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Women Who Changed the World

A timeline of fierce females.

On March 8, International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world. Let’s take some time to acknowledge and celebrate some of the fierce females who changed our world.

Hatshepsut (1507–1458 BC)

Let’s take it all the way back to ancient times for this fierce female. Hatshepsut became queen of Egypt when she married her half-brother, but she was from a long line of royals. When her husband died, instead of letting her infant stepson to rule (because that would be absurd) she took on the powers of pharaoh while acting as his regent. As pharaoh, Hatshepsut led several building initiatives around Thebes and trading expeditions. She is regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs of the time.

Jane Austen (1775–1817)

If you have ever read Pride and Prejudice, you already know that Jane Austen is a literary legend. Austen set the stage for female writers, since writing was not considered an appropriate career for a woman during her lifetime. Nevertheless, Austen published under a pseudonym, and now her works are not only some of the most popular in the world, but also considered classics.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)

Well educated and passionate about equality, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the most prominent figures in the women’s suffrage movement, as well as the anti-slavery movement. The leader of the Seneca Falls Convention, Stanton presented her Declaration of Sentiments, which is now credited with starting the first organized women’s rights movement in the US. Stanton and fellow women’s right activist Susan B. Anthony started several associations (like the American Equal Rights Association).

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Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Marie Curie was a Polish/French scientist who was the first woman ever to win the Nobel Prize and the first person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in two different categories (physics and chemistry). With her husband, Curie discovered ways to separate radium from radioactive residues in order to harness its therapeutic benefits. Her work in radioactivity helped her to assist in developing the first X-ray machines.

Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

If you know your fashion, you know Chanel. With her business and fashion savvy, Chanel is credited with liberating women after WWI with fashion. With more comfortable and sporty clothing options for women, Chanel’s little black dress, No. 5 perfume, and suits took off and forever changed the world of fashion and how we look at luxury.

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Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

A Roman Catholic missionary and nun originally from Skopje (now Macedonia), Mother Teresa lived in India for most of her life and was heavily praised for her dedication to charitable work. In 1950, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation that manages homes for people with HIV/AIDS and other diseases, soup kitchens, mobile clinics, orphanages, and schools. She has won several awards, such as the Nobel Prize, and has been canonized.

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Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

Best known for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white passenger, Rosa Parks was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and Montgomery bus boycott. After refusing to give up her seat, Parks was arrested and found guilty of violating a local ordinance and fined, but over 500 supporters rooted for Parks and demanded change. Parks’ defiance helped fuel the movement to end the segregation practices in Montgomery.

Oprah Winfrey (1954-)

Talk show host, actress, media giant, producer, and philanthropist; Oprah is a queen. The Oprah Winfrey Show was the highest rated TV show of its kind during its run, mostly because of the charismatic and charitable host of the same name. Oprah is truly inspiring because of her rise from poverty to greatness; Oprah changed the face of media by creating a program that focused more on emotional connection and self-improvement.

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Michelle Obama (1964-)

The former first lady made a lasting impact on American culture as the first ever African-American first lady. An incredibly savvy lawyer with degrees from Princeton and Harvard, Obama serves as a role model for women everywhere. She is also an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition and exercise, education, and fashion icon.

Malala Yousafzai (1997-)

The youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education. After speaking out against the Taliban’s banning of education for girls, Yousafzai was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban while on her way home from school. Yousafzai is now studying at University of Oxford, but travels around the world promoting education and fighting against poverty and gender discrimination with the Malala Fund.

On this International Women’s Day, remember all the great women who came before you, but most importantly, continue to be the trailblazing and amazing woman you are.

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Sierra is a junior studying international business and Spanish at Saint...