Women Who Ruled: Historic Female Leaders from Around the World (Photo Gallery)

While more and more women are moving to leadership positions around the globe, the role of women in power remains too rare a thing--in the United States of America we have yet to see a female American president!

Although today's progress might seem a bit slow, women have led peoples, states, and countries througout history. And just like their male counterparts, they have left their mark as leaders.

Click through the gallery above to learn about the female leaders who have shaped history.


The last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra represented herself as the reincarnation of an Egyptian goddess, Isis. Her romantic and political relationships with Caesar and Mark Antony have cemented her in history as a powerful woman who took advantage of her sex appeal.  Photo: Getty Images

Shammuramat was a Queen of Assyria between 811 and 808 BCE. After her husband King Shamshi-Adad Vafter died, she reigned for three years on the throne of Assyria. Photo: Getty Images

Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, famously led the second crusade, annulled her marriage to the King of France and married Henry II of England. She was imprisoned for 16 years for encouraging lords of England to support her sons' uprising against their father but would go o to serve as Queen regent when her son King Richard I went on the Third Crusade. Photo: Getty Images

Claiming divine guidance, Joan of Arc led the French army to several victories during the Hundred Years' War. Captured, she was burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19 years old. Twenty-five years after her execution, the pope pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr.

Isabella I of Castile and her husband Ferdinand reigned from 1474-1504 and brought stability to the kingdoms that became the basis for the political unification of Spain. Among their many reforms and completing the Reconquista, they also financed Christopher Columbus' 1492 voyage.

Catherine de' Medici became Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France. Henry's death thrust Catherine into the political spotlight as Queen regent and played a key rule in the reign of her third son. Many believe that without Catherine, it is unlikely that her sons would have remained in power.

Queen Njinga Mbande was a 17th-century queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people in southwestern Africa. Nzinga resisted Portuguese colonial occupation of central west Africa to control the slave trade for over four decades. She even converted to Christianity in attempt to keep the Portuguese at bay.

Empress of Russia from 1762-1796, Catherine the Great was the longest-ruling female leader of Russia. She came to power following the coup d'état of her husband, Peter III. Under her reign, Russia grew larger and stronger and became recognized as one of the great powers of Europe. Photo: Getty Images

At age 16, Cixi was brought to the Forbidden City to join Emperor Xianfeng's harem and bore him a son who became his only heir. When the Emperor died in 1861, Cixi became "empress dowager" and a regent ruler in place of her 5 year old son. Although unofficially ruling, Cixi effectively controlled the Manchu Qing Dynasty for 47 years. Photo: Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Liluokalani was the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She felt her mission was to preserve the islands for their native residents, however, in 1898, Hawaii was annexed to the United States and she was forced to give up her throne when a coup d'état unfolded. Photo: Getty Images

The first female to hold the office, Golda Meir served as prime minister of Israel from 1969-1974. Known as the "Iron Lady" before Margaret Thatcher also received the epithet. Photo: NY Daily News via Getty Images

Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was the third Prime Minister of India, and the only woman to hold the office. She served from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. Gandhi is the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of India and the only woman to hold the office. Photo: Getty Images

Known as the "Iron Lady" for her uncompromising politics, Thatcher was the first woman to lead a major Western democracy serving as British Prime Minister for more than eleven years, from 1979-1990. Thatcher's political and economic ideals, such as free markets, financial discipline, tax cuts, nationalism, etc., became known as "Thatcherism." Photo: Getty Images

Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt and is generally regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs who established trade economies and commissioned hundreds of building projects. She reigned longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. Photo: UIG via Getty Images