3 Revolutionary Women’s Health Leaders

Women’s health has undergone some drastic changes in the last few decades. In addition to advanced technology and more civil liberties, women also have more options than ever before. For example, want to go forgo a hospital birth and go old school with a mid-wife? Go for it! Want to take family planning into your own hands with contraception? Do it!

While there is still a very long way to go when it comes to women’s issues (can anyone say federally mandated paid parental leave?), the reality is women have come a long way in a very short amount of time – especially when it comes to health.

While this list of people who have impacted women’s health is very long, here are three people who have helped shape women’s health as we know it today.

Gloria Steinem, Writer and Women’s Rights Activist

Women’s health and politics have always been linked. Back in the days of monarch rule much of a queen’s worth was dependent upon whether or not she could produce an heir to the throne. Now we are busy arguing over whether or not birth control should be covered by insurance.

That’s why you cannot have a conversation about influential people impacting women’s health without mentioning the incomparable Gloria Steinem. Through her activism and support of the Equal Rights Amendment, Gloria Steinem paved the way for women’s health and safety as a whole – from domestic abuse to sexuality.

Ina May Gaskin, Midwife

Dubbed “the most famous midwife in the world,” Ina May Gaskin is credited for the revival of natural and home births. Much like Steinem and other women’s health activists, Gaskin has worked tirelessly for a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, rather than having large entities decide for her.

Her main concern has been modern medicine’s shift from seeing pregnancy and birth as a natural occurrence to a medical issue. She is quoted as saying, ”Birth shouldn’t be thought of as money-making commodity or condition in which large institutions or governments control and dictate how women will give birth, ignoring individual mothers’ wishes and needs.”

According to the CDC home births began rising in 2004 after a decline in the 90s. Between 2004 and 2009 out-of-hospital births increased 30% and the numbers have held steady.

Mary-Claire King, Geneticist

Mary-Claire Kind is the geneticist responsible for the discovery of BRCA-1 gene. Thanks to her we now know that a woman can be genetically predisposed to breast cancer if she inherits a mutation in the BRCA-1 gene of BRCA-2 gene.

Up until that point breast cancer was seen as being caused by a random series of genetic and environmental factors. It was King’s pursuit of a genetic marker which led us to a more advanced understanding of breast cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Women Influencing Health

You can’t talk about women and health without at least giving a nod to the many women who have influenced the health field as a whole. For example, did you know that it was a woman who helped us understand the AIDS epidemic back in the 80s? A woman also helped in the discovery of the double-helix model of DNA.

It turns out that women have been at the forefront of health movements for ages. Check out the Huffington Post’s 50 Women Who Changed America’s Health.


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Vesper B.
Vesper B4 years ago


Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago


CLAUDE Hennie4 years ago

Great !
But we won't say thank you to Marie Curie... In any case.

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you

Dt Nc
Dt Nc4 years ago

Interesting, but there are much better women in the health care field you could have wrote about. Gloria Steinem? Really?

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey4 years ago

Good article

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper4 years ago


Wonder Girl
Rekha S4 years ago

Inspiring thank you! What about Marie Curie

Wonder Girl
Rekha S4 years ago

Very interesting