(February 12, 1905 – January 14, 1994)
Federica Montseny was named Spain’s Minister of Health during the Spanish Revolution of 1936, becoming Spain’s first female cabinet minister. Montseny accomplished several reforms including preventative family planning, sex education, and the legalization of abortion. At the end of the Revolution, the communist party had regained control. Montseny lived in exile in France where she continued her efforts through the publication of the anarchist newspaper, L’Espoir.
(May 1, 1908 – June, 15 1952)
Born in Poland, Krystyna Skarbek became an agent of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) where she demonstrated bravery and resourcefulness in her intelligence missions against Nazi forces. Among her many awards and honors, Skarbek was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Her successes as an agent have also been credited with influencing the SOE to recruit more women. Skarbek was killed in 1952 while working as a flight attendant.
Tegla Loroupe uses her success as a professional runner to promote peace in her home-country of Kenya. She has founded the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and the 10km Peace Race, both of which bring together members of warring tribes to initiate peacebuilding. She is also involved in initiatives to empower and build opportunities for Kenyan women.
Shirin Ebadi was named the first female judge in Iran in 1969. Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Ebadi was demoted and retired early. She eventually formed her own legal practice and defended many human rights cases pertaining to women, children, and dissident figures. Ebadi’s human rights efforts won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.
Begum Hazrat Mahal
(b. 1820 – April 7, 1879)
During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Begum Hazrat Mahal led a rebellion against the British East India Company. This came to be the longest resistance against the British. The British were forced to seek refuge in Lucknow while Mahal ruled for 10 months as regent. Eventually, Mahal retreated to Nepal.
Mary Edwards Walker
(November 26, 1832 – February 21, 1919)
As of 2015, she is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor. Prior to the American Civil War, she earned her medical degree and later volunteered with the Union Army serving as a surgeon. Captured by Confederate forces after crossing enemy lines to treat wounded civilians, Walker was arrested as a spy. She served as a prisoner until released in a prisoner exchange.
(22 March 1913 – 22 March 2001)
Sabina Gökçen was a Turkish aviator. She was the first Turkish female combat pilot at age 23. According to some sources she was also the world’s first female fighter pilot; however, others such as Marie Marvingt and Eugenie Mikhailovna Shakhovskaya both preceded her. She was one of the eight adopted children of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
A former member of a secret I.R.A. unit called the Unknowns, that conducted clandestine paramilitary work, including disappearances. Price became the first woman admitted to full membership in the I.R.A. in 1971 when she was twenty. She went to prison for a 1973 London bombing that injured 200 people.
Tabassum Adnan, from Swat Valley, founded the first-ever women-only Jirga in Pakistan. She was awarded the 2015 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in recognition of her services of women’s rights.
Nazik al-Abid resisted the French Occupation of Syria by joining the Syrian Army as a captain. She fought in the infamous battle of Maysalun and as a result her colonizers sentenced her into exile in Istanbul for two years. She continued to resist the French and was later exiled to Jordan. Al-Abid also championed women’s rights printing her own women’s magazine, “Nour Al Faiha’a” and establishing the Damascene Women Club.