Kira Cochrane is Opinion Editor of the Guardian, and was previously a features writer for the paper, and women’s editor from 2006-2010. She is author of the novels The Naked Season and Escape Routes for Beginners, edited the anthology Women of the Revolution, and co-edited Cupcakes and Kalashnikovs, as well as writing the short book All the Rebel Women, an account of the fourth wave of feminism.

Her latest book, Modern Women is a celebration of some of the influential and inspiring women who have changed the world through their lives, work and actions. From suffragettes to scientists, activists to artists, politicians to pilots and writers to riot grrrls, the women included have all paved the way for gender equality in their own indomitable way.

Covering well-known names including Virginia Woolf, Katharine Hepburn, Maya Angelou, Frida Kahlo, Oprah Winfrey and Nina Simone, Cochrane also looks into the lives of those arguably less well known, including filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché, vaudevillian Vesta Tilley, strike leader Jayaben Desai and artist Ana Mendieta.

The lives of these extraordinary women also enable bigger stories to be told; the suffrage movement, the civil rights struggle, advances in science and technology, the push for artistic freedom, and the importance of equality in all sections of society.