Search
Explore

49 Great Moms in History Who More Than Left Their Mark

Strong women deserve to be celebrated each and every day. But in honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the inspiring stories of 49 amazing women who left their marks on history in more ways than one — all while managing to raise tiny humans of their own.

And we went one step further, too: We invited bloggers and influencers to come to our studio and take part in a special photo series, recreating iconic historical figures in the hopes of inspiring and empowering women everywhere.

From Marie Curie to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, here are the incredible stories of heartache, triumph, and sacrifice that helped pave the way for the rest of us …

1. Marie Curie | Physicist (1864-1934)

Marie Curie | Portrayed by Autumn Reeser

Marie Curie was a straight-up trailblazer. Not only was she one of the very few female scientists to reach notoriety in the early 20th century, but she was also the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize, and one of only four people to ever win two in her lifetime (in 1903 and 1911). What’s even more remarkable is that she managed all this while also raising two daughters as a single mother after her husband’s untimely passing in 1906. In an interesting twist, Marie — who shared her first Noble Prize with her husband — would also live to witness her daughter Irene win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry with her husband in 1935. (Talk about a talented gene pool.)

Marie Curie was portrayed by actress Autumn Reeser, who currently stars in E!’s ‘The Arrangement.

2. Mary Tyler Moore | Actress (1936-2017)

Known for her groundbreaking role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show — which, for once, portrayed a positive image of a single working woman — Moore became an inspirational icon for women in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In fact, many of the female characters she would go on to portray throughout her career would challenge gender stereotypes and cause audiences to think critically about the boxes we put each other in. Moore had one son, Richard, who tragically passed away at the age of 24 due to an accidental gunshot. Until her own death in 2016, the beloved actress dedicated her life to raising awareness for animal rights and type 1 diabetes.

3. J.K. Rowling | Author (1965-)

Rowling is the acclaimed author behind the best-selling book series in history, Harry Potter, which to date has sold over 450 million copies (and counting). Most of impressive of all though is the amazing backstory behind the very first Harry Potter book, which Rowling wrote as a single mom living on government assistance and struggling with depression. Yet despite those difficult early years, Rowling has said of that time: “I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life.”

4. Benazir Bhutto | Prime Minister (1953-2007)

Benazir Bhutto shot to worldwide notoriety back in 1988, when she became the first female head of a Muslim country as prime minister of Pakistan. At the time she took office, Bhutto was already a mother to two children, but she would go on to make history once again in 1990, when she gave birth to her third child — becoming the first head of a government to give birth while in office.

5. Lucille Ball | Actress, Executive Producer (1911-1989)

Aside from co-creating and starring in one of the most beloved sitcoms in television history, I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball became the first woman to head a major TV studio in 1950: Desilu Productions. But that wasn’t the only thing she did that challenged social conventions of the time. The actress also welcomed her first child a month before turning 40, and the very same year I Love Lucy premiered. By the time she was expecting her second child, Ball decided to write her pregnancy into the show, despite push-back from studio execs who found the move controversial. Thanks to her persistence, it became the first depiction of a pregnancy on a major network show.

6. Audrey Hepburn | Actress & Philanthropist (1929-1993)

Audrey Hepburn | Portrayed by Michelle Villemaire

Audrey Hepburn may forever be remembered as the star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Roman Holiday, but when she wasn’t on a film set or winning Academy Awards, the actress was devoting her life to service and philanthropy. Hepburn worked tirelessly as a Godwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and even launched her own charity, The Audrey Hepburn Society, which still works with UNICEF to provide child survival programs worldwide. Privately, the actress endured four miscarriages, but was a very proud and devoted mother to her two sons, Luca and Sean, who were raised without the knowledge that she was a beloved icon.

Audrey Hepburn was portrayed by Michelle Villemaire, a DIY blogger at HomemadeMimi.com.

7. Ada Lovelace | Mathematician, Computer Programmer (1815-1852)

Ada was the daughter of British poet Lord Byron, born in 1815, and is widely lauded as the first computer programmer in the world. Her early understanding that machines could function as more than just a giant calculator was well ahead of her time — which is pretty impressive, considering she lived during the 19th century. Ada’s also known for balancing motherhood and work like a pro, at a time where the convergence of the two was basically non-existent. In fact, her most valued work was done when her kids were between the ages of 6-10. And her work was never forgotten: The U.S. Department of Defense even named their new computer language after her, Ada.

8. Diane von Furstenberg | Princess of Fürstenberg, Fashion Designer (1946-)

At this point, the name Diane von Furstenberg is basically synonymous with style. As the creator of the infamous knitted jersey “wrap dress,” the designer’s practical yet fashionable sensibilities came to define the look of the working woman in the 1970s. But her success didn’t come early — in fact, von Furstenberg famously created the iconic dress two years after her divorce from Prince Von Furstenberg of Germany, while raising her two children, Prince Alexander and Princess Tatiana, in New York City. Today, Diane serves as the director of her charitable foundation that helps support non-profit organizations.

9. Harriet Tubman | Abolitionist, Spy (?-1913)

Harriet Tubman had a tragic early life, born into slavery and suffering intense physical abuse until she finally escaped to Pennsylvania at the age of 27. But her difficult start is what compelled her to help others. After her escape, Harriet immediately began making trips back home using the Underground Railroad, which led to the freeing of some 70 slaves. And her bravery doesn’t just end there: She eventually became a spy for the Union Army and was the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the Civil War, where she helped liberate over 700 slaves during a raid. Harriet would go on to spend her later years immersed in motherhood — at 52, she and her husband adopted a small girl named Gertie.

10. Queen Victoria | Monarch (1819-1901)

During her 63 years of reign, Queen Victoria held the impressive titles of Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India. Though she came to the throne early, at the young age of 18, she’s widely credited for reestablishing the British monarchy’s reign along with the British Empire’s expansion. Though she was pretty vocal about her dislike for pregnancies, breastfeeding, and newborns, Queen Victoria did go on to have nine children with her husband, Prince Albert. (Little known fact: Queen Victoria survived seven assassination attempts — including one during her pregnancy in 1840!)

11. Josephine Baker | Entertainer, Civil Rights Activist (1906-1975)

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Baker first found success as a singer and dancer in Europe. But it wasn’t until she was cast in the film ZouZou — and became the first person of African descent to ever star in a major motion picture — that she was regarded as a world-famous entertainer. She championed diversity and spoke out vehemently against segregation. In fact, her refusal to perform for segregated audiences in the US is credited with integrating live entertainment shows in Las Vegas. During her lifetime, she would adopt 12 children of varying ethnicities and religions, referring to them as “The Rainbow Tribe.”

12. Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis | FLOTUS, Philanthropist (1929-1994)

Jackie Kennedy was a budding fashion icon long before she was thrust onto the world stage as First Lady of the United States in 1961, but she really left her mark with the painstaking restoration efforts to the White House. Though she bore four children, she would endure two of their deaths during infancy, as well as the tragic assassination of her first husband, John F. Kennedy in 1963. Her devotion to her surviving children, Caroline and John Jr., would define much of her life, as she famously once said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”

13. Rita Moreno | Actress (1931-)

Rita Moreno | Portrayed by Yolanda Machado

Puerto-Rican American actress Rita Moreno has a pretty impressive resume: She remains one of only 12 people who carry the distinction of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony (EGOT). Rita is perhaps best known for her supporting roles in major hits like West Side Story and The King and I (and being romantically linked with both Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando!). But aside from her celebrated film career, which so far has spanned 70 years, she’s also a devoted mother to her daughter, Fernanda Luisa Fisher.

Rita Moreno was portrayed by Yolanda Machado, the founder and editor of SassyMamainLA.com.

14. Patsy Mink | U.S. Representative (1927-2002)

Patsy Mink was the first non-Caucasian woman elected to Congress in 1990, and represented Hawaii’s first and second congressional districts for an impressive 12 terms. While there, she co-wrote the Title IX Amendment for the Higher Education Act, which championed the right for women to participate in school-related sports. Being a mother to her daughter Gwendolyn also shaped her political priorities, as Mink introduced the first federal child-care bill and helped sponsor the Head Start program.

15. Sirikit | Queen Consort of Thailand (1932-)

For years, Sirikit held the record for being the longest-serving consort in history, but relinquished her title in October 2016 (to Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh) when her husband, King Bhumibol of Thailand, passed away. She married the king when she was just 17 years old and raised three daughters and one son, King Vajiralongkorn, who is now the current monarch. She is best known for her work promoting religious tolerance for the Muslim minorities in Thailand.

16. Dorothea Lange | Photographer (1895-1965)

Dorthea Lange may not be a household name today; but her lasting work as a photographer produced images that were seared into the American psyche over the 20th century. Lange is perhaps best known for her famous photograph, Migrant Mother, in which two faceless children are burrowed in their mothers’ shoulders as she looks off into the distance of a hopeless future. Much of her iconic work was influenced by her own experience as a mother of two boys, and produced during the Great Depression, when her pictures captured the essence of the everyday tragedies faced by millions of American families. In 1940, her body of work earned her a Guggenheim fellowship — the first one ever awarded to a woman.

17. Melinda Gates | Philanthropist, Business Leader (1964-)

Melinda isn’t just Bill Gates’ other half — she’s an impressive businesswoman and philanthropist in her own right, too. As the co-founder for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda and her husband have personally contributed an estimated $28 billion to philanthropic efforts. In the late ’90s, she left her job at Microsoft in order to raise her two daughters and one son, but continued her work as a tireless advocate for women and children across the globe. In fact, motherhood has played a huge role in her philanthropic devotion: “Having children made us look differently at all these things that we take for granted,” she once said, “like taking your child to get a vaccine against measles or polio.”

18. Wilma Mankiller | Women’s Rights & Native American Activist (1945-2010)

In 1985, Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to serve as chief of the Cherokee tribe, and worked for 10 years in that position to improve relations between the federal government and Native Americans. She became a mother at the young age of 18 and raised her two daughters while seeking to improve healthcare and education facilities in her community. Her autobiographical book, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People, became a national best seller and Mankiller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1987.

Related Post
Anne Hathaway Talks Paid Leave, Asks Why We "Undervalue Fathers and Overburden Mothers"

19. Maya Angelou | Author, Civil Rights Activist, Poet (1928–2014)

Maya Angelou | Portrayed by Sinead de Vries

Regarded as one of the most eloquent American writers of her time, Maya Angelou received more than 50 honorary degrees and was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts (2000) as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2011). She became a single mother at just 16 years old after giving birth to her son Guy, which is why much of her writing reflects the motherhood experience, as well as the impacts of raising children. “Mothers have the ability to liberate by love or, by neglect, to imprison,” she once said. “They’re our first teachers; they are our first loves.”

Maya Angelou was portrayed by TV host, actress, and online personality Sinead de Vries of ThatsSoSinead.com.

20. Hoelun | Mother & Advisor to Genghis Khan (?–1208)

Kidnapped on her wedding day by Yesügei, Hoelun was forced to marry her captor and bore him five children — the most famous being Genghis Khan, who would go on to rule the largest empire in history (Mongol). Upon her husband’s death, Hoelun and her children were disowned by Yesügei’s clan, so she took charge of their survival and raised them on her own. She became one of Genghis Khan’s most trusted advisors, and cultivated loyalty amongst the tribes her son conquered by caring for war orphans.

21. Abigail Adams | FLOTUS (1744–1818)

Though Abigail was a wife to the second President of the United States, John Adams, as well as mother to the sixth POTUS, John Quincy Adams, what is not widely known about her is that she essentially lived as a single mom. During her husband’s heavy involvement with the American Revolution and later governance of a new nation, Abigail took care of the family farm while raising and educating her five children virtually alone. As an unofficial advisor to her husband, Abigail also strongly advocated for women’s rights, famously writing in 1776: “Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.”

22. Meena Keshwar Kamal | Women’s Rights Activist (1956–1987)

At the young age of 20, Meena formed the Revolutionary Association for the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). She was the mother of three children and prior to her tragic assassination at the age of 30, Meena helped build schools and hospitals for refugee women and children, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite the three decades that have passed since her death, Meena’s impact is still felt — the organization still functions today as an advocacy group in both countries.

23. Irena Sendler | Humanitarian (1910–2008)

Until years later, Irena Sendler was one of the quiet, unsung heroes of World War II. The brave mother of three smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the war years by providing them with false, non-Jewish identities and hiding them in orphanages and Christian homes. And the impact of her actions was huge: Years later, it was reported that Irena saved more Jews from the Holocaust than any other individual citizen. And even when she was captured and tortured herself, Irena withheld all information about the children and her smuggling operation.

24. Michelle Bachelet | Doctor, President of Chile (1951–)

A doctor by profession, Bachelet served as Health Minister of Chile before becoming the nation’s first female president in 2014. As a mother of three children herself, Michelle has worked with her administration to improve the wellbeing of women and children nationwide, opening 3,500 free child-care centers during her tenure in order to increase the number of women entering the workforce.

25. Christiane Amanpour | Journalist/News Anchor (1958–)

The British-Iranian journalist is best known for covering international news for CNN and more recently, ABC News. Despite facing resistance early on in her career — when TV execs were hesitant to put her on air because of her prominent accent — Amanpour has persevered to become one of the most recognized television journalists of our time. When she’s not reporting important breaking news, Amanpour is busy raising her teenage son, Darius, and educating him about issues facing others throughout the world. (In fact, she recently wrote about taking him on a U.N. Refugee Agency tour of refugee camps in Jordan.)

26. Lucretia Mott | Abolitionist & Suffragette (1793-1880)

Lucretia Mott | Portrayed by Ellie Knaus

When it comes to many of the history-making events of the 19th-century, Lucretia Mott was often on the front lines. She was an active minister and mother six children who is perhaps best known for her tireless dedication to the fight for women’s rights. But Mott also played a vital role in the anti-slavery movement, as one of the leading abolitionist voices of the time. And she clearly passed on that fiery spirit and desire to change the world for the better — many of her six children became advocates for civil rights and women’s issues, too.

Lucretia Mott was portrayed by Ellie Knaus, host of the podcast Atomic Moms. Learn more and listen now at AtomicMoms.com.

27. Maxine Hong | Author, Educator (1940–)

The Chinese-American writer first came to popularity in 1989, with her haunting novel The Woman Warrior, which the MLA asserts to be the most widely taught text in universities. While raising her son Joseph and teaching at UC Berkeley, Maxine has continued to write about and raise awareness of the Asian-American immigrant community, as well as the gender and cultural complexities found there.

28. Ruth Bader Ginsburg | U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1933–)

Ginsburg is the second woman ever to be appointed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and has earned her place as an early champion for women’s equality in the workplace. She famously spearheaded the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and continues to champion for LGBT and women’s rights. Recently, Ginsburg credited motherhood, and raising her daughter Jane, for her successful career: “I attributed my success in law school largely to Jane … I felt each part of my life gave me respite from the other.”

29. Iman | Model, Humanitarian (1955–)

The Muslim-Somalian mother of two began her modeling career at the age of 21, and soon became one of the top supermodels of the early ’90s. Along with marrying British rock-god David Bowie in 1992, Iman is perhaps best known for expanding her empire by successfully launching the first mainstream ethnic makeup line. But her philanthropic work is also pretty impressive: Iman supports the Children’s Defense Fund, is an Ambassador for the Save the Children organization, and played a pivotal role in the campaign against blood diamonds.

30. Valentina Tereshkova | Astronaut (1937–)

In 1963, Russian astronaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to enter space as she successfully orbited the earth 48 times in less than three days. She went on to marry a fellow Russian astronaut (Andriyan Nikolayev) and they had a daughter, Elena, exactly one year after her historical flight into space. As a result, her daughter Elena had the exciting distinction of becoming the first person in the world to have two parents that travelled into space.

31. Demi Moore | Actress, Producer (1962–)

Seriously, who can think of Demi Moore without having their mind immediately flash to iconic scenes from films like Ghost, Indecent Proposal, or A Few Good Men? Moore shot to fame in the late ’80s, and would go on to become a Hollywood power couple with first husband, Bruce Willis, with whom she had three daughters. She famously sparked controversy after posing nude in 1991 for a Vanity Fair cover while 7 months pregnant — a bold move that ultimately shifted public perception about how we view women’s bodies during pregnancy. “People in this country don’t want to embrace motherhood and sensuality,” she said at the time. “You’re either sexy, or you’re a mother. I didn’t want to have to choose.”

32. Michelle Obama | Lawyer, FLOTUS (1964-)

Michelle Obama | Portrayed by Angel Laketa Moore

When Michelle Obama became the first African-American First Lady of the United States in 2008, she was already a successful lawyer in her own right. During her tenure, she tackled the childhood obesity epidemic, became an advocate for education equality, LGBT rights, and issues facing military families, established herself as a fashion icon, and (who could forget) brought us some pretty epic mom dancing. But her most vital role? Raising her two daughters, Malia and Sasha.”You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still ‘mom-in-chief,'” she said in a 2012 convention speech. “My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.”

33. Sheryl Sandberg | Business Leader (1969–)

As the COO for Facebook since 2009, Sandberg has been credited with making the giant social media company profitable for the first time. But her impact has gone far beyond Silicon Valley: In 2013, the mother of two wrote the best seller Lean In, which claimed that women create their own limitations in the workforce, conforming to gender norms enforced by society. After her husband’s untimely death in 2015, Sandberg came to realize the adversities single mothers face in this equation, and confessed, “Before, I did not quite get it. I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home.”

34. Indira Gandhi | Prime Minister (1917–1984)

Indira was elected into office in 1966 as the first (and thus far, only) female Prime Minister of India. Hailing from a political dynasty, Indira was groomed for political office from a young age, but saw her share of tragedies with the deaths of her husband as well as one of her sons. Sadly, her legacy has long been associated with escalated nepotism and even seen as a low point for democracy in India. She untimely met a tragic and untimely demise when her two Sikh bodyguards assassinated her in 1984.

 35. Ann Jarvis | Social Activist (1832–1905)

If you’ve ever wondered when and why we started celebrating Mother’s Day, you have Ann Jarvis to thank. After enduring the deaths of 9 of her 13 children, Jarvis was motivated to help other moms fight childhood diseases by organizing the Mother’s Day Work Clubs in West Virginia in 1858, which supported poor mothers with crucial medical, financial, and sanitary resources. After her death, Jarvis’s daughter Anna worked tirelessly to fulfill her mother’s lifelong dream of having a day that memorialized and honored mothers. She organized the first observance of Mother’s Day at the church where her mother had taught Sunday school for over 25 years, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson designated the second Sunday of May as an official holiday for the celebration of Mother’s Day.

36. Margaret Thatcher | Prime Minister (1925–2013)

In 1979, Thatcher made history when she was elected the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain, and then again when she went on to become the longest serving British PM of the 20th century. By that point, Thatcher had already earned a reputation for her steely resolve, but her experience becoming a mother years prior to twins also greatly shaped her life. In 1955, Thatcher chose not to run as a political candidate in the general elections, citing her children as the reason why: “I really just felt the twins were … only two, I really felt that it was too soon. I couldn’t do that.” Years later, she would be ranked as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century by Time Magazine and was voted the 16th greatest Briton in history by a BBC poll.

37. Fanny Blankers-Koen | Athlete (1918–2004)

Fanny was the first Dutch athlete to win an Olympic title at the 1948 Summer Olympics, where she went home with four gold medals. That alone would be an incredible feat for any athlete, let alone a mother who had two children under the age of 8 at home at the time. (Something that earned her the nickname “the Flying Housewife” in the press.) In 1999, Fanny earned the lifetime recognition she deserved when she was declared the “Female Athlete of the Century” by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

38. Hillary Clinton | U.S. Secretary of State, FLOTUS (1947-)

Hillary Clinton was the first FLOTUS in history to become a U.S. Senator (in New York), and continued her list of firsts by becoming the first female nominee of a major political party for the presidency of the United States. She’s also spent the better part of her 40-year career working on healthcare and education reform, as well as the advancement of women’s rights — famously saying “women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.” During the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton was asked many times about how her role as a mother, and now grandmother, has impacted her life. “From the moment I first held Chelsea in my arms in the hospital in Little Rock, I knew my mission in life was to give her every opportunity to thrive,” she shared.

39. Sandra Day O’Connor | U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1930–)

Appointed in 1981 by Ronald Reagan, O’Connor was the first woman to serve as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. But her rise to the top was not easy: When Sandra first graduated from law school, no firm would interview her because she was a woman, and she was only got a job as a county attorney after agreeing to work for no pay and sharing an office with a secretary. In her private life, O’Connor was a devoted mother to three sons, and cared for her husband through his Alzheimer’s disease for 20 years. Looking back, she once shared: “I never took even an hour off to go get my hair done. Those are the things you give up. You only have so many hours in the day, and when you have kids, and kids in school, and you’re trying to feed the family and cook meals and be a mother and a wife and all those things, you’re going to give up a lot of things. But that’s okay. I mean, I preferred to hang on to my legal work.”

40. Cleopatra | Monarch (69 BC-30 BC)

Cleopatra | Portrayed by Jill Simonian

Cleopatra was more than just one one of history’s first true style icons — she was the last true ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt, reigning from 51 to 30 BC. The larger-than-life monarch bore four children before her death at age 39, and never hid their paternity (which, believe it or not, which was actually uncommon during those times). Cleopatra had a son with Julius Caesar, and three children (including twins) with Mark Antony. Centuries later, her tragic love story with Mark Antony would be forever immortalized in Shakespeare’s play, Antony & Cleopatra.

Cleopatra is portrayed by Jill Simonian, a parenting lifestyle expert for CBS Los Angeles News, founder of TheFABMom.com and author of the new book for first-time moms, The FAB Mom’s Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby.

41. Sojourner Truth | Abolitionist, Women’s Rights Activist (1797–1883)

Though she was born into slavery, Sojourner Truth eventually escaped to freedom with her baby daughter in 1826. Once free, she went to court to fight for the freedom of her son who’d been unable to make the escape with her. In 1828, she won her case and freed her son — thereby becoming the first African-American woman to win in court against a white man. She famously delivered a speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention titled “Ain’t I a Woman?” which solidified her as one of the most influential abolitionist speakers of the day.

42. Angelina Jolie | Actress, Producer, Humanitarian (1975–)

Angelina Jolie is probably just as well known for her blockbuster movie roles as she is for her devotion to her children. Jolie has six children with former husband Brad Pitt, three of whom are internationally adopted, and she has made it a point to travel the world with them whenever possible. She is also deeply committed to the plight of refugees from around the world and serves as a Goodwill Ambassador of the UN Refugee Agency with devotion. Discussing the various titles she carries, Jolie once said, “I see myself as a mom first. I’m so lucky to have that role in life. The world can like me, hate me or fall apart around me and at least I wake up with my kids and I’m happy.”

43. Eleanor Roosevelt | FLOTUS, United Nations Diplomat (1884–1962)

Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest-serving FLOTUS in history, serving a little over 12 years in the White House while her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was in office. During her tenure, she was considered a slightly controversial figure of the time for her involvement in and support of civil rights issues, WWII refugees, and women’s rights policies — things that in time solidified her popularity. Eleanor was also the first FLOTUS to write a daily newspaper column, host her own weekly radio show, and have regular press conferences with journalists. (Oh, and she was also a mother to six children, despite that busy schedule.) Despite serving a society that frowned upon her political involvement at the time, Eleanor’s dedication to improving the world eventually led President Truman to name her “the First Lady of the World.”

44. Debbie Reynolds | Actress, Humanitarian (1932–2016)

Reynolds has long been recognized as one of the most famous actresses of the 1950s, and is perhaps best known for her breakout performance in the iconic film Singin’ in the Rain. She had two children, Todd and Carrie, with her first husband Eddie Fisher — and her devotion to them was widely reported. In fact, she stopped working on Friday afternoons just so she could be leader of her then-13-years old daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. Reynolds’ loving relationship with her daughter Carrie was particularly close in later years, which made her death in 2016 — just days after Carrie’s — even more heartbreaking to fans.

45. Dolores Huerta | Children’s and Civil Rights Activist (1930–)

The Latino mother of 11, Dolores co-founded what eventually became the United Farm Workers Association. She spent her entire life tirelessly championing the rights of workers, immigrants, and women in America, and was eventually awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of freedom in 2012, as well as the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights in 1998.

46. Brooke Shields, Actress (1965–)

The veteran actress has been in both movies and on TV since she was just 12 years old; but some might argue that she came into her most pivotal role yet when she penned the memoir, Down Came the Rain, highlighting her battle with postpartum depression. Shields’ unflinching honesty about her struggle with new motherhood in 2005 brought a significant cultural shift and awareness to the plight of mothers everywhere who were suffering from PPD in silence. She continues her activism today by being a spokesperson for a national campaign that encourages young girls to take care of their mental and physical well being.

47. Diana, Princess of Wales | Children’s Activist (1961–1997)

Diana, Princess of Wales | Portrayed by Lori Garcia

When Princess Diana was catapulted onto the global stage back in 1981, she was, by all accounts, a reluctant participant. But seemingly overnight, she became the most famous woman in the world, and would go on to use that fame to garner support for important initiatives like landmine eradication, HIV/AIDS advocacy, and children’s health. Today, it’s clear to see just how much of Diana’s humanitarianism influenced her her sons, William and Harry, who are still both deeply involved in supporting the charities she established, some 20 years after her death.

Diana, Princess of Wales was portrayed by Lori Garcia — writer, social media doer, and founder of Mommyfriend.com.

48. Ellen Ochoa | Astronaut (1958)

Ellen Ochoa was the world’s first Hispanic female astronaut, and logged in more than 950 hours in space while working for NASA. The mother of two is also a classically trained flutist and a veteran of four flights into space. Ochoa actually had to apply three times to become an astronaut before NASA finally accepted her in 1990, and while waiting on one of her applications to be finally accepted, Ochoa obtained her pilot’s license.

49. Queen Rania | Queen of Jordan, Women’s Rights Activist (1970)

The Queen Consort of Jordan came to her title when she was just 28 years old, but has since become an unconventional advocate for women’s rights and educational developments throughout the Arab world. “As you educate a woman, you educate the family,” the mother of four has said. “If you educate the girls, you educate the future.” In addition to her philanthropic efforts, Queen Rania has also written four children’s book and is a New York Times bestselling author.

Special thanks to: Lori Garcia, Autumn Reeser, Angel Laketa Moore, Michelle Villemaire, Sinead de Vries, Ellie Knaus, Yolanda Machado, and Jill Simonian. All photography by Meredith Munn for Babble.

Article Posted 2 months Ago

Videos You May Like