Culture

The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time  

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1.4k votes 133 voters 51 items

List Rules Vote up the women leaders who most changed their nations and the world.

Throughout history, there have been many female world leaders who have made a profound impact on the world. From presidents to heads of state to outspoken activists, the women below made a huge impact on history, culture, and the world at large. While all these women have inarguably been influential, who is the most important female world leader of all time? Help decide below! 

Around the world, historic female leaders often took positions of power when it was unconventional and even controversial to do so and altered history as a result. These pioneers paved the way for current powerful female leaders. Without the efforts of groundbreaking women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Madeleine Albright, leaders like Theresa May and Angela Merkel may never have had the opportunities they have today. Vote up the most important female leaders below and feel free to add any influential women you see missing! 

list ordered by
1
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 67 (1729-1796)
Yekaterina Alexeevna or Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great, was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 9 July [O.S. 28 June] 1762 until
2
Diana, Princess of Wales is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 36 (1961-1997)
Diana, Princess of Wales, was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, who is the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II. Diana was born into an aristocratic British family with ...more
3
Maria Theresa is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Amy Boal added Dec. at 63 (1717-1780)
Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was the only Queen regnant of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, ...more
4
Cleopatra is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 39 (68 BC-29 BC)
Cleopatra VII Philopator, known to history simply as "Cleopatra", was the last active pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, only shortly survived by her son, Caesarion as pharaoh. Cleopatra was a ...more
5
Joan of Arc is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 19 (1412-1431)
Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans", is considered a heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle, a peasant family, at ...more
6
Hatshepsut is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC. Officially, she ruled jointly with Thutmose III who had ascended to the ...more
7
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 82 (1819-1901)
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her passing. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India. Victoria was the ...more
8
Eva Perón is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 33 (1919-1952)
María Eva Duarte de Perón was the second wife of Argentine President Juan Perón and served as the First Lady of Argentina. She is usually referred to as Eva Perón, or ...more
9
Eleanor Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 78 (1884-1962)
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, holding the post from March 1933 to April 1945 during her ...more
10
Annie Besant is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 86 (1847-1933)
Annie Besant was a prominent British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule. In 1867, Annie at age 20, married Frank ...more
11
Eleanor of Aquitaine is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 82 (1122-1204)
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages and a member of the Ramnulfid dynasty of rulers in southwestern France. She ...more
12
Indira Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 67 (1917-1984)
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was the fourth Prime Minister of India and a central figure of the Indian National Congress party. Indira Gandhi was the only child of the first Indian Prime ...more
13
Wangari Maathai is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 71 (1940-2011)
Wangari Muta Maathai was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University ...more
14
Park Geun-hye is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
age 67
Park Geun-hye is a former South Korean politician who served as the 18th President of South Korea from 2013 to 2017. Park was the first woman to be President of South Korea and also the first ...more
15
Dalia Grybauskaitė is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
age 62
Dalia Grybauskaitė is the President of Lithuania, inaugurated on 12 July 2009 and re-elected in May 2014. She is the country's first female President and the first to be elected for a second ...more
16
Isabel Martínez de Perón is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Isabel Martínez de Perón age 88
María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón, better known as Isabel Martínez de Perón or Isabel Perón, is a former President of Argentina. She was the third ...more
17
Rani Lakshmibai is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 30 (1828-1858)
The Rani of Jhansi, also called Lakshmibai, and born as Manikarnika, was the queen of the Maratha-ruled Jhansi State, situated in the north-central part of India. She was one of the leading ...more
18
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
age 88
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is an Icelandic politician who served as the fourth President of Iceland from 1980 to 1996. She is both Iceland's and Europe's first female president. With a ...more
19
Malala Yousafzai is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
age 21
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native ...more
20
Margaret Thatcher is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 88 (1925-2013)
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and the Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the ...more
21
Wu Zetian is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 81 (624-705)
Wu Zetian, also known as Wu Zhao or Wu Hou during the Tang dynasty as Tian Hou, and in English as Empress Consort Wu, or by the deprecated term, "Empress Wu", was a Chinese sovereign, ...more
22
Marie Antoinette is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 38 (1755-1793)
Marie Antoinette, born an Archduchess of Austria, was Dauphine of France from 1770 to 1774 and Queen of France and Navarre from 1774 to 1792. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Maria ...more
23
Harriet Tubman is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Harriet Tubman was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, a Union spy. Tubman escaped and subsequently made about thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy families and friends, ...more
24
Empress Dowager Cixi is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 73 (1835-1908)
Empress Dowager Cixi, of the Manchu Yehenara clan, was the empress dowager of China who effectively controlled the Chinese government for 47 years, from 1861 to her death in 1908. Selected as an ...more
25
Zenobia is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Female World Leaders of All Time
Dec. at 34 (240-274)
Zenobia was a 3rd-century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria, who led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. The eighth wife of King Septimius Odaenathus, Zenobia became queen of the ...more