Madeleine Albright paved the way for women when she became the first female Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton’s administration. Her position made her the highest-ranking woman in the federal government’s history – representing the US at the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997.

Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1937 when her father worked at the Czech embassy in Belgrade. With war imminent in Europe, the family moved to London in 1938, living through some of the worst of the blitz bombing.

When the family emigrated to the US in 1948, Madeleine was able to complete her education in Denver, then majoring in Political Science at Wellesley College graduating with honours. She later obtained her PhD from Colombia University with a dissertation on the role of journalists in the Prague Spring of 1968.

Albright is famously known for wearing pins that express her thoughts on the diplomatic proceedings she attends. After she was compared to a serpent by the Iraqi media, Albright chose to wear a large snake pin for her next meeting on the country. The jewellery quickly became one of Albright’s trademarks.

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”