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Stephanie St. Clair - Harlem's Queen of Numbers
In light of the current protests going on, today’s article is about a woman who was a community organizer and activist for black rights in America during Prohibition, as well as a successful gangster/businesswoman that stood up to the Mafia and the corrupt police system. Did I mention she was an immigrant too? Making a living as a black woman wasn’t easy from the get go, but not only did she build her own business and defended it for years, but continued fighting for a better chance in life for her community as well as those who came after her. Meet Stephanie St. Clair, Harlem’s Queen of Numbers.
Minna Canth – Finland’s First Feminist
Because it’s my Mum’s birthday, I want to honor another badass mother today. After her husband died, she raised their seven(!) kids by herself and even found time to not only manage the family store, but also fight for gender equality, writing text that were way ahead of her time. Let me introduce you to Minna Canth.
Fatima al-Fihri – Paving the Way for Modern University Education
Today I want to tell you how a Muslim woman paved the way for higher education as we know it. This is the history of the world’s oldest, continually operating university as well as a story about determination and giving back to the community. Let me take you to 9th century North Africa where Fatima al-Fihri was born.
Manshuk Mametova – One-Woman Army
This week I’m taking you to Soviet Kazakhstan, when World War II was just beginning, and one girl was determined to fight for her Motherland. Even though she was rejected at first and later only assigned clerk duty, she taught herself how to use a machine gun and eventually became Hero of the Soviet Union. That was not only the highest military honor, but she was the first Kazakh woman to receive it. Her name is Manshuk Mametova and I want to take you along on the wild ride that was her life.
Susan La Flesche Picotte – Doctor Between Two Worlds
This week I want to pay tribute to the medical workers of the world with an article about a doctor whose work spanned two worlds. Determined to provide adequate medical care for her community, she became the first Native American woman to hold a medical degree. But she wasn’t only a doctor! She helped out with financial issues as well as family disputes. Her name is Susan La Flesche Picotte and here is her story.
Jeanne Hachette - Defender of Beauvais
The story I’m telling you today is a relatively short one, but exciting nonetheless! While Jeanne was definitely a real person, the accounts on her life differ from source to source, but one thing is clear, she was a total badass. When her city was attacked, many of the women living there refused to be bystanders and joined the fight – including 18 year old Jeanne, who grabbed a hatchet and played a key role in defending the city from capture. But let’s start at the beginning.
Li Qingzhao - Protector of History
Today I want to bring you a story of a happy marriage between two bookworms. They were collecting historical artifacts and writing each other love letters …until they lost their home and most of their beloved collection. And then her husband died too. It’s a lot. This is a story of a picture perfect life turning to ashes, but it’s also a story of resilience and protecting what we love. This is the story of Li Qingzhao.
Amanirenas - One-Eyed Warrior Queen
This time I’m telling you about the time the Roman Empire set its mind to conquering the Kingdom of Kush where it was met by a fierce one-eyed warrior queen who would continue to fight back for seven years and eventually pushed Rome out of her country. This is the story of Amanirenas and you’re in for a ride.
Rose Lokissim - A Beacon of Hope
This week’s article is mostly about the death of our heroine and the time shortly before that. She only lived to be 33 year old and much of her early life is unknown, but in her lifetime she made a true difference in her country, going from elite soldier to rebel, opposing a dictator and exposing his inhumane treatment of prisoners. This week I want to tell you the story of Rose Lokissim.
Siti binti Saad – The Voice of Zanzibar
This week’s heroine is known as the mother of East African taarab music. Starting a career as a woman over 30 in a male-dominated field held her back just as much as being from a poor family that didn’t speak the “right” language – that is to say, it didn’t hold her back at all. Her name is Siti binti Saad and this is her story.
Njinga Mbande – The Mother of Angola
This is the story of a heroine who ruled her country for 40 years and was incredibly successful in defending it from colonization. Her strategic knowledge, cultural wisdom, thorough education and negotiation skills make her an outstanding example of female rulership. I present to you Queen Njinga Mbande of Ndongo and Matamba.
Helen and Elizabeth Cumming - Women Behind the Whisky
Today I’ll introduce you to not only one but two extraordinary Scotswomen who founded a whisky distillery that still exists today – and they did it illegally!
You see, in 18th century Scotland, the taxes on whisky were raised and raised as the English tried to control Scottish production. The laws honestly got pretty confusing and no distillery was charged at the same rate – and for most the taxes became unmanageable. By the end of the century there was a flourishing black market and illicit distilleries thrived. And one of them was spearheaded by our heroines for this week: Helen and Elizabeth Cumming.
Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir – Iceland’s Pioneer of Women’s Rights
Today Iceland is known for its gender equality and it was this week’s heroine who paved the path for this reputation. Meet Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir, a journalist, educator and politician and the driving force behind the campaign for women’s suffrage in Iceland.
Changunak Antisarlook Andrewuk – Queen of the Reindeer
Did you know that Alaska used to be Russian territory? It was only sold to the US around 1870 and suddenly the social landscape changed. Into these tumultuous times today’s heroine was born and against all odds, she became one of the richest people in the state. Hear the story of Changunak Antisarlook Andrewuk, Sinrock Mary, the Queen of the Reindeer.
Queen Nanny – Leader of the Maroons
This is the story of a woman who led the Jamaican Maroons in their fight against slavery and who had the British tremble in fear. This is the story of Queen Nanny.
Maria Quitéria – The Brazilian Joan of Arc
This week I’m taking you to Brazil where a brave woman joined the army in the War of Independence, dresses as a man. And although she was outed, her valor and skill in battle allowed her to continue fighting. She even was promoted and endorsed by the emperor! Let me tell you the story of Maria Quitéria, the Brazilian Joan of Arc.
Hipparchia of Maroneia - A Cynic Life
This article is taking us to the philosophers of Ancient Greece, specifically the Cynics. And to a woman who challenged the conventions of a philosophical school devoted to challenging society’s conventions. Meet one of the few female philosophers of the time, Hipparchia of Maroneia.
Lee Miller - Taking Photos in Hitler's Bathtub
Lee Miller is certainly one of the most interesting people I have yet encountered in my research. She led many lives, reinventing herself time and time again. At first as a model in the 20s, then as a photographer and war correspondent in World War II. On the other side lay trauma and self-destruction and a broken relationship with her only son. Let’s dive into this multifaceted story of a fascinating woman.
Gabriela Mistral – The Unlikely Poet Who Won a Nobel Prize
Thinking of poetry in Chile, the first that comes to mind is Pablo Neruda. But there was another important poet before him – and she was a woman. Enter Gabriela Mistral, who overcame many, many obstacles to become a famous writer, eventually earning the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Latin American to ever do so.
Enheduanna – The World’s First Author
Did you know that the first author ever was a woman? Well, we can’t say for certain as for a long time all writing was anonymous. But the first person to ever put their name on their work was today’s heroine: Enheduanna, Sumerian High Priestess. As far as we can tell, her opus encompasses 42 temple hymns and a number of longer texts, representing the first human attempt to compose a systematic theology. Isn’t that amazing?!
Yaa Asantewaa – Defender of the Golden Stool
This is the story of a woman who defended her country against the British, refusing to stand down. Called “Africa’s Joan of Arc” by Western scholars, she commanded the entirety of the Ashanti forces in their final war against the colonialists. This is the story of Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa.
Ida Ferenczy - The Empress' Best Friend
Born to a family of lower nobility, the most that was expected of her was to marry into a good family. Ida Ferenczy disappointed her parents on that front – but isn’t it much better to be the best friend of an Empress?
Granny Lum Loy – Surviving Three Cyclones and a War
This is the story of a survivor. Adopted and sent to a faraway land, she made it her home while keeping her cultural heritage alive. She built up several businesses and survived many a catastrophe, all while founding her own family. I present to you: Lee Toy Kim, later known as Granny Lum Loy.
Dada Masiti – Expanding Her Traditional Duties
Thinking about Somalia, literature might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but unbeknownst to many, Somalia is a country of bards and poets. This is the story of one of them.
Hortense Mancini – The Runaway Dutchess
Her name is mostly mentioned in relation to her famous family and as a famous mistress, but she is so much more than that. This post is about Hortense Mancini, a runaway wife who bedded kings. Are you interested yet? Because it keeps getting better.
Kittie Smith – Refusing to Give Up
Katherine Smith, or Kittie for short, was nothing but an ordinary girl until both of her arms had to be amputated when she was only nine. But she would refuse to let this break her – or even shake her optimism.
Aelia Eudoxia – The Barbarian Empress of Rome
This story is about a woman who rose from relative obscurity to the throne of the Roman Empire, a woman who became an influential figure of the church while hosting lavish parties. This is the story of Aelia Eudoxia.
Edith Cavell - Spy Nurse
In World War I a nurse was executed for treason by a firing squad. Do you wonder how she ended up like that? Please read on.
Shajar al-Durr – The King-Ransoming Sultan
The place is Egypt at the time of the Seventh Crusade. You have never heard of that one, you say? That might be because this week’s heroine stopped it before it could really begin by torching its ships Blackwater Bay-style and capturing its leader, the King of France.
Indra Devi – Mother of Western Yoga
Meet Indra Devi, who played a big role in bringing yoga to the Western world.
Lady Emma Hamilton – More Than Just A Muse
You might know her already as the muse of several famous paintings (notably by George Romney). But there is a lot more to her than her pretty face.
Katharina Henot – The Postmaster Who Was Burned As A Witch
Germany’s first female postmaster who was burned as a witch for economic and political reasons.
Osh-Tisch and The-Other-Magpie – The Women Who Fought at the Rosebud
I would like to introduce you to two badass ladies of the Crow Tribe: Osh-Tisch and The-Other-Magpie who fought at the Battle of the Rosebud!
Franca Viola – The Girl who Listened to her Heart
The first woman to decline a “reparation marriage” in Italy.
Julie d’Aubigny – The Most Badass Lady Ever
This total badass won at least ten duels, performed on the world’s biggest opera stage, burned down a convent and had to be pardoned by the king twice.
Marianne of Orange-Nassau – A True Free Spirit
One of my biggest personal heroines: Wilhelmina Frederika Louise Charlotte Marianne of Orange-Nassau (or Marianne for short)
Zheng Yi Sao - Pirate Queen of the Qing Dynasty
Did you know the world’s most powerful pirate was a woman?