At 19, Şafak Pavey lost her left arm and leg making sure her friend with leukemia didn't fall off a train. Her ensuing disability barely slowed her down - now a Turkish parliament member at age 38, she fights for womens' rights, minority rights, and freedom of expression.
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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.
Instigated a massive "women's war" against British taxation, the effect of which was one part protest movement, one part comedy roast, and one part block party.
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.
Headed a squadron of 80,000 pirates, ruled the Chinese seas for two decades, and actually retired happily - but not before extorting a nice pension from the Chinese government.
Recruited widows, orphans, and prostitutes into an all-woman ninja spy group, the largest in Asia at the time.
One half of the odd couple of Crimean nursing - the by-the-book Victorian rebel who revolutionized the field of medicine who stood in stark to Mary Seacole's jolly reliance on folk remedies and home comforts.
The ghost of a tragically-murdered young child come back to haunt her mother in post-slavery America.
This stubborn empress led her native Ethiopia to do the unthinkable - defeat one of the major European powers in war.
Trung Trac and Trung Nhi
Sisters who led an army on elephant-back to overthrow oppressive Chinese rule and establish a short-lived Vietnamese kingdom.
When horse-riding Spaniards invaded, she defied her tribe to befriend one of the abandoned horses, using her new bond to fight off the Spanish.