Evelyn Irons (1900-2000) was a
Scottish journalist who acted as a war correspondent during World War II. She
was the first woman to be decorated with the French Croix de Guerre for this
She was initially hired with the beauty
page of the Daily Mail, but chose to
report on the war as soon as it broke out. Despite objections regarding the
presence of female reporters on the battlefield, she was one of the first
journalists to reach liberated Paris, and the first female journalist to reach
Hitler’s Eagle Nest. In 1935, she became the first woman to be awarded the
Stanhope Gold Medal by the Royal Humane Society.
Hédi Fried (b. 1924) is a Jewish-Swedish
author and Holocaust survivor of Romanian origin. She survived the ordeal of
Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen before emigrating to Sweden with the help of the
In Sweden, she started
working as a psychologist, promoting education and tolerance in young people.
She wrote five autobiographical books detailing the horrors of the Holocaust.
She has won numerous cultural awards, and was named European of the Year in 1997.
Judith Kerr (b. 1923) is a British writer and illustrator. She is best known for her popular children’s books, such as The Tiger Who Came to Tea or the Mog series.
Born Jewish in Germany, she was forced to flee to Britain before the World War, an experience which inspired her novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. She worked for the Red Cross during the war, before becoming a writer. In 2012 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her service to children’s literature and Holocaust education.
Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) was an author and social activist. She is best remembered for writing the lyrics to the famous Civil War song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
She wrote the song in 1862, after which it quickly became one of the most popular anthems of the Union. She was also a dedicated suffragist, and was a leader of the American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1881 she was chosen as president of the Association for the Advancement of Women.
Madeleine Albright (b. 1937) is a diplomat and politician. In 1997 she became the first woman to serve as US Secretary of State.
She obtained her PhD from Columbia in 1975. Her first diplomatic posting was in 1993, when she was named US Ambassador to the United Nations. At the time of her appointment as Secretary of State, she became the most powerful woman in US history.
Mary Hallaren (1907-2005) was the first woman to officially join the US Army. Other women had joined before on several occasions, but only by pretending to be men.
She began working as a teacher, but in 1942 joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAC). By 1947, she achieved the rank of colonel, and became director of the WAC. She received several medals, such as the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star, for her service.
Emily Stowe (1831-1903) was the first woman to practice medicine in Canada. In addition, she was a strong activist for women’s rights.
She graduated with first-class honours from the Normal School for Upper Canada in 1854, after being refused from other institutions on account of her gender. She became the first female principal of a public school in Upper Canada, but later went on to study medicine in the United States since no Canadian medical school would accept female students. She finally managed to open her own medical practice in Toronto in 1867.
Gerda Lerner (1920-2013) was a historian and author of Austrian origin. She is one of the founders of women’s history as an academic field.
She studied at the New School for Social Research in NYC, and even as an undergraduate started teaching a course entitled “Great Women in American History”, the first regular college course on the subject offered anywhere in the world. She worked for multiple universities throughout the USA, helping to develop the field, and even established the first PhD programme in women’s history in the world for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Annie Dodge Wauneka (1910-1977) was an influential member of the Navajo Nation council. She worked to improve the education and health of her people.
In 1951 she became the second woman to be elected to the Tribal Council. She served as head of its Health and Welfare Committee for 27 years. In 1963, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Navajo Medal of Honor.