The Women Who Left Their Mark On 2018
“Feminism is for everybody.”
– bell hooks
It was another exciting year for women—2018 saw women making history around the world, shattering glass ceilings, and inspiring us all. While the work is far from done, and we’re confident women will continue leading the way in the coming years, let us take a moment to celebrate those who left their mark on 2018. May we learn from them, be empowered by their bold action, and choose to fiercely advocate for equality in our own communities.
The Women of Congress
The Women Who Won the 2018 Midterm Elections
November 6, 2018, was a historic day for the United States of America. Not only did the 115th Congress become the most racially diverse ever, but a lot of glass ceilings were shattered by women in the election.
A few noteworthy women include:
At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress.
For the first time, two Muslim women have been elected to Congress. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American and Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American and former refugee, both won seats in the House of Representatives.
Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland both became the first Native American congresswomen. Davids is also the first lesbian congresswoman to be elected in Kansas.
Marsha Blackburn became the first woman senator in the state of Tennessee, and Janet Mills became the first woman governor of Maine.
Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became the first Latina congresswomen to be elected from Texas.
For a full list of the historical firsts, check out this article by The Washington Post.
The Teenager Leading the Fight for Gun Reform
On Valentine’s Day 2018, life ended for seventeen staff and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. It was the deadliest shooting at a high school in the United States. Emma González, alongside other students who survived, responded by organizing March For Our Lives—one of the largest youth protests since the Vietnam war.
March For Our Lives saw an estimate of 800,000 people protest in Washington D.C. on March 24, 2018. There were also protests happening in cities around the world. González delivered a powerful speech about gun control and law reformation at the event, and she became one of, if not the most recognizable face of the campaign. Since then, González has continued campaigning—on social media and at youth voter registration rallies.
The Irish Activist Fighting for Inclusive Fashion
Sinéad Burke is passionate about many causes but most notable is the impact she’s making on the fashion industry. Describing herself as “a physically disabled educator, writer and advocate”—she has Achondroplasia and stands at three feet, five inches—Burke is pushing for changes in the fashion industry. She desires everyone to have a seat at the table.
Through writing, social media, public speaking, and advocacy, Burke has become a voice for inclusive fashion for everyone else who falls outside the bell curve of society. Check out her TED talk, Why design should include everyone, to learn more about the work she’s doing.
The First Biracial Member of the British Royal Family
In May 2018 the world watched as Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex and married Prince Harry. It was one of the most anticipated weddings of the decade. It was also an extraordinary moment in history, complete with a powerful message about love delivered by African-American Minister Michael Curry.
Since her relationship with the prince became public news, Markle has been loved and celebrated for various reasons, including her feminist and humanitarian work, her carefree spirit, and her sustainable fashion choices. The retired actor from California is making history in other ways, too. In 2018, Markle became the first biracial member of the British royal family. Her marriage to Prince Harry shattered tradition and paved the path for diversity in a historically all-white system.
The First Woman to Achieve Commanding General of FORSCOM
Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson joined the Army in 1986 and has served two tours overseas. She became a licensed pilot at only sixteen. In October 2018, Richardson was named Commanding General of the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM); she is the first woman to achieve this role and is now commander of 770,000 soldiers and civilians.
Shattering glass ceilings is not new for Richardson either. In past years, she has achieved many firsts with the military, including serving as the first woman deputy commanding general of a maneuver division in 2012.
The Marine Corps’ First African-American Woman General Officer
Another military first happened in 2018 when President Trump nominated then Col. Lorna Mahlock for the role of General Officer in the United States Marine Corps. This past fall, she became the first African-American woman to achieve this role.
Mahlock, who was commissioned in 1991, has served in the United States and overseas. She has received numerous awards, certificates, and higher education degrees. She is also an immigrant to the United States and was born in Kingston, Jamaica before moving the New York.
The First Woman from the USA to Win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Frances Arnold is a professor at chemistry at Cal Tech University. She is also the first woman from the USA to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry. According to The Guardian, she is only the “fifth female chemistry laureate since the prizes first began in 1901.”
Frances is celebrated for her work with the evolution of enzymes. Her aim, she shares, “is to create new and better biological material in the form of enzymes…[which] allows us to use greener biological manufacturing processes to make the fuels, chemicals and materials we use in our daily lives.”
The Refugee Starring as Hermione Granger
Noma Dumezweni was born in Swaziland and arrived in England as a refugee in 1977. More than forty years later, she now stars as Hermione Granger in the West End’s award-winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Dumezweni has received multiple Laurence Olivier Awards for her roles on stage. Most notable though is her advocacy for diversity and refugee support. She is also vocal about women expressing their anger and not burying it as society often tells them to. Read about how Hermione taught the actor to embrace her feelings in this BBC interview.
Kayti Christian, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.