If you had to come up with a list of 100 women who changed the world, who would you choose? In what field would each have found a voice, an influence? Would one have cured some dreaded disease? been responsible for raising an incredible person who made immense contributions to humanity? been someone who shunned the limelight and went quietly about bringing aid and comfort to the forgotten ill? achieved recognition for rights of the disenfranchised? uncovered a dreadful abuse of power to legislate change that would protect others? Who would be on your list, and how would you organize it? Alphabetically? Chronologically? Geographically? I would think it would be almost impossible to organize it by order of importance!
Well, LIFE magazine’s latest special has come up with a list (chronologically) of the 100 most important women who changed the world beginning with Hatshepsut, “a powerful, prosperous and gifted leader, and the first woman to assume the full powers of pharaoh” who lived from 1508-1458 BC and finishing with Mo’ne Davis, an “honor roll student from Philadelphia [who] . . . became the first girl to win a Little League World Series game and the first girl to throw a shutout in World Series history”. Ten photos on the front cover include Lady Di, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Thatcher, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mother Theresa. The back cover pictures Amelia Earhart posed in front of a plane propeller, and inside the front cover, a double page photo of photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White perched with her camera atop an eagle on the edge of the Chrysler Building in New York City in 1935, on a foggy day, no less!
The list includes 6 monarchs, 6 first ladies, 6 political leaders, 18 political activists/social reformers, 4 athletes, a few scientists, several entertainers (musicians, actresses, and artists), several aviators, 1 cosmonaut, 1 fighter pilot, 1 royal (Lady Diana), 1 spy (Mata Hari), 1 warrior (Joan of Arc), 1 designer (Coco Chanel), 1 religious figure (Mary of Nazareth), 1 abolitionist (Harriet Tubman), and 1 missionary (Mother Teresa). Also in the list are 14 authors, 2 journalists, 2 publishers, and 2 diarists (Anne Frank & Maya Angelou).
I have to admit there are people on this list I had never heard of, or at least didn’t know too much about. I was intrigued, though, by the list of authors and I thought I might try to read through a book from each (some only wrote one book) as a sort of personal challenge. I’ll share the list here and maybe some of you would like to take on the challenge as well. There won’t be anything fancy or a special posting place. No one will track your progress other than yourself. Just leave a comment here and post your link to this page whenever you write a review of one of the authors from the list, adding the badge to your page. Do them in any order you wish. Here is the list (14 +2):
Mary Wollstonecraft — A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Jane Austen — Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma
Mary Shelley — Frankenstein
Harriet Beecher Stowe — Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Gertrude Stein — Three Lives, Tender Buttons, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Virginia Woolf — Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando.
Ayn Rand — The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged
Julia Child — Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Simone de Beauvoir — The Second Sex
Betty Friedan — The Feminine Mystique, The Second Stage, The Fountain of Age
Maya Angelou — I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Toni Morrison — The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved
Isabel Allende — The House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, and Eva Luna
Arundhati Roy — The God of Small Things
and not listed as an author but one nevertheless:
Rachel Carson — Silent Spring, The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, Under the Sea Wind
Amelia Earhart — Last Flight, The Fun of It, 20 Hrs.,40 Min.
Hope you’ll join me for what should be an interesting challenge.
LIFE 100 Women Who Changed the World is available on newsstands everywhere!