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20 Kickass Women of History, Film & Fiction For International Women's Day

powerful womenGet ready for International Women’s Day ladies! Tomorrow, March 8th, people around the world will celebrate the achievements of women and push to improve equal rights.

I could argue that we deserve more than a mere day, but hey, why ruin the party?

Strollerderby is celebrating by taking a look at some powerful, kickass women, including both historical figures and fictional female characters. We appreciate their intelligence, courage, perseverance and willingness to stand their ground in a world in which men made the rules.  Some are queens, some are warriors, one is a witch and another was nicknamed Moses.

This list is by no means exhaustive. We also could have included NefertitiSusan B. Anthony, Queen Victoria, Indira Gandhi, Sarah Connor, Esther, Sheherazade, Elizabeth Bennet and so many more, but we simply wanted to get the ideas flowing.

Which of the following women inspire you the most, if any? Who would you add?


  • Joan of Arc 1 of 20
    Joan of Arc
    Joan of Arc was burned at the stake at the age of 19 for "witchcraft," but it was those voices she'd heard that convinced her to lead the French army in several battles that helped defeat England.
    Photo credit: Biography Online
  • Harriet Tubman 2 of 20
    Harriet Tubman
    Born a slave in Maryland, Tubman eventually escaped to freedom in the North but chose to return to the South at her own peril 19 times to help free 300 other slaves. She definitely earned her nickname: Moses.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Maria Theresia 3 of 20
    Maria Theresia
    In the 1700s, Maria Theresia was the Archduchess of Austria, the Holy Roman Empress, and the Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. Oh, and she also had 16 kids, including Marie Antoinette.
    Photo credit: New World Encyclopedia
  • Ellen Ripley 4 of 20
    Ellen Ripley
    The gritted teeth and gun-blasting character of Ellen Ripley in Alien, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, is considered the quintessential movie heroine by critics.
    Photo credit: Empire Online
  • Josephine March 5 of 20
    Josephine March
    When I read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, it was easy to pick out which March sister I wanted to be. No question it was independent, free-spirited Jo.
    Photo credit: Quizzilla
  • Marie Curie 6 of 20
    Marie Curie
    Curie discovered the elements Radium and Polonium and became the first famous female scientist, leading the way for so many others. Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and another Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, in 1911.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 7 of 20
    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
    If you don't know about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, you should. As president of Liberia, she is the first female head of state in Africa and has been named the most powerful woman on the continent. She won a Nobel Peace Price last year for her fight for women's rights.
    Photo credit: CBC
  • Wu Zetian 8 of 20
    Wu Zetian
    Wu was the first and only female monarch of China -- an empress in her own right, not because she was an emperor's mother or wife -- and reigned from 665 to 690. History tells us she was highly intelligent and also pretty cruel, but considering she was the only female ever to lead the Chinese empire during its more than 4,000 years of existence, she deserves a place on our list.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Hester Prynne 9 of 20
    Hester Prynne
    If you don't remember from high school English class, Hester Prynne was the one who had to wear a scarlet letter 'A' around town for having committed adultery. NPR has called her one of the, "... the first and most important female protagonists in American literature. She's the embodiment of deep contradictions: bad and beautiful, holy and sinful, conventional and radical."
    Source: Flavorwire
  • Catherine the Great 10 of 20
    Catherine the Great
    I've been reading the new biography of Catherine the Great, and if you're looking for a model of female power and smarts, she's the one. She was married off to a jerk, kept hidden away, her friends were all sent to Siberia, and her children were taken away from her immediately after birth, yet she rarely wavered and eventually became empress of a country that was not her own.
    Photo credit: About.com
  • Celie 11 of 20
    Celie
    She doesn't lead an army, wield a sword or fight aliens, but Celie, the central character in Alice Walker's novel The Color Purple, is the embodiment of quiet triumph over despair.
  • Hermione Granger 12 of 20
    Hermione Granger
    Hermione Granger is the glue that holds the spell-casting, V-word fighting Harry Potter team together. She's our daughters' Princess Leia, and we love her too.
    Source: Flavorwire
  • Cleopatra 13 of 20
    Cleopatra
    Cleopatra VII was the last queen of Egypt, reigning from 50 BC to 30 BC. She was known for her wiliness, wit and powers of seduction. Just ask Julius Ceasar and Mark Antony.
    Photo credit: National Geographic
  • Rosa Parks 14 of 20
    Rosa Parks
    Don't mess with Rosa. She refused to give up her seat on the bus, and became the mother of the modern day civil rights movement. Parks received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for her courage and her civil rights advocacy.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Elizabeth I 15 of 20
    Elizabeth I
    Reigning over England during the Elizabethan era, Elizabeth I is at or near the top of every list of history's most powerful women. She defeated the Spanish armada and made England a superpower.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Yu Shu Lien 16 of 20
    Yu Shu Lien
    Yu Shu Lien is the ultimate female fighter, representing both power and grace. If I could move through the air like Michelle Yeoh's character in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I'd be taking out internet trolls left and right.
    Photo credit: The Torch Online
  • Janie Crawford 17 of 20
    Janie Crawford
    Zora Neale Hurston's central character in Their Eyes Were Watching God is Janie Crawford, a young black women in the South who not only survives but blooms after forced marriage, abuse and abandonment.
    Source: Flavorwire
  • Scarlett O’Hara 18 of 20
    Scarlett O'Hara
    Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind is consistently listed as one of the strongest female characters in fiction and film. Yes, she was a whiny pain in the ass who came from a family of slave owners, but she was also a headstrong survivor.
    Photo credit: Turner Classic Movies
  • Jane Eyre 19 of 20
    Jane Eyre
    Jane put up with a lot -- an abusive stepmother and an abusive school headmaster, not to mention the scary lady in the room upstairs -- and yet she kept her head held high. She has been called the first feminist character in literature.
    Source: Flavorwire
  • Clarice Starling 20 of 20
    Clarice Starling
    Another powerful female role, FBI agent Clarice Starling, played by actress Jodie Foster, wins out in the end against one of the scariest bad guys in the movies in Silence of the Lambs.
    Photo credit: IMDb

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