15 women you should know about
MANILA, Philippines - Gone are the days when men are seen as superior to their female counterparts. In more ways than one, women are actually taking over the world as leaders and icons. Women with brains and a proper purpose are gaining popularity and influencing other women to step up and become somebody who can help change the world.
Here are 15 women from today and the not so distant history who showed the world that in more ways than one, women can.
1. Angela Merkel (July 17, 1954 - )
She is Germany's first female Chancellor (since 2005), heading Europe's now richest and most dynamic economy — despite the economic horror still haunting other countries in the continent. Now on her 3rd term after winning the elections yet again just a few days ago, Merkel is making her way into history by becoming at par with the United Kingdom's Margaret Thatcher.
2. Hilary Clinton (October 26, 1947 - )
From First Lady, to New York senator, to presidential candidate, and finally to Secretary of State, Hillary is probably the most popular and influential woman in world politics. She is highly criticized and is even hated by some. But this woman who has gone through a truck-load of controversy and criticism for most of her life has shown the world that she has indeed earned her place in US politics. Her work as US Secretary of State along with her no-nonsense type of running things made her popular among other nations — particularly US allies. Her seemingly icy personality even merited its own Tumblr account.
3. Christiane Amanpour (January 12, 1958 - )
This British-Iranian journalist is CNN's Chief International Correspondent and hosts her own program where she interviews world leaders, revolutionaries, and other newsmakers. Before she became an anchor, Christiane was a war correspondent who covered the Iran-Iraq war, the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, and the Persian Gulf War. She also reported on Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Israel, Pakistan, Somalia, Rwanda, the Balkans, and the US during Hurricane Katrina. She is also a Peabody Awardee. They say going to war is a man's job but Christiane, in the fashion of Martha Gellhorn, made sure that she owned the part of reporting on conflict and knowing the subject like the back of her hand.
4. Peng Liyuan (November 20, 1962 - )
Peng Liyuan was catapulted to international fame after her fashion choices and her charm made waves in western media. A former contemporary folk singer who was the first person in China to receive a master's degree in traditional ethnic music, she is now the Dean of the People's Liberation Army Art Academy. With her husband's impressive background and position, she succeeds in complementing his image as they continue to rule one of the world's most powerful countries.
5. Princess Ameera bint Aidan bin Nayef Al-Taweel (November 6, 1983 - )
Who doesn't love a rebel? Princess Ameera of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is considered to be the voice of women's rights in her country. She is married to one of the richest men in the kingdom and is the vice chairperson of the foundation she founded with her husband — the Al Waleed bin Talal Foundation. She uses the organization to empower women in her country and fight for their rights. She is beautiful, fashionable, and has a business degree from the University of New Haven which she uses to help promote the Saudi business industry to other countries.
6. Shirin Ebadi (June 21, 1947 - )
She is the first person in Iran to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize for her pioneering efforts in promoting the rights of women, children, and refugees as well as the cause of democracy in her country. Living in exile since 2009, she is a lawyer who later on became a judge and the founder of Iran's Defenders of Human Rights Center.
7. Queen Elizabeth II (April 21, 1926 - )
She has been the queen of the Commonwealth Realms since 1952 and at the age of 87, she remains arguably the most popular monarch in the world. Over the course of her rule, she has witnessed the ongoing transformation of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations. She remains UK's symbol of tradition and leadership despite its ever-changing society.
8. Anne Frank (June 12, 1929 - March 1945)
Her life as a persecuted Jew during the Holocaust, was immortalized by her diary, and she remains an inspiration among millions of people. Anne Frank, along with her family, hid in the concealed rooms of her father's business establishment to avoid being captured by the Nazis during the Second World War. After two years, they were all captured and sent to concentration camps where she died due to a weak immune system and typhus. To this day, she is remembered as a symbol against racism and war. The building where they hid is now a museum. Her diary remains a popular read among young adults and has been translated into over 70 languages.
9. Margaret Thatcher (October 13, 1925 - April 8, 2013)
Love her or hate her, Margaret Thatcher wouldn't have cared. This woman is known for her uncompromising politics and hardline leadership. Her rule over Britain brought about policy reforms collectively known as Thatcherism. Though highly praised by her equals, Thatcher also encountered huge criticism for her policies which some labeled as brutal.
10. Park Geun-Hye (February 2, 1952 - )
The first woman elected to lead one of the two Koreas and to be state leader in Northeast Asia. Park Geun-Hye is the daughter of former President Park Chung Hee who was able to seize the presidency through a coup. He is revered by most Koreans as a hero but some dislike him due to his despotic rule. His daughter acknowledges that being her father's daughter will always be a part of her identity. However, she has repeatedly said in interviews that she wants to be recognized for her own style of leadership. She is faced with challenges of dealing with her unpredictable Northern neighbor but has made efforts to sort the problem out. Recently, she has worked with North Korean ally China to push for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
11. Melinda Gates (August 15, 1964 - )
She is the wife of Bill Gates, who owns the world's largest personal computer software company, as well as the co-chair of the BIll and Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to enhance health care and reduce poverty all over the world. She is not afraid to speak up for the causes she believe in, even challenging the Vatican at some point, to rethink its stand on contraception.
12. Malala Yousafzai (July 12, 1997 - )
At the early age of 11, Pakistani student activist Malala Yousafzai wrote a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym. During that time, the Taliban would sometimes forbid girls from attending schools. She criticized the Taliban and wrote strongly against their suppression of women's rights. In 2012, while Malala was on her way home, Taliban gunmen tried to assassinate her, shooting her on the neck and the head. She miraculously survived and is now an education and women's rights icon. Her fate even urged the United Nations to start a campaign that aims to give all children in the world access to education by 2015.
13. Aung San Suu Kyi (June 19, 1945 - )
She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and currently the Chairperson and Secretary General of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar (formerly Burma) with plans to run for president in the 2015 elections. But before all of this, Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest for most of the past two decades and was even prevented from seeing her dying husband — all because she stood up against tyrannical rule and refused to leave her people.
14. Mary Kom (March 1, 1983 - )
She is the only Indian woman boxer to qualify in the 2012 Summer Olympics where she competed in the flyweight category and took home the bronze medal. Mary Kom, or Magnificent Mary as her fans fondly call her, is also a 5-time World Boxing Champion. She is also the only woman to win a medal in each of her 6 world championships. Despite being a focused athlete, Mary always tries to put her family first. She credits her husband to be the man behind her success as he is her motivator. She also maintains her image to her 3 kids as their sweet and loving mother — even though they often see her throwing a mean punch in the ring. A movie about her llife is set to be released on 2014.
15. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (October 29, 1938 - )
She is considered to be the most popular woman in all of Africa. As Liberia's President, she is also the first woman to become the head of state of an African nation. If that isn't enough to impress you, Sirleaf also won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work in promoting Liberian reconciliation. Rehabilitating a country after a civil war is no easy task, but under her leadership, Liberia is starting to dust itself off and attracting foreign investors. Last year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon even made Sirleaf a co-leader in a high-level dialogue on the next steps to achieve the Millenium Development Goal in cutting extreme poverty by 2015.
Got more to add to the list? Leave us a comment below! - Rappler.com