UN Special

Women who made a difference

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There are women presidents, queens, princesses, even Tsarinas. There are women – warriors, women-peacekeepers. There are women – leaders of the political parties, of the big international organizations. There are women scientists, writers, singers, actresses. There are also ordinary women, but their personalities made a difference in history…


To select the top 10 women–personalities turned out to be a very difficult task. What criteria to apply for this selection. Whether this person should be a celebrity, or whether to take into account her role in politics, in science, in arts, or in history in general? What timeframes to take?

To have a more comprehensive image I propose to you some extracts based on several studies conducted on the persons throughout the history who changed the world. One of such studies uses a criteria “hero” as a basis for such selection. In Greek and Roman mythology, the world hero was used to describe men whose courageous actions brought favor from the gods. Today, a hero can be just about anyone – from a steadfast politician working to secure world peace to an average man or woman who demonstrates remarkable bravery.

The study was conducted by H. Paul Jeffers who has searched the annals of world history to identify the most influential heroes of all time – chronicling one hundred intriguing real-life tales that are sure to fascinate and inspire. This study proposes a list of 100 persons, among whom only 12 (!) are women. Who are they?

Susan Brownell Anthony
Elizabeth Blackwell
Clarissa Harlowe Barton
Harriet Tubman by Squyer, NPG, c1885
Golda Meir
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Chase Smith
Jeanne d'Arc (miniature graded)
Amelia Earhart
Eleanor Roosevelt at United Nations
Jane Addams

Included on the list are many of the extraordinary women who distinguished themselves through their astonishing achievements and bravery. But not all of the heroes’ profiles are those whose lives played out on the world stage. Some are everyday people who found their own way to make a difference. Spanning from biblical to modern times, the below table is to pay homage to those women whose life stories serve as an inspiration to the world.

  • Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906): a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women’s rights movement to introduce women’s suffrage into the US.
  • Senator Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995): an American politician, member of the Republican Party.
  • Joan of Arc (1412-1431): fearless warrior. A national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII.
  • Clara Barton (1821-1912): a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian, who organized the American Red Cross.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910): the first woman doctor.
  • Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643): one of the most prominent women in colonial America, noted for her strong religious convictions, and for her stand against the staunch religious orthodoxy.
  • Harriet Tubman (1820-1913): an African- American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. After escaping from slavery, into which she was born, she made 13 missions to rescue more than 70 slaves.
  • Amelia Earhart (1897-1937): an aviator, whose daring exploits captured the world’s attention before costing her life.
  • Golda Meir (1898-1978): teacher and politician, who became the fourth Prime Minister of the State of Israel.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962): wife and political aide of American president F.D. Roosevelt. Chairperson of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.
  • Margaret Thatcher (1925-): British politician and Prime Minister of the UK.
  • Jane Addams (1860-1935): a pioneering social worker, activist, and reformer.

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