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The 25 most powerful women of the past century


Jane Addams

Time Magazine’s recent survey of “the women who have most influenced our world” is topped by Jane Addams, an outspoken advocate for women’s suffrage, who was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and also includes US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in sixth place.

Meanwhile, Indira Gandhi is ranked ninth and steered ‘India, not without controversy, for much of the next two decades through recession, famine, the detonation of the nation’s first atomic bomb, a corruption scandal and a civil war in neighbouring Pakistan that, under her guidance, led to the creation of a new state, Bangladesh’.

Of Mother Teresa, ranked 22nd, Time said: “Her iconic white garb with its blue stripe trim is now equated with her ideals of service and charity among ‘the poorest of the poor.'”

There are some very strong female role models on the list (see below) but I think Germaine Greer should have been on it. Who do you think should have been included?

Read full story in the Economic Times. For a more detailed look at each woman in the list below see Time Magazine.

1. Jane Addams (1860-1935)
2. Corazon Aquino (1933-2009)
3. Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
4. Coco Chanel (1883-1971)
5. Julia Child (1912-2004)
6. Hillary Clinton (1947-Present)
7. Marie Curie (1867-1934)
8. Aretha Franklin (1942-Present)
9. Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)
10. Estée Lauder (1908-2004)
11. Madonna (1958-Present)
12. Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
13. Golda Meir (1898-1978)
14. Angela Merkel (1954-Present)
15. Sandra Day O’Connor (1930-Present)
16. Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
17. Jiang Qing (1914-1991)
18. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
19. Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
20. Gloria Steinem (1934-Present)
21. Martha Stewart (1941-Present)
22. Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
23. Margaret Thatcher (1925-Present)
24. Oprah Winfrey (1954-Present)
25. Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

  1. I would like to see bell hooks on there, Diana Athill as well (although I’m not sure enough people know who she is) and I’m in complete agreement about Germaine Greer. I’m not really okay with Margaret Thatcher being on the list and I’m a little confused as to why Madonna’s on there, but I’m glad Julia Child’s made an appearance.

  2. I don’t disagree that Indira Gandhi influenced the world we live in today, but ‘not without controversy’ is a bit of a glib way to sum up Gandhi’s incredibly authoritarian style of government, which culminated in the horrors of the Emergency.

    It’s good to see Rachel Carson on there and I very much agree that Germaine Greer should have been included too. I haven’t heard of some of the people on there, to my discredit – time to get on wikipedia to sort out the gaps in my knowledge. Not sure who else should have been included…the first people to come to mind are Simone de Beauvoir, Naomi Klein, Emma Goldman, Nawal El Saadawi. It’s perhaps an indictment of Time’s agenda that Gandhi is the only non-Western woman on the list.

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