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Creating Positive Footprints....

100 Remarkable Women

 Pink Shoe at the House of Commons, hosted by Anne Marie Morris MP.
To celebrate the Centenary of International Women’s Day, Pink Shoe launched its Roll of Honour of ‘100 Remarkable Women’ each of whom have made an exceptional contribution to the world. 

Pink Shoe members and friends nominated the women and with so many nominations received it was extremely hard to choose just 100. We could have added many more exceptional women so a big thank you to all who got involved

The list is in a date order, for each decade between 1911-2011. The women are recorded in the decade in which they started their career or business; or had their greatest triumph. Many of the women named have careers and accomplishments that span many decades, leaving a lasting legacy, and some are still achieving today….


Marie Curie

First woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1911, and the only woman to win a Nobel in two different fields - chemistry and physics. Her discovery of two new elements, Radium and Polonium paved the way for chemotherapy. NB: Marie Curie’s daughter Irène Joliot-Curie also received a Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Suffragette leader founded the ‘Women’s Social & Political Union and crucial in obtaining women’s suffrage. Arrested 12 times in 1912, spending 30 days in prison. Campaigning halted during the war, then in 1918 women over 30 were given the vote, finally receiving equal voting rights to men in 1928.

Margaret Sanger

Life long campaigner who coined the phrase ‘Birth Control’. In 1912 America, witnessing young girls dying from attempts to induce abortion and the effects of multiple childbirth, she wrote birth control pamphlets and was indicted for obscenity. Jumping bail she fled to England, then met and inspired Marie Stopes.

Maria Montessori
Educator and physician; first woman to graduate from the Rome Medical School. Working as a psychiatrist at the University of Rome with special needs children, she pioneered child-centred learning. Created the Montessori method of education for young children and there are now 22,000 Montessori schools worldwide.

Coco Chanel

Opened her first clothes shop in Deauville in 1913, introducing luxury casual clothes made from jersey, more often used for men’s underwear. By 1915 she opened in Biarritz and established herself as a designer. In 1923 created No 5 the first scent to bear a designer’s name. Her iconic style is still a huge influence on other designers.

Edith Cavell
As a nurse in the war, having treated both Allied and German patients with equal care, in 1915 she was shot after pleading guilty to harboring Allied prisoners, getting 130 across the Dutch frontier. The night before execution told her priest "Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

Virginia Woolf

Regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20thCentury for her innovative use of language, published her first novel ‘The Voyage Out’ in 1915. A member of the Bloomsbury group she wrote nearly 40 books, but suffered from severe bouts of depression and took her own life in 1941.

Agnes Baden-Powell
Founded the Girl Guides movement, which was officially recognised in 1915. Wrote the first Guide’s handbook ‘How girls can help to build up the Empire’.  Now with 600,000 members worldwide, in the UK alone 50% of women have been Guides or Brownies.

Georgia O’Keefe

One of the greatest American artists of the twentieth century, her first public exhibition was in 1916. Known for striking flowers and landscapes, in which she synthesized abstraction and representation. O'Keeffe played a central role in bringing American art style to Europe at a time when most influence flowed in the opposite direction.

Eglantyne Jebb
Inspirational founder of Save the Children, innovative in its internationalist, non-sectarian and professional approach. Born into a wealthy philanthropic family, in 1919 set up a fund to help children in Germany and Austria after the war. So successful, it became international helping children across the world and Save The Children was born. Pink Shoe Club are regular supporters.

Agatha Christie DBE

Published her first book in 1920, which also launched the career of Hercule Poirot! Officially the world’s most prolific writer of books, also the worlds most translated individual author. And her ‘Mousetrap’ is the world’s longest running play, having been in the West End since 1952.

Helen Keller

Rendered blind and deaf in early childhood by meningitis, with the help of tutor Anne Sullivan, Helen went on to become respected across the world as a speaker and advocate for the disabled and for women’s rights. The first deaf and blind person to graduate from college, helped found the American Civil Liberties Union.

Marie Stopes
First book ‘Married Love’ argued marriage should be an equal partnership, and was banned for obscenity! Whilst writing her next book on birth control she met American activist Margaret Sanger, then set up the UK’s first family planning clinic in 1921. Her work carries on with over 500 Marie Stopes clinics in over 40 countries across the world.

Florence Scovel Shinn
American artist and book illustrator who became a ‘New Thought’ spiritual teacher and metaphysical writer in her middle years. In New Thought circles, she is best known for her first book ‘The Game of Life and How to Play It’ first published in 1925, she was one of the first motivational writers.

Melanie Klein

Moved to London in 1926, to continue her child psychology practice and expand on areas of psychoanalysis such as the death instinct and the Oedipus complex. Kleinian theory is still influential as a distinctive strain of psychoanalytic theory.

Barbara Hepworth DBE

Held her first private exhibition in 1928 and went on to become one of Britain’s leading modernist sculptors. Her work is in galleries and public spaces across the world, for example on the side of the John Lewis building in  Oxford Street.

Helena Rubenstein

Built her international beauty and cosmetics business from nothing, becoming one of the first self-made female millionaires. Selling to Lehman Brothers in 1928 for $7.3m ($95m today) she bought the company back for $1m in the depression and carried on growing it. A marketing genius who invented ‘problem’ skin types.

Margaret Bondfield
Labour MP, became Minister for Labour in 1929 and thus the UK’s first ever female cabinet minister. Former assistant secretary of the Shop Workers Union, she had been the only woman to attend the 1899 Trades Unions Congress.

Marlene Dietrich
Iconic bisexual actress and singer who started in the movies in 1930 with the first talking German film ‘The Blue Angel’. She became an American citizen, was outspoken against the Nazi regime and branded a traitor by Hitler. Performed over 500 concerts for allied forces.


Amy Johnson CBE
First woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1931. This pioneering aviator broke numerous other flying records during the 1930s and was the first female ground engineer licensed by the Air Ministry. Was killed in a plane crash in 1941, on a mission for the Air Transport Auxiliary.
Lillian Wyles

First female Chief Inspector of the Met CID in 1932. Joined the women’s Special Police Patrol after the Great War, which was formed because of the shortage of manpower. Having worked her way up the ranks, when it was disbanded Lilian moved over to CID.

Hedy Lamar
One of the most interesting and intelligent women in the movie industry. ‘The most beautiful woman in film’ starred in 18 films. Extremely gifted, she patented an idea that later became the crux of both secure military communications and mobile phone technology.
Amelia Earhart

First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932, set many flying and aviation speed records. The noted American aviator was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross and wrote several books. Also an early supporter of equal rights.

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin OM FRS
 Began research in 1934 using X-ray chrystalography to determine the structure of penicillin and vitamin B. Her work on insulin has saved thousands of lives and gained her a Nobel Prize for chemistry. Dorothy’s work was integral to the future mapping of DNA.

Mae West
Hollywood legend and writer, became a sex symbol at age 38, and was a gay rights campaigner. By 1935, the second highest paid person in the USA. Cole Porter wrote songs about her; the Dali Lips sofa is modelled on her; and WW2 life jacket became known as ‘Mae West’.

Estée Lauder
Founded cosmetics company in 1935, selling creams made by her chemist uncle to stores and beauty salons. It now turns over $3.6 billion in 118 countries. A sales pioneer, invented product testers, free samples and gifts with purchase.

Vera Lynne DBE
Made her first solo record in 1936 and went on to become the “forces sweetheart” entertaining troops across the word during WW2. A tireless charity campaigner, in 2009 became the oldest artist to get a number 1 album at the age of 92.

Phyllis Pearsall

Created global A-Z brand after getting lost in London in 1936; decided to produce a map by walking every street. Publishers would not take it so single-handedly proofed, designed and printed it; delivered first 250 copies to WH Smith in a wheelbarrow!

Chien-Shiung Wu
Helped develop process for separating uranium. First person to receive Wolf Prize in Physics; first Chinese-American elected into US National Academy of Sciences; first female instructor in Physics, then the first woman to get honorary doctorate at Princeton; first Female President of American Physical Society.


Andrée de Jongh
Red Cross nurse ‘Dédée’ began resistance work aged 24. Established safe house network and the ‘comet line’ route, returning 500 allied soldiers home; made 30 personal trips escorting 116 people. Caught and interrogated by the Gestapo, sent to a concentration camp and nursed other inmates. Awarded George Medal. Post-war, nursed in African leper colonies.
Anne Frank
Her teenage diaries written whilst in hiding from the Nazis during WW2 give a poignant and unique insight into the experience of Jews in occupied Europe. The diary has been translated into many languages and is now studied in schools across the world.

Dr Eva Schloss
Auschwitz survivor along with her mother; both her father and brother were killed. After the war her mother married Anne Frank’s father, so they became posthumous stepsisters. Has written books and spoken about her experiences to over one thousand audiences, working to end the bigotry still afflicting our world. 

Lady Eve Balfour
Pioneer of the organic movement, published the Living Soil in 1943 based on research into soil quality on her farm. Three years later this led to her co-found the Soil Association, which continues expanding its vital work to this day.

Barbara Castle
Baroness Castle of Blackburn, longstanding Labour MP, was elected in 1945, the only woman to hold the office of First Secretary of State. As Minister for Transport she introduced the breathalyzer, 70mph speed limits and compulsory seat belts. Other achievements include bringing in the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

Nancy Wake
Most decorated service woman in WW2, including George Medal & Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur. When Nazis invaded France joined the resistance and became the Gestapo ‘most wanted’. Fleeing to England, joined SOE and parachuted back into France. Led 7000 Maquis paving the way for D Day. A comrade said " the most feminine woman I know, until the fighting starts. Then, she is like five men."

Emma Clarissa Clement
In 1946, at 71 became first black US ‘Mother of the Year’. Award given for raising children who serve their country. Husband a minister; she did community work and from her 6 children - one President of Atlanta University, three college professors, one a Chaplin and war veteran, the other Red Cross Field director.

Adele Goldstine
Brilliant mathematician and computer pioneer working on ‘ENIAC’, the very first digital computer. In 1946 she wrote the first ever computer manual and the first technical description of the first computer. Also trained some of the 6 women who were the original programmers of ENIAC.

Fanny Blankers-Koen

Set or tied 12 world records; won 4 Gold medals in 1948 London Olympics, with only 11 women’s events in total was limited to entering 3 plus a relay - could have won more if allowed to compete, having previously set records in long jump, high jump and pentathlon. 32 at the time, with two children and pregnant with her third.

Simone de Beauvoir
One of the leading existentialist philosophers of the Twentieth Century. Her 1949 book ‘The Second Sex’ was a defining book for the feminist movement. She had a lifelong polyamorous relationship with Jean-Paul Satre and is highly regarded in academic circles.


Barbara Gittings
Changed the lives of people in the gay and lesbian community. Came out in the conservative era of the 50s, forming a branch of the first national organization for lesbians in New York. Her lobbying efforts resulted in changing the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.

Lucille Ball

One of the most popular and influential stars in America, the first woman in television to be head of a production company, which she co founded the 50s. Desilu Productions was innovative, creating techniques still used today. As well as her own shows, the company produced many other popular series.

Rosalind Franklin
Brilliant molecular biologist and crystallographer, began working on DNA in 1951. Scientists agree evidence used to support Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins' revolutionary DNA theory, was based on Rosalind Franklin’s work. Died of cancer through x-ray over exposure aged 37, 4 years before the men won the Nobel Prize.

Grace Murray Hopper
American computer scientist and United States Rear Admiral. Worked on first computers and developed programming language. Became known as ‘Amazing Grace’. Having worked on early computers in the 1940s, the 50s saw her work with emerging computer companies in the private sector.

Elizabeth David CBE
 Regarded in awe by foodies and chefs. She published her first book Mediterranean Food in 1950, introducing the British to rustic French cuisine and ingredients such as olive oil, courgettes and aubergines Went on to publish many more books, inspiring generations of cooks to this day.

Sue Ryder CMG
Baroness Ryder, former SOE Driver, set up the Sue Ryder Foundation in 1953, caring for elderly and disabled people and offering palliative care in the home or in its centres in 12 different countries. Sue Ryder is now estimated to give 400 million hours of care per year.

Rosa Parks
In 1955 her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man led to some of the most significant civil rights legislation of American history. By peaceful and dignified campaigning she became one of the most well respected figures in the civil rights movement.

Louise Arner Boyd
American arctic explorer who led a series of scientific explorations on the east coast of Greenland, sponsored by the American Geographical Society. A technical expert in the War Dept during WW2. In 1955, Boyd flew over the North Pole, the first woman to do so successfully; photographing the area around the North Pole and the Arctic Sea.

Joy Adamson

Naturalist and wildlife campaigner, in 1956 wrote Born Free after rearing lioness Elsa and successfully reintroducing her to the wild, thus changing people’s attitudes to keeping wild animals in captivity. Devoted her life to raising funds and awareness for wild animals.

Dorothy Height 
President of National Council of Negro Women 1957 -1997; helped shape civil-rights and African-American women's movements. With Martin Luther King for his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech; but unheralded publicly. Won numerous awards and honorary degrees; including from Barnard, the College that turned her away 75 years before having ‘fulfilled their quota of black students’.

Hilda Harding
Became the Britain’s first female bank manager in 1958 running the prestigious Hanover Streetbranch of Barclays. She had joined the bank in 1934 as a typist and worked her way to the top.


Mary Quant OBE
Coined the word Miniskirt, defined 60’s style and revolutionised fashion, ushering in hot pants and popular with the mod movement. She influenced generations of new designers. Mary Quant now has over 200 outlets and is a major global fashion and cosmetics brand

Helen Suzman DBE
Anti apartheid campaigner in South Africa, relentless critic of the Nationalist Government. Formed a break away party of 12 MPs, but after the 1961 election was sole member of the Progressive Party in Parliament. Only MP to speak out against racial segregation, visited Nelson Mandela in prison at a time when only the white minority enjoyed the right to vote.

Rachel Carson
Marine biologist, writer and environmental authority. 1962 book ‘Silent Spring’ brought widespread use and effect of pesticides to the attention of American public, leading to DDT ban and formation of Environmental Protection Agency. Credited with inspiring the whole environmental movement.

Valentina Tereshkova
First woman in space in 1963, volunteered to become a cosmonaut and went on to become an active member of the USSR Supreme Soviet and is still involved in regional Government.

Jacqueline du Pré OBE
 In 1965 her performance of the Elgar concerto became the benchmark reference for the work and lead to her being acknowledged as one of the greatest cello players of all time. Forced to give up professional playing age of 28 due to multiple sclerosis.
Indira Ghandi
 Active in the independence movement, became India’s first and only female Prime Minister in 1966, eventually serving 3 terms. Instrumental in setting up independent Bangladesh, controversially ordered a raid on the golden temple to remove armed insurgents and as a result was assassinated in 1984.

Jane Goodhall DBE
World renowned expert on chimpanzees; passionate advocate for animal welfare and conservation, her foundation now works in over 100 countries. Beginning her lifelong study of primates in 1960 conducted research on the same troop in Tanzania for over 45 years.
Mary Whitehouse CBE
Her mission was to clean up TV and in 1965 obtained 500,000 signatures on a petition for Parliament - a record at the time. She became a household name battling with the BBC through the National Viewers and Listeners Association.

Claire Rayner OBE
Tireless public health campaigner, prolific writer and journalist, publishing nearly 90 books, both fact & fiction. Wrote one of the first sex manuals in 1968, by mid 60s an established agony aunt receiving 1000 letters a week. Qualified nurse and midwife with a no nonsense approach, supported over 75 charities and advised Government and the NHS.

Golda Meir  
Israeli Prime minister elected in 1969, the first Israeli woman PM and only the third woman in the world to be elected as state leader. One of the 24 signatories on the 1948 Israeli declaration of Independence.

Dr Maya Angelou
Celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Awarded over 30 honorary degrees.First and most highly acclaimed book ‘Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ (1969), tells of her first seventeen years. Nominated for a National Book Award, it brought international recognition.


Judy Fryd CBE
 A leading role in the foundation of Mencap, she changed public attitudes towards Mental health. Led the campaign which resulted in the Education (Handicapped Children) Act of 1971, so that people who would previously have been institutionalized are able to work and lead full independent lives, protected by laws against discrimination.

Dian Fossey
Leading primatologist. A National Geographic Magazine cover story, led to international celebrity and massive publicity to saving mountain gorillas from extinction. Helped preserve habitat and understand behaviour of our closest primate relative. Murdered in 1985; foundation carries on protecting these incredible creatures.

Marjorie Proops OBE
Respected journalist, in 1971 edited an advice column in Daily Mirror magazine. Such a success, ‘Marje’ moved to mainstream paper. Revolutionising ‘agony aunt’ dealing with issues from rape - she was instrumental in the introduction of rape suites in police stations- to abortion and drug addiction. Became deputy editor of the Daily Mirror and advised Government.

Alice Waters
Opened restaurant Chez Panisse in 1971, serving simple organic local food. Leading food campaigner and advocate of US organic movement, has won many awards. Persuaded Michele Obama to plant an organic vegetable garden in the Whitehouse; founded Edible School Yard, encouraging schools to grow food and teach pupils about gardening and food.

Margaret Thatcher
Baroness Thatcher, First woman to lead a major political party as opposition leader in 1975. UK’s first female Prime Minister 1979–1990. Redefined the way women are viewed in politics and reaffirmed Britain as a global player with the ‘Iron Lady’ at the helm. Economic strategy increased home and share ownership, policies  termed ‘Thatcherism’.

Anita Roddick DBE
Opened first Body Shop in 1976, pioneering ethical consumerism and ‘against animal testing’ cosmetics; one of the first to promote Fair Trade products. There are now over 2,400 stores worldwide. Renowned for her environmental and human rights work which is still carried on through her Trust today.

Betty Williams
 Northern Irish peace activist. Witnessed the death of three children following an incident between the IRA/British Army and began demonstrating for peace, joining with Mairéad Corrigan (below) aunt of the slain children. They created the Peace People Organization -Catholics and Protestants dedicated to ending sectarian fighting in Northern Ireland. Jointly awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mairéad Corrigan Maguire
Northern Irish peace activist co-founded ‘Peace People’ with Betty Williams, dedicated to a peaceful resolution of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Maguire and Williams received Nobel Peace Prize in 1976. Has won several other awards. In recent years, becoming an active critic of Israeli government's policy towards Palestine and the Palestinian people.

Betty Ford
 An outspoken First Lady, supporting controversial issues such as Equal Rights, gays in the military, and the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Her openness about her breast cancer helped raise awareness of the disease. In 1978, founded the Betty Ford Center in California, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic, which remains a focus in her life.


Shirley Williams
Baroness Williams of Crosby, originally a Labour MP and Cabinet Minister, one of the "Gang of Four" rebels who founded the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981. Has since served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, and as Adviser on Nuclear Proliferation to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Oprah Winfrey
A powerful role model, in 1983 took over an ailing Chicago chat show and turned it around. Now owns and produces the eponymous show, one of the most successful ever. It has broken many social and cultural barriers such as gay and lesbian issues. Bought up in abject poverty and raped aged 9, has gone on to become the world’s first Black woman billionaire with estimated fortune of $2.7 billion.

Madonna Louise Ceccone
Released her first album in 1983; the best selling female recording artist in history, selling 300 million records. Constantly reinventing herself; at the top of the charts for 3 decades. With a conservative estimated personal wealth of $325m is the world’s richest female singer. described as ‘America's smartest businesswoman’.

Tessa Sanderson CBE
First black British woman to win an Olympic gold medal in 1984, she competed at senior international level and in every one of the six Olympics from 1976–1996. Served as Vice-Chairman of Sport England; created Newham 10k race and now has own Foundation helping young sportspeople prepare for 2012. Patron of Pink Shoe Club.

Benazir Bhutto
Prime Minister of Pakistan 1988, first female head of a Muslim State; Having formed Pakistan People’s Party after 5 years in prison following a military coup in 1970s. Became PM again in 1993; Left Pakistan in 1999 facing corruption allegations she claimed politically motivated. Returning in 2007 as a strong contender for power she was tragically assassinated. Founding Patron of Pink Shoe Club.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Nobel Prize winning Malaysian democracy campaigner was first placed under house arrest in 1989. In the next year’s election her party achieved a clear majority but she spent much of the next 21 years under house arrest. Won many awards and made an honorary citizen of Canada. Now released, her non-violent fight continues.

Nazia Hassan
Brought popular music to the fore in Pakistan selling over 100m records. During the 80s she had many hits and used her success to promote humanitarian work with disadvantaged groups. Tragically, she died of cancer in 2003 at the age of 35 but her work continues via the Foundation set up in her memory by family and friends.

Tanni Grey Thompson
Baroness Thompson was born with spina bifida but never let it hold her back, won her first Paralympic medal in Seoul in 1981. Has won 11 gold medals, 4 silvers, and a bronze for Britain in the Paralympics; broken 30 world records and won the London marathon 6 times.

Linda McCartney
Respected photographer, musician and animal rights activist. Married Paul McCartney, and became a member of his band, Wings. Wrote several vegetarian cookbooks, in 1991 became a hugely successful business entrepreneur, starting the Linda McCartney Foods company which revolutionised vegetarian food and made her independently wealthy.

Betty Boothroyd
Baroness Boothroyd OM PC, first and only woman to hold the post of Speaker of the House of Commons when elected in 1992. A dancer before being elected MP; she was also Chancellor of the Open University and remains one of the most highly regarded Speakers for her impartiality, style and dignity.

Stella Rimington DBE
First female and first publicly named Director General of MI5 in 1992, having worked in all three branches of the Security Service. Revealed MI5's activities, operations and duties for the first time. Made first friendly contact between UK and KGB when the cold war ended. Went on to publish several thrillers; Chairing 2011 Man Booker Prize.

Alison Hargreaves
The Mountaineer was the first person to solo climb all the great north faces of the Alps in a single season. In 1995 the first woman to scale Everest solo without Sherpas and without oxygen; then having reached the summit of K2 later that year, she died in a violent storm whilst descending

Tamara Mellon OBE
Co-founded the Jimmy Choo Company when she approached bespoke shoe maker Jimmy Choo with the idea of making high quality off-the-peg shoes. Opened their first boutique in 1996 in Knightsbridge and supplied leading retailers across the world. Mellon is estimated to be worth £90m, from an original £150K investment.
Madeleine Albright
First woman to become US Secretary of State in1996, at the time the most senior woman in US Government history. Highly respected internationally, she was not eligible to run for the presidency as she was born outside the US. Fluent in English, French, Russian, Czech and Polish.

JK Rowling
Published the first of seven Harry Potter books in 1997 inspiring children to read. Winning numerous awards they sold 400m copies worldwide, and together with film rights made her 12th richest person in the UK; according to Forbes the first Dollar Billionaire from writing. Now a philanthropist

Mo Mowlam
 Labour Cabinet Minister and hugely popular Politician. In 1998 as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland she was widely acclaimed for her tireless work on the Good Friday Peace Agreement, negotiating with all sides despite undergoing treatment for a brain tumour.

Martha Lane Fox
Co-founded Lastminute.com in 1998, floated at the height of dotcom boom in 2000 raising half a billion pounds. Now a charity trustee; Government adviser as the UK’s Digital Champion inspiring people to get on-line; and holding non executive directorships in companies such as Channel 4 and M&S.

Clara Furse DBE
The first female CEO of the London Stock Exchange in 2000. A career banker and fluent in 5 languages. Leading the LSE, which has been described as a 200 year old Gentleman’s club, is considered one of the most difficult jobs in the City.

Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Became UK Prime Minister in June 2016. First female Conservative Party Chairman. Began career at the Bank of England; elected Maidenhead MP 1997. Member of Shadow Cabinet 1999-2010. The longest serving Home Secretary from 2010-2016.  Pink Shoe Patron with a penchant for shoes!
Nancy Pelosi
One of the leading Democrats in Congress. In 2002 selected to be the Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, making her the first woman to do so. Four years later, became the first woman in U.S. politics in the post of Speaker of the House. Currently the Minority Leader of the House.

Shirin Ebadi
Iranian lawyer, writer, and teacher; Nobel Prize for Peace in 2003 for promoting democracy and human rights in Iran. First Muslim woman and first Iranian to receive the award. A Judge before the revolution, the new regime deemed women unsuitable judges and refused her a licence to practice law. Eventually licenced again in 1992, now represents many women and dissidents.

Wangari Maathai
Kenyan politician and environmental activist, awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Peace, becoming the first black African woman to win a Nobel Prize. Work was often considered both unwelcome and subversive in her own country, particularly her outspoken views on women’s issues and HIV prevention

Ellen Macarthur DBE
 Has broken several sailing records - the fastest person to solo circumnavigate the world in 2005. Set up the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, taking young people sailing to help regain confidence after serious illness. Then following retirement, launched her Foundation to inspire people to re-think, re-design and build a sustainable future.

Angela Merkel
A doctorate in physics at the age of 36, became involved in the burgeoning democracy movement. Joined the CDU and within three months was in the Kohl cabinet as minister for women and youth, rising through the ranks until chosen to lead it in 2000. Elected Germany's first female chancellor in 2005.

Condoleezza Rice
 Appointed National Security Advisor to President George W Bush in 2000 and gained international recognition for her work. The first woman to hold the role and the most academic member of the Bush team. In 2005 appointed Secretary of State.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
First elected female head of an African state in 2006 when elected president of Liberia. Imprisoned by the previous military regime and in exile for 12 years she became a leading global economist for the World Bank and Citibank. She returned to Liberia when the regime collapsed in 2003 and won the election.

Michelle Bachelet
The first female Chilean President in 2006. A leading doctor who with her family was imprisoned and tortured, then exiled under Pinochet. Also the first woman to become defence minister in any Latin-American country and UN’s first executive director of women.

Joanna Lumley OBE
Award winning actor, now known for campaigning. Using celebrity to great effect, a supporter of animal rights, Tibetan and Burmese rights and indigenous peoples. In 2008 became public face of the campaign to allow Ghurka veterans the right to settle in Britain. With the media watching, she deftly persuaded Government to agree to demands.

Carol Ann Duffy CBE 
The first female, first Scottish and first openly bisexual poet Laureate in 2009, an Honour for which she receives a barrel of sherry from the Crown! Multi award winning prolific writer, has also written plays and children’s books. Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the Manchester Metropolitan University, her work is included in the national curriculum.

Bibi Aisha
Willing symbol of Taliban violence against women. At 12, her father promised her to a Taliban fighter, a practice known as baad. Married at 14 and abused, at 18 she fled but her father returned her to her in-laws, who cut off her nose and ears, leaving her in the mountains to die. Bravely appeared on the cover of Time magazine, has since received reconstructive surgery.


Women of The Special Operations Executive 1942-1944

Many women worked with SOE. Trained in espionage and sabotage some 39 were dropped into occupied Europe to organise resistance. Of these incredible women 13 were killed in action, executed or died in concentration camps. Some as young as 19. With false papers they travelled through checkpoints liaising between operatives, disseminating information and contacting England by radio. Also training Maquis in tactics, sabotage, weapons & demolition. Involved in fierce fighting, especially at D-Day.

Noor Inayat Khan, Yolanda Beekman, Elaine Plewman and Madeleine Damerment
Executed at Dachau concentration camp

Andrée Borrel, Sonia Olschanezky, Vera Leigh and Diana Rowden.
Excecuted  at Natzweiler concentration camp

Violette Szabo, Lilian Rolfe, Denise Bloch and Cecily Lefort
Executed Ravensbrook

Yvonne Rudelatt 
Wounded in action and died 2 weeks later at Belsen

Nancy Wake (see earlier mention), Virginia Hall, Pearl Witherington, Christine Granville, Jacqueline Nearne, and Odette Sansom all survived.

The memorial to SOE agents on Albert Embankment SE1

The bronze bust on the plinth is that of Violette Szabo who  on her second mission to France  was captured, tortured and after several months in captivity executed at Ravensbruck concentration camp aged 23. Violette Szabo was posthumously awarded the George Cross by Britain and the Croix de Guerre by France. 

SOE Agents were given poems which they used to encrypt messages, this was the Poem used by Violette..

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours
And yours

Compiled to celebrate 100 years of International Women's Day March 8th 2011

Pink Shoe Club would like to thank all those involved in compiling this list of amazing women.

Please note: The research team used a variety of sources for the information and images, thanks especially to Wikipedia, BBC and Google. If we got anything wrong please don't hesitate to let us know. Similarly, we made every endeavour to use only free images, but should we have inadvertently breached copyright please tell us so we can rectify.