In recent times, women have emerged from the fringes to operating on the forefront of many industries in some of the most powerful nations of the World. Women, tapping into their logical and intuitive nature of reasoning, are rising to the highest echelons of leadership in many circles, making leadership more warm and colorful. From the fields of Finance to Environment, Foreign Policy, Freedom and Civil Rights Movements, Governance and the Health sector(s), many women are finding their voice from beneath the rubble of obscurity. These days, when considering some of the most powerful and influential people in the World, it is impossible to ignore the presence and contribution of women.
“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” — Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton(1947-Present), 2016 US Presidential Aspirant, Former U.S. Senator, Former Secretary of State, and Former First Lady of the United States.
Today, we will be looking at ten women who have accomplished a lot in their sphere of leadership and life. This list comprises women who are making waves in various aspects and from different nationalities, in no particular order. We will be looking at notable women in the Literature/Academia, Politics, Media/Entertainment, Philanthropy/NGO, Legal, Entertainment, and Business. While some names may be more easily recognizable than others, they are all making significant moves within their niche, society, and world over. As we look at these notable women who are achieving great things in their circles, let it prevail in the back of your mind that achieving greatness as a woman is possible in our day and age and much more in the future.
No. 1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?” Aunty Ifeka said. “Your life belongs to you and you alone.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
Famous for her advocacy for the inclusion of women in society, especially in Nigeria where she originates from, Chimamanda has made sure she is a voice to be reckoned with in the Literary world and academia. The author whose works revolve around feminist themes and the glory of womanhood is very vocal about her stance as a feminist. We see it in two of her works titled, “We all Should Be Feminists” and “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.” Both books are highly lauded, especially within feminist circles. Chimamanda has been known to stir social media interactions and passionate debates, with many of her actions and dispositions on the feminist issue. Nonetheless, Chimamanda is undoubtedly among the very elite of writers in Africa and globally, and hopefully, she will around for a long time to come.
No. 2. Hillary Rodham Clinton
“In too many instances, the march to globalization has also meant the marginalization of women and girls. And that must change.” ― Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton was the Democratic Party Presidential Candidate for the United States 2016 Presidential elections and is considered a woman of immense influence and power. Hillary supported her husband, Bill during his years as the President, and gained respect for her handling of various controversies surrounding her marriage. After Bill’s stint as President, Hillary proceeded to distinguish herself as an accomplished politician in her own right, serving as a US Senator and Secretary of State from 2003 to 2009. She bagged a Law degree from Yale Law School and embarked on a successful law career before her stint in politics. During the elections, Hillary Clinton captured the imagination of America’s liberals and seemed to be the likely candidate to break the ‘glass ceiling’ and bring to reality, the idea of a woman occupying the White House and becoming the most influential person in the world. This dream, however, did not come to reality, as she won the popular vote but lost the election as a whole.
No. 3. Oprah Winfrey
“The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.” — Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey regarded as one of the world’s most famous philanthropists and actively involved in changing the role the narrative on the role of women in the media. Over the past four decades, she evolved from a television presenter to the face of one of the most popular talk shows in history, to an award-winning actress, author, producer, and capping it all with owning her television network—The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). She has accomplished feats previously unimaginable for a single black woman, amassing enough wealth to be regarded as one of the wealthiest self-made women in the world. Oprah is indeed an inspiration to millions, young and old, male and female alike. Her voice and opinions are highly respected. She is famous for helping raise sales of products by merely endorsing them, especially via her book club, a testament to the enormous influence she has gained over decades of her illustrious career.
No. 4. Angela Merkel
“We need trust among allies and partners. Trust now has to be built anew.” — Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Kasner, popularly known as Angela Merkel, born in Hamburg, Germany, on July 17, 1954, is a trained physicist. She joined politics after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. She steadily rose to the rank of chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and soon became Germany’s first female Chancellor. Today, she is considered a force to be reckoned with in the European Union and acknowledged to be one of its architects.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou (1928-2014), American author and poet.
No. 5. Melinda Gates
“I felt that I had a role to give some voice to the voiceless.” — Melinda Gates
Wife of Microsoft Co-Founder and CEO, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, has risen to the corridors of power by harnessing her influence and wealth in organizing campaigns against environmental pollution and Malaria. Melinda has traveled with her husband for the better part of his work in Africa and contributed her voice and power to the international fight against malaria.
No. 6. Christine Lagarde
“To me, leadership is about encouraging people. It’s about stimulating them. It’s about enabling them to achieve what they can achieve – and to do that with a purpose.” — Christine Lagarde
Upon admission into the Paris Bar, Christine Lagarde started working for the international law firm, Baker & McKenzie, as an associate of the firm. Here at Baker & McKenzie, she specialized in Labor, Anti-trust, and Mergers and Acquisitions. French by birth and former Finance Minister for France, she became the first female Managing Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2011. Christine Lagarde is known for championing the cause of the removal of subsidies in the oil sectors of several oil-producing countries as part of the IMF’s policies. She is known for her poise which was developed at an early age, her love for swimming and her unmistakable mane of blonde hair.
No. 7. Sheryl Sandberg
“Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.” — Sheryl Sandberg
As Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Facebook, Sandberg has a very inspiring personality. She finished with a summa cum laude, graduating with her bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University. Sandberg also graduated with distinction from Harvard University where she attained her M.B.A. She worked as the Deputy Treasury secretary in the Clinton White House and later become his Chief of Staff. She worked as Google’s Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations before transitioning to Facebook as COO. In her recently published best-selling book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” which is a guide to her success, she talks about several admirable qualities which endear her to people and led to her international accomplishments.
No. 8. Indra Nooyi
“Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.” — Indra Nooyi
The former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi was in the 12th position in 2012 top 100 Power Women. Currently, she is listed 10th. Her then company, PepsiCo, is considered one of the world’s largest beverage industries. PepsiCo products are enjoyed globally with billions of their products being sold on a daily basis. PepsiCo has seen a lot of transformation under the tutelage of her leadership. Today, Indra is part of Amazon’s Board of Directors.
No. 9. Sonia Gandhi
“Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky.” — Sonia Gandhi
Currently serving as President of the Indian National Congress Party since 1998, Sonia Gandhi’s political career grew after the assassination of her husband and the Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991. Sonia has occupied the seat of opposition in the Indian Parliament since 2004 and has reportedly made a case for her son Rahul Gandhi to return to Indian politics.
No. 10. Beyoncé Knowles
“Power means happiness; power means hard work and sacrifice.” — Beyoncé Knowles
Born on September 4, 1981, Beyoncé shot into global consciousness with Destiny’s child, an all-girls teen group, which topped charts and won various awards with several teen anthems. Beyoncé then stepped out on her own and became even more successful with her first solo project in 2003 titled, “Dangerously in Love.” Her marriage to Hip Hop icon, Jay Z solidified the couple as entertainment royalty. Beyoncé didn’t stop there. She went further to become one of the most prominent and most successful artists of all time while nurturing a family of three children. Beyoncé has a global army of passionate fans known as the “Beyhive.”
“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” — Ayn Rand (1905–1982), American novelist, philosopher, and screenwriter.
Women are not exempted from the capacity of becoming their best selves. They are not to be relegated to the background. There is so much discrimination against women that at times prevents them from reaching their maximum potentials. However, as we have seen in the list above, women can achieve notable feats in various spheres of accomplishments—against all odds to say the very least. When presented with the right opportunities, women thrive to attain and ascend to the heights of their full potentials.
As we have seen in this article, women are stepping out to do great things on a global scale. As we stipulated earlier, this list is not exhaustive. If you have suggestions of more women that are notably achieving greatness, please let us know in the comment box. However, as it stands, women will not be letting up anytime soon in advancing and progressing their careers as they push forward to accomplish estimable feats. Such stories of greatness as has been shared above will only motivate and spur the next generation of women to grow and aspire to greater heights. The curtains of stereotyping and prejudice are fast being torn down as the society is fast changing and advancing. The future is very bright for the womenfolk. Time and chance will reveal the next faces of notability.
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Bestselling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at HCLS Miller Branch.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the media during a press conference at the end of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, Saturday, July 8, 2017. The leaders of the group of 20 meet July 7 and 8. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
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