31 Remarkable Women Who Changed The World
Here are some of the influential people who changed our world for the better.
. Susan B. Anthony, crusader for the women’s suffrage movement.
Aside from her advocacy for women’s suffrage, Anthony also campaigned extensively for the abolition of slavery and the labor rights of women.
2. Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross.
Barton played a pivotal role during the American Civil War by operating hospitals on the front lines of Virginia. In 1881, she established the American Red Cross, which continues to operate and provide humanitarian aid across the world today.
3. Harriet Tubman, American abolitionist and armed spy for the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Tubman, herself an escaped slave, helped hundreds of slaves escape the South by means of the Underground Railroad. She nursed Union troops during the Civil War and took on spying missions at great personal risk. Her actions earned her the nickname “Moses of her people.”
4. Sojourner Truth, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate.
Sojourner Truth escaped slavery with her infant daughter in 1826. In 1828, Truth brought a case to recover her son to court and won the filing — and was the first black woman to achieve such a victory over a white man. She became an outspoken advocate for civil rights and women’s rights until her death in 1883.
5. Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman in US history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
After the outbreak of the American Civil War, Walker volunteered to assist the Union Army, serving as a surgeon at a military outpost in Washington, DC. She was caught by the Confederate Army in April 1864 and became a prisoner of war until her release in October later that year. During her stay as a POW, Walker repeatedly denied her captive’s orders to wear more “womanly” apparel.
6. Marie Curie, the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize (twice!)
In 1903 Curie was awarded a Noble Prize in physics for her work on radioactivity, and 1911 she received a second Nobel Prize in chemistry for her study of the elements polonium and radium.
7. Edith Wharton, the first woman to be award the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
The American novelist, short story writer, and designer was awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature for her novel The Age of Innocence.
8. Dorothy Levitt, pioneer of automotive racing.
In 1906 she broke the women’s world speed record, recording a speed of 96mph.
9. Helen Keller, author, activist, and the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Keller was a tremendous presence in advocating for people with disabilities, women’s suffrage, and reproductive rights. In 1980, on the occasion of Keller’s 100th, birthday, former president Jimmy Carter designated June 27 as Helen Keller Day in Pennsylvania.
10. Sarah Breedlove, the first female self-made millionaire in US history.
After developing a line of beauty products designed specifically for black women, Breedlove established herself as a powerhouse entrepreneur and an icon of American innovation.
11. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to hold national office in the United States.
Rep. Rankin was elected to the US House of Representatives in both 1916 and 1940. She also played a pivotal role in the development of the 19th Constitutional Amendment, which granted full voting rights to American women.
12. Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic.
Earhart completed the record-breaking journey from the US to Ireland in nearly 15 hours. During an attempt to fly around the world in 1937, her aircraft disappeared mysteriously over the Pacific Ocean without a trace.
13. Margaret Sanger, a reproductive rights activist who popularized the term “birth control” and laid the foundation for Planned Parenthood.
In this picture from April 17, 1929, Sanger has her mouth covered in protest of not being allowed to talk about birth control in Boston. Sanger instead stood silent onstage in front a crowd of 800 as Harvard professor Arthur M. Schlesinger read her prepared speech.
14. Annie Oakley, prodigy sharpshooter and American icon.
From 1885 to 1902, Oakley performed as an exhibition shooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, launching the 15-year-old phenomenon into international stardom.
15. Jane Addams, the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
For her extensive contributions in housing reform, women’s suffrage, and social work, Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
16. Margaret Bourke-White, the first American female war correspondent.
During WWII, Bourke-White was the first woman permitted access to active combat zones and was the only photojournalist in Moscow when Nazi forces invaded. In 1936 her work appeared on the first ever cover of Life magazine.
17. Gwendolyn Brooks, the first black woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
In 1950, as a 32-year-old mother and part-time secretary, Brooks was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her text Annie Allen.
18. Rosa Parks, activist and icon of American civil rights.
Parks in a booking photo taken on Dec. 1, 1955, at the time of her arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. The action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycotts and became a milestone in the struggle for American civil rights.
19. Elizabeth Eckford, one of the first black students to attend a desegregated high school in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In 1957, she was one of nine black students whose integration into Little Rock’s Central High School was ordered by a federal court following legal action by the NAACP. In this picture from her first day of school, Eckford ignores the hostile screams and stares of fellow students on her walk to class.
20. Shirley Chisholm — the first black woman elected to the United States House of Representatives.
In this picture from 1968, Shirley Chisholm gives the victory sign after winning the Congressional election in Brooklyn’s 12th District. She defeated civil rights leader James Farmer to become the first African American woman elected to Congress.
21. Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to travel into space.
On June 16, 1963, Tereshkova departed Earth on the VOSTOK 6 and orbited the planet 48 times, over a 70-hour period of time.
22. Indira Gandhi, the first and only female prime minister of India to date.
In 1966, Gandhi became the first and only woman to become prime minister in India. She was elected prime minister once more in 1980, before she was assassinated by two of her bodyguards in 1984.
23. Barbara Jordan, the Southern first black woman elected to the United States House of Representatives.
In this picture from July 1974, Rep. Jordan is seen on the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon in Washington, DC.
24. Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest.
The Japanese mountaineer was the first woman to stand on the summit of Mt. Everest in Nepal on May 16, 1975.
25. Maya Lin, artist, designer, and architect of the Vietnam Memorial.
In this picture from Nov. 13, 1982, Maya Lin, then only 23, stands during the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial. Lin was a 21-year-old undergraduate student when she won a public competition to design the war memorial.
26. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.
At the age of 32, Sally Ride journeyed to the stars in 1983 as a crew member on space shuttle Challenger.
27. Margaret Thatcher, the first female British prime minister.
Serving as the UK’s prime minister from 1979 until1990, Thatcher is the longest-serving British politician to have held that post and the first woman to have been elected to it.
28. Dr. Mae C. Jemison, engineer, physician, and first black woman to orbit Earth.
In this picture from September 1992, Dr. Jemison is shown aboard space shuttle Endeavour as the science mission specialist on a US/Japan joint mission. For part of the Autogenic Feedback Training Experiment, she wears a headband and other monitoring devices for a series of physiological evaluations.
29. Madeleine Albright, first female US secretary of state.
Albright was confirmed unanimously by a US Senate vote of 99–0 and was sworn in on Jan. 23, 1997.
30. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, the first woman to achieve the rank of four-star general.
In 2008 Gen. Dunwoody of the US Army became the first female service member in US history to achieve the rank of four-star general.
31. Hillary Clinton, the first female candidate to be nominated for president by a major US political party (2016).
Following a robust political career, the former first lady made US history on July 28, 2016, by formally accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the United States.
This is an informative piece about some of the women who helped to change the world for the better. It is an auspicious list. A list that should be an inspiration to all of us. We all in possession of what it makes to make people who stand out and who shine in their lives. We can all shine as resistors, comforters, angry protesters, and volunteers in the rebellion against hate and pain to peoples lives.
Fantastic list! If I may add another, Mary Barra, CEO of GM. The first female CEO of an international automotive manufacturing company in history. And hopefully, not the last.
Thank you so much for the addition. I appreciate the input. Hugs, Barbara