This Women’s Day, let’s salute the spirit of womanhood with 15 most influential women of all time
Anne Frank (1929-1945)
Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl was gifted a diary by her father when she was 13. During her stay in the Netherlands while hiding from the German forces, she started writing that diary. Even though her diary was published after her death at the age of 15, her diary served as a unique eyewitness account of life during the Holocaust (mass murder of approximately six million Jews during World War II). The diary became one of the world’s most read books.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Mother Teresa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner (1979), who had devoted her whole life to serve the people. Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family counseling programs; orphanages and schools. She worked tirelessly towards her goal until her ill-health that forced her to step down in March 1997. She took her last breath in September 1997.
Aung Sang Suu Kyi (1945)
Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition politician was under house arrest for 15 years for her pre-democracy campaigning. She was released only in 2010, after following an international campaign to let her free. She won a Nobel Prize in 1991. Suu Kyi’s struggle is considered as one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades. As of 2014, she is listed as the 61st most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
Billie Jean King (1943)
I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s tour and affect all women’s self esteem.
Billie Jean King, the US tennis legend who won 39 Grand Slam titles, is famous for ‘The Battle of the sexes’, where she beat Bobby Riggs (a top men’s player in the 1930s and 1940s) in 1973, winning the $100,000 prize, after Riggs said to her that men were superior athletes.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
Florence Nightingale, mostly known as ‘The lady with the lamp,’ who nursed wounded soldiers during the Crimean war. Her sincere dedication to the nursing profession changed public’s perception about this profession. During the Crimean War, she and a team of nurses improved the unsanitary conditions at a British base hospital, reducing the death count by two-thirds.
Oprah Winfrey (1954)
Oprah Winfrey was born in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother. She experienced considerable hardship during her childhood. She was raped at age nine and became pregnant at 14, but her son died in infancy. Beating all the odds, Oprah, a generous Philanthropist, is a billionaire with the net worth of $3 billion. Oprah Winfrey is best known for her multi award winning talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Madonna, the Queen of Pop, has achieved a prodigious level of control for a woman in the entertainment industry. Madonna has sold more than 300 million records worldwide and is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records. Madonna has turned her hands to songwriting, acting, film-directing and producing, fashion designing and writing children’s books.
Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)
Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and the first woman to ever fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932 and she became the first woman pilot in 1935 after flying solo from Hawaii to California. Amelia Earhart set many other records. She wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was the pioneer in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. She embarked upon her lifelong dream of flying across the world in 1937, however, her flight went missing on that trip and she was never seen again.
Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928)
Emmeline Pankhurst was a passionate feminist, best known as an influential women’s activist, who fought along with her husband for the rights of the women in the late 19th century and early 20th century. After the death of her husband, she teamed up with her three daughters and formed ‘The Women’s Social and Political Union’. She was the leader of the British suffragette movement, who helped women win the right to vote.
J.K Rowling (1965)
J. K. Rowling is a British novelist best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. J.K. Rowling’s books received worldwide recognition and won multiple awards and sold more than 400 million copies. Rowling has led a rag to riches life. She got a multi-millionaire status after her book’s success in a matter of five years.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Parks, best known as the first lady of civil rights, was an African-American civil rights activist. In 1955, she refused to give away her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, thereby, disobeying the bus driver’s orders. Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.
Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993)
Audrey Hepburn was a British actress and humanitarian. Apart from being among the world’s best known actresses, Audrey Hepburn puts her fame into good use and later, she became a UNICEF Ambassador. She was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third greatest female screen legend in the history of American cinema and has been placed in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. Audrey Hepburn is also regarded by some to be the most naturally beautiful woman of all time. She travelled to various countries such as Ethiopia, Ecuador and Bangladesh, to highlight various issues and set a great example for subsequent stars to follow.
Marie Curie (1867-1934)
Marie Curie, famously known ‘Madame Curie’ was Polish-French physicist and chemist and was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. Also, she is the first person to have received two Nobel Prizes. She was the first female professor at the University of Paris and the first lady to be enshrined in France’s national mausoleum, the Paris Panthéon, all based on her own merits.
Helena Rubinstein (1872-1965)
In 1902, Helena Rubinstein immigrated to Australia without any money and with little knowledge of English. She founded one of the world’s first cosmetic companies, Helena Rubinstein, which made her one of the world’s richest women.
Mary Quant (1934)
Fashion is not frivolous. It is a part of being alive today.
Mary Quant is considered as the most influential fashion designer and British fashion icon of the sixties. Mary Quant was one of the designers who was credited for creating the miniskirt and hot pants.