1. Lucy Stone (1818-1893), American abolitionist and suffragist
2. Zenobia, 3rd-century Queen of Palmyrene Empire in Syria
3. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), American educator and civil rights activist
"Mary McLeod Bethune was a tremendous educator and civil rights activist. She founded private schools for African-American children when they were denied educations elsewhere, helped found the National Association of Colored Women, and founded the National Council of Negro Women (and participated in most of the national groups for African-Americans), and served as an advisor to FDR.
"She worked her ass off to formally educate both blacks and whites in America about the accomplishments of black people at a time when a large percentage of American citizens believed that blacks where biologically sub-human. She hung out with W. E. B. Du Bois, and was the only black woman present when the United Nations was founded."
Submitted by Dawn Sardella-Ayres via Facebook
4. Laskarina Bouboulina (1771-1825), Greek naval commander
5. Margaret Hamilton (1936–), computer scientist whose work took us to the moon
6. Artemisia I of Caria (5th Century BCE), queen and naval commander in the Greco-Persian wars
7. Hürrem Sultan (1526-1558), one of the most influential women in the history of the Ottoman Empire
8. Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944), Indian-American secret agent for Britain in World War II
9. Veronica Franco (1546-1591), Italian poet and courtesan
10. Madge Syers (1881-1917), pioneering British figure skater
11. Queen Hatshepsut, pharoah of Egypt from 1478-1458 BCE
12. Nettie Stevens (1861-1912), American geneticist
"Nettie Stevens discovered that the sex of an organism is determined by its X and Y chromosomes – disproving hundreds of years of men blaming women for not giving them a 'male heir'."
Submitted by Ariel Melissa via Facebook
13. Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba (1583-1663), who fought Portuguese colonialism in Angola
"Queen Nzinga of Angola fought against Portuguese colonization of her kingdom. During a meeting with Portuguese officials, they sought to humiliate her and keep her in her place. She entered the room, and the only chair was occupied by one of the Portuguese representatives. They thought she would be forced to sit on the floor. But her eyes scanned the room, and she motioned to one of her servants, who immediately dropped to their hands and knees to serve as her chair."
Submitted by Meagan Stewart via Facebook
14. Maya Deren (1917-1961), revolutionary American filmmaker
"Born in Kiev before moving to the US, Maya Deren was an incredible filmmaker, dancer, writer, and photographer – and was essentially the mother of avant-garde film. Her short films today are on YouTube and are still incredibly powerful and moving. They still feel revolutionary, so must have been completely mindblowing back in the 1940s and ’50s."
Submitted by Natalya Lobanova
15. Josephine Baker (1906-1975), American-born French entertainer and activist
"Josephine Baker was a cabaret star who kept a pet cheetah and aided both the French Resistance in WWII and the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. In the 1930s, fancy European society was simultaneously creepily fascinated by and hostile towards women of colour – but Baker was always unapologetically herself. Still a major style icon, her shows had cabaret and topless dance numbers alongside slapstick comedy and silly faces and so totally challenged the notion that female sexuality could be defined or controlled, and most importantly showed that above all else it should be FUN for women.
"Oh, and there's an amazing anecdote about her: Her maid comes into her boudoir and says, 'Miss Baker, there are 12 men here to see you.' Josephine responds, 'Oh, I'm so tired today. Send one away.'"
Submitted by Susan Clare and Vanessa Heine via Facebook
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.