Women's History Month: Leaders
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Estée Lauder2 of 14
By Natasha Burton
Born Josephine Esther Mentzer, this beauty businesswoman’s interest in makeup started with her chemist uncle, whom she loved to watch concoct various products. Her legacy lives on through the Estée Lauder Companies, and she was the only woman on Time’s list of the most influential business geniuses of the 20th century.
Madam C. J. Walker3 of 14
The first female African-American millionaire, as well as the first women to become a millionaire on her own, also made her fortune from beauty products; hers, however, were specially tailored to the needs of black women. In addition to selling her remedies, she helped other women build their businesses.
Marjorie Merriweather Post4 of 14
This socialite was also the founder of General Foods, Inc. after inheriting her father’s cereal company at the age of 27. After acquiring brands like JELL-O and Minute over the years, the company was sold to Phillip Morris and later combined with Kraft in 1990 to form Kraft General Foods.
Indra Nooyi5 of 14
After her successful tenure as PepsiCo’s CFO and acquiring brands like Tropicana and Gatorade, Indra became the first woman to become the company’s CEO. She’s been honored by Fortune, Forbes and Time, among other leading publications, for her influence and achievement in the business world.
Indira Gandhi6 of 14
India’s only female prime minister, and the longest-serving prime minister in the world to date, nationalized the country’s banks and instituted its nuclear weapons program, among other contributions. She was assassinated while in office, following her order for the army to remove armed insurgents from a Sikh temple.
Aung San Suu Kyi7 of 14
This pro-democratic leader in Myanmar founded the National League for Democracy and was put under house arrest by the military regime that took control of Burma, a mandate that spanned 15 of her 21 years in politics. Even though she could not leave her residence to accept the honor, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
Corazon Aquino8 of 14
The first female president of the Philippines is responsible for restoring democracy to the country, fighting off eight coup d’état in the process. While she was simply a self-proclaimed housewife, she entered politics after her senator husband’s assassination and led a revolution to overthrow the corrupt government.
Benazir Bhutto9 of 14
As the first female prime minister of a Muslim country (Pakistan), this leader helped improve social and health conditions for women. However, her time as PM was troubled: After being removed from office and accused of corruption — twice — she went into self-imposed exile and was later assassinated. After her death she was awarded with the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.
Eva Peron10 of 14
Immortalized in Andrew Lloyd Webber's opera Evita, this first lady of Argentina worked to improve labor rights and advocated allowing women to vote. Even though she was not an elected head of state, her influence was so vast — and people’s love for her was so great — that she was given an official state funeral following her death.
Margaret Thatcher11 of 14
Nicknamed the “Iron Lady,” this former British Prime Minister served for 11 years and is credited (among many things) with encouraging U.S. president George H.W. Bush to send troops to Kuwait to aid the country against Iraqi invasion. She famously told him that, "This was no time to go wobbly!”
Madeleine Albright12 of 14
As the first female secretary of state, this leader not only broke boundaries for women in high-powered government positions, she was also instrumental in influencing American policy in eastern Europe as well as the Middle East.
Shirley Chisholm13 of 14
Another woman who pioneered the way for women in American government is this former congresswoman who was the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress, the first major party black candidate for president and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sandra Day O’Connor14 of 14
This woman made history when she was sworn in as the first female Supreme Court justice. Although she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, she remained in her post for 17 more years.