4 Influential American Women Who You Didn't Know Were Refugees

In the wake of the Paris attacks, there has been a robust conversation regarding the settlement of Syrian refugees.

Given that the stories of refugees get lost amidst tragedy, violence, and war, we've highlighted four incredible women who, despite their past, have achieved enormous success in their respective fields of politics, art, and music.

Learn more about their stories by clicking through the gallery above.. 

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Photo Credit: New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images


Madeline Albright | At the age of 1, Madeleine Albright, born as Marie Jana Kobelova, fled from Prague to west London with her family. Her early childhood years were spent fighting for survival in a then war-torn London. Albright's difficult adolescence fleeing from one country to the next only set the background for her tremendous career in politics and foreign affairs, when she she became the first female United States Secretary of State. Albright speaks four languages, holds a PhD from Columbia University, and acts as a director on the Council on Foreign Relations. Photo Credit: AP

M.I.A. | M.I.A. Rapper, artist and activist Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasm, better known to her fans and the music world as 'M.I.A.', has been very vocal about her experiences as a young refugee fleeing the Sri Lankan civil war. She and her family moved several times from Sri Lanka to India and then back to their home country of Sri Lanka. In the end, the family settled in southwest London. A childhood full of violence and poverty, M.I.A eventually used these experiences to fuel her musical career and become an activist. Photo Credit: AP

Iman | Famed supermodel, businesswoman, and human rights activist Iman wears many different labels. And being a refugee is among them. Iman's family was uprooted by a revolution that broke out in Somalia in 1969. With her father as an ambassador, her mother made the executive decision to flee the country in fear of their safety. Crossing the border of Kenya by foot, Iman's life changed drastically overnight — from ambassador's daughter to refugee. Today, Iman continues to advocate for women and children in her country and for refugees everywhere.  Photo Credit: Getty Images

Gloria Estefan | In the 1960s at the age of 3, singer Gloria Estefan fled their native Cuba to escape Fidel Castro's regime. Estefan's father joined the family later in Miami, where the family relocated. "When I first came to Miami, you'd see signs like 'No children. No pets. No Cubans.' We were a major threat," Estefan shared about the discrimination she faced during the early years of her time in Miami. Today, Estefan is known one of the greatest and most influential pop culture icons in American history. Photo Credit: Getty Images