International women’s day was celebrated this week, so what better way to have a look at some of the most influential women who changed the world? Please note: These are just a few, there are plenty more others!
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
Florence Nightingale otherwise known as “the lady of the lamp” she nursed wounded soldiers during the Crimean war. Her constant passion and dedication to nursing changed the public’s perception about this profession. Her persistence of improving sanitary conditions for patients is believed to have saved many lives.
Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929)
Millicent Fawcett dedicated her life to fighting peacefully for women’s rights. However, she remained an underrated leader of the suffrage movement, which campaigned for women to have the vote. She encouraged her husband Henry Fawcett, a politician, to carry on with his work after he was blinded in an accident.
Harriet Tubman (1822-1913)
Harriet Tubman not only freed herself from slavery but also escorted up to 300 slaves to freedom during a 10-year span. Although this may not seem big in 2016, we all need to take some time to truly consider this. Tubman extended herself more times than necessary, walking back and forth from the North to the South and back again, to help others gain their freedom. She was so successful in freeing the slaves that she never lost a person and the slaveholder had a $10,000 (a lot of money then) for her capture.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Mother Teresa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner (1979) started with a school in the slums to teach poor children. She learned basic medicine and went into the homes of the sick to treat them. In 1949, some of her formal pupils then joined her. They found men, women and children dying on the street who were rejected by local hospitals. The group were known as “The missionaries of Charity,” they rented a room, so they could help care for people who were otherwise condemned to die in the gutter. She worked tirelessly towards her goal until her ill-health – that included two heart attacks, pneumonia and malaria which forced her to step down in March 1997, she died in September 1997.
Anne Frank (1929-1945)
Anne Frank’s diary has become famous throughout the world. Her diary provides a vivid and poignant glimpse into the world of a young Jewish girl living in Nazi occupied Holland. Anne wrote the diary while hiding from Nazis in an Amsterdam warehouse. She was just thirteen when she and her family went into hiding. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she had lost her mother to starvation, her sister to typhus, and believed her father to be dead. Three days after her sister’s death, Anne herself succumbed to typhus in March 1945. In July 1945, Miep Gies gave Otto Frank, Anne’s father and only survivor of their family, the diary and a bundle of loose notes that she had saved in the hope of returning them to Anne. Otto Frank then went onto publish the book, as we know today.
Malala Yousafzai (1997-present)
Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize recently, the youngest ever Nobel Peace prize laureate at just eighteen years old. She survived a gunshot to the face by the Taliban due to corruption in her country. In 2009, at just 11 years old she began blogging about life living under the Taliban for BBC Urdu but remained anonymous for her own safety. After the Taliban had said no girls could attend school and had already blown up hundred of schools, Malala opened a school for Syrian refugees to combat the lack of education for youth around the world.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
Eleanor Roosevelt was widely respected in her later years; she was a controversial First lady of the United states for her outspokenness, particularly her views on racial issues. She was the first presidential lady to hold press conferences, write newspaper columns, and speak at a national convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband’s policies. She advocated and expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War 2 refugees. After her husband’s death, Roosevelt remained active in politics until her own death in 1962. She pressed the US to join and support the UN and become one of its first delegates. She served as the first chair of the UN commission on Human Rights, and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of human Rights.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Parks, also known as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of freedom movement,” the African-American was a pioneer of civil rights in a racially segregated Alabama in the 1950’s. In 1995 Rosa refused to give away her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, thereby, disobeying the bus driver’s orders. This act sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott that crippled the state capital’s public transport system. She become an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organised and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon, president of the local chapter of the NAACP; and Martin Luther King, Jr., a new minister in town who gained national prominence in the civil rights movement.
Marie Curie (1867-1934)
The famously known “Madame Curie”, a Polish-French physicist and chemist, was the first person to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win twice. She was the first female professor at the University of Paris and the first lady to be enshrined in France’s national mausoleum, the Paris Panthéon, all based on her own merits. Her achievements included the development of the theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world’s first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centres of medical research today. During World War I, she established the first military field radiological centres.
Princess Diana (1961-1997)
She was celebrated for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. From 1989, she was the president of Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, in addition to dozens of other charities. The Princess developed an intense interest in serious illnesses and health-related matters outside the purview of traditional royal involvement, including AIDS and leprosy. She was the patroness of charities and organisations working with the homeless, youth, drug addicts, and the elderly. She visited Mother Teresa‘s hospice in Kolkata, India, in 1992, and the two women developed a personal relationship.