As some of you may already know, this month we celebrate National Women’s History Month and so we thought it’s the perfect excuse for us to highlight some of our favourite inspirational figures of all time.
Yes, we know there’s way more than 15, but seriously to include that many could take all year…but if you really feel passionate about someone, drop a comment below.
#1 First African American Female Movie Star – Josephine Baker
Infamously known as the ‘Black Pearl’, Josephine Baker was an American-born dancer, singer, and actress who established her career as the first African-American female to appear in major films. JB was more than just your ordinary entertainer, she was also an award winning activist who worked for the French Resistance during World War II. Often travelling to the US to fight racism, JB even adopted children of different ethnic backgrounds (naming them the “Rainbow Tribe”) to demonstrate her beliefs of equality in the world. There’s no denying that Ms Baker paved the way for African-American women in the entertainment world and life itself.#2 Fastest Woman Of All Time – Florence Delorez a.k.a Flo Jo
RUN FLORENCE RUN! Flo Jo was the ultimate American track and field sensation who stunned the world at the 1988 Summer Olympics, bagging three gold medals and a silver. Flo Jo still holds the world record in the 100 and 200 meter, going down in history as the fastest woman of all time. Not only was Florence an inspirational athlete but she was renowned for her unique style when running, wearing spandex body suits and sporting six inch long decorated fingernails – true skool style!
#3 First Woman To Climb Mount Everest – Junko Tabei
On May 16,1975, Japanese mountain climber – Junko Tabei became the first woman to climb Mount Everest – and if you think her climbing days stopped there, you so thought wrong! Since her successful world record, Junko has climbed many mountains all over the world, and is the first woman to have achieved the summits of the highest peaks on all seven continents. Today, JT climbs at least 3-4 mountains per year and is currently the director of Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan (HAT-J), an organisation dedicated to preserving the mountain environment.
#4 Britain’s First Female Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher
Who doesn’t remember the ‘Iron Lady? – ABSOLUTE LEG! Serving as Britain’s first (and only) female Prime Minister, from 1979 to 1990, Maggie T was revolutionary and wasn’t just any ordinary pm, but was one of the most dominant political figures that 20th century Britain had ever seen. Born and raised from a working class background Ms Thatcher successfully worked her way up the social ladder and today remains an inspirational figure and role model who has empowered many women across Britain, demonstrating that anything is possible with hard work and will power.
#5 World’s First Female Head of Government – Sirimavo Bandaranaike
The world’s first female head of government – can you get anymore inspirational? Sri Lankan politician Sirimavo Bandaranaike served as Prime Minister of Ceylon and Sri Lanka three times running and was also a long-time leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. SB served right up until her passing in 2000 at a whopping 84 years-old – sheesh!
#6 First Woman To Receive A Doctor Of Philosophy Degree – Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia
One word – truly EXCEPTIONAL! (Well that was two words, but so?) Born in 1646. Elena began a remarklable and early academic life studying Latin, Greek, music, theology, and math. Wait there’s more – eventually Elena learned Hebrew, Arabic, Chaldaic, French, English and Spanish as well as studying philosophy and astronomy. By age 17, she could also sing, compose, and play the violin, harp and harpsichord. I mean is there really any surprise to her being the first woman to receive a doctoral degree? With the amount of time she invested into education, she deserved it.
#7 British Vogue’s First African American Cover Model – Donyale Luna
Naomi? No, Donyale Luna was THE first. Ironically, Dony struggled with her unusual appearance as a child, but in 1996 it was the first African American face to grace the cover of Vogue – a mark in the history of fashion!
#8 The Philippines First Female President – Corazon Aquino[/highlight]
First female president of the Philippines, how about first female president in Asia period?! Even after experiencing the tragedy of her husband’s assassination, Cora was still determined and led the country to revolution giving power to the people and reinforcing the importance of human rights. CA achieved what many before her couldn’t, managing to keep peace in the country for many years, even with disturbances from Communist insurgencies and Islamist secession movements.
#9 First Woman Pilot of Indian Airlines – Captain Durga Banerjee
Captain D will go down in history as one of the most inspirational Asian women of all time! Once upon a time in 1966, this super fly lady became the first woman pilot of the Indian Airlines, an industry that is still dominated by men even today. No that’s not the end…Captain D then became the first woman ever to fly the Tornado A-200 – YOU GO GIRL!
#10 First Woman To Publish A Modern Cookbook – Fannie Farmer
Yep you guessed right, Fannie is the gal responsible for changing the way American’s prepare food as she introduced the use of standard measurements in recipes. In 1896 Fannie self-published, her infamous debut cookbook ‘The Boston Cooking School Cookbook’. No doubt, the book became a bestseller and revolutionized American cooking.
#11 First Female TV Announcer – Elizabeth Cowell
In 1936, Ms Cowell marked history as she became one of the first female announcers on BBC Television – and today, thankfully we see women all over the screens – Bravo for setting the trend Liz!
#12 First Female To Sail Around The World – Kay Cottee
Row, row, row your boat gently round the world! In1988, Australian born Kay-C became the first female sailor to perform a single-handed, non-stop circumnavigation of the world in 189 days. – What an achievement!
#13 – Africa’s First Woman to be Elected President – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ell-J is a true soldier! In 2005, she became the first woman to be elected president of an African state, but this wasn’t accepted well by her late husband resulting in domestic violence. Do you really think this could stop her? Nope. Ell-J still went on to campaign in favour of equality amongst men and women and in 2011 received the Nobel Peace Prize.
#14 - First Woman To Travel To Space – Valentina Tereshkova
To infinity and beyond! In 1963, 26-year-old Valentina Tereshkova (a former textile worker) became the first woman to travel to space and also the fifth cosmonaut to go into the Earth’s orbit.
#15 First Woman To Run A Theatre – Laura Keene
Laura Keene was a successful English actress. In 1855, Laura settled in the land where dreams come true – New York City, and became the first woman to manage her own theatre company. Ironically, did you know that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated whilst watching her production of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre, New York? – Yeah, like that’s not weird at all!
(Images 1,2,3,4, 7,8,10, 13,14,15 via tumblr / images 5, 11 via flickr)