Today marks International Women's Day 2015, a UN initiative aimed at creating a day to reflect on the progress made by women as well as appreciate examples of courage and strength set by ordinary women in their countries.

The theme for this year is "Empowering Women—Empowering Humanity:Picture It!" with the aim of bringing about “a world where each woman and girl can exercise their choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination”.

In order to celebrate International Women's Day 2015, below we share the inspiring stories of five female record-breakers.

Malala Yousafzai - Youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner
Aged just 17 years, 2 months and 23 days, Pakistani schoolgirl campaigner Malala Yousafzai became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner last year after being recognised for her work promoting the right for girls to have an education.

Malala won the award jointly with Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.


One of the world's most respected awards, the Nobel Peace Prize is given to people or organisations that have made outstanding achievements in different areas.

Past winners have included some of history’s best-known activists for peace, including Martin Luther King, Jr, Nelson Mandela, and Jimmy Carter.

Announcing their decision, the prize judges said about Malala: "Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls' rights to education."

She was left seriously injured three years ago after being attacked in Pakistan for her campaign work by extremist group the Taliban.


Malala, who was shot in the head during the attack which took place on a schoolbus, has recovered well after travelling to the UK for treatment.

She now goes to school in Birmingham and continues her campaigning.

Malala also holds the world record for being the most searched-for female on the internet, after she ranked first among women in Google's "Zeitgeist" global report of the most searched-for people of 2013.     

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Juliana Buhring – fastest circumnavigation by bicycle

In December 2012, Juliana Buhring set a new world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world on a bicycle by a female.

Starting and finishing at Piazza Plebescito in Naples, Italy, Juliana’s amazing feat took 152 days and one hour and saw her cycle a gruelling distance of 29,070 km (18,063.22 miles).

What makes Juliana’s achievement perhaps even more incredible is the fact that prior to deciding to attempt the record, the 32-year-old had never ridden a bike before.

Under the rules of the record a rider must travel the same distance as the circumference of the Earth – 24,900 miles – in one direction, starting and finishing in the same place. Travel by sea and air is allowed, but at least 18,000 miles of the route must be cycled.

After eight months worth of training and preparation under the supervision of an Italian sports scientist, Juliana set out on her epic ride which covered Italy, France, Spain Portugal, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia.

As well as fighting off sickness in India, wild dogs in Turkey and even some angry birds in Australia, Juliana’s bike, which she named Pegasus, suffered 29 flat tires, six broken spokes, and also required four full tire changes and three chain replacements during the trek.

Juliana set out to cycle the world to raise awareness of her charity Safe Passage Foundation. The charity aims to help children and young people raised in restrictive, isolated or high-demand communities - an issue close to Juliana’s heart having experienced such conditions as a child.

In the video above, Juliana tells the story behind her history-making journey around the world.

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Liu Yang - First female taikonaut

Liu Yang, a 35-year-old air force pilot, became China's first female taikonaut (astronaut) back in 2012. 

Liu made the record books as part of a crew of three on board the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft. As part of the crew Liu’s mission saw her live and work for several days on an has orbiting module as part of preparations for crewing a permanent space station. 

A native of Henan province, the mother of one joined the People's Liberation Army Air Force in 1997 and qualified as a pilot before becoming the deputy head of a flight unit, holding the PLAAF rank of major. Liu underwent two years of astronaut training and was one of two female candidates who had been chosen to prepare for the mission. 

The mission saw her join a notable list of record-breaking female space explorers, including Junior Lt Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (b. 6 Mar 1937, USSR), who became the first woman to orbit the Earth aboard Vostok 6 in June 1963. after a flight of 2days 22hr 50min and 48 orbits (1,971,000km 1,225,000miles). 

As well as holding the record for being the first female in space, having not been in the military, Valentina is also considered to be the first civilian in space.The record for longest spaceflight by a woman is currently held by American astronaut and United States Navy officer Sunita Williams, who spent 195 days in space during the Expedition 15 mission on the International Space Station in 2007.

Johanna Quaas - MainJohanna Quaas – Oldest gymnast 

Born on the 20th of November 1925, Johanna Quaas is a retired a PE teacher from Leipzig, Germany. 

Despite being 89 years of age, she remains a regular competitor in the amateur gymnastics competition Landes-Seniorenspiele, staged in Saxony, Germany. 

Remarkably she only began to train at gymnastics in her 50s taking part in her first competition at the age of 56. Johanna has always been involved in sport dating her interest in keeping fit back to a childhood. 

Because of her responsibilities as a mother and wife, she wasn't able to dedicate herself to gymnastics until later. 

In April 2012, she performed a floor-and-beam routine on the set of 'Lo Show dei Record' in Rome, Italy, where her record was certified. Joanna has a strict exercise regime that involves a combination of running and yoga.

Speaking of her record, Johanna says "it is a great feeling to be included in the Guinness World Records book and I hope my record inspires others to realise it's never too late."

JK Rowling mainJK Rowling - Highest annual earnings for a children's author

Born Joanne Murray in Yate on the outskirts of Bristol, UK in 1965, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books have kept a generation of children spellbound and spawned hugely successful box office film spin offs making her a multi-millionaire.

Amongst her biggest achievements, Rowling holds the record for the fastest selling book in history. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh - and final - novel in Rowling's Harry Potter series, sold 8.3 million copies in the first 24 hours (or 345,833 books per hour), following its release in the USA at 00.01 on 21 July 2007.

She also holds the record for Highest annual earnings for a children's author having notched up an estimated $300 million (£150 million) between in 2007-2008 according to the Forbes Celebrity 100 list released on 11 June 2008.

Eighteen years after he first book in the series was published, the adventures of Harry Potter continue to delight children. 

Just this last week, the young wizard provided the inspiration at a London school for a successful record attempt at for the largest gathering of people dressed as Harry Potter to mark World Book Day.