It's International Women's Day- and for fandom, that means you're probably seeing plenty of photosets of the strong women in the media you consume. In Star Wars communities, you'll see a lot of Leia, Padmé, Rey, Jyn, maybe some Ahsoka, Hera and Sabine among others. But the galaxy of Star Wars women is so much more than that (though of course, the praise of those women is well-earned). There are plenty of incredible Star Wars women to appreciate, and while I could probably make this article miles long, I'll just be highlighting eight that I really don't think always get their due.
Rose, unfortunately, is probably most famous for the racist and sexist backlash to her character upon the release of The Last Jedi. But she's so much more than that. In The Last Jedi, we see Rose's kindness and compassion as virtues of her character. But she isn't soft- Rose is fiercely determined and dedicated to the cause of the Resistance. She cares for her friends and for people she doesn't know. She loses her sister, but doesn't let that loss dampen her light or desire to make the galaxy whole again. And if you read the novel Cobalt Squadron, you can gain a whole new appreciation for how amazing of a character Rose is. She's a perfect, classic example of what makes Star Wars so great: she's an ordinary person who chooses to rise to the occasion despite the hardships she faces and the sacrifices she makes and becomes a hero. Though she doesn't get to shine as much in The Rise of Skywalker, I personally hope to see Rose Tico pop up in more and more Star Wars, and maybe even return to our screens again soon.
I've mentioned many times before that Tam is my favorite Resistance character, and I have good reason for that. Tam Ryvora is a lot of things- she's kind (if a little prickly to some at first), fun, skilled, and complex. She does have a desire to do right by the galaxy, but makes misguided decisions in trying to do so. Tam makes a lot of big mistakes, no doubt, but what compelled me through the entire Resistance series was her tendency towards introspection to the point of constant self-doubt, which made me relate to her a lot. Even through her time in the First Order, Tam is constantly questioning her decisions, and what she's done. Though she joins their ranks semi-willingly, she's never truly comfortable there. Tam has a strong conscience that guides her after she makes her poor choices, and she's the one that puts herself on the right path at the end of the day, which I found so admirable about her.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is generally underappreciated in my opinion, but when people do appreciate it they tend to veer towards Donald Glover's portrayal of Lando, or Chewbacca, or even Enfys Nest (another incredible Star Wars woman). But Qi'ra hardly gets the love that I think she deserves. Qi'ra is another deeply complex character- she doesn't have the strong moral compass of Leia, Padmé, Rey or even Jyn. I hesitate to call her a bad person- though the end of Solo certainly doesn't put points in her favor- but she's so interesting to me. Qi'ra has obviously struggled a lot, and clawed her way up to the top of Crimson Dawn. And though she seems truly kind and genuine, and I don't doubt that she does love Han, she also is someone who has come to value power above nearly all else. She's not a woman as virtuous as some of the others on this list, but she's probably the one I most desperately want more stories about- if only to learn what became of her.
Mothers in Star Wars have an unfortunate tendency of dying for tragic backstory purposes, making Ursa Wren a nice change of pace. Ursa is the powerful matriarch of Clan Wren, and mother of Sabine and her younger brother Tristan. Ursa is very strong-willed, arguably a little too strong-willed, but also has an obvious care for her family and clan (even if that care is hidden underneath a layer of beskar). Ursa's beautiful costume design and poised demeanor make her an incredible presence on-screen, including her brief appearances when she was younger in The Clone Wars. Though Ursa's limited screentime means she doesn't get as much attention as others like her daughter, she's still an interesting, powerful female character that deserves commendation.
Season 1 of The Mandalorian was admittedly pretty light on women, so coupled with previous matricide problem I mentioned, Omera stands out. Omera is most notably a kind, soft presence in comparison to the harsh version of the galaxy far, far away that The Mandalorian presents us with. She goes out of her way to make Din comfortable in his time on Sorgan, and like the rest of her village is extremely grateful for his help with their raider problem. She shows him a kindness he hardly ever receives again- if he ever receives it again. But this doesn't mean that Omera is weak. We see that she's the only one in her village who's good with a blaster, and she doesn't give up in the fight to protect her village. Omera is a character who is equally soft as she is strong in the best of ways, and is a character I've loved since her first appearance, and I'd love to learn more about her- whether through backstory or Din returning to her.
Shmi Skywalker is a character that I just grow more appreciation for with each re-watch of The Phantom Menace. Shmi doesn't get appreciated as much as she deserves, despite her being the root of the Skywalker legacy. She's an inspiring character- Shmi is a woman that's struggled the life of a slave for who even knows how long, who has done her best to raise her son alone, and most importantly- is selfless through it all. A character like Shmi, in my opinion, would have every right to be selfish, but she isn't. She believes in helping others, even when it comes at a cost to herself, and raises Anakin with those same ideals. Shmi's kindness and selflessness make her such a great mother, and I always get emotional in The Phantom Menace when she makes the difficult decision to let Anakin decide to leave, even though it means that she is left behind and alone, still as a slave to Watto (until her freedom is bought, of course).
If you haven't played Squadrons, you're missing out on a host of new strong Star Wars women, my favorite among them being Terisa. Terisa is the only villainous character on this list, but watching her story through Squadrons made it too hard for me to not like her. Terisa is, in my opinion, one of the main characters of the story, along with Lindon Javes (we as the player aren't actually as important to the entire story). Terisa is a struggling Imperial officer in the time following the Battle of Endor, struggling to hold together as she alternates between hunting for a chance to get back at the New Republic and trying to hide from their pursuit. Terisa goes mad as things look worse and worse for her through the game, until she's far from the poised officer she once was. It's an interesting progression to watch, and one that cements her as one of my favorite Imperial officers.
The Handmaidens of Naboo have always been one of my favorite elements of The Phantom Menace, and after reading the novels Queen's Shadow and Queen's Peril (both by E. K. Johnston) I only appreciate them even more. They aren't only a troupe following Padmé for her to blend in with, as a half-attentive watch of The Phantom Menace may lead you to believe. Reading the novels, we learn that they are far more than that. The handmaidens are all specialized in different skills, be they weaponry, technology, history, or some other important tool to have at their disposal, as well as the fact that they're all combat-trained, and each choice made is well-thought out by all of them. But just pure coolness inside, they're also genuine. The girls all form close, unbreakable bonds, they're supportive of one another in their goals and dreams- and yes, they sometimes as squabble as groups of friends do. The handmaidens are powerful and capable, but also sweet and fun, making E. K. Johnston's books about them delightful to read.