10 of History’s Greatest Moms
Happy Mother’s Day! In honor of this special day, we’d like to highlight some great moms — women who loved their children, and often made the world a better place for other children as well.
1. Cleopatra (69 BC-30 BC) | Queen of Eqypt
Motherhood played a vital role in the Egyptian queen’s grip on power. Cleopatra was a larger-than-life monarch who had four children — a son with Julius Caesar, and three children with Mark Antony. These relationships cemented her political influence in Rome and allowed her freely rule Egypt. Her daughter, Cleopatra Selene, eventually became queen of modern Algeria.
2. Hoelun (?–1208)| Mentor to Genghis Khan
Forced to marry and bear five children by a man who kidnapped her, Hoelun and her children were disowned after he husband’s death, so she took charge of their survival. Her most famous son was Genghis Khan, who would later rule the Mongolian Empire. She cared for war orphans and she became Khan’s most trusted advisors.
3. Sojourner Truth (1797–1883) | Women’s Rights Activist
Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth escaped to freedom as an adult with her baby daughter, but her 5-year-old son, Peter, was illegally sold to a man in Alabama. She went to court to fight for her son’s freedom of her son, winning the case and becoming the first African-American woman to win in court against a white man.
4. Ann Jarvis (1832–1905) | Social Activist
Mother’s Day is celebrated as national holiday thanks to a moment inspired by Ann Jarvis. After 9 of her 13 children died at very young ages, Jarvis organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs in West Virginia to help other moms fight childhood diseases by supplying crucial medical care, providing financial assistance for medicine and improving sanity conditions for poor mothers.
5. Marie Curie (1864-1934) | Physicist
Trailblazer Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and one of only four people to do so twice in their lifetime (in 1903 and 1911). After her husband’s untimely death in 1906, she raised two daughters as a single mother. She instilled in them a strong work either and the importance of flexibility. One daughter, Irene, went on to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry with her husband in 1935.
6. Irena Sendler (1910–2008) | Humanitarian
A hero of World War II, Irena Sendler was a brave mother of three who smuggled nearly 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. She provided them with false, non-Jewish identities and hid them in orphanages and Christian homes. She saved more Jews from the Holocaust than any other individual citizen, and even after being arrested and tortured, she never gave up information on the children.
7. Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) | Actress & Philanthropist
Audrey Hepburn is famous for winning Academy Awards. But after four miscarriages, she devoted her life to raising her two sons, Luca and Sean, out of the limelight. She was also passionate about service and philanthropy, working as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and launching her own charity, The Audrey Hepburn Society, to provide child survival programs worldwide.
8. Princess Diana (1961–1997) | Children’s Activist
Princess Diana used her worldwide fame to garner support for initiatives that were important to her, such as landmine eradication, HIV/AIDS advocacy and children’s health. More than 20 years after her death, her humanitarianism influence is still seen today in her sons, William and Harry, who are both incredibly supportive of the charities she established.
9. Michelle Obama (1964-) | Lawyer, FLOTUS
During her tenure as First Lady, Michelle Obama tackled childhood obesity epidemic, advocated for education equality, promoted LGBT rights, and brought light to issues military families face. But her most important and passionate role was in raising two daughters, Malia and Sasha. Calling herself “mom-in-chief,” she said, “My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.”
10. Angelina Jolie (1975–) | Actress & Humanitarian
Angelina Jolie has six children with former husband Brad Pitt, three of whom she adopted internationally adopted. She is also deeply committed to refugee humanitarian work and has traveled to more than 30 countries in her role serving as a Goodwill Ambassador.