While TIME put the spotlight this year on the key women behind the #MeToo movement, it’s worth noting that only a handful of women have made the annual feature in the magazine’s 94-year history. In fact, the title was originally called Man of the Year, and the gender-neutral tweak can only be traced back to 1999.
Former Deputy Editor Radhika Jones wrote in 2013, “You can count them on two hands. But it’s a fair reminder that for much of TIME’s history, women seldom held the kinds of positions of power that would set them up for Man of the Year status.”
Ahead, a look back at the women the magazine has featured through the years.
For capturing the heart of Edward VIII and for being the cause of Britain’s abdication crisis, Wallis Simpson was named the “Woman of the Year.” The American socialite also certainly helped modernized the monarchy while living out one of the greatest love stories of the century. Along with being the first to earn the title, Simpson is also the first of only four to be given the title solo.
Madame Chiang Kai-shek
The following year, First Lady of the Republic of China Soong Mei-ling appeared with her husband Chiang Kai-shek as “Man and Wife of the Year.” “No woman in the West holds so great a position as Mme Chiang Kai-shek holds in China,” said TIME.
In 1952, Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne after the death of her father. Thrust into the spotlight at such a young age, the Queen became the face of the modern monarchy. TIME’s choice was a no-brainer due to the royal’s influence and prominence.
To celebrate barriers that American women broke in 1975, TIME named them the “Women of the Year.” The magazine profiled numerous women from various backgrounds as they made giant leaps through different industries, and highlighting their accomplishments.
The third woman to be featured solo was Philippine President Corazon Aquino, who was given the feature after she was elected. Aquino was recognized for restoring democracy after the 20-year dictatorship the South East Asian country endured.
A group of women
The Chancellor of Germany was given the title due to her successful steering through two of Europe’s crises. In the feature, TIME also named Merkel as the most powerful woman in the world.
"The Silence Breakers"
Opening the floodgates of Hollywood's sordid history of abuse, TIME magazine declared the #MeToo movement this year's Person of the Year. On the cover are Isabel Pascual, Adama Iwu, Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler and Taylor Swift, some of the movement's most notable personalities.