Some pretty wild and crazy things happened in 2015. Amazing strides in female empowerment… Yes! This happened as well. We’ve rounded up a diverse set of women and girls who brought new meaning to ‘next-level’. In the face opportunity, they reached farther. When social change didn’t come to them, they seized it. Here are our favorite highlights of 2015:
- Emma Watson: The 100 Most Influential People, 2015 – Time
Emma Watson gave the world the #HeForShe campaign on women’s empowerment and gender equality in September 2014. Her UN speech went viral and launched a global conversation (read debate) on social media. Amazing, right? Well, she didn’t stop there.
Emma worked hard throughout 2015 to solidify and clarify her message. She coordinated government, corporation and university leaders through ‘IMPACT 10x10x10’. At her ‘#HeForShe Facebook Conversation’ in March she effortlessly took on a slew of real-time questions. She debunked those trying to complicate her message by saying, “If you believe in equality [among the genders], you’re a feminist.” She went on to call #HeForShe “an equality club for both genders,” encouraging men and women to support each other in regards to inequality and sexism.
Emma snagged the cover of “Vogue UK’s” coveted September 2015 issue with the cover line, “voice of a generation.” Shortly after, she interviewed Malala Yousafzai in early November to help her promote ‘He Named Me Malala’ documentary. During their talk, Malala initiated the conversation on feminism. Malala paid the highest compliment by telling Emma that her UN speech on #HeForShe made her decide she’s a feminist.
Take a look at Emma’s excitement for the future of #HeforShe, as she launched ‘IMPACT 10x10x10’ at the ‘World Economic Forum’ (Davos, Switzerland) at the top of the year:
- 32 Reasons This Was Miranda Lambert’s Best Year Yet – Entertainment Tonight
Miranda Lambert experienced a transformative and award-winning year in 2015. She didn’t let breakup or any other hiccup get her down. Among the many high points that were waiting for her in 2015, she won a Grammy for ‘Best Country Album’. She brought home an armful of CMAs which included ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’, ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Song of the Year’. Her Instagram surpassed one million followers and she released the music video for her hit song, ‘Little Red Wagon’.
‘Entertainment Tonight’ ranks her ‘Little Red Wagon’ performance at the 2015 Grammys among their favorite of the night:
- Amandla Stenberg and Rowan Blanchard Named Feminist Celebrities of the Year – Cosmopolitan
Both young women brilliantly used social media to broadcast their messages on feminism throughout 2015. Amandla Stenberg brought more awareness to ‘cultural appropriation’ and the #BlackLivesMatter movement on Instagram. Rowan Blanchard used Tumblr to thoroughly explain intersectional feminism. Via public vote and a tie for first place, esteemed feminist organization, ‘Ms. Foundation for Women’, honored both Amandla and Rowan with the number one spot on their list of ‘Top 10 Feminist Celebrities of 2015’.
- How Being Called the ‘World’s Ugliest Woman’ Transformed Her Life – Huffington Post
Lizzie Velásquez took revenge on her merciless internet bullies as a teenager by becoming one of the most prominent motivational speakers on cyberbullying at age 24. Lizzie is one of three known people in the world to have ‘neonatal progeroid syndrome’, which prohibits fat from accumulating on her face and body. At age 17, someone casually pulled a photo of Lizzie Velásquez off the internet and created an eight-second YouTube video entitled the “World’s Ugliest Woman”. By the time she noticed it, there were already thousands of views and comments chiming in with even more negativity. In 2013, Lizzie gave a ‘TEDxAustinWomen’ speech which put her on the circuit as a motivational speaker. 2015 was her year to advocate for governmental legislation to prevent bullying and put her compelling life message into a documentary film:
- Women Challenge Gender Stereotypes with #ILookLikeAnEngineer – Buzzfeed
On August 1st, Isis Anchalee published a short blog in Medium in which she shared her experiences as a female software engineer. As an attractive young lady, she said, “men throw dollar bills at me in a professional office (by an employee who works at that company, during work hours)”. And she goes on telling, “I’ve had an engineer on salary at a bootcamp message me to explicitly ‘be friends with benefits’ while I was in the interview process at the school he worked for.”
To help bring more respect to women engineers in the workplace, she posted a photo of herself holding a sign with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. According to Google’s #YearinSearch trends for 2015, her brave effort caused a 45% increase in searches for “girls who code”.
— Google (@google) December 19, 2015
Her effort inspired more than women in STEM careers.
- Reaching New Heights: Girl Ascends to Rock-Climbing Royalty – at Only 13 – The Guardian
Ashima Shiraishi is already a legend at age 13! Back in April, she became the youngest female to climb ‘Open Your Mind Direct’ in Santa Linya, Spain in 10 minutes. “Dangling upside down one minute, stuck to smooth rock like a lizard the next, pulling herself up by a finger and jumping from crack to knife-edge up an overhanging cliff, a girl from New York is believed to have conquered the most technically difficult rock climb ever by a female.” Take a look at this real-life climbing ninja:
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