Catherine de Medici – A young wife of a French King who manipulated politics in France to benefit her sons gaining political power. She is blamed for the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
Sappho – First known woman writer. She wrote a lot of poetry that the Greek philosopher and teacher Plato referred to as one of the ten greatest works of his day. Unfortunately, only her giant reputation remains, as all her writings have been lost.
Joan of Arc – A young French women who saw visions that inspired her to lead a successful battle at Orleans. She became regarded as a mystic after she was martyred while still young.
Hildegard of Bingen – A well-regarded mystic, music composer, and published author about 1,000 years ago. She lived most of her life within a walled religious convent. Her writings were legendary and kings, popes, and people with great influence consulted with her.
In more modern times, many more women stepped up to not only become successful influencers, but world leaders in their own right. The following a just a few of the most influential modern women leaders:
Jane Austen – Perhaps the most prestigious woman author in history, Austen wrote many books, most of which remain best-sellers to this day. She paved the way for future writers with classic hits like Emma and Pride and Prejudice.
Catherine the Great – The most powerful political leader of the 1700s, Catherine was very influential in helping end poverty and build her home country of Russia into a powerful, dominating country in Eastern Europe.
Mary Wollstonecraft – An English writer who is credited with the tract “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” and as a pioneer in the early women’s suffrage movement.
Sojourner Truth – Brilliant African-American women’s rights activist and abolitionist. Her famous speech, “Ain’t I a woman?” made in 1851, gives a cogent and simple explanation of feminism.
Margaret Fuller – A writer who’s book, “Women in the Nineteenth Century” is considered an early plank in the feminist platform for female equality. She taught women to be less dependent on men.
Harriet Beecher Stowe – Famous writer who’s novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” promoted the anti-slavery abolitionist movement. President Lincoln credited her books for influencing him and other leaders.
The Early Years
Born October 13, 1925, Margaret Rilda Roberts was a British politician and prime minister. Margaret was nicknamed the “Iron Lady” by the Soviet Union and served 11 years as England’s prime minister from 1979 to 1990. Her father was a businessman and owned a grocery store which her and her family lived in the apartment above. She also attended the local Grantham Girls’ High School. As a young lady, Thatcher’s father introduced her to conservative politics. Her father’s membership in the town counsil played a huge role in her decision to show interest in politics.
Thatcher maintained good grades all throughout school and attended Oxford University’s Somerville College, majoring in chemistry. In her youth, Thatcher had always been politically active and became her university’s Conservative Association president. In 1947, Thatcher earned her chemistry degree and became a research chemist in both Colchester and Dartford.
Her Runs For Office
Thatcher made her first of two official runs for office just two years after her college graduation. Her first bid took place in 1950 for the Dartford parliamentary seat. Right from the start Thatcher knew the win for office would be impossible. But because of her attempt she gained a lot of respect from party peers due to her many speeches. Although she was defeated, Margaret Thatcher persevered by attempting the next year but once again, failed. Margaret then went on to marry Denis Thatcher two months after attempting her second political office attempt.
Thatcher put her future in politics on hold in 1952 when she decided to pursue law. The following year she gave birth to twins Carol and Mark. Then, in 1953 she finished her training in law and became a barrister which is equivalent to a lawyer. In 1959 she showed her inability to stay away from politics by finally winning a House of Commons seat, where she represented Finchley.
in 1961, Thatcher was promoted to parliamentary under secretary of all pensions and national insurance. Then, after the labor party took governmental control, she was made a member of the Shadow Cabinet. This group consisted of political leaders who would then assume cabinet positions shortly after their party took power.
Margaret Thatcher Becomes Prime Minister
When June 1970 came, Thatcher was made secretary of state for education and science. This position also came with the nickname “Thatcher, milk snatcher,” because of the universal free school milk program being abolished. If her position wasn’t frustrating enough, she also had a hard enough time trying to get her ideas listened to by then prime minister Heath.
This made Thatcher feel optimistic of women being in politics and got quoted when she said, “I don’t think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime,” in 1973 while making an appearance on television.
But Thatcher would prove herself wrong in 1974, shortly after the Conservative Party was removed from power. This turned Thatcher into a force to be reckoned with. In 1975, Thatcher beat out Heath for the Conservative Party leadership role. Making her the first woman to serve as a House of Commons opposition leader.
Timing couldn’t have been better because the conservatives returned to power in 1979 after the country sustained tremendous political turmoil. This turmoil though, allowed Thatcher to become England’s very first female prime minister.