Women Inspiring Us Around The World
It’s not the first year (and it won’t be the last), but 2017 was an exciting year for women all over the world as we continued to make history and shatter glass ceilings. And, as a publication co-founded and curated by females, we are proud and honored to be a part of such a passionate and dedicated generation of global change-makers.
To celebrate, and to applaud the many women who made the world a better place this year, here are ten female leaders who left a positive global impact in 2017.
First Somali-American Muslim To Become A State Representative
In 2017, Ilhan Omar made history by becoming the first Somali-American Muslim woman state representative. Omar took office in Minnesota in January 2017 and has already authored and co-authored over 190 bills, including a city ordinance in Minneapolis “allowing businesses to extend their hours 35 days a year to honor, respect and accommodate Muslims celebrating Ramadan.”
Omar is also the Director of Policy and Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network, an organization empowering Minnesota’s women—specifically immigrants—to become engaged citizens and leaders within their communities.
First & Youngest Refugee Goodwill Ambassador
In June 2017, Muzoon Almellehan became the youngest and first official refugee to be named a Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF. She is 19-years-old and fled Syria in 2013.
Now living in England, Almellehan is an education activist and helps girls and young women in conflict zones to escape early and arranged marriages, encouraging them to pursue an education. She has been referred to as “Syria’s Malala.”
First African Woman To Be Awarded The Turner Prize
Lubaina Himid, a Zanzibar-born, British contemporary artist, became the first black woman—as well as the oldest—to win the United Kingdom’s most publicized art award, the 2017 Turner Prize. Himid is most known for her work in the 1980’s during the British black arts movement and has been called an "under-appreciated hero of black British art." Her celebrated artwork addresses colonialism, the legacy of slavery and current-day racism.
Founder Of The #MeToo Campaign
A movement that started in 2006 to raise awareness about sexual assault in underprivileged minority communities, the #MeToo campaign was originally created by social activist Tarana Burke. This past year, the campaign went viral when Alyssa Milano tweeted about her sexual assault and then called for women to speak up if they too had been sexually assaulted. The hope, she explained in her tweet, was to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” According to Facebook, 4.7 million people engaged in the #MeToo conversation within 24 hours of the original tweet, and millions of posts were created and shared around the world. The #MeToo movement has received global recognition. Most important, it has served as a conversation starter that is leading to change.
First Fortune 500 Latina CEO
Geisha Williams made history this past March by becoming the first Fortune 500 Latina CEO. A Cuban-born immigrant, she worked for almost a decade at California’s largest utility company—PG&E—before acquiring her CEO title. Williams is a pioneer for sustainable energy and, under her leadership, PG&E has already accomplished its 2020 sustainability goal of generating 33% of electricity from renewable sources.
First African-American Female To Be Appointed First Captain At West Point
On December 9, 2017, 21-year-old Simone Askew became the first African-American woman to lead the Corps of Cadets pre-game march at the Army-Navy football game, hosted by West Point Military Academy. She is also the first African-American woman to have been appointed First Captain of the U.S. Military Academy’s Corps of Cadets, a role she accepted this past August. In 2017, Askew also became one of thirty-two students to be named a Rhodes Scholar.
South African Woman Recognized For HIV/AIDS Work
Earlier this year, Irene Nkosi was the sole African woman recognized on People’s 2017 list of 25 Women Changing The World. A native of South Africa—a country where more than 5 million people are estimated to have HIV/AIDS—Nkosi learned she was HIV-positive during her second pregnancy. She now works with the organization mothers2mothers, supporting and counseling HIV-positive women with a goal of preventing mother-to-child transmission.
Renee Hall, Faith Johnson & Lupe Valdez
Three Minority Women Are Leading Dallas’ Law Enforcement
Three women in Texas have shattered glass and brass ceilings in 2017: for the first time in history, Dallas has three minority women running its city. In 2017, Chief Renee Hall became the first female Police Chief in the city of Dallas. She joins Sheriff Lupe Valdez—the first openly gay Latina sheriff in Texas—and District Attorney Faith Johnson, Dallas County’s first female African-American DA.
First U.S. Astronaut To Spend 665 Days In Space
This past year, at 9:21 a.m. (EST) on September 2, Peggy Whitson returned to Earth from space, breaking the record for most time spent in orbit by a US astronaut: 665 cumulative days over the course of three missions. Whitson also holds the world record for women as the leading female astronaut for time spent in orbit during a single flight—288 days—as well as the record for being the oldest female astronaut (she is 57). Whitson is also the only female to command a space station—and she’s done it twice. In early December she was honored and recognized for her achievements in her home state of Iowa at the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs’ annual gala.
The Women’s March Board
Largest Civil Rights March In U.S. History
On January 21, 2017, over 5 million people around the world came together to march for women’s rights, environmental justice, LGBTQIA rights, and reproductive rights, among other things. The march was the largest of its kind in the United States with approximately 500,000 people participating in the March on Washington D.C. alone. Headed by a group of fierce and talented women and men around the world, the Women’s March continues to take action, provide resources, and fight for change.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.