20th and 21st centuries inspire us? We rounded up some of our heroes from the past 100 years, all of whom have contributed significantly to our world. Some are amazing civil rights activists whose sacrifices and hard work have helped advance human rights, while others are scientists whose work has helped saves lives globally. We are inspired by astronauts who literally reach for the stars, journalists whose bravery has helped change the course of history, and philanthropists who amaze us with their generosity and concern for the people in the world around them. We admire environmental activists who shaped the conservation movement and women who experienced trauma -- only to come out the other side fighting for the rights of other women. 

Although naming a baby girl after one of our favorite modern heroines is a wonderful idea, it's not the only place to draw inspiration from when we are considering a good baby name. One place to start: consider what names may be popular in other countries, even though they're not popular back home. This way, we can be assured that the name we choose isn't going to be so popular that half the other kids in class will have it. Look into baby girl names trending around the world for some international names, or popular British baby girl names for some inspiration from across the Pond. Dipping back into the past is also a source for names: old-fashioned nicknames for girls that make charming first names could provide just the right name. Also consider baby girl names that come from lesser-known characters, which can keep them interesting, including baby girl names inspired by forgotten Disney characters.

  • NADIA

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    Nadia
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    Nadia Murad is a human rights activist. She was kidnapped in 2014 and held captive by the Islamic State for three months. She founded Nadia's Initiative, which is dedicated to "helping women and children victimized by genocide, mass atrocities, and human trafficking to heal and rebuild their lives and communities." She and Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.

  • CHRISTINA

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    Christina
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    In 2019, astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch completed the first spacewalk with an all-women team, making history. The hope expressed by the whole team is that having more women in space will become the new normal soon -- and with more astronaut classes having a higher percentage of women in them, it's likely. We think Christina Koch is an inspiration and a great role model for a young girl. 

  • JESSICA

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    Jessica
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    Jessica Meir said of the spacewalk, "We hope that we can provide an inspiration to everybody, not only women, but to everybody that has a dream... and who is willing to work hard." We can't imagine a better role model for a young girl. 

  • FRANÇOISE

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    Françoise
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    Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is a French virologist and Director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Division at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. Her work was critical in identifying HIV, and since then, she has consistently worked to establish links among research, with the goal of developing improvements in HIV and AIDS treatments and prevention.

  • SHIRLEY

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    Shirley
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    Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman in the US Congress. In her first floor speech, she spoke out against the Vietnam war, and throughout her work representing the people of New York, she continued to be a positive force for change. She served a total of seven terms in Congress.

  • HELEN

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    Helen
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    Helen Zia is an influential journalist, whose essays, articles, and books speak to her experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and Asian-American woman, as well as issues like the experience of Chinese immigrants during the Communist revolution. She uses her work as a journalist to create positive change and seek justice. 

  • ELLEN

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    Ellen
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    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Liberian politician who was the first female elected head of state in Africa, having served as president of Liberia from 2006-2018. She worked to significantly reduce her country's national debt, and worked to build peace, and increase women's safety.

  • MARGARET 

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    Margaret
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    Margaret Bourke-White was the first American female war photojournalist. She contributed extensively to the field of photojournalism, and her work regularly appeared in Life magazine. Her bravery and skill allowed us an inside look of combat zones in World War II and Soviet industry.

  • RACHEL

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    Rachel
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    Rachel Carson was arguably the most important nature writer of the 20th century. A marine biologist and conservationist, her book Silent Spring advanced the global environmental movement considerably. 

  • IDA

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    Ida
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    Ida B. Wells was an African-American leader of the civil rights movement, as well as an investigative journalist. She fought against segregation, unfair practices, and wrote for newspapers all over the country. Ida is an inspiration and a modern-day heroine. 

  • DOROTHY

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    Dorothy
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    Dorothy Thompson was a journalist and radio broadcaster. She was the first American journalist to be kicked out of Nazi Germany, and she was famous for encouraging Americans to pay attention to the threat of Nazi Germany long before the US entered the war. 

  • ESTHER

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    Esther
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    Esther Dulfo is a French-American economist and the co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which is known for its work in social welfare. She was a co-recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. 

  • SHIRIN

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    Shirin
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    Shirin Ebadi is a lawyer, political activist, and human rights activist from Iran. She won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in human rights, and was the first Iranian and Muslim woman to receive this honor. She has been exiled from Tehran since 2009 for her stance against the current regime. 

  • TERESA

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    Teresa
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    Mother Teresa, born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, famously founded the Missionaries of Charity, which runs soup kitchens, mobile clinics, and orphanages, as well as aiding people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis. She was regarded as an incredibly selfless woman who devoted her life to help those in need.

  • STEPHANIE

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    Stephanie
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    Stephanie Sinclair is an American photojournalist whose work has won a Pulitzer Prize. Known for her work on human rights issues like child marriage and self-immolation, she is a remarkable role model for a girl to grow up admiring.

  • MAZIE

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    Mazie
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    Mazie Hirono has made a lot of history: She is the first female senator from Hawaii, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, the first Buddhist senator, and the first US senator born in Japan. She was also the longest-serving member overall of Hawaii's congressional delegation. 

  • MAE

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    Mae
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    Mae Jemison was an astronaut and is an engineer and physician. She was the first black woman to travel in space, and is an inspiring public speaker who promotes science and technology, as well as speaking out about the gap in American health care. 

  • AVA

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    Ava
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    Ava DuVernay is an American filmmaker, and among only a handful of women directors working in Hollywood. In 2012, she was the first black woman to win the Sundance Film Festival directing award, and was also the first black female director whose film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

  • MELINDA

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    iStock

    Melinda Gates is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest private foundation in the world. Her work as a philanthropist works to give people access to health care and reduce extreme poverty globally.

  • TARANA

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    Tarana
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    Tarana Burke is a civil rights activist from New York and the founder of the "Me Too" movement. Her activism has helped raise awareness of the widespread problem of sexual harassment and assault women face on a daily basis. 

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