Throughout our history there have been women whom without their contributions the world we live in would be a completely different place. Each of these women will be continue to remembered well into the future for the way they changed popular opinion. This being said there are many deserving women who did not make this list, so to clarify, when I was creating this list I put a lot of thought into what they did for society and what our lives would have been like without them.
10. Jane Goodall
Jane was born in London in 1934, and went on to become the most famous chimpanzee expert and conservationist in the world. Her life’s work began in 1960 when she set out to Gombe National Park, accompanied by mother, to study chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Her observations lead to the discoveries that chimpanzees were omnivores that were capable of making and using tools and that they have a highly complex set of social behaviors and are capable of emotional relationships. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation. She has received countless awards and honors for her work and was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2002 and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2004.
9. Amelia Earhart
One of the most famous pilots in history, Amelia Earhart was born in 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. She saw her first air show in the winter of 1920 and was inspired to fly, and by the next December she had earned her pilot’s license. Her short aviation career is full of flight records including being the first woman to fly solo across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. These records launched Amelia into the spotlight and she used her fame to become an advocate of both women’s rights and commercial aviation. In 1937 she set out in an attempt to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. After accomplishing more than two thirds of the distance, her plane disappeared into the South Pacific and neither her nor her navigator Fred Noonan or her plane has ever been seen again.
8. Florence Nightingale
Born in 1820, Florence was give the nickname “The Lady With the Lamp” for her work as a British nurse during the Crimean War, making her one of the first women to serve in a wartime hospital. Abhorred by the conditions in these hospitals, she pushed army officials for more sanitary conditions and won the hearts of many soldiers. After the war, she launched herself into a persistent study of the health of the British Army and published Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army in 1858. This was followed by Notes on Hospitals in 1859 and Notes on Nursing: What Is It and What Is It Not in 1860. Also in 1860 she established the Nightingale Training School for nurses as she believed that nurses should be trained in science. In 1883 Queen Victoria awarded her the Royal Red Cross and in 1907 she was honored with the Order of Merit, making her the first female recipient. She continued her relentless struggle for public health reform until her death in 1910.
7. Margaret Thatcher
Born Margaret Roberts in 1925, she worked her way up the British political ladder starting as a lawyer before being elected to Parliament and finally being named Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1979, the first woman to hold the office. During her time in power, she favored political patriotism, privatization, low taxes, balanced budgets and individual initiative. She focused on international affairs with her greatest victory being the Falklands War or 1982 in Argentina. She has earned the nickname The Iron Lady for her rough-talking rhetoric.
6. Marie Curie
Born in Warsaw in 1867 she is best known for her work in the field of radioactivity which lead her to become the first person to ever have been given two Nobel Prizes. She is also credited for the discovery of two new elements, polonium and radium, as well as being the first person to isolate radioactive isotopes to be used as a possible cure for cancer. After the death of her husband Pierre she took over his job as professor at the Sorbonne, making her the first woman to teach there. She passed away on July 4, 1934 due to the effects of her prolonged exposure to radiation, and to this day she is remembered as one of the greatest scientists of all time.
5. Joan of Arc
Joan was born in 1412 to a prosperous farmer and is best remembered as the Maid of Orleans who was burned at the stake after her heroic involvement in the Hundred Years War. She began her rise as a teenager when she heard voices telling her to save France from the English. She traveled to Chinon and begged Charles VII to allow her to ride with his army to the siege of Orleans. Because of her visions, she led the French army into several battles as a way of boosting the morale of the troops. After a failed attack on Paris she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English who tried her for witchcraft and heresy. She was defiantly burnt at the stake on the 30th of May at the marketplace in Rouen, and her ashes were thrown into the Seine. She was canonized in 1920 by Benedict XV and is now France’s second patron.
4. Rosa Parks
Born Rosa Louise McCauley in 1913, she stepped into the pages of history on December 1, 1955 when on the bus on her way home from her work as a seamstress she refused to give up her seat for a white man. Her actions that day sparked Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. She moved to Detroit in 1957 and got a job as a receptionist for John Conyers, an African American member of the House of Representatives. She later became his staff assistant and in her spare time continued her work with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP, as well as co-founding the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development.
3. The Virgin Mary
The mother of Jesus, she is revered for her motherly love and humility. Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches believe that Mary remained a virgin and that Jesus was divinely conceived. However, the Roman Catholic also believes in Immaculate Conception. Many Christians pray to Mary as an intercessor and mother of the church. As a main figure in Christianity and the mother of Jesus Christ she has been worshiped the world over and touched millions of people.
2. Queen Elizabeth I
Best known as the Virgin Queen of England, she was born in 1533 to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She ascended the throne in 1558 and lead England into its Golden Age by returning it to Protestantism and beginning its colonization and global expansion, which brought both Sir William Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh into her favor. Her most impressive achievement as Queen was leading her army in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. She became depressed and fell ill after the deaths of several close friends and died in March 1603 bring an end to her 44-year unmarried reign.
1. Mother Teresa
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910, by the time she was 12 she knew she was meant to help the poor. She went to India when she was 17 and her first assignment after becoming a nun was teaching at a school in Calcutta. In 1948 she left the convent and founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity which ministered to the poor, sick, dying and orphaned first in India and then in other countries. Her humanitarian work led her to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest honor, in 1980. She died in 1997 after being plagued by years of heart problems, and was later beatified by Pope John Paul II.
by Loni Perry