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Greek Women Who Make a Difference

Greek women are making a difference — whether it’s in the realm of politics, science, business, philanthropy or sport. Greek Reporter selected just a few Greek women who are making a positive contribution to our world.

Katerina Sakellaropoulou

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
Katerina Sakellaropoulou became the first female President of Greece when elected by Parliament on January 22, 2020. She received a positive vote from 261 out of 300 lawmakers, one of the broadest cross-party majorities in Greek history.

Prior to her election, she served as President of the Council of State, the highest administrative court in Greece.

Upon her landslide election, she vowed to work towards tackling some of the most crucial global challenges of our time, including financial crises, climate change, the mass movements of people with their consequent humanitarian crises, what she called the “retreat of justice,” and all types of inequalities and exclusions.

Sofia Bekatorou

sofia bekatorou
Sofia Bekatorou and her partner Emilia Tsoulfa at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Credit: AMNA

Sofia Bekatorou, the former Greek sailing champion, opened the floodgates of sexual abuse allegations in the realms of Greek sport, theater, and cinema after revealing her own sexual assault at the hands of the Vice-President of the Hellenic Sailing Federation.

She participated in over a hundred main class events including the 2004 Summer Olympics sailing competition, where she won the gold medal in the women’s double-handed dinghy event in the 470 with her pair Emilia Tsoulfa.

Bekatorou was the first female flag bearer for Greece in the history of Summer Olympics at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Christina Flampouri

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
Mountaineer Christina Flampouri hoisted the Greek flag on the highest peak of Antarctica in January of 2020 after the triumphant completion of her ambitious “Seven Summits” quest.

Flampouri became the first Greek woman to accomplish this stellar achievement. The Seven Summits are the highest mountains on each of the seven continents.

Reaching the top of all of them, which was first achieved on April 30, 1985 by Richard Bass, is regarded as a superlative mountaineering challenge for any climber.

Andrea Zafeirakou

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
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, in the UK, won the Varkey Foundation’s “Global Teacher Prize,” which is accompanied by a cash award 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 workers’ 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.

Anna Korakaki

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
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 her country 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 of any kind to do so since 1912.

Despoina Petousi

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
Despoina Petousi, a Greek software engineer working in Germany, won the prestigious “Bertha Benz Prize” for 2018. The prize is aimed specifically at young female doctorate-level engineers who have created ideas or products of great value to society as a result of their dissertation.

Petousi, from the Technical University of Berlin, says her research work focuses on devices that will make it possible for everyone to have high-speed internet.

Nitzia Logothetis

A dedicated psychotherapist in the area of 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.”

Eleni Kounalakis

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
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 had 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, helping 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 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 she became the president of Atlantic Bank.

In 2023, she joined Alma Bank as Senior Advisor.

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

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
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.

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 on any mission, we don’t go for a holiday,” she declares.

Christina Linardatou-Duran

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
Greek professional boxer ranked as the world’s third best active junior-welterweight, she is a two-time WBO female junior-welterweight champion, having held the title since February 2020 and previously in 2019. Linardatou also challenged once for the WBC female lightweight title in 2016.

Born in 1988 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Linardatou moved to Greece when she was a child. Later, she started to practice boxing.

Calliope Limneos-Papakosta

Greek Women Who Make a Difference
For almost two decades, 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

#ChallengeAccepted: Here's to #womensempowerment around the globe and all the amazing Greek superwomen who inspire us daily! Read their full stories: #GreeksAreEverywhere

Posted by Greek Reporter on Friday, 31 July 2020

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