16 of History's Most Rebellious Women

Women Revolutionaries
Alison Wright / CORBIS

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma
After 15 long years under house arrest in Burma, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was finally granted freedom in November 2010, even as her country and the cause she's been fighting for sank deeper into political imprisonment under the military junta's repressive rule. Known as "the Lady" to millions of Burmese citizens who consider her more of a goddess than a rebel, Suu Kyi has been the foremost leader in the effort to democratize the Southeast Asian nation as well as a courageous advocate for human rights and peaceful revolution. The daughter of an assassinated independence hero, Suu Kyi seemingly fell into her role as Burma's icon. After spending much of her life overseas in India, the U.S., Japan and England, where she married and had two sons, Suu Kyi returned home in 1988 to care for her ailing mother. While there, protesters gathered to call for the ouster of a regime whose mismanagement had caused a sweeping economic downturn. The army fired on the assembled group of students, monks and workers, and for the first time, the Lady stepped forward to address the people. Suu Kyi founded the National League for Democracy in 1989, and the party secured a decisive victory in the 1990 elections, which would have effectively made Suu Kyi Prime Minister. Instead, the junta refused to hand over power and enacted a constitution that forbade Suu Kyi from ever serving as Burma's leader. Despite this obstacle, the Lady and the Burmese people are not ready to give up. Since her release, Suu Kyi has sought to negotiate with the junta that imprisoned her for all those years, but so far it has ignored her. "I wish I could have tea with them every Saturday, a friendly tea," the Lady told TIME after her release. And if not, "We could always try coffee." —Erin Skarda

See a TIME 100 profile of Aung San Suu Kyi and TIME's January 2011 cover story on her.

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