The world's first female historian was Anna Komnene. In the 11th century, she wrote an extensive account called "The Alexiad" (the source for the above quote) of both Byzantine daily life and the political struggles during the reign of her father, Emperor Alexius I.
Mary Wollstonecraft —
Eighteenth century political thinker and writer Mary Wollstonecraft said that women had equal intellectual abilities to men but were denied education. The quote above is from her most famous work, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman", which asked for a radical reformation of national educational systems to help women in both their households and professional lives.
Margaret Bulkley —
Margaret Bulkley pretended to be a man called James Barry for 56 years and was only discovered to be a woman after her death. After attending medical school and becoming a military surgeon in India and South Africa, she took on the role of Inspector General putting her in charge of military hospitals. She performed one of the first successful Caesarean sections in 1826. Her methods in medical care, which emphasized better public health, hygiene and diet, led to one of the highest rates of recovery in the Crimean war.
Sojourner Truth —
Born as a slave in the state of New York, Sojourner Truth was set free in 1827. She then dedicated herself to promoting abolitionism and women's suffrage. In 1851, she gave one of her most famous speeches "Ain't I a Woman?" to the Women's Convention in Ohio.
Savitribai Phule —
This 19th century poet, educationalist and social worker was India's first female teacher. With her husband, she founded 18 schools for girls of all castes, fought for widows' rights and opened the well at their house to people of "lower castes" ('dalit') who were denied access to water elsewhere. The University of Pune was renamed in her honor in 2014.
Kate Sheppard —
Activist Kate Sheppard was a key figure in making New Zealand become the first country to grant women the right to vote in 1893. Sheppard also campaigned for women's right to cycle, greater equality in marriage and the abolition of corsets.
Marie Curie —
In 1903 Polish-French scientist Marie Curie became the first woman to get the Nobel Prize. She later became the only person in history to get it twice in different disciplines (for physics and then chemistry). Her discovery of radioactivity, polonium and radium led to the development of X-ray technology. She did her research at the Sorbonne, where she became the first ever female professor.
Amelia Earhart —
In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic on her own. Three years later, she was the first person to successfully fly from Hawaii to California. She wrote two books reflecting on her flights: "20 Hrs., 40 Min." and "The Fun of It". Earhart disappeared on a plane in the Pacific in 1937, while trying to become the first woman to fly around the world. Since then, a lighthouse, as well as streets, schools and airports in the US, have been named after her.
Simone de Beauvoir —
Simone de Beauvoir was a French existentialist philosopher and the author of "The Second Sex", published in 1949, which became a landmark in feminist literature. It analyzed the treatment and perception of women throughout history, and was deemed so controversial that the Vatican put it on the Index of Prohibited Books.
Josephine Baker —
Having achieved fame as a dancer in her native country US and adopted home France, Josephine Baker refused to perform in concert halls forbidding racially mixed audiences. She was the first person to integrate black and white spectators at the Las Vegas casinos.
She adopted 12 children of different races and was the only woman to give a speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 (where the above quote is from).
Baker also served as a sub-lieutenant in the French air force and was a spy for the French Resistance during the Second World War.
Valentina Tereshkova —
In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly into space. The Soviet cosmonaut had no pilot training but she was selected on the program based on her accomplishments as an amateur parachutist. She then embarked on a political career, becoming a member of USSR's legislative bodies, the Supreme Soviet and Supreme Soviet Presidium.
Maya Angelou —
Maya Angelou was a Grammy-winning and Pulitzer-nominated author, poet, actor, civil rights activist and more. Her iconic autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" -- from which the above quote is from -- was published in 1969 and later adapted for television, making Angelou the first African-American woman to have an original screenplay produced as a movie. She worked closely with Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr in the Civil Rights Movement.
Junko Tabei —
In 1975, Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. By 1992 she had scaled the summits of the highest mountain peaks on every continent -- the first woman to do so.
Vigdis Finnbogadóttir —
The world's first democratically elected female head of state, Vigdis Finnbogadóttir became president of Iceland in 1980 and was re-elected three times before retiring in 1996. Finnbogadóttir, won the first election as a single mother, which she partly attributed to Icelandic media's respect for privacy. After her presidency, she became founding chair of the Council of Women World Leaders at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and worked for the United Nations.
Manal al-Sharif —
In 2011, Manal al-Sharif made history by leading a successful campaign -- Women2Drive -- that called for Saudi Arabian women to have the right to drive. She was arrested after posting a YouTube video asking for women to drive but with the support of international media and online and street protests, was released nine days later. In 2012, she was recognized as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time Magazine and she won the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent.