Throughout history and in modern times, many women continue to make waves through their inspiring stories. Some of them were scientists, writers, activists, and more. With their stories, they show that women can truly do anything.
Here are some inspiring women that are perfect role models for young girls.
1. Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc was a peasant girl in the Middle Ages. She believed that God had called her to lead France to victory against England in the 100 Years’ War. When local officials would not listen to her, she walked 11 days to the King of France and asked him to let her lead an army. After leading a brigade and a miraculous success against the English, she was captured and burned at the stake for witchcraft.
2. Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was English nobility and the world’s first computer programmer. At the University of London, she studied with Charles Babbage, who had created a computer prototype. She became very interested in his work, and her annotations on his papers showed how to program the machine.
Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, written in 1792 England, is considered the philosophical foundation of modern feminism. Her writings were part of the Enlightenment movement that inspired the American and French Revolutions.
Florence Nightingale is the founder of modern nursing. Against her family’s protests, she enrolled in nursing school and became an esteemed hospital administrator. During the Crimean war in 1853, Nightingale was called upon by the UK Secretary of State to reform the poorly administered battlefield hospitals.
5. Ida B Wells
Wells was born into slavery during the Civil War and became a journalist and social activist. She raised her siblings after her parents died of yellow fever and became an educator. Skeptical of the legitimacy of the lynching of black men in her town, Memphis, Wells investigated the men’s supposed crimes and wrote an exposé demonstrating their innocence. After locals chased her out of Memphis because of the exposé, she continued to fight racism by traveling abroad and informing foreign audiences about lynchings in the US.
In the year 61, CE, Boudicca led a Celtic revolt against invading Romans, taking three ancient cities in Roman Britain. She was the queen of the Iceni tribe in modern-day Lincolnshire.
7. Mary Seacole
Seacole traveled to the UK from Jamaica to practice nursing during the Crimean war but was rejected because of her mixed race. Because she could not practice nursing, she ran a hotel that provided refuge to sick and recovering soldiers who had nowhere else to go.
In the 1800s, Fry advocated for improved prison conditions. She was a Quaker philanthropist born to a wealthy family. She traveled to prisons and wrote reports that described the poor conditions, including the poor treatment of women in prison.
Upon her brother and husband’s death, she became acting regent for her infant stepson. Instead of ceding power to the men in her life, she took the title of Pharaoh and became Egypt’s co-ruler in 1473 BC. Under her rule, Egypt expanded its trade and improved its infrastructure.
10. Edith Wilson
Edith was the wife of Woodrow Wilson and arguably the first female US President in 1919. When her husband fell ill, Edith functionally took over the President’s role for the remainder of his term. She even held cabinet meetings in his absence.
Empress Dowager Cixi controlled China from 1875 to 1908. She resisted foreign influence in China when much of Asia was being exploited by European countries.
An Athenian midwife, Agnodice dressed as a man so that she could practice medicine. Male doctors, jealous of her popularity, brought her to court for corruption. She was acquitted because of support from high-ranking Greek women.
13. Rachel Carson
Her book Silent Spring brought to light the adverse effects of DDT on birds. Her work led to DDT being banned and inspired the modern environmental movement.
Franklin discovered the double helix structure in DNA and was the first person to photograph it. The male scientists who stole her work won a Nobel prize for the discovery.
The daughter of a slave, Clark led a lawsuit against North Carolina for pay equity between black and white teachers. After being fired from her teaching position for participating in the Civil Rights Movement, she began citizenship schools that taught literacy and activism to black adults.
16. Fawzia Koofi
A leader in the Afghan government, Koofi has advocated for women’s rights in the country. She has been participating in peace negotiations with the Taliban, insisting that the Taliban be more inclusive of women.
17. Sophie Scholl
Scholl was a member of a small Nazi resistance movement at Munich University during World War II. As part of the group, she composed and distributed thousands of anti-Fascist pamphlets. After being caught throwing leaflets off a railing into her University’s central hall, she was executed by the Nazis along with her brother.
As the social services director in Warsaw during World War II, she forged fake documents for Jewish people in the city so that they could escape Nazi persecution. She used her contacts at orphanages to rescue and hide Jewish children.
19. Wangari Maathai
A professor and conservationist in Kenya, Maathai is the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. She is renowned for her fight for democracy, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability.
Before being appointed to the US Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg litigated against sex discrimination for the ACLU.
21. Emma Watson
She rose to fame as Hermione Granger, the strong female sidekick in the Harry Potter movies. Since then, she graduated from Brown University and has served as the UN’s Women Goodwill Ambassador.
22. Malala Yousefi
At just 12 years old, she was shot by the Taliban for advocating for girls’ rights to an education. Her experience inspired her to start a charity for women’s’ education, which won her a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Her charity fights for girls’ education and against poverty, war, and child marriage.
23. Serena Williams
Serena Williams is a tennis player who holds the world record for most grand slam singles for both men and women. She continues to play tennis after the birth of her first child.
24. Autumn Peltier
An indigenous Canadian activist, she travels the world to advocate for clean drinking water. At just 15 years old, she is fighting for water conservation and indigenous water rights.
As the first female secretary of state, Albright was a vocal supporter of democracy and human rights. In 1999, she advocated for the US to intervene in Yugoslavia to end the ethnic cleansing of Albanians.
These women have excelled in the face of hardships and exceeded the circumstances set for them by other people. They have proven that with hard work, determination, and the refusal to take no for an answer, women can change the world.