6 record-holding women who changed the world

For hundreds of years, women have defied the odds to become some of the biggest influencers in history.

6 record-holding women who changed the world

For hundreds of years, women have defied the odds to become some of the biggest influencers in history.
  • Perhaps William Ross Wallace said it best when he said, "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world."

  • Women have been blazing trails and overcoming the odds for hundreds of years. What better way to celebrate women by sharing with our children the examples of some of the most influential women in the world so that they may foster mutual respect for generations to come. With that thought in mind, we share six "firsts" by accomplished women all across the world.

  • Margaret Brent

  • Born in 1601, Margaret Brent was in a unique position in the early American colonies as an unmarried woman. Not only was she Maryland's first female land owner, but was also allowed to represent herself in a court of law. It's no surprise, then, that Brent would also become the first American woman to demand the right to vote.

  • While the courts denied Brent's request and lawmakers didn't ratify the 19th Amendment until almost 300 years later, her assertiveness in the male-dominated colonial society is nothing less than inspiring.

  • Marie Curie

  • After moving from Poland to France in 1891, the story goes that Marie Curie was so absorbed in her studies of physics and chemistry that she often forgot to eat, fainting from the hunger.

  • Curie was not only the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, but she was also the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes. Additionally, she was the first European woman to receive a doctorate and the first female professor at the University of Paris. With all of this, Marie Curie was also a mother. Inspired by her mother's curiosity and drive, Irène Joliot-Curie also received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry with her husband, Frederic.

  • Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

  • Once married and divorced, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was the first single woman in Iceland to adopt a child in 1972. Nine years later, this single mother narrowly won an election that made her the world's first democratically elected woman. She became so popular that she was re-elected three times, twice unopposed and once with 92 percent of the popular vote.

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  • Finnbogadóttir was also a fierce advocate for girls' education and encouraged women to be leaders in their respective fields. She lived by the motto, "Never let the women down."

  • Chhurim

  • As a fifth-grade student, this Nepali mountaineer began making plans to do something that most girls her age couldn't even conceive of. Inspired by Pasang Lhamu, the first Nepalese woman to climb Mount Everest, Chhurim (who, like most Sherpa, only uses one name) began preparing herself to make history.

  • With dogged determination, Chhurim aimed to be the first woman to ascend Mount Everest twice in one season. In 2012, she went one step further by doing it twice in one week — something that has never been done before, period. When asked about her motivation in an interview, Chhurim responded, "The male mountaineers have set many records, but women have fallen behind. It can be difficult for women because they are considered not as strong as men."

  • Diana Nyad

  • In order to prove that it's never too late to start your dreams, in 2013 64-year-old Diana Nyad became the first woman to swim the 110-mile shark-infested stretch between Cuba and Florida without the aid of a shark cage.

  • Despite her age, suffering from asthma and having to deal with jellyfish stings, Nyad's mental strength and determination were more than enough to make up for the obstacles that stood in her way.

  • Katarina Rybáriková

  • Take a look at Katarina Rybáriková, she brought the growing Paul Frank brand, with its distinctive monkey logo, from America to Eastern Europe, and with that she would provide financial stability for her family and the local economy. Like the other women listed, Katarina is a role model to our young men and women alike. Click here to learn more about Katarina and her family's path to success.

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  • Free to Choose empowers women everywhere to aim for their dreams. Check out their YouTube channel for more.

Ben is a freelance writer and personal finance blogger with a degree in finance.


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