Strong female heroines like The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen or Pride and Prejudice’s Lizzie Bennett make for wonderful role models, but we also need to look up to real women who embody strength, courage, and intelligence beyond special effects or the pages of a book. From Justice secretary Leila de Lima to super girl Bianca Gonzalez, we list down some of the women we admire as well as what we could all learn from them.

1. Have the courage to stand up for what is right.

One can only imagine what kind of death threats Justice secretary Leila de Lima receives every day. Just recently, the 55-year-old once again made headlines when she and her team exposed the lavish lifestyle of high-profile inmates from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City. De Lima conducted the visit herself. Illegal drugs and firearms, among other things, were confiscated. A few days ago, GMA News Online reported that de Lima, along with Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., conducted another visit. Gotta love the follow-through!

2. Don’t be afraid to fly solo.
Newly married Bianca Gonzalez gave us some wonderful advice early last year. As much as she loves traveling with then-boyfriend and now-husband JC Intal, she also enjoys traveling alone. “It's one of the best things in life. Either travel alone totally or you travel alone and meet up with someone there.” Inspired to plan a solo trip yourself? Bianca personally suggests Hanoi, San Francisco, and New York.

3. Do your job to the best of your ability.

Kim Henares probably won’t be winning any popularity awards soon, but that’s not something the tax commissioner is likely to be worried about. While not everyone approves of her tactics—Senator Alan Peter Cayetano even said she needed a reprimand for flashing boxing champion Manny Pacquiao’s tax records publicly—you can’t deny that she’s making good on the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s mission of transparent service. Late last year, United Nations even appointed her as one of their tax experts, reports Rappler.

4. You can make a difference.
Janine Chiong was only a student when she first started Habi Footwear with her friends, but instead of letting it die a natural death after graduation—the way that so many social enterprises borne from thesis projects often do—she made the fair trade company a stronger brand and continued to provide a real opportunity for the mothers in the community she works with.

5. If you speak loudly enough, people will listen.

Whoever said that women should only be seen and not heard is clearly living in the past. Time and time again, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has shown that if you have the courage to say what needs to be said, people will lend you their ears, or at least, go to your Twitter page. As of press time, Senator Defensor-Santiago has 1,168,206 followers. And with the release of her book Stupid Is Forever, we bet that the numbers will only continue to rise.

PHOTO: Paulin'a/Flickr Creative Commons; GIFS:

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