In a world that’s been so largely dominated by patriarchy for the longest of time, for a woman to emerge out of the crowd and leave her mark on history – that’s as incredible as it is rare. And although it wasn’t an easy deed, their reputation now precedes them. Don’t know who we’re talking about? They are the most influential women in history, the ones who we honor today by providing a brief-over of their lives and achievements.
#1 Mother Theresa
Not seldom have some of us heard someone jokingly compare someone who’d just displayed an act of benevolence to Mother Theresa. There is a good reason for that, as Mother Theresa was essentially equivalent to kindness and charity. She discovered her calling for aiding the poor at an early age, having made her first trip to India when she was only seventeen. She became a nun, worked as a teacher at a school in Calcutta for a while, and eventually ended up founding the Order of the Missionaries of Charity.
The organization provided help for the poor, sick, dying, and orphaned of India, although the Order’s influence eventually spread out to other countries too. Her relentless activity in the name of good was rewarded with a Nobel Prize for Peace and a Bharat Ratna, India’s greatest honor.
#2 Queen Elizabeth I
Daughter of the famed King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, the Virgin Queen of England shaped the country’s history in a way that’s second only to Queen Victoria’s. While the latter ruled during a period of great advances and expansion, Elizabeth I became known for her military deeds. Her most famous accomplishment involved the defeat of the legendary Spanish Armada, although there are many other achievements that can be attributed to her.
During her reign, Protestantism was reinstalled in England and the country started its global expansion which would lead to its transformation into a great empire.
#3 Coretta Scott King
It might be easier to put a face to the name if you know that Coretta was Martin Luther King’s wife, but she was definitely more than that. After the events of the Montgomery bus boycott, Coretta became as invested in the African-American Civil Rights Movement as much as her husband, relentlessly supporting him. After his assassination, Coretta carried on his legacy and continued to fight for the freedom of black lives, equality which ignores race or gender, and many other movements of social justice.
#4 Marie Curie
Considered by many to be one of the greatest scientists that have ever lived, Marie Curie was a woman of many broken records. Her activity in the field of radioactivity was rewarded with two Nobel Prizes, an accomplishment achieved by no one else. Also, after the death of her father, she stepped into his role as a teacher at the Sorbonne, something that distinguished her as the first woman to ever hold such a position.
#5 Joan of Arc
Being today’s France’s second patron after being canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, Joan of Arc has influenced history with the tales of her heroism during the Hundred Years War. After she heard voices telling her that she needed to save the French from the English, she turned to Charles VII and begged him to let her join his army for the siege of Orleans. She led the French army several other occasions after that thanks to her visions, granting the soldiers a significant boost in morale.
She was eventually taken hostage by the Burgundians after a failed attack on Paris then sold to the English. The former put her on trial for witchcraft, ending her life by burning her at the pyre.