In almost every area of our very existence, a man was always seen as the leader. It was usually a president, prime minister, or the CEO of an industry. Throughout history, male leaders have wielded power over the world. In this article, we will be discussing ten female leaders who were often overshadowed but overcame hardships and blazed trails to make an impact on the world today. While some are obvious choices, all their actions were directed to increase liberty and safety for all. So here are top 10 female leaders who shaped the world we live in:
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta is one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century. She was born in Skopje, Macedonia on August 26, to parents of Albanian descent. Her parents were not that wealthy, but they lived comfortably. At age 16, she decided to commit herself to religious life by joining the Sisters of Loreto in Rathfarnham, Ireland. After a year in the convent, she was sent to Darjeeling, India to begin her work as a missionary. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious organization dedicated to helping the poor. Mother Teresa without a doubt made an impact on so many people’s lives. Dubbed as "the living saint," she inspired people and made an impact on the world in her own way. Her journey was not easy, though, as she was faced with many obstacles. She was criticized and humiliated, but that did not make her give up. She continued to help the poor, care for the sick, and preach the gospel. Her actions challenged the stereotypes and taught us the real essence of charity.
She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and is also known as Saint Teresa after she was canonized by Pope Francis in 2016. Even decades after her death, her charitable works continue to inspire people and will most likely continue to inspire future generations.
Marie Curie (1867–1934)
Maria Sklodowska was born on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, a part of the Russian empire. She grew up in an intellectual family; her father was a physics teacher and her mother ran a boarding school. Her father was a stunt atheist and patriot whose views clashed with those of the authorities. After her devout Catholic mother died of tuberculosis, she sought refuge in helping her father in the laboratory. At age 24, Maria moved to Paris to gain a teacher's diploma and changed her name to Marie. Keeping up with Parisian life became a huge challenge for her. It was difficult to converse in French and get a good job. She later got an opportunity to perform trivial tasks in a lab, and her technical proficiency immediately attracted attention. While working in these labs, she met Pierre Curie, who was already a successful scientist. He had discovered "piezoelectricity" with his brother Jacques. In June 1898, Marie and Pierre discovered a new chemical element, which Marie named Polonium after her country, Poland. Just six months after the couple discovered another chemical element, Radium, which gave way to the unit of radioactivity, in 1903, Becquerel and Curie won the Nobel Prize in physics. This was a groundbreaking recognition, as no woman had ever won the Nobel Prize award before.
Marie Currie made an impact on the world today, as she was able to develop a portable x-ray unit that was used near the battlefield to detect injuries. Her discovery was also reformed into what we refer to as radiotherapy today, and is used in hospitals to cure illnesses.
Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)
Amelia: Mary Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas. After her family moved to Illinois, she left for college to work at a Canadian military hospital, where she became intrigued with flying. With her first plane ride in 1920, she discovered her true passion and began flying lessons with female aviator, Neta Snook. At age 25, she purchased a Kinner Airster biplane and flew it. In 1922, she set a women’s altitude record of 14,000 feet. In 1928, Mary Earhart became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a plane.
Mary Earhart became a perfect symbol of what women could achieve in the aviation industry. She won notable awards like the Cross of the French Legion of Honor and the American Distinguished Flying Cross. She also founded "Ninety Nines," an organization for female aviators.
Coco Chanel (1883-1971)
Although Gabrielle Chanel became famous and rich in her life, she had a very humble beginning. After her mother died of tuberculosis, she was sent to a Catholic boarding school where she learnt how to sew. There she learnt the value of simplicity and practicality, which is one of the qualities of the famous Chanel brand today. She began a career as a cabaret dancer, where she went by the name Coco. She didn’t want to pursue this career line for the rest of her life, so she started the Chanel house. Her designing career began with hats. Once these designs became popular, she started designing clothing. With her theme of practicality, she used a cheap yet functional jersey fabric. With Coco’s clothing designs and custom jewelry, people were able to look classy and accessorize on a daily basis. She also changed the way women wear perfume with her iconic Chanel No. 5, a perfume aimed to liberate women and make women smell like women.
Coco Chanel made a massive impact on the world in the area of fashion. Being a woman in the 1900s was not easy, with all the corsets, ball gowns, and uncomfortable outfits. She chose to change this with her designs and allow women to live more comfortably and freely. Her designs still serve as an inspiration to many designers around the world.
Indira Gandhi (1917–1984).
Although many mistake her to be a relative of Mahatma Gandhi, she has nothing to do with his lineage. She was born Indira Priyadarshini Nehru, and she received her orientation in politics right from a young age, being the daughter of the first prime minister of India. So far, she is still the longest-serving prime minister in India who withheld all kinds of storms. She was a sharp woman with a clear vision and goals. She was one leader who demonstrated to far too many that she was a lady with an iron fist. Her charisma can also be seen in her walking style, clothing, and conversing abilities.
Indira Gandhi will forever be remembered as a person who has contributed immensely to the growth of India. Her notable achievements were the victory of India over Pakistan in 1971, the green revolution, efforts to eradicate inequality, the liberation of Bangladesh, and the nationalization of 14 private sector banks.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Alabama. She is well known for the role she played in the Montgomery bus boycott. Growing up, she suffered from poor health and attended rural schools. During this period, racial segregation was a thing in Southern USA. The congregate states adopted laws that took away the voting rights of blacks, and this gave room for discrimination. There were separate seating sections in public buses, and buses were made unavailable for black children. In August 1955, a black boy was murdered by racists, and the murderers were acquitted. This saddened Rosa Parks, and she decided to stop giving up her seats for the white people.
Rosa Parks' actions played an important role in the fight for civil rights in America. Her actions helped raise international awareness of racism in the United States and she is rightfully considered as "the mother of the civil rights movement".
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (1938–till date)
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was born in Monrovia, Liberia on October 29th, 1938. She is the 24th president of Liberia and the first elected female head of state in Africa. She made a notable impact on Liberia through her hard work, commitment, integrity, and good governance. In November 2011, she won re-election for a second and final term of office. In May 2012, she was appointed by the United States general secretary as one of the three co-chairs of a high panel.
As president, Ellen Johnson made an impact by rebuilding post-conflict Liberia, attracting foreign investment, and attracting private resources for the construction of schools in the country.
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910)
Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821 near Bristol, England. Inspired by her dying friend, she decided to pursue a career in medicine. At the time, the majority of males trained to be apprentices to licensed physicians. There were a few medical colleges, but none accepted women, though there were a few women who apprenticed and became unlicensed physicians. In 1847, she returned to Philadelphia to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, but faced rejection from many colleges.
She persevered, graduating first in her class in January 1849 and becoming the first woman in the United States to graduate from medical school and become a doctor.
After becoming a naturalized American citizen in April, Blackwell flew to England to pursue her education, and in May, she traveled to Paris to study midwifery at La Maternité. She suffered an eye illness while there, which blinded her and prompted her to abandon her dream of becoming a doctor. She returned to England in October 1850 and worked in St. Petersburg. Dr. (later Sir) James Paget worked at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. She returned to New York in the summer of 1851, where she established positions in public hospitals and schools.
Dr. Blackwell was a strong champion for women in medicine until her death in 1910, spending much of her time lobbying for women's rights and founding organizations dedicated to the education of female medical students both in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Despite the fact that Dr. Blackwell's actions were highly criticized at the time, she became a significant role model for women in medicine.
Kamala Harris (1964–Present)
Kamala Harris made history when she was elected first female vice president of the United States in 2021, becoming the first woman, the first African-American, and the first Asian-American to hold the second highest office in the country. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, grew up amid the 1960s civil rights movement. Harris pursued a legal career with the assistance of civil rights crusader and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who is referred to in his memoir as one of the "highest heroes" (" Facts Arrested ", Random House, 2019). Before being elected California Attorney General in 2010, she worked as a law clerk.
As a lawyer, she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases as a lawyer, and as Attorney General of California, she has battled for private property rights, residences, and the educational system.
According to a U.S. Senate report on U.S. lawmakers, Harris ran for the Senate in 2016 and was the first U.S. citizen and the second black woman to vote in the Senate. She ran for President of the Democratic Party in 2019. In November 2020, Biden and Harrisd won the election, making Harris the highest-ranking elected figure in US history. According to The Associated Press, she was sworn in as vice president on Marshall's personal Bible in January of 2021.
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Maya Angelou is an actor, dancer, and journalist who is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in contemporary American literature. According to the National Museum of Women's History, Angelou was unable to speak for many years as a result of child sexual assault and trauma. Later in life, she discovered her voice through writing. She became involved in civil rights as an adult and became friends with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Despite the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 and 1968, Angelou published "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" in 1969. Her experiences as a black girl in the United States are described in historical literature. Beginning with Angelou's essay, the book is a tribute to her original method.