was a French nurse, one of the founders of the Canadian city of Montreal. She
established the first hospital in the city, Hotel-Dieu de Montreal, in 1645.
emigrated in 1641, and helped found the new city a year later. She was the
director of its hospital for 17 years, and returned to France several times
throughout her life to seek financial assistance for it.
Settle Putney (1916-2008)
was an educator and historian who served as one of the first African American members
of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. After her military service, she
dedicated the rest of her life to documenting the achievements of African
Americans in the armed forces.
She was one
of 40 African-American women selected for the Women’s Army Corps in 1943, and
she soon earned the rank of Lieutenant. After the war, she obtained a PhD in
European History and started focusing on black servicemen and women, writing
three books a dozen articles about them.
Qiu Jin (1875-1907) is considered a national
heroine in China, seen as a martyr of feminism and republicanism.
She was a
dedicated proponent of women’s rights, speaking out for their freedom to marry
who they wanted or to pursue education. Her manifesto, “A Respectful
Proclamation to China’s 200 Million Women Comrades”, condemned oppressive practices
such as foot binding and received overwhelming popular support. She was captured
and beheaded for her anti-government activities, at the age of only 31.
(1920-2016) was a
Dutch social worker and psychoanalysts. She saved hundreds of Dutch Jewish
children during the Second World War.
beginning of the war, she started working with the Dutch underground movement,
helping to distribute food and clothes for Jewish people in hiding. She saved
countless children by placing them in non-Jewish homes, and adults by securing
false papers and ration cards for them. After the war, she worked with the
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Germany.
was a pioneering French aviator. She set several world speed records throughout
the 1950s and 1960s.
She got her
pilot’s license in 1948, followed by her military one in 1950. She then
qualified as one of the very few female test pilots in the world, and one of
the first women to break the sound barrier. She was awarded the Harmon Trophy
for outstanding aviators on four occasions.
Still Anderson (1848-1919)
was one of the first black physicians in the United States. She was a pioneer
in medicine in the African-American community in Philadelphia.
obtained her degree from Oberlin College, as the youngest student in the class,
and the only black one. She obtained an internship with the New England Hospital
for Women and Children, despite initial obstacles on account of her race, and
later opened her own dispensary. In addition, she was a social activist
campaigning for racial equality.
Howell Warner (b. 1939)
is an aviation pioneer who, in 1976, became the first female captain of a
scheduled US airline.
taking flight lessons at seventeen, and became an instructor herself after
graduating. She was hired by Frontier Airlines in 1973, after five years of
constant applications, marking a first in the civil aviation industry. While
there were no other female pilots at the time, by 1978 there were about 300
throughout the United States.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was the
First Lady of the United States for 12 years, the longest-serving and one of
the most celebrated First Ladies. She was particularly known for her human
rights activism and involvement in politics and social causes.
Before she became First Lady, she was active in the Women’s Trade Union
League, campaigning for the abolition of child labour and the introduction of a
minimum wage. She was an outspoken supporter of the civil rights movement, and
only wanted female reporters at her press conferences in order to support their
continued employment. Her last public position was as chair of the Presidential
Commission on the Status of Women during the Kennedy administration.
Nina Bang (1866-1928)
was a Danish politician and historian. She was appointed Minister of Education
in 1924, becoming the first female minister in an internationally recognized government.
She studied history at the University of
Copenhagen and was one of the first Danish women to obtain a degree. She was
the only woman on the executive committee of the Social Democratic Party in the
country. As minister, her priority was improving teacher training and the
Danish school system.
Jan Morris (b.
1926) is a Welsh author and historian. She is best known for her Pax Britannica
trilogy, a comprehensive history of the British Empire.
Assigned male at birth, she underwent surgery in
1972 and published the autobiography Conundrum two years later, one of
the first books to discuss the personal experience of a trans person. She
received the Golden PEN Award for a “Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to
Literature” in 2005.