15 of the Most Powerful Women of the 20th Century

In the 21st century, we can all freely embrace #girlpower and loudly applaud the achievements of women at any age — even though we still have a long way to go when it comes to fighting against discrimination, the gender pay gap and trying to figure out female-friendly parental leave and childcare policies.

Still, it's crazy to remember that in the 20th century, things didn't work in quite the same way: female emancipation in the early years of the 20th century led to new political and legal rights — including the right for women over 30 to vote, passed in the U.K. in 1918 — but women still struggled within societal constraints and female "power" remained a tenuous concept for most.

Despite numerous obstacles in their way, there were some incredible, powerful women who left a lasting legacy, changing the lives of those around them and shaping history for generations of men and women to come.

We salute the most inspiring, remarkable, strong (and yes, controversial) women... Here are 15 of the most powerful women of the 20th century to leave you feeling motivated and encourage you to never give up.

NEXT: Celebrating Women's History Month in the UK »

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