Without his indomitable widowed mother, the famous Mongolian warrior, Genghis Khan (pictured above), would not have survived past the age of 10.
Behind every successful Empire founder stands a courageous mother who would do anything to ensure the survival of her children. Widowed and cast out by her tribe with winter coming on, her little family was destined for death. Undeterred, Hoelun scoured the Onon River, foraging for food to feed nine mouths, and thus lived Yesukhei, who would be better known as Genghis Khan as an adult.
Living much of her life as a slave in the United States, this mama bear’s protective instincts were awakened when her five-year-old son was illegally sold after slavery was abolished. She became one of the first black women to successfully sue a white man in court, and then went on to speak prolifically about Christianity, abolition and women’s suffrage.
Irena Sendler (Jolanta)
Some 2500 Jewish babies and children owe their lives to Irena, who also had her own three children. As an employee of the social welfare department in Nazi-occupied Poland, she had—and took—the opportunity to smuggle Jewish children to safety, placing them with trusted families or orphanages under fake identities.
In a society where child abuse was often ignored and honour killings the norm, Queen Rania of Jordan was brave enough to speak up against them. This mother of four also actively advocates for women’s rights and educational developments throughout the Arab world, and is particularly vocal about the importance of cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue around the world.
Your body has changed irreversibly from carrying babies (in your belly and in your arms). You sacrificed your career to stay home and change nappies. You sacrificed precious time with your baby to work and provide for your family. You kiss boo-boos away, you help them with their homework (even if you’re only just one step ahead of them), you pray for them and you would do anything in the world—and then some—just to make sure they’re OK. You’re a mum and you took an incredibly brave step when you became one.