These trailblazing ladies have shown the world that women are a force to be reckoned with, second to no man and certainly not the ‘weaker sex’. Their strong character makes them icons and role models for everyone, gender notwithstanding.

Marie Curie. The Polish/French scientist was not only the first woman to receive the Nobel prize, but was also the first person to be awarded the prestigious medal in two categories, for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911. Curie helped develop the world’s first X-ray machines.

Mother Teresa. This frail Albanian nun taught the world what strength is all about. Her Missionary of Charities in Calcutta helped save thousands of lives. For her selfless service to humanity, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

Born in Kenya, Wangari Maathai could well be the African embodiment for Mother Earth. Her Nobel prize lauded her efforts to prevent conflict through protection of scarce resources. She is an unrelenting democracy and women’s rights campaigner.

Shirin Ebadi. The Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who received the Nobel in 2003 fearlessly represents political dissidents and has been founding initiatives to promote democracy in her native country, where she has been under constant threat but refuses to give up.

Malala Yousafzai. Although the world remembers her as the girl who got shot in the head by the Taliban, Malala herself prefers to be the girl who refused to give up her schooling. Education, especially for girls, is a cause dear to her heart and she has taken this battle to many forums in the world. Many of her countrymen may aggressively oppose her, but this Nobel Prize winner is not giving up on campaigning for every child’s right to get schooling.