The glass ceiling smashers

A look at some of the most influential women on the world stage - female figures who have turned the tides and made history

Columnist Mary Ann Seighart wrote in yesterday's Independent that the 'overestimation of the power and representation of women is commonplace.'

While it's hard to disagree that the achievements of prominent female figures are often naively held up as examples of the end of patriarchy and an unrepresentative male dominance of political, economic and social affairs, the steps that women have made in the past century have been huge.

The article, entitled 'Women on top? You've got to be joking', coincides with the 50 year anniversary of the start of Sirimavo Bandaranaike's rule as the Prime Minister of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

She was the world's first ever female head of government and went on to win a further two terms in office - a significant development in the history of modern day politics.

Far from disregarding Mary's article, which placed a future of universally prevailing equality and adjusted attitudes towards women well into the future, we thought a look at some of history's exceptional, powerful and influential women was well over due.

Click HERE to launch our guide to the world's ground-breaking women