There's a lot to be said about the modern view of world history: though we learn more about it every day, the fact remains that most sources, especially from hundreds of years ago, are the product of men. Women in most places of the world have just never enjoyed the same recognition as their male counterparts, regardless of their influence and impact on society. It's because of this that a lot of powerful historical women continue to hide in the shadows of men. They have a place in history books, but their portrayals are often less conspicuous and more frequently overlooked.
Queen Nzinga of Angola (1583-1663)
Born around 1583 in what is now known as Angola, Nzinga ruled while Portuguese slave traders were invading her home nation of Ndongo and attempting to take power. She fought domestic political rivals as well as the Portuguese and eventually drove the Europeans out of Ndongo. Queen Nzinga saved her people from colonization for years to come, all while attempting to cut off slave routes and nurturing Ndongo's economy.
Toypurina was a member of the Kumivit tribe of Southern California during the late 18th century. A well-respected medicine woman, she recruited members of neighboring tribes for a revolt against Spanish missionaries in 1785. For her fierce opposition to colonial practices, Toypurina lives on today as a figurehead for Native American female resistance.
Dolores Huerta (1930-Present)
The child of Mexican immigrants and a union worker, Dolores Huerta is known primarily for her community activism and her advocacy for low-wage workers. Huerta started the Agricultural Workers Association and co-founded both the Community Services Organization and the National Farm Workers Association. Her activism has ultimately led to improved conditions and wages for farm workers and more rights for migrants in the US.
Boudicca (30- 61)
Born into royalty, Boudicca was a British Celtic Queen in the first century AD who led a tribal rebellion against Roman military rule. After her husband's death, she rallied an army of British natives who ended up defeating the Roman Ninth Legion and massacring the cities of Camulodunum, London, and Verulamium. In the end, the Romans ended up taking back control, and Boudicca committed suicide in order to evade capture; however, she lives on in history as a symbol of the struggle for independence.
Queen Liliuokalani (1838-1917)
Queen Liliuokalani (born Lydia Kamakaeha in 1838) was the first woman (and last sovereign) to ever rule Hawaii. She fought to keep the Hawaiian monarchy instated despite the opposing annexation efforts from the United States by establishing the "Oni pa'a" (Stand Firm) movement. To avoid bloodshed, Liliuokalani eventually stepped down as queen and lived the last two decades of her life as a private citizen.
Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949)
Known also as "the Nightingale of India," Sarojini Naidu was a prominent leader in the Indian Civil Disobedience movement, working alongside Gandhi and facing multiple arrests for her participation in protests against British colonization. She was an outspoken advocate for youth welfare, dignified labor, women's rights, and Indian nationalism, and she addressed these topics among others in famous poems, articles, and essays. Naidu served as a president of the Indian National Congress as well as a state governor and lives on as a symbol of freedom and nationalism in India today.
Empress Theodora (500-548)
The daughter of a circus worker in the Byzantine Empire, Theodora I worked as an actress and prostitute prior to her ascension to the throne alongside Emperor Justinian I. Once she was empress, she played a massive role in military and political affairs within the Empire, with her name appearing on almost all the laws past during that time period. She was one of the first rulers ever to advocate for women's rights and sponsored orphanages, hospitals, and homes for former prostitutes. Upon Theodora's death, the lack of political and military action by Justinian highlights the sheer influence she had over the entire Byzantine Empire during her reign.
Born Julia Aurelia Zenobia in the Palmyrene Empire, Zenobia came into power after her husband's death and forced the Roman Empire to recognize her sovereignty. She resisted Roman authority, not only expanding her home country but taking control of all of Egypt as well. Though her massive empire was eventually taken by the Roman Emperor Aurelian, Zenobia goes down in history as a powerful queen who succeeded in resisting Roman authority for over a decade.
Borte Ujin (1161-1230)
Empress of the Mongol Empire alongside Genghis Khan, Borte Ujin is the subject of many Mongolian legends because of her success as a domestic leader while her husband conquered foreign lands. Though her status as a wife prevented her from taking any real power for herself, there are several recorded occasions of Borte influencing Khan's political decisions. She bore four sons by Khan, who were all key in the continued succession of the empire.
Cut Nyak Dhien (1848-1908)
After her father and husband were killed by Dutch colonizers, Cut Nyak Dhien led guerrilla armies against the Dutch in Indonesia during the Aceh War. She was a strategist and leader of Acehnese troops for over 25 years until she was captured and exiled by the Dutch in 1905. Dhien advocated against colonialism until her death and is recognized today as an Indonesian National Hero.
Though these 10 women by no means form a comprehensive list of the many women who have influenced the world, they make up a spectacular cross-section that reminds us that girls really do run the world.