An Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and a missionary, Mother Teresa was the founder of Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation. She was both an admired and controversial figure and was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. While she was admired by many for her charitable work, she also earned criticism for her stance against abortion and contraception.
United Kingdom’s first female Prime Minister and also the longest serving Prime Minister in the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher served three consecutive terms in the office from 1979 till 1990. Her political views and leadership approach, known as Thatcherism, got her the nickname of Iron Lady. Though controversial, she prominently ranks high in the list of the best British Prime Ministers.
Born to Indian immigrant parents, Nikki Haley went on to become the first Indian-American to hold an office in South Carolina and later became its governor—the first woman and second Indian American to be appointed governor in the US. A published author, she has also served as the US ambassador to the United Nations.
Feminist and civil rights icon Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the longest-serving U.S First Lady. She was a prominent human rights activist, wrote columns, and hosted a radio show. She was named to Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century in 1999.
In 2006, American politician Sarah Palin became the youngest and first female governor of Alaska. A couple of years later, she became the first Republican woman to become a vice presidential candidate. After resigning as the governor of Alaska, she got associated with Fox News, authored a number of books and also appeared in a reality television series.
Jacinda Ardern is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. In October 2017, at the age of 37, she became the world's youngest female head of government. Ardern was praised for the way she led her country after the Christchurch mosque shootings in March 2019 and handled the COVID 19 pandemic. She led her party to victory in 2020 general elections.
The Empress of Russia for almost 35 years, Catherine the Great was the country's longest-ruling female leader. An ambitious ruler, she rapidly expanded the Russian Empire and is credited with modernizing the country along Western European lines. She supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and the period of her rule—the Catherinian Era—is considered the Golden Age of Russia.
Benazir Bhutto was a Pakistani politician who served as Pakistan's prime minister in two separate terms and became the first woman in a Muslim majority nation to lead a democratic government. She was assassinated, at the age of 54, and after her death has been revered by many as an icon for women's rights.
The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for over six decades, Queen Victoria reigned for longer than any of her predecessors. Her rule witnessed the vast expansion of the British Empire and ushered in a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated with great pomp and show.
The last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the last true pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra is described as an extremely beautiful woman who was also intelligent and educated with command over numerous languages. Her romance and military alliances with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony have inspired numerous art works.
Queen Rania of Jordan is the current queen consort of Jordan. Since her marriage to Abdullah II of Jordan, Rania has focused on improving education and health in Jordan. In 2005, Queen Rania joined hands with the Ministry of Education to launch the Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education, an annual teachers’ award.
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After starting her film career at the age of three, Shirley Temple went on to become Hollywood's highest-grossing child actress from 1935 to 1938. She is the epitome of popular child stars who lose their charm as they grow up. Despite failing as an adult actress, she is ranked 18th in the greatest female screen legends of Classic Hollywood list.
Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I, ruled as the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt and was the second female pharaoh, according to records. She was the chief wife of Thutmose II, and ruled jointly with Thutmose III, Thutmose II’s son. She also named herself God's Wife of Amun.
Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, and scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the founder of an organization for the defense of women's rights, the AHA Foundation. She actively opposes forced marriage, honor violence, and child marriage. A former Muslim, she now identifies as an atheist and is a vocal critic of Islam. She is a recipient of the Lantos Human Rights Prize.
A courageous political leader, Shirley Chisholm made history when she became the first African-American woman to be elected the United States Congresswoman. Later, she yet again created history when she—though unsuccessfullyVran for Democratic Party's presidential nomination to contest for US presidency. Throughout her career, she advocated racial equality and women empowerment. As an author, she penned two books.
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Wu Zetian was a Chinese empress regnant who ruled the Zhou dynasty from 690 to 705. She is the only female monarch in Chinese history. Before ruling the Zhou dynasty, Wu Zetian had served as the de facto ruler of China from 665 to 690. Under her political and military leadership, the Chinese empire expanded beyond its former territorial limits.
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Teresa of Ávila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a Spanish noblewoman who later turned into a Carmelite nun. She was posthumously named a Doctor of the Church. She co-established the Discalced Carmelite Order. Her written works include The Interior Castle and her own autobiography.
Hildegard of Bingen was a German writer, composer, Christian mystic, visionary, philosopher, polymath, and Benedictine abbess of the High Middle Ages. Apart from being the most-recorded composers of sacred monophony in modern history, Hildegard of Bingen is also widely regarded as the founder of scientific natural history.
Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangladesh's first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is the current prime minister of Bangladesh. The Awami League leader was also named to Forbes’s list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women and TIME 100, both in 2018, and is part of the Council of Women World Leaders.
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Pratibha Patil served as the president of India from 2007 to 2012 and was the first and only woman to have held the position. The INC member had also been the governor of the Indian state of Rajasthan earlier. She had started her political career as an MLA from Jalgaon.
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Linda McMahon is an American political executive and former professional wrestling executive. She is credited with co-founding Titan Sports, Inc., which is now called as WWE, Inc., along with her husband Vince McMahon. She then left WWE to focus on her political career; from 2017 to 2019, she served as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration under Trump’s presidency.
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Nicola Sturgeon is a Scottish politician. Since 2014, Sturgeon has been serving as the leader of the Scottish National Party and first minister of Scotland. Being the first woman to serve in these positions, Nicola Sturgeon is seen as a major inspiration to women across Scotland.
Politician Michele Bachmann is a member of the Republican Party. She represented Minnesota in the United States House of Representatives and is the first Republican woman to represent the state in Congress. She is a lawyer by qualification and a founder of the House Tea Party Caucus. She has been criticized for her homophobic views and anti-abortion stance.