Modern Greek Women Who Inspire Us (video)

To mark International Women’s Day, we selected just a few Greek women who are making a positive contribution to our world, be it in the fields of business, politics, philanthropy, sports or science.

Andrea Zafeirakou

Greek-Cypriot teacher Andria Zafirakou won an award in 2018 for being the best educator in the entire world.

Zafirakou, who teaches arts and textiles at the Alperton Community School in Brent, U.K., won the Varkey Foundation’s “Global Teacher Prize,” which is accompanied by a cash sum of $1 million.

The tireless teacher greets her students every morning in thirty-five different languages. Her motto is: “Build trust with your kids – then everything else can happen.”

Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks

The Greek-American entrepreneur, president and CEO of Earth Friendly Products is a passionate advocate for worker’s rights and the protection of the planet.

Her company employs women in leading positions and provides one of the highest minimum wages in the US.

“Fighting to protect our health and the health of our planet has been the core of our mission for fifty years,” she says.

Eleni Antoniadou

World-leading scientist and NASA researcher Eleni Antoniadou has received worldwide recognition for her outstanding work on lifesaving therapies for artificial organ transplantations.

She is an advocate for organ donation, an activist against illegal organ trafficking, and a firm supporter of girls in the STEM fields.

Her dream, she says, is to one day become an astronaut.

Anna Korakaki

The unrivaled shooting champion of Greece, Korakaki represented Greece at the 2016 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal in the 25m pistol and a bronze medal in the 10m air pistol. She won the first gold medal for Greece since Greece had hosted the Olympics back in 2004.

At the age of twenty, and in her maiden Olympic campaign, she became the first Greek woman to win two Olympic medals in the same competition, and the first Greek athlete in general since 1912.

Despoina Petousi

By any definition, Petousi, who works in Germany, excels among young engineers, in what is overwhelmingly a male dominated profession.

Her pioneering work on devices which enable high-speed internet was recognized when she was awarded the prestigious “Bertha Benz Prize” in 2018.

“Dozens of young scientists are doing amazing work in their fields. To be singled out, it was a great honor,” Petousi says.

Nitzia Logothetis

A dedicated psychotherapist on women’s mental health, Logothetis founded the “Seleni Institute,” a non-profit organization dedicated to providing care, research, professional training, and information about maternal and reproductive mental health.

In her words, her vision is a “world where emotional health is valued just as much as physical health.”

Katerina Stefanidi

The golden girl of the pole vault in world athletics, Stefanidi won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games with a jump of 4.85 meters, and she also competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

She is the current World Outdoor (2017), European Outdoor (2018), European Indoor (2017), and Diamond League (2018) champion, and a two-time World Indoor Championships bronze medalist.

Eleni Kounalakis

The first woman elected Lieutenant Governor of California, Kounalakis, a first generation Greek-American, was recently named the state’s international affairs and trade chief.

Her grandmother Katerina never learned how to read or write. Her father, Angelo Tsakopoulos, came to the United States from Greece at fourteen years of age.

He had little money, and no English-speaking skills, but went on to become a prominent and wealthy Sacramento real estate developer.

“The path to wisdom is through education,” Kounalakis said. “This is very personal to me.”

Noella Coursaris Musunka

Born to a Greek-Cypriot father and a Congolese mother, the former model now devotes her life to the promotion of education for girls in her homeland, and to help them reach their fullest potential and escape poverty.

She founded a non-profit organization, called the Malaika Foundation, which aims to empower Congolese girls. Malaika means “angel” in Swahili.

Nancy Papaioannou

Papaioannou is the first Greek woman to become a president of a bank in the United States.

The Greek-American, who still remains a huge advocate of Greece, came to the States as a young employee from the Bank of Greece, and now she is the president of Atlantic Bank.

Asked how it is being a woman in New York’s male-dominated business world, Papaioannou says, “It wasn’t easy, but the tough times build you up!”

Sister Nectaria Paridisi

The Greek Orthodox nun in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, has become a symbol of the eternal fight against poverty, illiteracy, child trafficking and prostitution in the city.

By most accounts, she is the only Greek individual left in the city. Through the schools and orphanages she built with the help of donors, she has become a “mother” to thousands of children.

“Life in Kolkata is hard for any foreigner. But when we go to any mission, we don’t go for a holiday,” she declares.

Calliope Limneos-Papakosta

For over fifteen long years, the Greek archaeologist has searched for the Golden Fleece of Greece’s ancient history — namely, the priceless tomb of Alexander the Great.

Through her excavations in Alexandria, Egypt, the ancient city’s royal quarter was uncovered, revealing many valuable artifacts — although the search for Alexander’s tomb remains her ultimate mission. If and when it is found, it will be one of the largest discoveries in the history of the world in the field of archaeology.

Greek Women who Make a Difference

Happy International Women's Day to all the Greek superwomen around the globe. Here's a list with just a few of them that keep inspiring us and make us proud! #IWD2019 #GreeksAreEverywhere

Posted by Greek Reporter on Thursday, March 7, 2019