Olympic Swimmer Who Swam Three Hours Pushing a Boat of Other Syrian Refugees to SafetyA dinghy, built for six but holding twenty refugees, broke down in the Aegean Sea. Mardini, her sister Sarah, and two others jumped out and swam for three hours, pushing the boat all the way to Lesbos.
The Woman Who Made Microbiology PossibleIn the 1880s, scientists were trying to isolate and culture tuberculosis bacteria. Hesse's husband Walther was running into problems until she offered a solution.
Rome's First Female MayorRaggi is the first woman to lead Rome in a history that spans almost three millennia.
Lady of the CellsRita Levi-Montalcini had to deal with patriarchal disapproval, Fascist anti-Semitism, misogyny and war before earning a Nobel Prize for discovering nerve growth factor. Says she, "If I had not been discriminated against or had not suffered persecution, I would never have received the Nobel Prize."
The Spy Who Foiled Germany's RocketsUsing her photographic memory, this WW2 spy stole some of the most vital German rocket plans, and suffered a year in concentration camps for it. She died this year.
Frau Black DeathYevdokiya Zavaliy joined World War II while underage, and eventually rose to commander of her own platoon. She and her platoon terrified the Nazis so much that they gave her the nickname Frau Black Death.
Oldest person to earn a doctoral degreeAfter being refused the opportunity to defend her doctoral thesis due to Nazi anti-Semitism, she returned to it 77 years later.
The Academic Who Overcame it AllCecile DeWitt-Morette was a pioneering mathematical physicist who worked with Albert Einstein, Irene Joliot-Curie, and Richard Feynman, and advocated for more women in the sciences.
The Oldest Female Olympic GymnastChusovitina will be competing in the 2016 summer Olympics--her seventh Olympics to date--at age 41, making her the oldest female Olympic gymnast ever.
Born without arms or legs, this artist learned to write, sew, and paint with her mouth - and came to work for kings and queens.
Although her tribe was destroyed and she was forced into an unwanted marriage, this indomitable woman came to run the world's largest empire - with a woman as her companion.
This Mongol stood up to the most fearsome man in the world and in so doing, prevented a genocide.
Without training, this 13-year-old shattered world records for running in 1967 -- unfortunately, it happened shortly after Kathrine Switzer's headline-making Boston marathon entry, and Mancuso's feat was all but forgotten.
When the true king of the Scots came to reclaim the throne, this spirited woman went up against her husband to back her chosen sovereign.
This "most dangerous of all spies" staged daring mountaintop escapes, prison breaks, and railway bombings -- all on her trusty wooden leg, codenamed "Cuthbert."
Part of a WW2 unit that untangled a logistics nightmare, she lived to a hundred and helped run a chapter of the NAACP.
In the 60s, an Italian woman was abducted and raped - and then pressured to marry her rapist. She instead took him to court and got him tossed into jail.
When she was assassinated for her critiques of the police, protests broke out across Brazil.
When her husband became deathly ill, this pregnant teen took the reins to become America's first female boat commander - all while fighting off a mutiny and keeping her husband alive.
After escaping the Armenian Genocide (by walking across the Syrian desert while pregnant), this woman went back into Armenia to rescue her sons, then made her way to America -- where she invented the recipe for Rice-a-Roni.
As an old woman, led an incredibly successful rebellion against British colonialism, known as The War of the Golden Stool,…
The first naval admiral of modern times, she protected her country from foreign invaders with aplomb.
The first Japanese woman to go to college didn't have a choice. But the experience changed her - and she changed Japan in return.
Marguerite de la Rocque
Stranded by her cruel relative on an abandoned Canadian island (literally named the Isle of Demons), she survived for two years by hunting animals and eventually made it back to France.