49 of the Most Inspiring Women Ever Featured on the Cover of People

Posted on

Gloria Steinem, 1974

Prominent women's right's activist

Billie Jean King & Chris Evert, 1975

Julia Child, 1975

Pioneering chef with beloved TV show

Barbara Walters, 1976

The first female co-anchor of the Today Show

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 1974

Former First Lady who became an editor, arts patron and architectural preservationist

Jane Pauley, 1983

The second female co-anchor of the Today Show and an advocate for working mothers

Dolly Parton, 1977

Gilda Radner, 1977

Saturday Night Live star

Diana Ross, 1979

Music icon

Betty Ford, 1979

First lady who was open about her battles with alcoholism

Grace Kelly, 1982

Oscar-winning actress who became the princess of Monaco

Nancy Reagan, 1980

First lady

Sandra Day O'Connor

The first female justice on the Supreme Court

Geraldine Ferraro, 1984

First female candidate for vice president for a major political party

Dr. Ruth, 1985

Prominent sex-positive therapist

Madonna, 1985

International pop superstar and "man-smasher"

Cher, 1988

Legendary music icon and outspoken feminist

Tina Turner, 1985

Massively successful solo artist

Christa McAuliffe, 1996

American teacher killed in the Columbia space shuttle explosion

Gloria Estefan, 1990

Music icon who endured a near-fatal accident and went back to performing

Connie Chung, 1990

Newscaster who opened up the dialogue about having children later in life

Anita Hill, 1991

Accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harrassment and started a national dialogue around workplace assault

Sandra Bullock, 1995

Oscar-winning actress and America's sweetheart

Martha Stewart, 1995

Pioneering businesswoman and television star

Princess Diana, 1998

British royal and global philanthropist (this posthumous cover was about her legacy)

U.S. Women's Soccer Team, 1999

World Cup-winning athletes

Olympic Medalists, 1996

Medal-winning athletes from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, including gymnast Kerri Strug

Olympic Figure Skaters, 1996

Olympic medal-winning skaters Kristi Yamaguci, Oksana Baiul and Ekaterina Gordeeva

Shania Twain, 1999

Country superstar who overcame poverty to be a bestselling artist

Katie Couric, 2002

News anchor and advocate for colon health

Jessica Lynch, 2003

Rescued POW

Dr. Jerri Nielsen, 1999

American physician who self-treated her breast cancer at the South Pole

Celine Dion, 1999

International pop icon who went from poverty to superstardom

Sheryl Crow, 2006

Grammy-winning musician and breast cancer survivor

Dixie Chicks, 2003

Pioneering country trio who spoke out politically

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, 2004

Child stars who channeled their fame into a fashion empire

Ellen DeGeneres, 2005

First openly gay talk show host

Jennifer Love Hewitt, 2007

Actress who kicked off the push towards body positivity and acceptance after being criticized for her appearance bikini photos

Oprah, 2007

Groundbreaking female journalist and talk-show host who opened a school for girls in SouthAfrica

Michelle Obama, 2008

First African-American first lady and advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition and veteran's issues

Elizabeth Smart, 2008

Escaped her kidnappers and became a child safety activist

Angelina Jolie, 2013

Went public with her decision to get a preventive double mastectomy after being diagnosed with high-risk BRCA-1 gene

Brittany Maynard, 2014

Drew attention to the right-to-die movement after battling painful illness

Jaycee Dugard, 2016

Escaped captivity; wrote a memoir about her ordeal

Madonna, 2017

Music icon who has adopted four children and gives back to their home country of Malawi

Viola Davis, 2017

Oscar-winning actress who overcame poverty

Hillary Clinton, 2017

First female candidate for president from a major political party

Hoda Kotb & Savannah Guthrie, 2018

The first female co-anchors of the 7:00 hour of the Today Sho

Aly Raisman, 2018

Olympic gold medalist who spoke out about sexual abuse in the sport