Women were glorified in Epics and Puranas for their services of the mankind. But the world had never been a better place for the women to live in. Despite this, several women of the world became prominent in the field of politics, literature, education and religion.
Razia Sultan, South Asia’s first female Ruler, was born in 1250 in Budaun, India. Her father Shams-Ud-Din Iltutmish and her mother Qutub Begum organized grand celebrations to welcome the birth of his first daughter after several sons. According to the history of India, Razia Sultan Ruled as Sultan of Delhi in India from 1236 to 1240. In her childhood, her father took personal interest in her education and trained her to lead armies and administer kingdoms like the some other princess of the time. Thus, by the time she turned 13, Razia became an accomplished archer and horse rider. She frequently accompanied her father in her military expeditions. When she was elevated to the throne, she abandoned and adopted masculine attire.
Razia was an efficient ruler and was in possession of all the qualities of a ruler. She was a great monarch. She was talented, brave, a sagacious, just, beneficent, the patron of the scholars, a dispenser of justice, the protector of her subjects, excellent administrator, a great warrior, leader of her armies, and endowed with all the praiseworthy qualities and qualifications befitting a monarch. Being an efficient administrator, she set up a complete law and order in the empire. She tried her best in improving the infrastructure of the sultanate. She worked for the encouragement of trade, building roads, and digging roads. Besides this, she also establishes several schools, and public libraries.
Razia could not rule for a long time because of her unacceptable love for an African Siddi slave turned nobleman. The governor of Bhatinda named Malik Ikhtiar-Ud-Din Altunia was against such relationship of Razia. So Yakut was killed and Razia was imprisoned and the nobles who were against such female ruler, dethroned her and crowned her brother Bahram. To save her life Razia married Altunia and decided to march towards Delhi. In the way to Delhi, her brother Bahram defeated her on October 13, 1240 and killed the couple. Historians are of the view that Razia and Altunia were buried in Kaithal. But
Maria Theresa was one of the greatest woman leaders of Eighteenth Century. Her reign was considered the most moral in Europe. After the death of her father, Emperor Charles VI, she became the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Mantua, Milan, Transylvania, Bohemia, Croatia, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian and Netherlands and Parma. Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, had sixteen children. She had eleven daughters and five sons.
She was the absolute sovereign who ruled by the council of her advisers. She was familiar with the importance of her public persona and was able to evoke reverence and affection from her subjects. She brought about several reforms which included education, introduction of public health services, codified laws and abolition of torture. Besides this, she implemented significant reforms to strengthen Austria’s military and bureaucratic efficiency. In order to improve the bureaucracy in Austria, she brought reformation in the educational system of her Empire.
Maria Theresa never bothered about her health because she had full confidence upon her vigorous body for strength and endurance. Despite this, she suffered from shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, necrophobia, insomnia and distress. Due to these diseases, she fell ill on November 24, 1780 and on November 28, 1780, she died in the evening. She is buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna next to her husband in a coffin she had inscribed during her lifetime.
Elizabeth-I, who was also known as The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen of Bess, became the queen of England and Ireland on November 17, 1558 at the age of 25. She was born on September 7, 1533 at Palace of Placentia, Greenwich, England. She was the second child of Henry VIII of England. She was the best educated woman of her generation because she could speak and write English, Latin, French, Latin and Italian. Historians are of the view that Elizabeth was also believed to speak Welsh, Cornish, Scottish and Irish in addition to English. She possessed these languages so thoroughly that each language seemed to be her native tongue.
Elizabeth was a queen with great administrative abilities. It was because of her abilities that England became an established power. It flourished economically, culturally and in the field of art and literature. She also stabilized England’s finances by introducing a new currency. Her foreign policy was largely defensive. Trade and diplomatic relations developed between England and Barbary states during the rule of Elizabeth. England established a trading relationship with Morocco in opposition to Spain. She was called the virgin queen because she never married due to the fear of handing over control of her country to a man.
In the last years of her life, the people began to criticize her policies regarding trade and administration and this mounting criticism reflected a decline in the public’s affection for her. The queen’s personal authority was lessening because of which a new generation came into power. As Elizabeth aged, her image gradually changed. The queen’s health remained fair until 1602, but in March 1603, she fell ill and died on March 24, 1603 at Richmond Palace and she was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Catherine the Great
Yekaterina Alexeyevna, the Empress of Russia, was the most renowned and the longest ruling female leader of the country. She, an intelligent and powerful ruler, reigned from 1762 until her death in 1796. She was born on May, 1797 in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia. Her father, Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, belonged to the ruling Germany Family of Anhalt. She received her early education mainly from a French governess. The childhood of Catherene was quite uneventful. In spite of being princesses, her family was not rich. It was because of her mother’s relations to wealthy members of royalty, Catherene came to power after the assassination of her husband, Peter III.
The Catherinian Era is considered the golden age of Russian Empire because she did a lot a lot of things to modernize her country which included organizing 29 provinces, building hundreds of new towns and renovation of old towns. She greatly extended her nation’s borders and continued the revitalization and the modernization begun by Peter the great at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century. She brought several reformations in the administration of Russia. In 1768, the Assignation Bank was given the task of issuing the first government paper money. Several bank branches were established in other government towns.
She expanded trade, developed communications and opened both medical schools and the first medical schools for girls. She was a renowned patron of arts, literature, and education. She was of the view that it was education that could change the hearts and minds of the Russian people and turn them away from backwardness. She wrote a manual for the education of young children. She also founded an institution where girls of noble families were admitted. Besides this, she was a renowned writer who wrote several comedies, novels and memoirs. This powerful and intelligent empress of Russia died on November 17, 1796 and buried at Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.
Queen Victoria who had an addition title of Empress of India was the longest reigning monarch of the British Empire. Victoria, the only child of the Duke and the Duchess of Kent was born on May 24, 1819 at Kensington Palace in London. She was brought up largely isolated from other children because her mother believed it better to be extremely protective regarding the rearing of her child. She was the daughter of Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn. After the death of her father’s elder brothers, she was enthroned at the age of Eighteen on June 20, 1837 and she was declared the Empress of India on May 1, 1876. On February 10, 1840, in the Royal Chapel of St. James’s Palace, she married Prince Albert who encouraged her to exercise her full rights as a constitutional monarch.
The era in which she reigned was called the Victorian age. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change. Her reign of 63 years and seven months was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. The links of Victoria with Europe’s royal family earned her the nick name “the grandmother of Europe. She was instrumental in instituting the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Crimean War. She also actively supported the work of nurse of Florence Nightingale. During the reign of Victoria, the gradual establishment of a modern constitutional monarchy in Britain continued. The power of the House of Commons increased due to the reforms of the voting system.
Queen Victoria, the longest-reigning Monarch, died on January 22, 1901, at half past six in the evening at the age of 81. Several places and memorials are dedicated to the Queen Victoria, especially in the Common Wealth Nations. Innumerable places are named after the queen’s name. These places include the Capital of the Seychelles, Africa’s largest lake, Victoria Falls, the Capital of British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Queen Victoria’s birthday is celebrated as Victoria Day on 24 May. Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday and in parts of Scotland, this day is declared as a local public holiday.
Rani Lakshmi Bai
Rani Lakshmi Bai, a Symbol of bravery, patriotism and honor, was one of the leading warriors of the India’s first struggle for independence. Rani Lakshmi Bai whose actual name was Manikarnika, was born on November 19, 1828 at Poona. Moropant Tabme who was a court advisor, was her father and her mother Bhagirathi was a renowned scholar of her times. At an early age, her mother Bhagirathi died. In the absence of her mother, her father brought her up and encouraged her to learn to ride elephants and horses. Her father also encouraged her to learn the skill of using weapons. She grew up with Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, the active participants in the first revolt of independence of 1857.
She was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao, the Maharaja of Jhansi in1842. She gave birth to a son in 1851, but this child died at the age of four months. After the death of this child, she adopted Damodar Rao as her son. Unfortunately, Gangadhar Rao also died on November 21, 1853. After the death of her husband, she was left alone. But she was bold and a courageous and brave lady and did not lose her courage. Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor General of India, did not accept Rani’s claim that Damodar Rao was their legal son and decided to annex the state of Jhansi under his doctrine of lapse. When she came to know about this news, she felt humiliated and decided not to give Jhansi at any cost.
The Britishers attacked Jhansi in March 1858. The struggle continued for about two weeks. After this Great War, Jhansi fell to the British forces. But Lakshmi Bai in disguise of a male took up arms against British army. But the situation became out of control, Lakshmi Bai departed from Jhansi. She reached Kalpi and from Kalpi she departed to Gwalior. The fierce battle started once again and on the second day of the battle, the great heroine of the first struggle for India’s Independence sacrificed her life on June 18, 1858. In fact, she was an extraordinary and valiant lady in the history of India.
Margaret Thatcher, who is considered as the Iron Lady, was the Britain’s first woman Prime Minister. She was born on October 13, 1925 in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Her father Alfred Robert was active in local politics and the Methodist Church and brought up her daughter as a strict Methodist. Her mother’s name was Beatrice Ethel who belonged to Lincolnshire. Margaret admitted to Huntingtower Road Primary School. Later on, she applied for a scholarship to study chemistry at Somerville College, at Oxford. She arrived at Oxford in 1943 and obtained her graduate degree in 1947. In spite of being a student of Chemistry, she was thinking towards law and politics.
Margaret Thatcher entered politics in 1959 with the encouragement of her husband, Denis Thatcher, who was a wealthy business. Margaret’s talent caused her to be mentioned as a future Prime Minister of Britain. In early 1979, Callaghan’s government lost a motion of no confidence and a general election was called in which the Conservatives won 44 seats majority in the House of Commons and on May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Margaret’s tenure of 11 years and 209 days as Prime Minister was the longest since Lord Salisbury and the longest continuous period in office since Lord Liverpool. In 1999, Margaret was named one of the 100 most important people of the twentieth Century.
Margaret Thatcher was given the title of ‘Iron Lady’ because of her outstanding qualities of strong policy making and self confidence. During her Prime Minister ship, she boosted the economy of United Kingdom by lowering the income –tax rates. She also privatized some nationalized industries, education, housing and health care industries. This iron lady died on April 8, 2013 at the age of 87. In accordance with her wishes, she received a ceremonial funeral with full military honors at St. Paul’s Cathedral on April 17, 2013. After her ceremonial funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral, her body was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium, where her husband had been cremated.
Indira Gandhi was the first woman Prime Minister of the largest democratic country of the world. She was born on November 19, 1917 at Allahabad. She was the only child of Jawahar lal Nehru who was the first Prime Minister of the country. She received her early education at home. After passing her matriculation examination, she was sent to Shantiniketan. For some time, she studied in Switzerland. Later, she joined Oxford University. In 1942, she married to Feroz Gandhi who was a fellow member of the party. She had two children named Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. Her mother Kamla Nehru died in 1930, and she often acted as her father’s Hostess and accompanied her father on his foreign travels.
She began to take active part in freedom struggle of the country. She was also kept in jail for 13 months. She joined Congress party in 1938 at the age of 21. In 1959, she was elected the President Congress Working Committee. In 1964, she was made the member of the Rajya Sabha. In the cabinet of Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, she became the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the same year. After Shastri’s death on January 11, 1966, she became the first Prime Minister of India. She imposed emergency in June 1975. So she, with her party, was defeated in the general elections of 1977. But the Janta Party Government failed. So Indira Congress was again voted back to power.
She was a very wise, intelligent and bold lady. As the Prime Minister of India, she has done a great service. She abolished the Privy Purse of the Indian Kings and nationalized the banks. She helped the Bangladesh in getting independence. She led India to get victory in war against Pakistan. She had established a permanent relationship with Russia. In fact, Indira Gandhi has got great respect and popularity in India and in the whole world. She followed the principles of socialism and non-alignment. India made a great progress under her leadership.