Top Female Political Leaders Of The 20th Century

With the humanist & industrial revolution, a lot of change took place, likewise in the mentality of the people. The world became more open-minded about things they once regarded as taboo, such as involving women in the affairs of the society. A lot of major reforms took place worldwide in the 20th century. Side by side to the male leaders, the women also found their space in the society, some through so much pressure or just by a stroke of fate. These women are political forces that registered significant change in the lives of their people. Women whose strength equaled and in some cases surpassed those of the male counterparts in sociopolitical decisions; women who made resounding political statements in the 20th century.

10. Winnie Mandela

Country: South Africa

Winnie Mandela, the ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, attends his funeral in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, 900 km (559 miles) south of Johannesburg, in this still image taken from December 15, 2013 video courtesy of the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). REUTERS/SABC via Reuters TV (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: OBITUARY POLITICS HEADSHOT) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. SOUTH AFRICA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH AFRICA. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY

A tough and a near ruthless figure if to go by the controversies of her personality. The wife of Madiba, Winnie fought the great fight for/with her ex-husband and the nation. Although finally divorced from the renowned Mandela in 1997, she remains the mother of South Africans. For being as anti-apartheid as the then husband she was greatly victimized and tortured, exiled and arbitrarily detained more often than not. However she organized and led her anti-oppression campaigns as politically loud as she can. Currently she is a top member of South Africa’s ANC party.

9. Eleanor Roosevelt

Country: United States


 Eleanor is the wife of the 32nd American President, Franklin Roosevelt. She is famous for her feminine empowerment quote, “Women are like teabags. We don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water!” An articulate, vocal and candid political and civil right activist. Eleanor’s essence was felt most during the second World War; she also served on the UN Commission for Human Rights. Eleanor is one of the respected figures in America and is best described as a historical charismatic social reformer.

8. Jiang Qing

Country: China

Jiang Qing

Tough like a man, the wife of the legendary Chinese Revolutionary, Mao Zedong. A onetime media personality turned first lady of China. Jiang was the fourth and the most prominent and politically featuring wife of Mao. Her impact was felt the most during the cultural revolution; operating within and under the auspices of the famous “Gang of  Four”, a formidable political clique at the time. More than her husband, Jiang has always been in a controversial spotlight; this got worse after the death of husband, lost a great deal of political immunity and was charged with enormous criminal offenses. Instead of a death penalty, she was sentenced to life imprisonment, but in May, 1991, at the age of 77, Jiang committed suicide.

7. Rosa Parks

Country: Unites States

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is another charismatic world changer whose quiet disobedience made a mark that lasted for ages to come. At the prime of racism in the United States, Rosa, a seamstress refused to give up her seat because she was “black”. She was detained but that did not restrain her overwhelming essence from infecting the rest of the black community, so much so that they found and followed up a course that would lead them closer to emancipation. For one long year there was mass black bus boycott at Montgomery, the very point that Rosa refused to give her seat up to a white man. Rosa Parks, a humble seamstress earned herself a sociopolitical voice and is today revered as the “first lady of civil rights”. In 1996, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

6. Ellen Johnson Sir leaf

Country: Liberia

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, addresses the 2008 United Methodist General Conference on April 29 in Fort Worth, Texas. Sirleaf is a United Methodist and the first female head of state in Africa. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. Photo #GC0380. April 29, 2008.

Ellen is one of the most powerful female leaders in Africa. First of, she is the first female African President ever. The Amazon and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner is respected for her leadership skills in Liberia. Before her emergence as the president of Liberia, she has devoutly served in various political/government capacities, UN and also worked with the world bank. Ellen Johnson Sir leaf became relevantly prominent during the last quarter of the 20th century.