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Women Famous In History

Updated on April 24, 2017
Odewoye Francis profile image

Odewoye,Graduate Electrical Engineering,Registered member, Engineering Council U.K,Registered member(COREN) Nigeria. Professional Engineer.

Preamble :

The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of race.

Although, until recently, women have had few opportunities of taking an active part in affairs of state, they have yet been able to exercise an influence on the course of history, by reason of the influence they wield over their menfolk-husbands, lovers, or sons. Usually that influence has been unobtrusive, so the women who exerted it have found no place in the annals of history. Some women, however, by reason of accident of birth or circumstances, have figured prominently in the story of the nations, and a few have achieved lasting fame.

            RT.HON. Margaret Thatcher, M.P           First Woman Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
RT.HON. Margaret Thatcher, M.P First Woman Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Recalling Women Famous in History

In recalling women famous in history, we naturally think first of those who have had the supreme direction of the fortunes of a kingdom, and have so been able most effectively to influence the course of events. We think of Cleopatra of Egypt, whose passion broke up the Roman Triumvirate and left the world in the hands of August Caesar. We think of Elizabeth of England, who guided so ably the newly awakened patriotic zeal of her countrymen. Queen of England, Elizabeth was the last of the Tudor monarchs. Despite of tumultuous rise to the throne, she reined England with considerable diplomacy and brought a period of peace and enlightenment to England.

We think, too, of Queen Victoria, She was Britain’s longest ruling monarch and reigned over what is now known as Victoria era. During whose long reign England passed safely through a difficult transition period. We remember Catherine the Great of Russia, whose energetic domestic government and vigorous foreign policy so largely increased the power and dominions of the Muscovite Empire. Catherine the Great was the Empress of Russia, and during her reign, she expanded Russian boundaries considerably and promoted education and enlightenment.

Some of the most famous women of the past have not been queens in their own right. But either as wives or as mothers they have been the power behind the throne.

“Any woman who understands the Problems of running a home will be nearer to understand the problems of running a country”

Margaret Hilda Thatcher was born on 13 October 1925, in Grantham, Lincolnshire. A British stateswoman and the first woman Prime Minister of Britain, leading the Conservative Party, from 1979 to 1990. She was the longest serving British Prime Minister of the 20th Century. The Soviet Journalist dubbed her “Iron Lady” a nickname that become associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, She implemented policies that have come to be known as Thatcherism. She been a woman of different temperament and different outlook, for it was an easy task to allow her influence to be supreme in all.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton

In the History of America

In the history of America there are notable examples of women not of high rank who have taken important part in American politics and even in war. People like Angela Yvonne Davis; she was born on January 26, 1944. She is an American, from Birmingham, Alabama, United State. A Political Activist, Academic Scholar and Author. She emerged as a prominent activist and radical in the 1960 s. She was a leader of the Communist Party in United State of America.

Barbara Jordan is an American Politician; she was born in Houston, Texas’s Fourth Ward on February 21, 1936. A Lawyer and Educator; she was the first Africa –American woman elected to the United State House of Representative. The first African-American woman to deliver a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous other honors.

Frances Perkins was born in Boston Massachusetts on April 10, 1880.She was an American Sociologist and workers-right advocate who served as the US Secretary of Labour, She the first woman appointed to the US Cabinet .Gloria Steinem is an American feminist, journalist and social and Political Activist, who became naturally recognized as a leader and spokeswoman for the feminist movement.

Another American woman of substance is Hillary Rodham Clinton; she is the 67th US Secretary of State.“It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates, of peoples where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided”. Hillary Rodham Clinton is an American Politician; She was born on October 26, 1947,at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She was once a US Senator from New York, Former first lady of the United States and the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United State in the 2016 election. She is very notable for her manner in handling scandal occurring during her husband’s presidency.

There are many others notable famous women of history from America, like Susan Brownell Anthony. She was born on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts, U S and died on March 13, 1906. She was an American Social reformer and women’s right activist who played a vital role in the women’s suffrage movement. Others are Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Blackwell, Mary Baker Eddy, Margaret Brent and hosts of others.

Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi 1st Female Prime Minister in Indian
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi 1st Female Prime Minister in Indian
Benazir Bhutto 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan
Benazir Bhutto 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan

In the History of Indian and Parkistan

In the history of Indian, Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was one of the famous women in history in Indian. She was born Indira Nehru in a Kashmiri Pandit family on 19 November, 1917 in Allahabad. An Indian politician and central figure of the Indian National Congress party, She was the only female Prime Minister in Indian. She served as Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984,making her the second –longest-serving Prime Minister of India after her father. She emerged as a prominent leader due to her policies implemented when she was a Prime Minister.

Benazir Bhutto is another great leader; she was the first woman that heads a Muslim majority nation. Benazir Bhutto was born in Karachi on June21; 1953.She was the 11thPrime Minister of Pakistan and leader of the Centre-left Pakistan People Party, and the only one to head it twice. Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes”

Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
 Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was honored with National Awards in Liberia, by Her Excellency President Johnson  Sirleaf, Liberian President and Coted voire President Alassan Quattara
Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was honored with National Awards in Liberia, by Her Excellency President Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian President and Coted voire President Alassan Quattara

In the History of Africa:

Africa Continent is not left behind, African famous women in history like Funmilayo Ransome Kuti of Nigeria, Yaa Asantewa of Ghana, Winnie Mandela of South Africa, Margaret Ekpo of Nigeria, Miriam Makeba of South Africa, Queen Nzinga, Ruth Williams and Gisele Rabesahala of Malagasy were among the notable women of the past not of high rank. who have taken important part in the freedom of their people. In addition in more recent times famous women like; Ellen Johnson Sir leaf, Liberian President, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, a renowned world bank Managing Director, and many others were among the recent famous women in history in Africa Continent. They have won fame by the exercise of that womanly courage they have exhibited and displayed which so often characterized famous women of the past. “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world”.

Funmilayo Ransome Kuti - The woman activist, she was a woman nationalist named Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti. A woman making activist waves in Nigeria. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was born on 25th of October, 1900 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. She was a teacher, Political Campaigner, Women’s right s activist and traditional aristocrat of Nigeria. She served with distinction as one of the most prominent leaders of her generation .She was also the first woman in Nigeria to drive a Car.

Funmilayo Ransome Kuti’s Political activism led to her being described as the doyen of female rights in Nigeria, as well as to her being regarded as “The Mother of Africa” Early on, She was a very powerful force advocating for the Nigeria woman’s right to vote. Her feminism and democratic socialism lead to the creation of the Abeokuta women’s union (AWU) and later women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), Organizations and movements that aided Kuti to promote women’s rights to education, employment and to Political Participation. When King Alake Ademola of Egbaland wanted to impose taxes on women, Kuti and the AWU clan went to protest using the slogan “no taxation without representation.

Another African famous woman in history is Marie Gisele Aimee Rabesahala of Madagascar. She was the first Malagasy woman to be elected as a municipal councilor in 1956. She was born into a political family in the central highland city of Antananarivo on 7 May 1929. She was a Malagasy politician and activist who was the first woman to hold a ministerial position in the government of Madagascar in 1977. She entered politics at the age of 17.She was committed Marxist and co-founded the communist Congress Party of the Independence of Madagascar, which took power in 1975.

The lauded political leader also founded Imongo Vaovao newspaper, and is best known for dedicating her life to Madagascar’s independence, and advocating for human right.

Zensile Miriam Makeba is not left behind, a musician and apartheid activist in South Africa. The Grammy award winner openly opposed South Africa’s apartheid regime, and lost her citizenship because of she was an activist. She was born on 4th of March 1932 in Prospect Township, Johannesburg in South Africa. She died on 9th of November 2008.

Ellen Johnson Sir leaf is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She was born on 29 th of October, 1938 in Monrovia, Liberia. She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert of Liberia. The Harvard educated leader made history by becoming African’s first female President in 2006.

The leader shared her 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with Liberian Peace Activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni Journalist, Tawakkol Karman for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women, and for women’s right to full participation in peace building work.Sirleaf was also conferred the Indira Gandhi Price by President of India on 12th of September 2013.

In June 2016, she was elected as the chair of the Economic Community of West Africa State, (ECOWAS) making her the first woman to occupy that position since it was formed.

As of 2016, she is listed as the 83rd most powerful woman in the world.

Another woman of different temperament and outlook is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo –Iweala of Nigeria. She is from Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State in Nigeria; she served twice as Nigerian’s Finance Minister and also as Minister of Foreign Affairs. She was the first female to hold both positions. Following her first term as Minister of Finance, she returned to the World Bank as a Managing Director in December in December 2007.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had also previously spent the first 21 years of her career as a development economist at the World Bank as Managing Director; she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Africa, Europe and Central Asia.Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spearheads several word bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008-2009 food crises and later during the financial crisis. In the year 2010, she was chair of the IDA replenishment world bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grant and low interest for the poorest countries in the world.

In the year 2011, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was reappointed as Minister for Finance in Nigeria with the expanded portfolio of the coordinating Minister for the Economy by Ex-President of Nigeria, President Good Luck Jonathan.

In January 1016, she was appointed chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, (GAVI) in which her work cut across the whole Africa countries.

As of 2013, she is listed as the 100 most powerful women in the world. On December12, 2016, she has been honoured with National Awards in Liberia and Coted’Ivore, for her work in development across the continent of Africa, by Her Excellency President Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberian President and her counterpart in Coted’Ivoire President Alassane Quattara.

“I believe that there are certain attributes in a woman that give her some advantages over a man.Women are usually more honest, more sensitive to issues and bring a stronger sense of commitment and dedication to what they do. May be because they were mothers, and being a mother you have that special attention for the family, for the young, for children.”


In conclusion, as a result of the activities of famous women of the past, women in the future will be able to take a more active and direct part in the affairs of the world, so that the members of them who attain fame should be considerably increased.



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