- The world is mourning Madeleine Albright, America's first woman secretary of state, and the 64th overall
- Albright died at the age of 84 after a long struggle with cancer, surrounded by family and friends
- At the time of her demise, she was a professor of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service
Madeleine Albright, the first woman US secretary of state, has succumbed to a protracted battle with cancer. She was aged 84.
Born Marie Jana Korbelova, Albright immigrated from Prague to the US as a refugee in 1948 and jostled her way through the ranks to become America's 64th secretary of state.
Apart from being credited with helping steer Western foreign policy after the end of the Cold War, she was a prominent personality during the Bill Clinton presidency.
Albright's demise was made public through a statement from the family, adding that she passed on while surrounded by family and friends.
In the statement, the astute leader is eulogised as a tireless champion of democracy and human rights.
"She was at the time of her death a professor of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service," reads part of the statement.
Albright was also the chairperson of a host of institutions, among them the Albright Stonebridge Group, Albright Capital Management, and the National Democratic Institute among others.
Trailblazer per excellence
Being the first woman US secretary of state was, by all means, a commendable fit, but one that she admitted came with a host of challenges.
It is actually through her footsteps that others like Condoleezza Rice followed and proved that women could make good leaders even in the highest echelons of power.
"And people, I think, now can understand that it is perfectly possible for a woman to be secretary of state, and I am delighted that there is a second one," she said in an earlier interview.
She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former US President Barack Obama in 2012, who praised how her "toughness helped bring peace to the Balkans and paved the way for progress in some of the most unstable corners of the world."
Warned Putin against invading Ukraine
Just last month, Albright sent a message to Russia's President Vladmir Putin before he dispatched his troops to Ukraine and urged him to retract.
She referred to the attack as a "historic error," adding that it would affect the country to devastating levels.
"Invading Ukraine would ensure Mr Putin's infamy by leaving his country diplomatically isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance," she warned.
Away from matters of leadership, she was married to Joseph Albright from 1959 to 1983, a union that ended in divorce after bringing forth three children; twins named Anne and Alice, and Katharine.