History books are dominated by powerful male leaders, and even today we’re a long way from reaching gender equality. However, not all of History’s powerful leaders are men! Some of the greatest leaders in history are fearless females. Here are some of the women who have led the way and rightly earned a place amongst the ten most powerful female leaders in history.


Cleopatra was a leader of Egypt and lived from 69 to 30BC. She is famed for her relationships with the Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony. However, equal emphasis should be placed on her astute leadership. She established peace and prosperity in a country that had been embroiled in civil war and struggled economically.

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great presided over a Russian “Golden Age”. Born in 1729 in Poland, Catherine the Great married a Russian ruler and later overthrew him to rule herself. She helped to modernise Russia, fought and won two wars against the Ottoman Empire and worked to expand Russia’s empire.

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I is remembered as one of England’s greatest monarchs. As a leader, she battled and defeated the Spanish Armada and brought Protestantism to the country. She also looked beyond the continent of Europe in a bid to build trade opportunities and wealth for her country.

Empress Wu Zetian

Born 625AD, Wu Zetian is one of the most powerful women in Chinese history. She spent time as a palace concubine before becoming the wife of Emperor Gaozong. After his death, Wu Zetian assumed power herself, becoming the first and only female Emperor. She ruled with an iron fist, killing or exiling many, and installed Buddhism as the official religion of the country.  

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher was the first female British Prime Minister. She led the country from 1979 to 1990 and became known as the “Iron Lady”. She oversaw a war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, crushed a miner’s strike and introduced a number of economic policies that are still hotly debated today.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc, born in 1412, was a French heroine who rallied the French troops in their fight against the English. She suffered an ignominious death, burned at the stake by the English, but is remembered as a Roman Catholic Saint and a symbol of faith.

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel is the current leader of Germany, a post she has held since 2005. She is also seen as the de facto leader of the European Union, occupying a very powerful position within the group. She won a recent election, meaning she could be in power for at least another four years.   

Hillary Clinton

Despite losing the presidential election, Hillary Clinton will retain her place as one of History’s most powerful female leaders. She spent time as a First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and a leader of the Democrats in the United States.

Indira Ghandi

Serving as India’s first (and currently only) female Prime Minister from 1955 to 1984, Indira Ghandi was a controversial figure. Under her leadership, India fought and won a war with Pakistan and oversaw a state of emergency that restricted many basic rights amongst the Indian people. She was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, following an order for them to storm a sacred temple.

Corazon Aquino

Corazon Aquino had been quite happy supporting the political ambitions of her husband, Senator Benigno Aquino. However, when he was assassinated in 1983, she threw herself into a political life and the fight against autocratic President Ferdinand Marcos. She became the leader of the Philippines in 1986 and oversaw a period of democracy and social reform.



Some of these women were the first female leaders their countries had ever seen. As we make strides towards greater gender equality across the world, we sincerely hope that they won’t be the last.

Corinne Ledling is a businesswoman who’s very passionate about her job. She’s a Content Manager at Bizstats.co.uk and loves to share career tips and tricks.