A Year In Review: The Most Inspiring Women Of 2019
100 Years Later: We Honor the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
I’ve been compiling this list for three years now, and, every time, I become more astounded by the achievements of women. It’s not just the awards or the title, either; it’s the grit and the fight. The way the word “no” feeds the fire in our bellies and propels us to work even harder, to knock down gargantuan doors. Because, despite 2019 being 100 years since women’s suffrage in the USA (👏), we still have work to do. Too many paths remain unpaved.
Thankfully, women everywhere are leading the way. They’re blazing trails and shattering glass ceilings. While this list is far from exhaustive as numerous women around the globe are doing this work, these are a few of the names that come to mind when we think about the most inspiring women of 2019. They represent all of us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to recognize them.
As we say farewell to a decade, don’t miss the 10 Women Who Made A Positive Global Impact In 2017 and The Women Who Left Their Mark On 2018.
The Award-Winning Filmmaker and Activist
You may know her as the Director of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Or perhaps you’re more familiar with her art activism, best seen in “Selma” and “13th.” She’s a shapeshifter and one of the greatest filmmakers of our day, and she’s relentless in her mission to reform the American criminal justice system (among many things). While she’s been at this for years, 2019 was memorable for DuVernay, as she worked with Netflix to release the miniseries “When They See Us.” The four-episode show received numerous awards and, more importantly, exposed the wrongful convictions of the ‘Central Park Five.’ If you haven’t seen it, watch it here.
American Author and Artist
For years Chanel Miller was only known as Emily Doe—the woman sexually assaulted at Stanford University in 2015. The case went viral, and a powerful letter written by Miller was anonymously read at the assailant’s trial and printed in publications worldwide. But it wasn’t until fall 2019 that Miller revealed her identity. Determined to reclaim the story and offer hope to other sexual assault victims, she released her memoir, aptly titled “Know My Name.” The Los Angeles Times hails it required reading for cops, judges, and prosecutors—but we think everyone should own a copy.
Christina Koch & Jessica Meir
The Women Who Walked In Space
On October 18, 2019, NASA astronauts Christine Koch and Jessica Meir made history by completing the first-ever all-female spacewalk. The duo replaced a faulty battery-charge/discharge unit on the International Space Station, and the event was televised live on NASA’s website (watch the video here). This was a significant milestone for women in space. Next up: putting a woman on the moon (stay tuned for the lunar mission in 2024).
The Teenage Environmental Activist
She was named the Time Person of the Year—and she’s only 16. Greta Thunberg rose to fame in 2018 when she began boycotting school to protest outside the Swedish parliament. Her demand? A stronger response to global warming. Renowned for her emotive speech at the 2019 UN Climate Summit, Thunberg is inspiring urgency and demanding people of all ages make adjustments to combat climate change. If that’s not amazing enough, Thunberg is also destigmatizing Asperger’s Syndrome, which she lives with—and calls it her superpower.
The Hijab-Wearing Supermodel
Halima Aden first garnered attention when she wore a burkini and hijab in the 2016 Miss Minnesota USA Pageant (she was the first contestant ever to do this). She then went on to model for numerous magazines and work with various fashion labels, always while stating that her hijab is a non-negotiable part of her contract. In 2019, Aden became the first Muslim and hijab-wearing model to be featured by Sports Illustrated. Not only is Aden reshaping the modeling industry, but she’s also a UNICEF Ambassador. Her family fled civil war in Somalia and she was born into a refugee camp in Kenya. The supermodel and activist is passionate about UNICEF’s mission to help children around the world.
The Athlete Demanding Equal Pay
You may not recognize her without the signature pink hair, but Megan Rapinoe made some big waves this past summer when she called out FIFA for the substantial gap in prize money awarded to the men and women’s World Cup winners. The 2019 Women’s World Cup winners, for example, received a prize pool of $60 million while, according to NBC Sports, the 2022 Men’s World Cup winners will be awarded $440 million. Her outrage sparked protests, and Rapinoe was also under fire for calling out President Trump for his non-inclusive messages. She quickly became a role model for people everywhere and was named Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Sportsperson of the Year. She continues to lead the fight for equal pay, specifically for athletes.
The World’s Youngest Prime Minister
Sanna Marin is only 34, and she just became the world’s youngest sitting prime minister. Since 2012, Marin has been working in Finland as an active politician, and, earlier this year, she was nominated by the Social Democratic Party to succeed the former PM of Finland. She now heads up a coalition government led entirely by women. How’s that for progress?
The Oscar-Nominated Filmmaker
In 2011, Waad al-Kateab was 20 years old and studying at the University of Aleppo in Syria when civil war broke out; she responded to what was happening in her country by taking photos and videos with her cellphone. The student-turned-citizen-journalist’s documentations quickly circulated the globe, and she began reporting on the ground for Channel 4 News. Then, in 2016, she fell in love with and married Hamza, a doctor treating causalities in a makeshift hospital. The couple welcomed their daughter Sama in 2016, and then evacuated the country in December—but not without all of al-Kateab’s footage. In 2019, her documentary “For Sama” was released, and it’s currently on the short-list for an Oscar.
The 2020 Presidential Candidates
The Women Running for United States President
Earlier this year, Vox published an article called,“Women Running for President is the New Normal”—and, can we just say, we are more than here for this new normal. Political parties aside, we’re ready for a woman to take the oval office in 2020, so it’s exciting to have a handful of powerful and inspiring female candidates contending for the Democratic nominee. At present, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson are still in the race (sadly, both Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris have dropped out). We celebrate all of these women for paving the road towards progress, and (taking notes from Finland), we hope their contributions lead to a more diversified U.S. government in the very near future.
Kayti Christian (she/her) is an Editor at The Good Trade. Growing up beneath the evergreens in the Sierra Nevadas, she returns to California after a decade split between states—including three years lived abroad. With an MA in Nonfiction Writing, she’s passionate about storytelling and fantastic content, especially as it relates to mental health, feminism, and sexuality. When not in-studio, she’s camping, reading memoir, or advocating for the Oxford comma.