At the age of seven, Kakenya Ntaiya made a bargain with her father: she would undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) if he agreed to let her finish her education.
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Jeanne de Clisson
When her husband was unjustly executed, this French noblewoman-turned-pirate became the terror of France.
A clever woman who rose from obscurity to become a political force, playing nations against each other to protect her people.
When Rome set its eyes on her country, this one-eyed queen fought them tooth and nail, until they left her alone.
With a dead husband and a hostile foreign country on her hands, this Indian queen did the unthinkable - turned her loyal servants into some of the first suicide bombers in recorded history.
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.
Te Puea Herangi
The reluctant royal who became the Maori's greatest leader.
When enemies invaded her town while her husband was on lunch break, she grabbed a nearby pestle and saved the day by achieving the high score in soldier whack-a-mole.
100 years before Lawrence of Arabia, this British woman traveled the Middle East by herself, surviving shipwrecks, plagues, and Bedouin attacks in the process.
In 1931, a seventeen-year-old girl struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in front of a crowd of thousands -- and then was benched into obscurity.
Christine de Pizan
When her husband unexpectedly died, she rolled up her sleeves and became one of the greatest authors of the age to keep food on the table. She wrote passionate defenses of her gender (and military treatises!) that were centuries ahead of their time.