Gertrude Bell, Al Khatun: Queen of the Desert


British-born Gertrude Bell, also referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia, was an adventurer, spy, archaeologist and powerful political force who travelled into the uncharted Arabian desert and was recruited by British Military Intelligence to help reshape the Middle East after World War I. She drew the borders of Iraq, helped install its first […]

Elizabeth Yates, the British Empire’s first female mayor

Elizabeth Yates, the British Empire’s first female mayor

Elizabeth Yates (1845–1918) was the mayor of Onehunga in New Zealand in 1894, just two months after women gained the right to vote in New Zealand. This made her the first woman to be a mayor anywhere in the British Empire. Born Elizabeth Onan in Scotland, she was the older of two daughters. She moved […]

Queen Liliʻuokalani, first and last queen regnant of Hawaii

Queen Lili’uokalani, the last monarch and only woman to reign in the Kingdom of Hawaii

Lili&#699uokalani (1838–1917), born Lydia Lili&#699u Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamaka&#699eha, was the first female monarch of Hawaii to reign in her own right. Up until the 1890s, the Kingdom of Hawai&#699i was an independent sovereign state, officially recognized by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Germany. During Lili&#699uokalani’s reign, the Overthrow of the […]

Ana Nzinga Mbande, fearless African queen


Queen Nzinga Mbande was a ruthless and powerful 17th century African ruler of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (modern-day Angola). Nzinga fearlessly and cleverly fought for the freedom and stature of her kingdoms against the Portuguese, who were colonizing the area at the time. Around the turn of the 17th century, the independent kingdoms and […]

Corazon Aquino, revolutionary president of the Philippines


Corazon Aquino (1933-2009) was the first female president of the Phillipines, and is known for leading the People Power Revolution in 1986 which restored democracy to the country. She was named TIME’s Woman of the Year in 1986. Cory Aquino did not aspire to be a politician. In 1955, after graduating from Mount St. Vincent […]

Sayyida al Hurra, Islamic pirate queen

Tetouan, Morroco

Sayyida al Hurra was a 16th-century pirate queen. Though Islamic records of the time are strangely silent about her, she was a powerful force of the time and an equal ally of the famous pirate Barbarossa. Her real name is unknown; the title Sayyida al Hurra means “noble lady who is free and independent; the […]

Nana Asma’u: princess, poet, reformer of Muslim women’s education

Sufi Women in West Africa

Nana Asma’u (1793-1863) was a princess, poet, and teacher, and is considered the precursor to modern feminism in Africa. She had such an impact of the education of women, that in Nigeria today, many Islamic women’s organisations, schools, and meeting halls are named after her. Nana was a member of the Fodio clan who ruled […]

Eugenia Charles, Dominica’s first female prime minister

Eugenia Charles

Eugenia Charles (1919-2005) was the Prime Minister of Dominica from 1980 to 1995. She was Dominica’s first and only female prime minister, and Dominica’s longest-serving prime minister. She became interested in law while working at the colonial magistrate’s court. After studying law at the University College of the University of Toronto and the London School […]

Enheduanna, ancient high priestess


Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE) was an Akkadian princess as well as High Priestess of the Moon god Nanna. She was one of the earliest women in history whose name is known. She is regarded by literary and historical scholars as possibly the earliest known author and poet of either gender. Her works were written in cuneiform […]