Tomboy, daughter, spy, soldier, foster mom, innkeeper, gold miner, nurse, activist; veteran: Angela Jimenez doesn't need a movie so much as a mini-series.
When famine hit Jeju island, where she'd been exiled since birth, this prostitute-turned-businesswoman spent her fortune to feed everyone.
Possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history, a primary inspiration for Dracula, one of the most reviled women in history, and, I argue, innocent.
Carolina Maria de Jesus
Brash, funny, and difficult, this mother of three wrote her way out of extreme poverty with her uncompromising look at Brazilian society - and was alternately lauded and berated for it.
Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones)
This leader of the labor movement suffered imprisonment, defamation, and untold misery to battle against forces that most of us just take for granted.
One half of the odd couple of Crimean nursing - the jolly black businesswoman who swore by folk remedies, in stark contrast to Florence Nightingale's by-the-book Victorian approach to medicine.
When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, this beauty queen traded face powders for explosive ones.
Abducted from her tribe, this Maori woman managed to save her kinsmen and stop a war - by straddling a roof and cramming the house underneath.
This amateur dancer escaped a life of abuse by pretending to be an Indonesian princess - and eventually became a victim of the maniacal world of espionage.
The first naval admiral of modern times, she protected her country from foreign invaders with aplomb.