The 20 Most Inspiring Women in History

There have been many inspiring women throughout history, but here are only 20 of the most inspiring. These women have made a difference in the world and have shown that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. They are role models for men and women alike, and their stories should be told to inspire future generations.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the suffragette movement. She was born in Manchester in 1858, and her mother died when she was just seven years old. Despite this, she went on to get an education and became a teacher. In 1883, she married Richard Pankhurst, who was a lawyer and supporter of women’s suffrage. Together, they had five children.

In 1903, Emmeline founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), a militant organization that campaigned for women’s suffrage. The WSPU became known for its aggressive tactics, and Emmeline was arrested on multiple occasions. However, she continued to fight for women’s rights, and in 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed, giving women over the age of 30 the right to vote.

Emmeline Pankhurst is an inspiration to women everywhere who have been told that they cannot achieve their dreams. She showed that with dedication and perseverance, anything is possible.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was born in Warsaw in 1867, and her father died when she was just seven years old. Despite this, she went on to get an education and eventually became a professor of physics at the Sorbonne in Paris.

In 1898, Marie and her husband Pierre Curie discovered the element radium. They went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, making Marie the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. Tragically, Pierre died in an accident in 1906, but Marie continued their work alone. In 1911, she won a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry.

Marie Curie is an inspiration to women everywhere who are pursuing science and mathematics. She showed that women can achieve anything they set their minds to, even in the male-dominated fields of physics and chemistry.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She was born into slavery in New York in 1797, and she escaped to freedom with her infant daughter in 1826.

Sojourner Truth became an outspoken advocate for the abolition of slavery and the equality of women. In 1851, she delivered a powerful speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention, which was later popularized as “Ain’t I a Woman?” In this speech, she spoke about the unique experiences of black women and how they deserved to be treated with equality.

Sojourner Truth is an inspiration to black women everywhere who have been told that they are not equal to their white counterparts. She showed that black women are just as strong and capable as any other group of women, and she fought for their rights both as slaves and as citizens.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Cleopatra was the last queen of Egypt. She was born in 69 BC, and she ascended to the throne at the age of 18. Cleopatra was a brilliant strategist and tactician, and she used her skills to keep Egypt independent from the Roman Empire.

In 31 BC, Cleopatra faced off against Rome in the Battle of Actium. Although she was outnumbered and outgunned, she still managed to put up a good fight. Ultimately, however, she was defeated, and Egypt became a province of Rome.

Cleopatra is an inspiration to women who have been told that they cannot succeed in a man’s world. She showed that with intelligence and determination, even the most outnumbered person can win.

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I was the queen of England from 1558 until her death in 1603. She was born into a time of great turmoil, as her father, Henry VIII, had split from the Catholic Church and her mother, Anne Boleyn, had been executed when Elizabeth was just two years old.

Despite these challenges, Elizabeth went on to become one of the most successful monarchs in English history. She restored stability to the country after years of religious conflict, and she presided over a period of great economic prosperity. Elizabeth was also a skilled diplomat, and she forged alliances with other European countries.

One of the most notorious achievements in Elizabeth’s reign was the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. This event cemented England’s status as a major maritime power, and it was a resounding victory for Elizabeth.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker
circa 1925: Portrait of American-born singer and dancer Josephine Baker (1906 – 1975) lying on a tiger rug in a silk evening gown and diamond earrings. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Josephine Baker was an American dancer and singer who achieved great success in Europe during the 1920s. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1906, and she left school at the age of 15 to pursue a career in show business.

Baker first rose to prominence as a dancer in the La Revue Nègre, a Parisian revue. She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, and she went on to perform for royalty and heads of state. Baker was also an active civil rights campaigner, and she was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In her later years, Baker adopted 12 children from around the world, and she became known as the “Rainbow Tribe.”

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai
(AUSTRALIA OUT) Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel laureate. She is in Sydney for a speaking engagement, December 13, 2018. (Photo by Louise Kennerley/Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for girls’ education and the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. She was born in 1997 in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, and she began speaking out for girls’ education at the age of 11. In 2012, she was shot by the Taliban for her activism, but she survived and continued her work.

Yousafzai has since become a global figurehead for the education of girls. She has addressed the United Nations, and she has published a best-selling book, I Am Malala. In 2014, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest ever recipient of this prestigious award.

Malala is an inspiration to young girls everywhere who are fighting for their right to an education. She has shown that even in the face of adversity, it is possible to make your voice heard and make a difference in the world.

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was an American aviator and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was born in 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, and she developed a love for flying at an early age. In 1928, she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by airplane, and she went on to set numerous other aviation records.

In 1937, Earhart disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean, and she was declared dead in 1939. However, her legacy as a pioneering aviator lived on, and she continues to inspire women who dream of taking to the skies.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was an African-American civil rights activist best known for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott. Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1913, and she grew up during a time of segregation and discrimination. In 1955, she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. This act of defiance sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, which was a key moment in the civil rights movement.

Parks continued to campaign for civil rights until her death in 2005. She is now remembered as one of the most important figures in American history, and her legacy continues to inspire people around the world who are fighting for justice and equality.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was an African-American abolitionist and “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. She was born into slavery in 1820, but she escaped to freedom in 1849. Over the next decade, she helped hundreds of other slaves escape to freedom.

In 1865, Tubman became a Union spy during the American Civil War. After the war, she continued to work for the rights of African Americans and women. Tubman died in 1913, but her legacy as a fearless abolitionist and champion of justice lives on.

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to fly in space. She was born in 1937 in the Soviet Union, and she became a pilot after graduating from high school. In 1963, she was selected to be a cosmonaut, and she became the first woman to enter space two years later.

Tereshkova made 48 orbits of the Earth during her historic flight, and she spent nearly three days in space. She is an inspiration to women everywhere who dream of reaching for the stars.

Sandra Day O’Connor

Sandra Day O'Connor
(AP Photo/Matt York)

Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. She was born in 1930 in El Paso, Texas, and she became a lawyer after graduating from Stanford Law School. In 1981, she was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, and she served for 25 years.

O’Connor is a respected legal scholar, and her opinions have had a significant impact on American law. She is an inspiration to women who aspire to a career in law, and she has proved that women can succeed at the highest levels of government.

Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer and philosopher who is best known for her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. This groundbreaking work, which was published in 1792, argued that women should be treated as equal to men.

Wollstonecraft was ahead of her time, and she is now considered one of the most important early feminist thinkers. Her work continues to inspire women who are fighting for equality today.

Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron was an American writer, director, and producer. She was born in 1941 and she began her career as a journalist. However, she soon transitioned to writing screenplays, and she went on to write some of the most popular films of the 1980s and 1990s, including When Harry Met Sally… and Sleepless in Seattle.

Ephron was a talented and successful writer, but she was also an inspiration to women in Hollywood. She proved that women could be just as successful as men in the film industry, and she helped open doors for other female directors and writers.


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Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

One of the most iconic painters of her time, Frida Kahlo is celebrated for her unique and deeply personal style. Her art often explored themes of identity, gender, class, and race in Mexican society, and she has become an icon of feminist and Chicana (Mexican-American) culture.

Born in Mexico City in 1907, Kahlo began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident at the age of 18. She married fellow artist Diego Rivera in 1929, and the couple moved to the United States, where Kahlo’s work began to gain attention. She had her first solo exhibition in Mexico City in 1953, shortly before her death at the age of 47.

Kahlo’s work continues to inspire artists and audiences around the world, and she is widely considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale is best known for her work as a nurse during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers and helped to improve conditions at the hospital where she worked. She was born in England in 1820 and came from a wealthy family.

Nightingale began her nursing career in 1854, when she went to work in a hospital in Turkey. She returned to England in 1856 and founded a training school for nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Nightingale’s work helped to improve the standards of healthcare around the world, and she is considered one of the most important figures in the history of nursing.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was one of the most famous actresses of her generation, and she is also known for her work as an HIV/AIDS activist. Born in London in 1932, Taylor moved to Hollywood at the age of seven and made her first film appearance in 1942.

She went on to star in a number of films throughout the 1940s and 1950s, including ‘National Velvet’ and ‘Giant’. In 1963, she won an Oscar for her performance in ‘Cleopatra’, becoming one of the first actresses to receive a million-dollar salary.

In the 1980s, Taylor became involved in HIV/AIDS activism, working to raise awareness of the disease and raising money for research. She was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and the Legion d’Honneur in 1994.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was a Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious order dedicated to helping the poor and needy. Born in Albania in 1910, Teresa moved to India in 1929 and became a nun two years later.

In 1948, she founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, and the order soon began to open homes for the poor, the sick, and orphans. Mother Teresa’s work helped to improve conditions for the poorest people in India, and she was honoured with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel was a fashion designer who founded the eponymous fashion house in 1909. She is credited with popularising the little black dress, and her designs were worn by some of the most famous women of the 20th century, including Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn.

Chanel was born in France in 1883, and she began her career as a milliner in Paris. She soon became popular with the city’s wealthy socialites, and her fashion house grew rapidly. Chanel’s designs were noted for their simplicity and elegance, and she became one of the most influential designers of her era.

Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell was a British nurse who helped Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium during World War I. She was arrested by the German authorities and sentenced to death, despite her protests that she was merely following her humanitarian principles.

Cavell was born in England in 1865 and trained as a nurse in London. She began working in Belgium in 1907, and she was serving at a hospital in Brussels when the war broke out in 1914.

As the German army advanced into Belgium, Cavell helped a number of Allied soldiers to escape to neutral Holland. She was arrested in 1915 and sentenced to death, despite international outcry. Cavell was executed by firing squad in October 1915.

These are just a few of the inspiring women who have made history. There are countless other women who have overcome adversity and made a difference in the world. These women serve as an inspiration to us all, and they remind us that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and work hard.

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