–‘She’ Made the Most of Every Moment–
Since then, there have been huge names that made history, often with remarkable achievements and powers in the forum of war. But there is no doubt that quite a number of women mystically conquered the watchful minds of the human race. Are their descendants as proud to carry their names as the others? What have these remarkable females accomplished in recognition with their names?
Evita Peron ”œ ‘Our Little Eva’
‘Don’t cry for me Argentina; the truth is I never left you
All through my wild days; my mad existence
I kept my promise; don’t keep your distance.’
As excellently as the universe works for evolution, it likewise worked for Evita Duarte Peron, the wife of Argentina’s president, Juan Domingo Peron. Endowed with the gifts of charm, this lovely and articulate woman had risen as a heroine and saint-like goddess who won the unconditional support of the lowly in Argentina. Her name explodes like dynamite in the whole area of Latin America as well as in different parts of the world.
One reason for her fame and mystery is the episode when she died of uterine cancer in 1952 in Buenos Aires, some anti-Peronistas stole her body and hid it in Italy for almost 20 years.
Second is her personally crafted ‘Rainbow Tour in Europe’ which she described as a goodwill mission to the capitals of the European continent and her initial stance to display herself to the world. She traveled like a stylishly radiant queen showcasing at least four fabulous outfits each day. In Spain, she was well applauded because she charismatically shared money with the masses at a rate of $1,000.00 per day. In Italy, the Pope welcomed her, but she was shocked when the Italians called her a whore. In France, she displayed her hunger for fashion and lavishly showed off her luxurious wardrobe. In London, the air was filled with mixed emotions. The Queen invited her for tea, but she was not given the privilege to stay in the palace. In Switzerland, she experienced her worst nightmare because she was struck with tomatoes.
Third is her advocacy for women’s rights in Argentina. She showed the world that despite the fact that she came from poor roots; she was not behind her husband’s shadow. She eternally changed the political landscape of Latin America by lifting even the most disenfranchised to the peak of influence without revolution.
Most importantly, she manifested a generous heart for the meek. Thus, the whole of Argentina and most parts of the world were tear-drenched when she perished. She successfully won the hearts of the masses in spite of her sophisticated image through providing for their needs. She was equally the main name in the business world because she imposed monetary contributions from them.
Marie Curie ”œ ‘Laboratory Chief’
Radium is coined with Madam Marie Sklodowska Curie. Her discovery of this element brought out an array of intellectual breakthroughs that deal with matter and energy. She ensured the transition of her scientific theories to practice. First, she termed the behavior of giving off rays by uranium and some other compounds that contained thorium as ‘radioactivity.’ Second, with the support of her husband, Pierre Curie, she discovered two new elements from a chunk of pitchblende. The first discovery was published in July, 1898, and was named ‘polonium’ to honor Marie’s native land. The second discovery, which was announced in December of the same year, was named ‘radium’ a Latin word for ‘ray.’ Despite the unfavorable reactions towards the discovery of radium and polonium, she persisted in solving the mysteries regarding these newly found elements.
Third, the couple proved that radium can destroy living flesh which led to the findings that this strange and luminous element can function reasonably well in the treatment of cancer and other killer diseases. Since then, radioactive substances were extracted not only for medical uses but also as ornaments for accessories focusing on its ‘glow in the dark’ or luminous properties. Lastly, Madam Curie’s hypothesis that the powerful energy that coincides with radioactivity is a basic property of every atomic composition of matter was confirmed by a number of scientists.
By all means, her unparalleled discovery made her the first woman to receive a doctorate degree in France in 1903. She was also the first woman to be a Nobel Prize winner as ‘laboratory chief.’ After Pierre’s untimely death, Marie had to take over his classes in Sorbonne where she became the first-ever woman professor in this field. Aiming to establish a center for the medical treatment of cancer, Madam Marie Curie, together with Claudius Regaud, founded the Institut Curie in Paris in 1921. Due to insistent public demand, in 1995 the institute focused on a wider range of significant research on cell and molecular biology and biophysics. It focused more deeply on oncology; hence, the Research Department of Institut Curie was born.
In recognition of the Curies’ scientific breakthroughs, and with the initiative of President Ignacy Moscicki, the Marie Sklodowska Curie Institute of Oncology in Warsaw was established in 1932. Today, this institute is the foremost cancer research and treatment center in Poland. Meanwhile, Madam Marie Curie’s terrific discoveries had undoubtedly rocketed her to stardom during World War II because she proved the existence of radiology during the war. Owing to her discovery of radium and the later collaboration with authorities, the mobile X-ray was created and successful in saving countless lives in that period.
Margaret Thatcher ”œ ‘The Iron Lady’
Ever wondered how a woman could handle a very crucial position in running a country? Baroness Margaret Thatcher is the tangible response to this query. She was Britain’s first woman Prime Minister for three magnificently consecutive terms. Her legacy has been worn like a badge of distinction until the present time.
‘I’ve got a woman’s ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks and leaves it,’ stated Mrs. Thatcher. Apparently, her gender and her detractors never hindered her determination to be at the center of British politics. Initially, she was the Education Minister who was brutally opposed by the public and the press. The education policy she was urging during that time was unfortunately frozen. Although, the dawn of her career seemed unfavorable, she mastered every route in Britain’s educational system. Consequently, this mastery became her launching pad to the General Election in 1974 where she was defeated.
‘Defeat? I do not recognize the meaning for the word!’ is another quotable statement extracted from one of Thatcher’s notable speeches. This is virtually manifested when, despite her defeat, she persistently moved forward and in no time became the first woman to be elected as a Conservative leader in 1975. She served as leader of the opposition in the House of Commons. This time luck and the public were on her side as a result of the negative impact of the trade unions and labor movements. Clearly, the Conservative Party was victorious in the general election making Margaret Thatcher the first woman Prime Minister in the history of the United Kingdom.
‘Popular capitalism is nothing less than a crusade to enfranchise the many in the economic life of the nation.’ This quote is definitely a reflection of Thatcherism. This particular ‘ism’ existed during her first term as Prime Minister (1979”œ1983). In light of her economic growth policy, she strongly went against Keynesian economic thought. The emphasis was placed on the control of the supply of money over large expenditures. Direct taxes were reduced while the indirect taxes were heightened. Although her idea of massive government revenues and a doubled Value-Added Tax resulted in a recession and a higher unemployment rate. Time proved that the scheme ensured the salvation of the British economy and later ensured unprecedented growth.
‘I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.’ This was straight from Thatcher’s mouth, literally proven by her actions in the Falklands War with the Argentine juntas which lasted well over three years. At first, she collaborated with the U.S. administration for a rather diplomatic solution, but it was to no avail. So right before the going got worse, she pivoted to a more strategic and more powerful military action. Thus, her reputation in the upcoming general elections of 1983 rested on her victory in the Falklands War in 1982.
‘It pays to know your enemy ”œ not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend.’ Very well said and done by this prestigious baroness. After rising from the war and the general election, she was dubbed as the ‘Falkland Spirit.’ But the initiation of her second term was sandwiched by what was perceived to be the most violent and long-lasting strikes led by the Miner’s Union who came from the labor opposition and the treacherous bombing at the Brighton Hotel which was believed to be the Irish Republican Army’s attempt to murder the reigning ‘Falkland Spirit’ during the Conservative Party’s annual conference. With all her might, knowing who her enemies were, Mrs. Thatcher’s economic reforms still endured and were actually embraced by the opposition. Moreover, to prove that her policy was not hostile to Republican Loyalists, she improved the security cooperation between Britain and Ireland by virtue of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985.
‘Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.’ Apparently, every single word of the lady Prime Minister sprouted from the seeds of her dignified stand to address issues. The U.S. war planes, for instance, were allowed to fly from British bases to attack targets in Libya despite the serious opposition and criticisms from her own party.
‘I do not know anyone who has gotten to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top but should get you pretty near.’ This wit and wisdom by Margaret Thatcher truly mirrors her legislative platform which was said to be the most optimistic ever imposed by a British administration during her final term as Prime Minister. She put forward these three controversial reforms: introduction of a national curriculum for the first time; new tax system dubbed as ‘community charge’ or ‘poll tax’; and separation of buyers and providers within the national health system.
Having an alliance with the Soviet’s Mikail Gorbachev, the Iron Lady was vitally important in smoothing the conflict in Russia. When she ended her tenure on November 28, 1990, due to a deepened chaos over the European policy, she remained an indispensable political figure. She mentored every part of the world and wrote two best-selling volumes of memoirs, ‘The Downing Street Years’ and ‘The Path to Power.’
Joan of Arc ”œ ‘The Maid of Orleans’
Joan of Arc only lived for only 19 years on Earth. Short though as her life may seem, her name still lingers today. Over the years, people have formed varying impressions about her. Interpretations of her being invisible seem to be of varying degrees. Some people regard her as empowered by demons while others think that she is immortal. But whatever it may be, it can never be denied that she is an icon in the world’s history and a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Saint ”œ In 1920 Pope Benedict XV canonized her as Saint Jeannie of Arc or Saint Joan of Arc. She is the patron saint of the soldiers and of France. The Catholic Church recognizes her martyrdom because she saved thousands of lives during the Hundred Years’ War not to mention the fact that she was executed by burning to death as a result of a false condemnation. She was a visionary when she was 13 years old, sighting three saints namely; St. Michael, St. Margaret, and St. Catherine. Documentation proves that she was never dissuaded to risk her life to lead the Army despite her young age and gender. For the sake of obedience to the divine guidance from her visions, she remained determined to fight and get wounded to save France. She strongly held on to her belief in God even when she was tortured and was forced to face death by fire.
The Young Heroine ”œ St. Joan of Arc is considered to be the youngest person to enter the Army. Although she was an illiterate teenage peasant, she turned out to be a prominent warrior in the Hundred Years’ War. She was only 17 when she was incredibly put in command of the Army after two successive attempts of pleading to Charles VII. In a short span of time, her attacks on the English forces were triumphant and totally defeated the conquerors. Thus, the century’s old war ended having the young Joan in a central role. To date she is one among those who are considered pioneers of nationalism.
The Condemned Soul ”œ The young heroine’s efforts to regain Paris from the Duke of Burgundy marked her downfall. She was captured and was traded to the English. Heresy, witchcraft, and fraud became the objects of her prosecution. After a series of trials and condemnations, she was doomed with a guilty verdict. At the age of 19 she was brutally executed by burning.
Cleopatra ”œ ‘The Queen of Egypt’
The name Cleopatra persists to continue evolving from generation to generation. The queen has undeniably remained a favorite subject of writers, artists, and even manufacturers. Focusing on her magnificent looks and sophisticated tongue, she became a legend aside from being an important figure in history. It is interesting to note that her seductive appeal proved to be hypnotic for two of the most famous men in history, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Four significant relationships were remarkable for Cleopatra:
The relationship with Ptolemy XIII and XIV ”œ A legal obligation actually urged her weddings with two of his brothers. However, the queen remained to be in power after the marriage while her brother-spouse was kept on the downside. Power thirsty as well, Ptolemy managed to put the queen into exile, but her magnificent beauty and strategic moves brought her under the care of Julius Caesar. Afterwards, Ptolemy XIII was killed and she again married another brother, Ptolemy XIV.
The relationship with Julius Caesar ”œ Solely aiming to gain support from the then very powerful Julius Caesar, wrapped in a red carpet, she gave herself as a gift to the very powerful ruler. This enticement sparked their love affair which had a great impact on their dynasty. Their combination posed a threat to the Romans, particularly the Republicans. So right before Caesar was offered the throne, he was assassinated on the steps of the Senate.
The relationship with Mark Antony ”œ Mark Antony, also a great Roman ruler, was the closest ally of Julius Caesar. The meeting with Cleopatra first transpired during Caesar’s wake. Love at first sight as it may be dubbed struck these two figures. The death of Antony’s wife brought him back to Rome in the midst of their elicit affair. While in Rome, he married Octavian, but later went back to Egypt for Cleopatra. Eventually, both of them ruled Egypt and then finally got married. Their marriage, however, had a tragic ending because, while in a battle, Antony was falsely informed that his wife Cleopatra had died. So using his sword, he killed himself. Meanwhile, the queen had to do the same by letting a poisonous snake bite her upon knowing her husband’s fate.
The relationship with Egypt ”œ Queen Cleopatra was actually the last pharaoh of Egypt. Her accounts to Egyptian society were inextricably linked to her relationships with the Romans. Most perceptions about her dynasty are said to be an assassination to her character. She was unable to resolve the economic downfall of Egypt during her reign. The culprits of Egypt’s distress were perceived to be the fallacies in her relationships.
Mother Teresa ”œ The Living Saint
So long as the words ‘faith, hope, and charity’ exist in different languages, the memories of Mother Teresa shall not perish in the minds of the people from all over the world. All her service to mankind demonstrated that in her lifetime she was a symbol of humanity and compassion. She renounced all the comforts in life to serve the poor and the needy selflessly. Her tomb became a sanctuary for pilgrims from all walks of life. Pope John Paul II officially recognized her heroic virtues and miracles as a basis for her canonization.
Faith ”œ Call it a test of faith, our beloved Mother experienced a period of overwhelming temptation to cast doubt on her beliefs for well over a decade. This period she called ‘the darkness’ and ‘the painful night of her soul’ with episodes of thirsting for the love of God, suffering from the whip of God’s rejection, and grieving from the thought of spiritual separation. Although these grievances may prove to be crucial to the fulfillment of her mission, she stayed strong until her final days. ‘Where is my faith? Even deep down…there is nothing but emptiness and darkness… If there be God”please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul…How painful is this unknown pain–I have no faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal…What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul, then Jesus, You also are not true.’ This statement was truly collapsing her belief during the time it was written, but her sincerity and commitment to her vows made her win the battle.
Hope ”œ In a land populated with people who were totally alienated to her, how had the Holy Mother remained steadfast to profess her faith? Records show that her sincere hope to become the spouse of Jesus eternally materialized in Ireland in 1928. Shortly after the completion of her final vow, she was called Mother Teresa. Strengthened by her confidence in Jesus’ words ‘Come by my light,’ the Holy Mother was hopeful to radiate Jesus’ love by saving and helping the poor who were neglected by society. She was able to erect a religious community, the ‘Missionaries of Charity’ fully dedicated to salvage the poor of the poorest.
Charity ”œ The disappointing scenarios, which were revealed during her apostolate in the slums of India, led the Holy Mother to extend her undying answers to the needs of the poor who she found were virtually isolated from the comforts of life. The concept of charity was adopted in the task of propagating her mission on a wider range. In 1963 she established the Missionaries of Charity Brothers which aimed to extend service even to the commoners. In 1984 she succeeded in establishing the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers. However, the difference from her usual approach was that she accommodated people of diverse faiths and nationalities and catered for their present needs. In 1981, Mother Teresa formed the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests with a similar objective. The Foundations of the Living remained in providence until the present. In fact, the Missionaries of Charity group is composed of nearly 500 brothers and 5,000 nuns dealing with 600 missions, schools, and shelters in 120 countries.
Corazon Cojuangco Aquino ”œ ‘Mother of Democracy’
The ‘Cory’ Aquino regime was the first of its kind in the Philippines and in most parts of the world. She was the first woman to rule the country and the first icon who was successfully put to her seat by virtue of the ‘People Power Revolution,’ although the said revolution was bloodless and peaceful.
The color yellow used to be of great significance to the Lady President’s silent cry for justice for the assassination her husband, the late Senator Benigno Aquino. It was extensively used as the symbol of revolution against the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos. During the People Power Revolution, supporters in yellow shirts flooded the streets of Manila.
It has always been symbolic how the revolution ousted the powerful Marcos’ government. Despite the presence of armed military forces to stop the thousands of protesters in a three-day rally, no eye witness accounts are known which describe the revolution being violent, and certainly nobody was reported hurt. Challenging the guns of the soldiers, young women put garlands of flowers on the armed men. The tanker which was ready to disperse the big crowd was stopped by a woman in a wheelchair. The world witnessed this episode showing the solid unity of the Filipinos which made President Aquino a prominent figure in history.
And what began as a wholly patriotic move in ending the dictatorship, she ended up playing a role in an entirely different sphere of the relatively challenging presidential position. Her governance was strengthened by a diversity of supporters. The opposition and the administration unified for her cause by restoring democracy. As a leader she was well loved and respected by the public, but the case was otherwise for the military. Her leadership was challenged by seven coup attempts. Her people’s support made her succeed.
Princess Diana ”œ ‘The People’s Princess’
Three decades ago, Diana Spencer, a kindergarten teacher, astounded the whole world for marrying Prince Charles of England. During that time, it was plausible to suppose that every woman in the world envied her magnificent fate. After the royal wedding, Princess Diana has remained in the main eye of almost all segments of the universal populace.
Put it all together and her life seemed like a fairytale, but the princess rarely made this connection while supposedly drowning herself beneath the pleasures of royal life. That was mainly because the costs of her popularity are what observers referred to as humanity. She moved forward to escalate social awareness on poverty, dwellings, AIDS, and the ill-effects of using landmines.
It would have been an ideal life for her. Having been gifted with two sons, William and Harry, and becoming an inspiration to many, but it also became fairly easy for reporters to exploit her private life. Revelations about her private affairs and familial issues became twice as controversial to the world. This is the reason why Princess Diana had become the frequent subject of discussions in many segments.
The whole world was saddened when she died from a car accident. Different speculations lingered everywhere. Being an ambassador of goodwill to the world, the people were divided in their belief about the well-known princess. Her fans regard her as an inspiration and a role model while her critics thought otherwise.
Oprah Winfrey ”œ ‘The Oprah Effect’
The concept of ‘The Oprah Effect’ is now well established as a metaphor to the ‘Midas Touch.’ Figuratively, it implies that Oprah has a golden touch. Her convincing ability outperforms even the most discreet and the most negative reviews. She is portrayed to be an irresistible endorser at all times.
Despite coming from a remarkably dark past, she is now one of the richest persons all over the world. In 2010, Forbes listed Oprah Winfrey’s worth at over $2.7 billion, making her the wealthiest self-made woman in America.
Her success as being a famous household name spanned from her truthfulness. Her public confessions about her downfalls, her early life swept by storms of harassment and incest, her shaking experience of being pregnant at 13, her episodes of seemingly dangerous exploration with drugs, and her unguarded quest to lose weight touched the hearts of her fans throughout the world as well as created noise to her critics. Thus, the very name ‘Oprah Winfrey’ became known to everyone.
Mary Queen of Scots ”œ (1542 ”œ 1587)
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.
Arguably, this famous English nursery rhyme was associated with the life of Mary Stuart or better known as ‘Mary Queen of Scots.’ Her extraordinary life is a picture of royalty, power, religion, love, and militant episodes of varying degrees of violence.
Royalty because being the only legitimate child of King James V who died six days after her birth, she succeeded the king’s throne and was crowned the Queen of Scotland when she reached one year old. She also became the Queen Consort of France as she was the wife of King Francis II.
Power, due to the fact that two treaties were signed at the time of her marriage. First, the Treaty of Greenwich, signed when she six months old, embarked her on the marriage with Edward. Second, the Treaty of France, was arranged when she was five years of age to marry Francis, the Dauphin of France. Mary was also one among those who projected the royal image of the kings and queens in Europe. Furthermore, Queen Elizabeth I is related to her by a first degree of consanguinity.
Religion has also become symbolic of Queen Mary’s life as a result of her strong belief in the Catholic faith, the religion she strongly acquired during her stay in France and advocated its spread among the Scots. These days, the believers of Mary Queen of Scots have kept her relics in possession holding on to the belief that the Queen’s martyrdom shall soon be recognized and consequently be canonized as a saint.
Love, of course, has always been a part of anyone’s life. The Queen had three significant loves in her life: the ideal May-December love affair with King Francis II of France, who died shortly after their marriage when she was 16 years old; the tragic love she shared with her cousin Henry Stuart, also known as Lord Darnley, who was strangled to death in their garden; and the forbidden love with Earl of Bothwell, who was believed to be Lord Darnley’s murderer. As a consequence of the Scots’ condemnation against the couple, Mary was imprisoned and was forced to abdicate the throne. Thus, her one-year-old son became the successor to the throne.
Meanwhile, determined to fight for what she knew was hers, she fled to England to seek help from her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. However, the threat that Mary was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English Catholics, including the participants in the Rising of the North, superseded the solid blood relationship of the two queens. In the hands of the person she thought would help her, she was arrested and imprisoned for 19 years. She was alleged to be a conspirator in the three assassination attempts to oust Elizabeth. Finally, she was beheaded when she was 45.
On the whole, the lives of the world’s leading females could be but a train ride or a couple of roller coaster rides to pass through. Their lifetimes have led us to believe that there are three main types of fame. First is the ‘innate fame,’ the kind usually gained from being born with a silver spoon. Second is the ‘acquired fame’ which comes from doing something we are good or talented at. Third is the ‘meaningful fame’ which is the most lasting and comes from pursuing something you believe in and putting all your might into becoming deeply involved in something.