was the first wife of Henry VIII and Queen of England for a period of 24 years.
Although this is what she is mostly remembered for today, she was an important
figure of her time in political and cultural circles.
In 1507, she was the ambassador of the
Aragonese Crown to England, which made her the first female ambassador in
European history. She was a patron of Renaissance humanism and encouraged
female education. Thomas Cromwell affirmed about her that “If not for her sex, she could have defied
all the heroes of History.”
was a poet and political activist. Her poetry often dealt with themes of
feminism, social justice and Judaism.
She was active in politics from a young age,
and was working for the International Labor Defense at 21. She also served as
president of the American centre of PEN International. Her work was rewarded
with a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Yale Younger Poets Award, among others.
Ana Betancourt (1832-1901) is
considered a national heroine in Cuba. She played an important role in the
country’s independence war against Spain.
She supported not only Cuban independence, but
female empancipation in the country, linking the cause to the abolition of slavery
and anti-colonialism. While she was living with other revolutionaries in the
forest, she was captured and exiled to Spain; even so, she continued to support
the cause from overseas. A state award has been established in her name in Cuba.
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (b. 1970) is a
professional mouintaneer from Austria. She was the second woman to climb all
fourteen mountains in the world over 8,000 metres, and the first to do so
without supplemental oxygen.
The first of the eight-thousanders she ascended
was Cho Oyu in 1998, and the last was K2 in 2011. She won the National
Geographic Explorer of the Year Award in 2012.
Iolanda Balaș (1936-2016) is considered one of the greatest
Romanian athletes of all time. She was the first woman for her country to win
an Olympic gold medal, which she achieved at the 1960 Rome Games.
Her specialty was the high jump, and improved the
world record in the sport 14 times. She was the first woman ever to jump higher
than six feet.
Aasta Hansteen (1824-1908) was a
writer, painter and feminist from Norway. She was famous for her work even
during her lifetime, and at one point was the only portrait artist in Oslo.
In addition to painting, she wrote for newspapers
and contributed to the women’s rights movement in her country, as an active
member of the Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights.
Begum Rokeya (1880-1932) was an
author and social activist in British India, today Bangladesh. She is
considered a pioneer of women’s rights and female education on the Indian subcontinent.
She has written extensively, both fiction and
nonfiction, advocating for equal treatment of the genders and better
educational opportunities for women. In 1909 she founded the first school for
Bengali Muslim girls in Kolkata, and in 1916, the Muslim Women’s Association,
an organisation which fought for equal education and employment rights.
Amanda Vickery (b. 1962) is an English
historian and professor. She teaches early modern history at Queen Mary,
University of London.
She holds a PhD in modern history from the
University of London and has won several prizes for her work, including the
Whitfield Prize or the Wolfson History Prize. She is also well known for hosting
a series of BBC history programmes, such as Story
of Women and Art, which was shortlisted for a Scottish Bafta.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca (b. 1958) is the
current president of Malta, the youngest person and the second woman to hold
this position. She has been in office since 2014.
She has a degree in Legal and Humanistic Studies
and a public notary diploma. In 2014, after taking over the presidency of the
country, she established The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of
Society, a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting social inclusion and
higher living standards.