As 2018 is wrapping up, a lot of us are spending time reflecting. This year has been full of so many personal battles and celebrations alongside national battles and celebrations. While women have set records and made history, it’s still difficult to overlook some of the heart breaking legislation that’s been passed, the infuriating fear mongering, and the lack of empathy we see in so many.
But, just as I’ve said every month for the last year, this WAS the year of the woman. In fact, I think every year from this point forward, more and more women will continue to band together and lift one another up. More women will understand their true worth. More women will fight against unrealistic beauty standards. More women will choose kindness over competition and will speak out against abusers. So as we look back on this year, I’d like to share my favorite women from each of the last twelve months.
January – Tarana Burke
Tarana Burke is the founder of the #MeToo movement. The #MeToo movement has been monumental for women this past year. Helping encourage women to share their stories of assault to not only humanize the issue but to also call out their abusers, taking away their power, and stand alongside other survivors. Although I have never publicly named my assailant, I am eternally grateful to this movement for inspiring the bravery I’ve seen so many women step into this year.
February – Julie Greenwald
When a woman steps up for herself, she’s standing up for all women. Julie Greenwald has been an example of just that. Greenwald is currently the Co-Chairman of the Board and Chief Operating Officer at Atlantic Records. Basically, she’s on the of the most powerful women in the music industry. So not only is she a professional role model for me, but a personal one as well. Greenwald was one of many female executives that came together to write a letter in opposition of Grammy Chief Neil Portnow’s comment, claiming women need to “step it up”. You can read more about the incident and Greenwald’s role in the letter, here.
March – Ashleigh Shackelford
The standard of beauty in our culture is always changing and almost never inclusive. It’s something many continue to fight every day. But no matter how they fit into beauty standards, every single person deserves for their humanity to be recognized and when it’s not, almost nothing hurts worse. Founder of The Fat Census, Ashleigh is absolutely groundbreaking, helping give a voice to those and a place of safety to those who have experienced discrimination based on their size. Ashleigh’s project is “demanding the humanity we deserve.”
April – Dr. Ellen Stofan
Women are crazy smart and it’s been so cool to see more and more women in STEM fields be celebrated. Dr. Ellen Stofan was once a little girl who thought only boys could work at NASA. She later became a Chief scientist at NASA and is now the first woman to lead the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washignton, DC. After spending 18 years in the STEM industry, Dr. Ellen Stofan is looking forward to creating positive change and inspiring young women and girls to pursue STEM related careers.
May – Asia Argento
It’s one thing to support women behind the scenes. To shoot them an encouraging text or share their story with friends. It’s an entirely different thing to support women in front of your employers, potential employers, those who can make or break your career, and other known abusers. Asia Argento stood up in front of all of these people and more at the Cannes Film Festival this past year. 82 women protested on the red carpet. 82 to represent the 82 women TOTAL who had been allowed to compete in Cannes, which is less than 5% of entries. Cate Blanchett symbolically led the effort and weeks long conversation, but Argento’s words at the closing ceremony went viral. Argento has accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her when she was 21 years old, in 1997. After assuring the audience that Weinstein would never be welcomed at Cannes again, she left with a threatening challenge for those like him. “Even tonight, there are those that still need to be held accountable for his behavior,” she went on. “You do not belong in this industry. You know who you are. We are not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.” Read more about it here.
June – Carrie Gracie
Equal pay continues to be a fight for many women across many industries. In fact, many women face losing their jobs by asking for equal pay. Carrie Gracie spent many years as the senior editor in China for BBC. This year, she stepped down from her role and walked away from BBC after they refused to offer her equal pay. In an apology, BBC did stated that they would offer her back pay for the years she was underpaid. Gracie donated the money to a British women’s rights charity, to set up a fund to offer legal advice to women on equal-pay claims.
July – Inoka Amarasekara
SO MANY PEOPLE follow YouTubers. Almost everyone my age or younger has a favorite vlogger. Inoka Amarasekara is not a vlogger, but had a different fascination with YouTube. Amarasekara was curious to compare the differences found in YouTube comments between male and female YouTuber’s who posted videos on the subjects of Science and Math. After sorting through over 20,000 negative comments, Amarasekara decided to put her research into a paper. Her study found that 14% of comments received by women were negative, while only 6% for men. Celebrating female researchers is incredibly important and I am grateful for people like Inoka who continue to bring issues like this forward! YAS FOR STEM WOMEN!
August – Rachel Hundley
Slut shaming is yet another issue women continue to fight against. Rachel Hundley did just that when running for her city council reelection. During the race, Hundley received an anonymous email containing “inappropriate” photos of her attending Burning Man Festival and threats to expose them unless she quit her campaign. Rather than allowing this anonymous coward to slut shame her into submission, Hundley proudly addressed the issue and continued to run for reelection, where she won.
September – Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has got to be one of the most criticized women in the country. Bravely speaking out against a man about to be handed a life long position of power, Blasey Ford faced copious amounts of hatred and harassment, both in person and online. Despite threats against her well being and that of her family, Blasey Ford did what she could to raise a red flag against potential corruption and abuse of power.
October – Rihanna
Rihanna has always been and will always be a badass. This pas October, the news broke that she turned down playing the Superbowl, one of the most viewed programs inthe United States. She turned down the performance to stand in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, an NFL player that began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality. By making this move, Rihanna started a ripple effect that lead others like Jay-Z, Cardi B, and more to also turn down the offer.
November – Kristine E. Guillaume
The Harvard Crimson has been home to some pretty influential people. Those like Presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, tech billionaires (Steve Ballmer, the former chief executive of Microsoft), news media bosses (Jeff Zucker, the head of CNN). But for the first time since its founding, the newspaper will have a female black president. Kristine E. Guillaume will focus on bringing the paper into the digital age and improving the diversity of the pape
December – Nadia Murad
While Nadia’s act of bravery did not take place in December, I am just now coming across her story. Nadia Murad was the recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Murad isa survivor of sex trafficking and escaped sex slavery from ISIS. Since her escape, she had dedicated herself to encouraging other survivors to return to normalcy.
Women are brave beings. We are strong and we are so incredibly powerful. My hope for the new year is that more and more women realize this. More women get involved in government. More women stick up for themselves, their daughters, their friends, and their sisters. I know we’ll have plenty of women to celebrate in 2019 and I’m sure that you’ll be one of them.