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.
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.
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.
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 66th United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made history in 2005 when she became the first female black Secretary of State. She is also the first female to serve as National Security Advisor, a position which she served from 2001 to 2005. One of the most powerful women in the world at one point of time, she has been depicted in Hollywood films.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
11 Kristi Noem
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.
Imelda Marcos is a retired Filipino politician with a controversial history. She became the First Lady of the Philippines in 1965 when her husband, Ferdinand Marcos, became President of the nation. Her family stole billions of dollars from the country’s citizens and lived lavishly. The Marcoses were unseated during the People Power Revolution in February 1986.
15 Wu Zetian
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.
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.
18 Kim Yo-jong
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.
20 Amber Rudd
Amber Rudd is a former politician who served as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions of the United Kingdom from 2018 to 2019. From 2016 to 2018, she served as Home Secretary under Prime Minister Theresa May. Also a humanitarian, Amber Rudd is part of an organization called Snowdon Trust, which helps disabled people access education.
21 Jo Cox
British MP and Labour Party politician Jo Cox had also worked with Oxfam. The world was shocked by the news of her brutal assassination in 2016. She was shot and stabbed multiple times by far-right terrorist Thomas Mair, who believed the white race was under threat due to leftist beliefs.
22 Golda Meir
Born in present-day Ukraine and brought up in the United States, the phenomenal rise of Golda Meir to become the prime minister of Israel was driven by her sheer leadership qualities. She steered her country amid hostilities from its neighbourhood during her eventful term as premier which also saw the Yom Kippur War. She is remembered as a strong-willed woman.
Christine Lagarde is a French politician, businessperson, and lawyer. She is the current president of the European Central Bank (ECB), a position she has been holding since 1 November 2019. Prior to this, she was the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She is the first woman to head both the ECB and the IMF.
26 Sanna Marin
27 Annie Besant
Annie Besant was a British theosophist, socialist, writer, orator, educationist, women's rights activist, and philanthropist. Despite being British, Besant supported India's freedom movement and even joined the Indian National Congress. She is also credited with co-founding Banaras Hindu University. Besant also helped launch the Indian Home Rule movement to campaign for democracy in the country.
29 Tsai Ing-wen
Taiwanese politician and academic, Tsai Ing-wen, is currently serving as the seventh president of the Republic of China (Taiwan). She has been in office since 2016. She is a member of the Democratic Progressive Party and the first female president of Taiwan. As the president, she has taken steps to fund green energy initiatives and supports LGBTQA+ rights.
Rachel Johnson is a British television presenter, journalist, and author. She is known for appearing in panel discussion programs and debate programs, such as The Pledge and Question Time. A well-known novelist, Johnson served as a judge of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the UK.
Glenda Jackson is best known for her Academy Award-winning roles in the films Women in Love and A Touch of Class. She has also won two Emmys for playing Elizabeth I in the TV series Elizabeth R and a Tony for her role in the play Three Tall Women.
33 Diane Abbott
35 Pam Bondi
37 Betty Ford
Betty Ford served as the First Lady of the US from 1974 to 1977. One of the most popular First Ladies in history, Ford was a passionate supporter of abortion rights and worked towards raising breast cancer awareness. She commented on topics like sex, drugs, abortion, and equal pay. In 1991, she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
40 Ann Richards
Liberian politician, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. She was the first elected female head of state in Africa. An alumnus of the Harvard University, she began her political career in the 1970s and rose through the ranks with time. She is the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
The feisty Orange Revolution leader Yulia Tymoshenko became Ukraine’s first lady prime minister in 2005 and was back in power from 2007 to 2010. She made her signature blonde ponytail, sometimes worn in a crown-shaped braid, a fashion statement. Tymoshenko was on Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful women.
43 Ann Richards
Pauline Hanson is an Australian politician who has been serving as a senator for Queensland since 2016. Hanson is credited with founding a right-wing political party called One Nation, for which she also serves as the leader. Also an author, Pauline Hanson has published many books, including her autobiography, Untamed and Unashamed.
47 Kim Campbell
Canadian politician and Progressive Conservative leader Kim Campbell made headlines when she became the first woman to serve as the prime minister of Canada and remains the only woman to have achieved the feat. After quitting her doctoral studies, she studied law and joined the British Columbia Bar.