Alison Hargreaves summits Everest: 13 May 1995

Alison Hargreaves on Everest

On 13 May 1995, professional British mountaineer Alison Hargreaves reached the summit of mount Everest in the Himalayas. She was the first woman – and only the second person – to summit without either support from a Sherpa team or supplementary oxygen.

Hargreaves had set her ambition out clearly and shown she was going for it: she would become the first woman to climb Everest, K2 and Kanchenjunga – the three highest mountains in the world – without oxygen.

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Jeanne d’Arc in battle in Orleans: 7 May 1429

1903 painting of Jeanne d'Arc. She is in armour in front of a cathedral and surrounded by white flowers

On 7 May 1429, Jeanne d’Arc led several charges on the besieged city of Orleans in France. She was struck by an arrow, dressed the wound and returned to the fray. The next day, the English army besieging Orleans retreated and the city was freed.

Having led the lifting the of the siege, Jeanne then led the French army as they routed the English armies and freed more cities. When Charles VII of France was crowned in Reims that summer, Jeanne d’Arc knelt at his feet.

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Violeta Chamorro sworn in: 25 April 1990

Violete stands with arms aloft whilst wearing the presidential sash. Danial Ortega stands next to her

On 25 April 1990, Violeta Chamorro was sworn in as President of Nicaragua. She was the first female President in the Americas to have come to power under a free election.

Chamorro led the country for seven years, overseeing the end of the civil war between the Sandinistas (Marxist revolutionary government forces) and the Contras (US-backed counter-revolutionary forces).

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Bertha von Suttner wins the Nobel Peace Prize: 18 April 1906

Cropped photo of Bertha von Suttner in 1906

On 18 April 1906, Baroness Bertha von Suttner becomes the first woman to collect the Nobel Peace Prize. She had been instrumental in Albert Nobel creating a prize for peace at all.

Von Suttner was an international leader in the peace movement, and continued to campaign until her death, a few weeks before Franz Ferdinand’s assassination triggered the first World War she had sought to prevent.

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Marion Anderson sings in Washington: 9 April 1939

Contralto Marian Anderson sang at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, April 9, 1939, to an estimated crowd of 75,000 people.

On 9 April 1939, Marion Anderson stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. A crowd of 75,000 listened to her, and millions more tuned in on the radio. She sang where she did because she had been refused the use Constitution Hall by its owners. Marion was black, and the owners had a white-artists-only clause.

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Yaa Asantewaa: 28 March 1900

On 28 March 1900, Queen Yaa Asantewaa addressed the remnants of the Ashanti government in Kumasi, in modern-day Ghana.

I must say this: if you, the men of Asante will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.

Her words galvanised the Ashanti Confederacy, starting their final war against British colonialism on the Gold Coast. The Ashanti leaders chose Yaa Asantewaa to be the war-leader, the first woman to hold the post, and an army of several thousand was placed at her command.

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Greenham Women: 22 March 1982

Several women are seated on the ground with peace signs whilst a man and a police man attempt to move them

On 22 March 1982, around 250 women block access to the airbase at Greenham Common in the UK. It is the first time the women’s peace camp has put non-violence to the test on a large scale, and 34 women are arrested. By the end of 1982, 30,000 women would arrive for the ’embrace the base’ protest. By 1983, over 100 similar peace camps are set up near nuclear sites around the world.

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