In 2016, it can be easy for us to overlook the efforts and struggles of the women who came before us. However, it is important that we do reflect and honour the women who set the wheels in motion for change. That’s why we’ve created a list of seventeen women who changed the world.
The oldest woman on our list is British Celtic Iceni tribe leader Boudicca. Many of us studied her in primary school as she led the uprising against the Roman Empire. Basically, she led a whole tribe of men with swords and destroyed the Romans occupying the United Kingdom.
Also known as the Queen of Pop, Madonna made it acceptable for women to have big dreams and plans to achieve them.
3. Millicent Fawcett
A firm believer in peaceful protest, the Suffragette Millicent Fawcett campaigned for women’s rights to higher education. She also co-founded Newnham College, Cambridge.
4. Marie Curie
Best known for her work on radioactivity, Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the only person to ever win two. The scientific genius was also completely selfless, donating any money and gifts to science and research.
Thought to be the first published woman, Sappho’s poems were complimented by famous philosopher Plato. She was the first piece of evidence that women could be published and their work would be stellar.
6. Rosa Parks
The woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. Rosa Parks triggered a huge tidal wave in the American civil rights movement and it can be argued that she deserves just as much praise as Dr Martin Luther King.
7. Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst was a Suffragette who played a huge part in earning women the right to vote. While her militant tactics were controversial, Pankhurst set up the Women’s Social and Political Union.
8. Mother Teresa
Famed for her generosity and devotion to helping others, Mother Teresa founded Missionaries of Charity helping sufferers of AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis and other fatal diseases.
9. Margaret Thatcher
Quite possibly one of the most controversial politicians in British history, Margaret Thatcher was the first – and the only – female Prime Minister. She certainly had determination and a drive to succeed which makes her qualify for this list.
10. Queen Elizabeth I
The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boelyn, the fifth and final Tudor monarch led one of the most successful reigns in history. Queen Elizabeth I defeated the Spanish Armada and famously remained married to the monarchy, showing that marriage wasn’t a requirement for success.
11. Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn shot to fame for her role in Roman Holiday and is now remembered as an icon in all areas. As she got older, Hepburn dedicated her life to Unicef and helping children in some of the poorest areas of Africa and Asia.
12. Jane Austen
Famous novelist Jane Austen produced one of the most recognisable books in the English language: Pride and Prejudice. Austen’s works focussed on the social aspects of middle-class life and she produced one of literature’s most feisty characters, Lizzy Bennett.
Best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated of its kind, Oprah introduced the taboo to a mainstream audience. She has been listed as the most influential woman in the world – something unprecedented as she was born to an unmarried teenage mother in America.
14. Mary Wollstencraft
English writer, philosopher and poet Mary Wollstencraft is remembered for The Vindication of the Rights of Women and criticised the idea that women were a naturally inferior sex. Instead, Wollstencraft said that the reason women appeared to be an inferior race was because of their lack of education.
15. Charlotte Brontë
The eldest of the Brontës, Charlotte created one of the most recognisable heroines in literature: Jane Eyre. In a novel that has been described as ahead of its time, Charlotte discussed sexuality and shared the moral struggle of women at the time.
16. J. K. Rowling
Joanne Rowling created the world of Harry Potter which mesmerised a whole generation and ensured that millions of young children were actively reading. She is the first woman to become a billionaire through writing novels and the first woman to ever lose billionaire status by giving the money to charity.
17. Princess Diana
Her marriage to Prince Charles is what initially made her famous, but Diana went on to create her own image and was a patron of a number of charities. Diana publicly supported the International Campaign to Ban Landmines as well as conservation projects and victims of AIDS/HIV, giving deserving causes media attention.