By Ashleigh Leck
1. Cleopatra (69BC-30BC)
Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, has been an unsolved mystery to modern society ever since her death in 30BC. Cleopatra was a ruler in a time where women in power was rare and Roman’s did not accept her reign. Although, she was able to seduce and attain two of Roman’s most prestigious rulers of all time, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Through her relationships with these Roman’s, she was able to advance the power of the Egyptian empire and retain her position as Pharaoh of Egypt. The defeat of Antony and Cleopatra in 30BC, marked the beginning of the Roman Empire. In the wise words of Mr Munro “if they [Cleopatra and Mark Antony] had defeated Octavian, our current world would be completely different”.
2. Florence Nightingale (1820)
Florence Nightingale was born on the 12th May 1820. She served as Head Nurse for the British during the Crimean War (1853-1856) where she improved the sanitary conditions for soldiers fighting in the war, during a very unsanitary era. She introduced a laundry, library, a kitchen for dietary required food was made and placed all her time and effort into helping the soldiers. This initiative reduced the amount of deaths in the war by about two-thirds. After returning from the hospital base in Constantinople, in 1860 she funded Saint Thomas’ Hospital and within that complex, the Nightingale training school for Nurses. To this day she is seen as the pioneer of modern nursing.
3. Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Mother Teresa was a devoted Catholic who dedicated her life to helping the poor and sick. She joined the Loreto sisters in Dublin when she was 18. She travelled with the Loreto sisters to India, where she taught Geography and History to girls living in poverty. Her order established; centres for the disabled, blind and aged as well as leper clinics, orphanages, mobile health clinics and family clinics. Her generous work changed the lives of the most vulnerable people in the world. She was canonised by Pope Francis on the 4th of September 2016.
4. Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
On the 1st of December 1955, Rosa Parks was on a bus home from work. Busses had strict Negroes-in-back policy which many black residents of Alabama felt were excessively cruel so they avoided commuting on the busses. At one part of the trip, a white man didn’t have a seat cause the designated section was full. The bus drive then told the first row of the coloured section to stand to allow the white man to sit down. Rosa Parks was sitting in this row with 3 others who followed the bus drivers’ orders, although Parks remained seated in protest. She was later arrested and charged $10 plus $4 in court fees. She appealed her case and on the day of her trial, 40000 of the coloured people of Montgomery refrained from using the bus in a boycott in protest of Parks’ arrest and trial. On the 4th June 1956, the supreme court ruled that segregation on buses was unconstitutional and made illegal. She became an international icon for civil rights movements and raising awareness on the African Americans struggles.
5. Anne Frank (1929-1945)
Anne Frank was born in 1929 to German-Jewish parents. When the Nazi party rose to power in 1933, due to their anti-Jewish policies the Frank family moved to Amsterdam where Jews were tolerated more. These conditions began to deteriorate when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940. They were under strict curfews and forbidden to shop at most stores, take public transport and attend school. The Jews were increasingly being sent to work in camps. In July in 1942, the Franks went into hiding in an attempt to wait for the Nazi regime to die out. On Anne Frank’s 13th birthday, she received a diary where she wrote about her experiences and feelings. She used this diary through her years of hiding until the Nazis discovered the Franks in August of 1944. The Franks were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp and later sent to the Bergen-Belsen camp where she died due to Typhus. Her diary was later published in 1947 titled Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne Frank is regarded as a Supergirl due to her persistence, bravery and strength in one of the most brutal times for Jews in history. Her book has been published over 25 million times and remains one of the most read books in the World which is a reflection of the influence of her inspiring story.
6. Princess Diana (1961-1997)
Princess Diana was born on the 1st of July 1961 and is remembered for her charitable work and the way she changed the face of the British Monarchy. Diana married Prince Charles in 1981 which attracted a global audience of around 750 million. She was known for spending hours helping, talking and listening to those in hospitals, schools, homeless shelters and charity organisations. She used her status to raise awareness for those suffering AIDS, HIV and Leprosy. She was a change for the Monarchy as she was in touch with the people and went out and experienced her life helping the most vulnerable. Gavin Heart at her death states that "No one can fill her shoes in terms of the work she did".
7. Michelle Obama (1964- )
Michelle Obama was born on the 17th of January 1964 and is well-known as the first African-American First Lady. In 2004, she helped her husband, Barack Obama, get elected into the senate and when he ran for president in 2008, she took time off her own work to help campaign. As the 44th first lady she was effective in helping the community. She launched the Let’s Move! Initiative which sought to promote healthy lifestyles. She co-founded programs to expand the opportunities for veterans and their families. She was able to inspire young men and women to commit to their schooling and continue their education past high school. She released a book in 2018 about her personal experiences as First Lady, which within a month was sold more than 3 million copies. Michelle Obama is one of the most influential people of our time and taught everyone across the world, that women of all races can make a change to the world.
8. Emma Watson (1990- )
Emma Watson was born on the 15th April 1990 and was mainly known for her role as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter until 2014 when she launched her campaign ‘HeForShe’. This famous speech, presented in the UN, has more than 10 million views on YouTube where she addresses the issue of gender inequality for women and encourages men and boys to fight for change. In addition to this campaign, she created a feminist book club on goodreads.com titled ‘Our Shared Self’. This group have dedicated people who plan the books, then the members can comment and discuss their opinions. They have a range of topics from political issues to historical events. In a survey, a teenager stated that “She [Emma Watson] uses the power and fame she gained from the Harry Potter series to speak about important issues like feminism”. This statement shows that her influence has raised awareness about the important issues of gender equality and inspired the youth to act upon it.
9. Malala Yousafzai (1997- )
Malala Yousafzai made history at the age of 17 when she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Since the age of 11, Malala has actively been working to raise awareness on the issues of girls’ education by writing blogs for the BBC and was profiled in a documentary in the New York Times. On the 9th of October 2012, she was shot on her way home from school and flown to England to undergo surgery. She survived the attempted assassination and made her first public reappearance on the 12th of July 2013, addressing 500 people at the United Nations in New York. She returned to giving speeches and interviews in support for women’s education rights. Her story is captured in many of her books, some including; Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls' Rights, Malala’s Magical Pencil, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban and many others. She has won numerous awards in addition to the Nobel Peace Prize including being named one of the Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2013. Malala Yousafzai has marked her place in the world through her persistence, determination and strength.