Motivate yourself by reading about these amazing women who took on the biggest challenges in life and exceeded in every sense of the word. If they can do it, you can do it, too!
Women Who Rocked the World
Life can be tough sometimes, and we all get setbacks and disappointments. When you are wondering if you can really make your dreams come true, it’s good to have some inspiration to get you going. So if you are in need of some motivation, read these stories of awesome and inspiring women from throughout the ages.
Some of them tackled the challenges of living in a man’s world head on, and started changes that benefit all women today. Others led simply through their example, succeeding in extraordinary achievements. We owe all of them a debt, for showing what women are truly capable of. They all helped to shape the world we live in today, and we are better for it.
#1: Mary Wollstonecraft
When Mary’s book ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ was published in 1792, it caused a sensation. She shocked the society of the time by daring to suggest that women are not naturally inferior to men!
She argued that men were more successful than women simply because they were better educated and had more opportunities. She caused even more dismay by suggesting that both men and women should be treated as rational beings. The very idea!
Unsurprisingly, there was a backlash against her book, and it wasn’t reprinted for many years. Nevertheless, she had sown the seeds of the women’s movement, and laid the foundation for the great changes that happened over the next two hundred years.
#2: Emmeline Pankhurst
Voted by Time magazine as one of the most important women of the 20th century, Emmeline played a major role in the women’s suffrage movement in Britain.
She was known for not messing about. Instead of contenting herself with writing books and articles, she went straight for the jugular.
Emmeline and her supporters were often involved in violent struggles with police and other authorities. As a result, she was imprisoned several times – to which she responded by going on hunger strike.
These aggressive tactics worked. The government caved in, and women received the right to vote.
The effects of this decision cascaded around the world in a domino effect, and women were at last given the vote in many countries worldwide.
#3: Amelia Earhart
When the growth of aviation started to revolutionize transport in the early 20th century, Amelia was one of the first women to take to the air. In fact, she was sixth woman ever to receive a pilot’s license.
She started setting records almost immediately, becoming the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928. She followed this up by hitting a world altitude record of 18,415 feet. She was well aware of the dangers she faced in her daring adventures. She said:
“Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I do it because I want to do it.”
Unfortunately, these hazards claimed her life in the end. In 1937, she disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. But she will forever be remembered as a fearless adventurer who refused to let her gender hold her back.
#4: Marie Curie
Marie Curie battled sexism throughout her career in the first half of the 20th century – and not just from men. Many women also thought she should give up her science career and do something more feminine instead.
Fortunately for us, Marie resisted the pressure to switch to needlework and knitting. She went on revolutionize medical science instead. Unable to get a degree in the male-only universities of her native Poland, she became the first woman ever to graduate from a French university.
Her work in the field of radiation led to the X-ray technology and radiation therapy that continues to save countless lives around the world every year. During the First World War, she personally drove her X-ray machines to the front lines to save the lives of wounded soldiers.
She became the first woman to win two Nobel prizes, and an inspirational role model for the modern woman.
#5: Rosalind Franklin
Rosalind is another woman who had to fight a running battle with the sexism of the mid-20th century. This brilliant chemist played a pivotal role in decoding the structure of DNA, taking the famous photo that allowed her fellow scientists, Watson and Crick, to deduce that the structure of DNA was a double helix.
This major scientific breakthrough made Watson and Crick international starts in the science world. But Rosalind’s vital contribution was downplayed when their work was published. After that things went even further downhill. Rosalind discovered that she had cancer – probably caused by careless exposure to radiation during her scientific. She died in 1958.
If she had lived, she may have won the Nobel Prize in 1962, alongside Watson and Crick. But as these prizes cannot be awarded posthumously, she missed out again.
Much of today’s medical technology – and many other sciences – depend on an understanding of how DNA works. Without Rosalind Franklin’s breakthrough DNA photo, none of this would be possible.
#6: Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks made history not so much by her action – but more by her lack of action. That is, her refusal to move from her seat. When Rosa declined to give up her seat to a white passenger in December 1955, she triggered a chain of events that brought about the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.
In today’s world, it is hard to imagine how big a step it was for a poor, black woman to face up to the racist laws of her times. But there is no doubt that her courageous actions led to the much fairer and more equal society we live in today.
Without Rosa Parks, there would never have been a President Obama. Now that’s influence for you.
#7: Oprah Winfrey
Being born as a poor, black female in the Mississippi of the 1950s is perhaps not the easiest route to becoming a billionaire – especially when your mother is a teenage single Mom.
But that didn’t stop Oprah from achieving extraordinary success in life.
You don’t need me to tell you who Oprah is or what she does. But did you know she is considered to be:
- The only African-American billionaire
- The most influential woman in the world
- The greatest black philanthropist in history
Oprah continues to inspire both men and women around the world to achieve amazing things. And unlike others in that line of business, she is leading by example.
#8: Angela Merkel
Angela is an achiever, for sure, even by German standards. After earning a doctorate in physical chemistry, she went on to become a research scientist - before moving into politics. Her rise to stardom was rapid, and she became Chancellor of Germany in 2005.
With well over a decade in this job, Angela has become perhaps the most important figure in European politics and a major player on the world stage. She is often described as the leader of the free world.
She has twice been named by Time magazine as the world’s second most powerful person. Not bad for the daughter of a pastor and an English teacher.
#9: Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza has done well for a descendent of Alabama sharecroppers. Her initial choice of career was in music, and she proved herself to have the talent necessary to succeed in that field.
But she soon found herself drawn towards politics, and studied political science instead. The switch worked out just fine. She became America’s first female African-American Secretary of State, as well as the second African-American Secretary of State.
She played a major role in the George W. Bush administration, before becoming a political science professor at Stanford University.
#10: Malala Yousafzai
Malala is a Pakistani activist for female education, and has achieved an awful lot despite still being very young. Born in 1997, she has fought against the Taliban’s bans on schooling for women.
Her life changed forever in 2012 when a Taliban gunman tried to assassinate her. Although injured badly, she survived and become known as the most famous teenager in the world.
She has used this fame to promote the cause of education for women. At the age of 17, she became the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate, winning the Peace Prize in 2014.
What Are You Waiting For?
So as we have seen, there are many women who have overcome overwhelming odds to achieve success in life. Use these stories as inspiration to motivate you to success. Whatever you want to do with your life, it is well within your grasp.
All you have to do is take action and make it happen.