- Politics and Social Issues
Top Ten Women Who Changed the World
Women Changing the World
There are of course countless women who changed the world, some are famous while others have never been recognized. This article gives my personal top ten women who have made a real difference in the world. In the fields of politics, science, art and media, these ten women have had a lasting impact on how all of us live.
For anyone looking for positive female role models, these women are inspiring examples of how a woman can change the world for the better. Each of these ten picks shows that a woman with passion and purpose can change history, something I hope will inspire women of all ages who are facing self-doubt or who lack confidence in their abilities.
Positive female role models are important for girls and women. These ten woman prove that women can -and do - change the course of history!
Ten women who changed the world
What she did
She transformed modern nursing and medical care by pioneering a new level of hygene.
Countless lives have been saved by the hygene practices she introduced to hospitals. Taught the world the link between cleanliness and disease control.
Mary Wollenscraft Shelley
Wrote the novel ' Frankenstein', raising important questions about scientific progress and the nature of the self.
Raised profound moral questions about science and the order of the universe – still affects how we think about moral issues such as cloning or stemcell research today
Pioneering research into radiation; first person to be awarded two Nobel Prizes.
Our understanding of radiation allows us to harness nuclear power, treat tumours and date archaelogical objects.
Leader of the suffragette movement which gained right to vote for women for the first time in 1919, Britain.
Women are now allowed to vote in every democratic country in the world.
Second person to fly solo across the Atlantic. Died while trying to make first flight around the world.
Showed that women could be adventurous travellers – not just confined to home and motherhood.
Very able wife of President Franklin Roosevelt; supported the New Deal and civil rights. Supported the formation of the United Nations and helped to draft the UN declaration of Human Rights.
The United Nations has helped prevent wars on the scale of WW2 from recurring. The UNDHR is an important standard for challenging corrupt governments around the world.
Peacefully refused to move to the back of a bus – sparking waves of non-violent protest in favour of African-American's rights
African-Americans went on to challenge discrimination in many areas, while segregation and the Jim Crow laws were overtunred.
Wrote a book called 'Silent Spring' which was the first to highlight the damaging effects of pesticides
Awareness of pollution brought to public attention – resulting in search for cleaner ways to produce food and energy.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Kept under house arrest for many years, due to her peaceful opposition to Myanmar's military dictatorship. Recently released.
Her dignity and peaceful protest has inspired many people around the world. Growing international pressure for Burma to hold democratic elections.
From humble origins became one of the most powerful media figures in the world. Founded a charity called 'Oprah's Angel Network'.
Showed that a member of two 'minorities' could have widespread appeal based on her personality. Brings worldwide attention for good causes.
Woman changing the world poll
Which living woman is the most inspiring role model for you?
Herstory: how women are being written back into history
From ancient times until recent decades, history has mainly been written by men. This has given a natural bias to what has been recorded over the years, which events were considered historical and which were seen as unimportant. The history of conflict and battles, individual leaders and political movements has often been given higher status than the challenges of everyday life and the resilience and innovation shown by women as they found ways to meet those challenges.
Yet who has had a greater impact on the way we live today - Marie Curie or Napoleon? I personally would pick Marie Curie. Her research into radiation has resulted in life-saving technology, and alternatives to fossil fuels. Napoleon's empire, while it led to many dramatic battles, has had little lasting impact.
With the rise of feminism in the 1960s more scholars have started to review history from a female perspective. They have searched for evidence of how women lived, how they were treated by society in the past, and how they found creative ways of influencing their world without being seen to do so - the infamous 'power behind the throne'.
It turns out there have been many women who have shaped the course of history, sometimes quite quietly and subtly because their gender meant they could not be publicly seen to be the one pulling the strings. Many women in medieval Europe, for example, exercised great power in courtly circles whether through intrigue, sexual bargaining or ruthless power politics.
Women have never just been 'one way'. There have always been all sorts of women who have shown courage in leadership in a variety of different ways. I hope you have been inspired by this list to celebrate women's contribution to changing the world.
Four unrecognised women who changed history
Women's History Month
Women's history month is celebrated worldwide each year. In the United States and the United Kingdom it is celebrated in March to coincide with International Women's Day. The celebration of women's history month began with the creation of International Women's Day in 1911. In 1981 the US congress passed a bill to recognize women's history month - recognizing the growing popularity of the event.
Each year a different theme of women's history is celebrated. In 2010 the theme was 'Writing Women back into History', in 2011 it was 'Our History is Our Strength'.