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Female heroes

Petra Collins and Dazed select all the women who've attained hero status in our hearts

To celebrate our Girls Rule issue, Dazed is running a series of takeovers. So far we've played host to Angel Haze and Stacy Martin. Today Canadian artist and provocateur Petra Collins is running the show with her manifesto for art collective, The Ardorous, a head-to-head interview with Karley 'Slutever' Sciortino and pieces on inspirational women and one out-there sex playlist. Keep checking our Petra Collins Day page for more throughout the day.

In an age where Beyonce can casually drop the words "I was scrolling through videos of feminism on Youtube", it's never been easier to come across women who are doing work that matters: whether they're campaigning for women's education or just being boss bitches, these women are showing the world that ladies are doing it for themselves and no one else. 

Tavi Gevinson

Rookie editor, teen inspiration and style icon – and the 17-year-old hasn't even decided which college she wants to go to yet. Tavi's probably the perfect example of a digital-first poster girl, having started Style Rookie in the halcyon days of fashion blogging and the tn transformed herself into a self-made media mogul with Rookie, where she holds the attention span of teen girls (and a couple of adult lurkers, too) in the palm of her hand. 

Laverne Cox

The Orange Is The New Black star is also an outspoken trans activist and probably the most high-profile trans actor in Hollywood. Whether it's gracefully fielding grossly invasive questions on the Katie Couric Show or campaigning for justice on behalf of trans women like CeCe McDonald, she's at the forefront of the movement for trans rights.     

Malala Yousafzai

When a gunman boarded her schoolbus and shot Malala thrice, he probably didn't count on this 16-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl becoming one of the most outspoken advocates for female education rights and the first teenager to be nominated for the Nobel Prize. 

Camilla Vallejo

Armed with Marx quotes and a revolutionary attitude, Vallejo emerged as the most potently charismatic leader out of 2011's Chilean student uprising. Dubbed a "modern Latin American folk hero" by the Guardian and chosen as Person of the Year by the newspaper's readers in 2011, she has now been elected to Chile's Congress and promises to lobby for free university education and tax reform. 

Wendy Davis

In Britain, we pretty much expect our politicians to be lying, craven wimps who lack the moral fortitude to stand up for what's right – let alone stand up for what's right for 11 hours. But that's exactly what Texan politician Wendy Davis did in order to block a bill that would ban all abortions in Texas after 20 weeks and close all but five abortion clinics in the state. By standing up and speaking for over 11 hours, her filibuster (i.e. holding the floor for so long that the deadline for voting on the bill had expired) effectively derailed the proposed laws and protected the reproductive rights of 24 million Texans. 

Southall Black Sisters

This London-based alliance of black and Asian women has campaigned on immigration, welfare, domestic violence and other issues for over 30 years now, much to the government's dismay – you don't mess with the sisters. If you ever spot a group of women busting an immigration raid with shouts of "UKBA go away", that'll be them. Heroes.  

Gloria Steinem

The Ms. magazine founder might seem an odd choice, given that she's been an active campaigner since the '70s. But Steinem has a place in our (and Petra's) hearts – not only is she still going strong at 80 as an outspoken advocate for women's freedom, but Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year, an accolade she described as a "medal for the entire women's movement". 

Laura Bates

As the Everyday Sexism founder explained in her article for Dazed, it's easy to let online haters get to you. Regardless, Laura Bates brushed off the abuse and has continued to propel her anti-sexual online harassment campaign to new heights, appearing on Newsnight, giving TED talks and opening the project up to over 10 countries.    

Mikki Kendall (@karnythia)

The editor behind the excellent Hood Feminism blog created the hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen to point out how mainstream feminist discussion privileges white, upper and middle-class voices over those belonging to ethnic minorities. People from all over the world joined in and the hashtag trended globally, kicking off a much-needed debate on inequal representation and double standards. 

Edith Windsor

The first lady of gay mariage, literally. When Windsor's spouse, Thea, passed away, she found that she was not eligible to inherit her partner's estate thanks to the Defence Of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman – despite the fact Windsor and her spouse had been married two years earlier in Canada and had already been together for 40 years. She took her case to the Supreme Court, which struck down DOMA – paving the way for gay marriage in America.