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The fearless feminists who rallied against inequality and campaigned for the sisterhood in 2015

Posted by
Harriet Hall
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This year, we’ve been reminded of the continuing necessity and relevance of feminism on myriad occasions. But despite it sometimes feeling like we’re fighting a losing battle, 2015 has seen huge successes for women.

The past twelve months alone have brought with them the introduction of equal parental leave, the highest percentage of female MPs the UK has ever seen, the first ever female Church of England bishop and countless everyday instances where women have campaigned against abuse, body-shaming and discrimination.

From women who took to social media to make a statement, to celebrities using their platforms to blow the whistle on sexism, and the men who took a stand on behalf of women; we’ve rounded-up the people who we think deserve recognition for their role in the fight for equality.

It was a difficult list to whittle down, but we present to you Stylist.co.uk’s feminists of 2015. Got your own nominations to add in? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Here’s to another brilliant year for the sisterhood.

  • Libby Lane is consecrated as the first-ever female bishop

    “This is about a moment in the Church's history”

    (January) Following years of disagreement over the topic, the Church of England consecrated its first-ever female bishop on 26 January this year.

    The Right Reverand Libby Lane, 48, was made Bishop of Stockport, paving the way for women after her. Already two more have followed in her footsteps. “It is a remarkable thing that this happened to me,” said Lane. “People have been very supportive of me personally, but actually this is about a moment in the Church's history.”

  • Holly Brockwell opens up about her quest for sterilisation

    “As a woman, there are four little words I can say that invite more condescension than almost any others: ‘I don’t want children.’” 

    (January) In January this year, 29-year-old Holly Brockwell went public about her attempts to get sterilised, knowing that she does not and will not ever want children. Brockwell told her story in The Guardian about being rejected four times by the NHS, and the negative attitudes she experienced from doctors and peers regarding her decision.

    In November, Brockwell was referred for the procedure and was subject to an onslaught of abuse from Twitter trolls who branded her as ‘selfish’ and ‘heartless.’ Having spoken out about something so personal, Brockwell undoubtedly inspired other women to fight for what's best for them and their bodies.

  • A young woman confronts her molester on camera

    “What did you think, I will keep quiet?”

    (February) In February, a video went viral of an Indian woman on a plane confronting a fellow passenger, whom she claimed reached through the seats and inappropriately touched her, several times, during a flight from Mumbai to Bhubaneshwar.

    In the video the man, covering his face, whimpers an apology but the woman is not convinced. On arrival at the airport, she confronts the man once again, who repeats “I made a mistake, I made a mistake.” To which the woman says: “You think this is a mistake?” And asks, “Why did you do that? What did you think, I will keep quiet?” 

  • Patricia Arquette uses Oscar speech as rallying call for wage equality

    “We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women.”

    (February) When Patricia Arquette won an Academy Award for best Supporting Actress for her role in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, her speech started off in the usual manner - by thanking everyone she could remember who had helped her along the way.

    But, at the end, Arquette gave a short but rousing call to act for gender equality, saying: “To every woman who gave birth, to every tax payer and citizen of this nation we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

    Arquette’s comments were so timely and impassioned that Meryl Streep, who was nominated alongside Arquette, stood up to applaud her, accompanied by a whooping Jennifer Lopez. 

  • Matt McGorry frees his nipples

    “The fact that feminism is sometimes clouded with anything other than pure support and positivity in our society is very tragic.”

    (March) Orange is the New Black star, Matt McGory, proved this year that men can, and should, be feminists too.

    Having felt previously unsure as to whether or not to adopt the title, he posted on his Facebook page in March: “I’m embarrassed to admit that I only recently discovered the ACTUAL definition of ‘feminism’. The fact that the term is sometimes clouded with anything other than pure support and positivity in our society is very tragic. I believe in gender equality… I AM A FEMINIST.”

    In July, McGory showed his support for the Free the Nipple campaign, posting a topless selfie on Instagram in which he covered his own nipples with those of Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigen (which had previously been banned from the platform). He has since written and talked extensively about gender inequality. 

  • Naz Shah MP tells her story of abuse

    “I quickly realised to effect change, I must be able to influence decision making.”

    (March) Naz Shah, now the Labour MP for Bradford West, captured the hearts and minds across the country when she wrote a powerful letter in her local paper, exposing her harrowing life story.

    In a move out of character for a politician, Shah bared her soul in the letter, which described how her father had left her and her mother. Soon after, aged 12, Shah was sent to Pakistan and was later forced into an abusive marriage, while her mother, at home, suffered in an abusive marriage herself. After years of severe depression, her mother cracked and killed her abusive husband, and was sentenced to life in prison.

    The letter was an honest and moving testimony to the kind of trauma experienced by many ordinary women around the world. 

  • Amy Schumer mocks patriarchal beauty ideals

    “You don't need no lipstick, you don't need no blush, 'cos you've got that inner natural glow.”

    (April) Making waves in the comedy world, Amy Schumer’s no-holds-barred approach to feminist satire is beyond brilliant. Her Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer hits the nail on the head of everyday sexism, approaching topics from sexist stereotypes to equal pay in an accessible manner.

    Her hilarious music video that mocked impossible beauty ideals, Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup, went viral in April, amassing over four million YouTube views. 

  • Nick Clegg campaigns for equal parental leave

    “For too long, mums have been told their place is at home with their child, while dads return to work.”

    (April)  OK, so this wasn’t Clegg’s best year. He was held responsible for the most devastating defeat the Liberal Democrats have seen in years in May’s General Election. But let’s not forget one huge win he did have. In April, equal maternity and paternity leave was introduced in Britain, marking a monumental moment for women's rights.

    The law was pushed heavily by Clegg when he was Deputy PM. “I want parents to choose for themselves how to balance work and family,” he said. 

  • Nicola Sturgeon takes Scotland by storm

    “I just want to shake things up a wee bit."

    (May) Scotland’s first ever female First Minster and the leader of the Scottish National Party, will go down in political history. After the Yes Campaign’s defeat in the 2014 Scottish referendum under Alex Salmond, Sturgeon has taken the SNP from strength to strength. Opinion polls following the live 2015 general election televised debates showed Sturgeon as having performed brilliantly: she was measured, calm, fair and inspiring.

    Thanks to Sturgeon’s rousing speeches and clear leadership qualities, the SNP scored a landslide victory in Scotland in this year's election, winning a staggering 56 out of 59 seats. 

  • Rose McGowan exposes a sexist casting call

    “I just got fired by my wussy acting agent because I spoke up about the bullshit in Hollywood.” 

    (June)  After receiving a disgracefully sexist casting call, Rose McGowan took to Twitter to blow the whistle, posting the request which asked that she wore a “form fitting tank that shows off cleavage (push up bras encouraged).” A week later, McGowan was dropped by her agent for the tweet, and then exposed them on Twitter, too.

    Not only that, earlier in the year McGowan took to the stage at an awards ceremony to dismiss the term ‘female director’, saying: “I ask you to take up the hand of the female director until we no longer say 'female director.' It is a unisex term. I am a director. Jennifer Kent is a director. Let’s do smart, let’s bring it.” 

  • Zoe Saldana's husband takes her surname in marriage

    “Ah Zoe, I don’t give a sh*t.”

    (June) Zoe Saldana’s husband took the whole name-changing debate in a new direction this year and moved against convention to take her surname after marriage.

    “If you use my name,” she said in an interview, “You're going to be emasculated by your community of artists, by your Latin community of men, by the world.” Despite these high stakes, Saldana’s husband, Marco Peggo, replied: “Ah Zoe, I don’t give a sh*t.”

  • Sophie Walker becomes leader of the Women's Equality Party

    “I want to take equality back from the people who don’t cherish it or share it.”

    (July) On 2 March 2015, the Woman of the World Festival became a landmark event when journalist Catherine Mayer and comedian Sandi Toksvig decided upon the need to found a political party whose main objective was to seek equality for women once and for all.

    On 28 March an unnamed, unformed party of women seeking the same ends met, and on 20 July, the Women’s Equality Party registered with the Electoral Commission, with Reuters journalist, Sophie Walker, announced as the party’s first leader. Since founding, Walker has shone the light on the need for quotas for female MPs in order to achieve equality in parliament. 

  • The England women's football team come third in the World Cup

    “Everyone believed for the first time in a long time that England could do it.”

    (July) This year was a triumph for women’s football (or, simply ‘football’ as it is more commonly known). It was the first woman’s World Cup to be broadcast so extensively across the BBC and our girls got the spotlight they deserved, being watched and celebrated by millions.

    In the end, England came third in the competition – which is further than any women’s England team had reached before, and far better than the men’s team have done in decades.

  • Laverne Cox becomes the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy

    “Colonialism was not just about colonising whiteness, but about colonising the gender binary model.”

    (July) Star of hit show (and all-round feminist dream series), Orange is the New Black and LGBT activist, Laverne Cox has made waves in transgender perceptions this year. Cox made history by becoming the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy.

    Alongside her achievements for trans awareness, Cox has spoken widely about feminist issues. She has highlighted how transgender issues and feminism are closely linked, telling The Guardian: “If you look at spirit traditions in the United States, or hijra traditions in India, religious cultures all over the world have fourth and fifth genders. And then Europeans and westerners came along and said, ‘What is this?’ Colonialism was not just about colonising whiteness, but about colonising the gender binary model.”

  • Bloggers create their own brilliant response to “Beach Body Ready” advert

    “You’re god damn right we’re beach body ready. Exactly as we are.”

    (August) A body shaming advert for weightloss powder by… (actually, why would we want to give them more press?) sparked outrage, after it was was plastered all over the tube, featuring pictures of an impossibly svelte and toned woman in a bikini, with the guilt-inducing tagline “Are you beach body ready?”

    A brilliant response by bloggers Fiona Longmuir and Tara Costello saw the pair pose in their bikinis next to a poster in the underground with the caption “You’re god damn right we’re beach body ready. Exactly as we are.” 

  • Isis Wenger starts the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag

    “I look like an engineer.”

    (August) Isis Wenger was the subject of a poster campaign that hoped to encourage people to apply for jobs at a San Francisco technology company. The campaign was criticised by people who suggested Wenger was actually a model, and that her ‘sexy smirk’ was inappropriate.

    One comment on Facebook said nobody would ‘buy that this is what a female software engineer looks like.’ As a response, Wenger wrote an essay on the subject, exposing the sexism she has encountered in her career.

    Soon enough, the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer swept social media, with women posting pictures of themselves, to dispel misconceptions that there is only one ‘type’ of female engineer. 

  • Rowan Blanchard pens powerful essay on intersectional feminism

    “To only acknowledge feminism from a one-sided view when the literal DEFINITION is the equality of the sexes is not feminism at all.”

    (August) Not only did 13-year-old Girl Meets World star, Rowan Blanchard, speak at the UN Women’s annual conference on gender equality this year, she also penned a powerful essay on intersectional feminism that took the internet by storm.

    When a Tumblr user asked Blanchard about ‘white feminism’, the actor described the ways in which women from different ethnic backgrounds experience sexism. “To only acknowledge feminism from a one sided view when the literal DEFINITION is the equality of the sexes is not feminism at all,” she wrote.

  • Kiran Gandhi free bleeds while running the marathon

    “By establishing a norm of period-shaming, [male-preferring] societies effectively prevent the ability to bond over an experience that 50% of us in the human population share monthly.” 

    (August) When drummer, Kiran Ghandi, got her period the night before she was due to run a marathon, she panicked – having never run a marathon before and being unsure as how to handle it. To avoid running 26.2 miles with a “wad of cotton material wedged between [her] legs”, Ghandi decided, instead, to free-bleed during the race.

    The runner wrote a blog about her move, which she hoped would help dispel the stigma surrounding periods. In November, when the ‘luxury’ tax on tampons was not overturned, a group of feminist protestors free-bled outside parliament in protest – showing just how effective Ghandi’s original statement was. 

  • Viola Davis highlights TV's racial inequality in her Emmy speech

    “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else, is opportunity.”

    (September) Viola Davis became the first ever black woman to win the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a drama, for her role in How to Get Away With Murder.

    In her tearful and powerful speech, the actor took the opportunity to speak out about the lack of opportunities for women of colour in film and television, saying: “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else, is opportunity….Here’s to all the writers, the awesome people…who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.” 

  • Suzie Blake celebrates breastfeeding as it really is

    “This is about milk leaks and ratty hair.”

    (October) Fed up with seeing picture-perfect, Photoshopped images of women breastfeeding, Australian photographer, Suzie Blake, launched a project to take realistic photographs of women feeding their children – either at home, in a café, at work or in the street.

    She asks the women to stare into the lens of the camera, so the male gaze is turned-upon. “This project is about portraying breastfeeding in all its beautiful messiness. This is about tired eyes and no make-up. This is about milk leaks and ratty hair,” said Blake. Blake’s project has been hugely successful, with women around the world getting in touch with her and asking to have their images captured.

  • Amy Poehler encourages the media to ask better questions

    “I'm happy to let fans ask interesting questions to interesting people”

    (September) This year, the women of Hollywood had had about enough of being asked moronic questions on the red carpet that simply weren’t asked of men. From discussing the ‘juggle’ between work and family, to outlining their 'morning routines' and how long it had taken them to get ready for the event, the hashtag, #AskHerMore began trending in advance of February’s Oscars.

    In September, before the Emmys, comedian Amy Poehler launched #SmartGirlsAsk which enabled fans to ask celebrities their own, intelligent questions, giving the women of the world a chance to usurp the press. 

  • Femen storm misogynist conference on wife beating

    “It was our duty to interrupt this enslavement event, and to let a scream of freedom be heard in the middle of their submission lessons”

    (September) A fundamentalist conference about women in Islam was discussing the topic of whether or not to beat one’s wife. Midway through the debate in Paris, two members of feminist activist group, Femen, stormed the stage, their breasts bared with slogans written in French and Arabic that read “No one subjugates me” and “I am my own prophet.”

    Minutes later, the women were beaten up on stage by attendees of the event, while onlookers shouted “whores” and “kill them”. A shocking video of the scene circulated days later.

  • Lindy West's #ShoutYourAbortion campaign goes viral

    “The campaign to defund PP relies on the assumption that abortion is to be whispered about. #ShoutYourAbortion.”

    (September) After American politicians threatened to block the funding of leading family planning association and key provider of abortions, Planned Parenthood, journalist Lindy West took to Twitter with fellow activists, Amelie Bonow and Kimberley Morrison.

    Sharing a tweet from Bonow about her own abortion story, West said: “The campaign to defund PP relies on the assumption that abortion is to be whispered about. #ShoutYourAbortion.”

    West then shared her own abortion story using the hashtag and, soon enough, the hashtag went viral, with women worldwide telling their stories and pressing the message that, whatever the circumstances, abortion is nothing to be ashamed of and the power to choose is vital. 

  • Annie Leibovitz revolutionises the Pirelli calendar

    “I was more empowered with every photograph we took.”

    (September)  In September, it was announced that the 2016 Pirelli calendar (a longstanding celebration of the outdated objectification of women) was going to turn away from nudity.

    In her second commission for the calendar, photography icon Annie Leibovitz decided to depart from the racy shoots of yore, and instead, present photographs of inspirational, powerful women including the likes of Serena Williams, Patti Smith and Yoko Ono.

    Leibovitz said in a statement, “I started to think about the roles that women play, women who have achieved something. I wanted to make a classic set of portraits. I thought that the women should look strong but natural.” The finished product, unveiled in November, is a beautiful collection of honest and powerful images.

  • Kaitlyn Regehr thanks the man who stood up for her against sexual assault

    “You didn’t turn away. You took a stand. You said something.”

    (October)  When Kaitlyn Regehr, 30, was groped by a man on the bus on her way home, another man saw it and stood up to defend her. Regehr was so moved by her defender, she took to social media to tell her story, publicly thanking the man for ‘humanising’ assault, and because: “You didn’t turn away. You took a stand. You said something.”

    Regehr’s post soon went viral, being shared over 85,000 times. She made a vow and pleaded with people to “all endeavour to say something.” Regehr’s post reminds us all of the importance of standing up to unacceptable behaviour against women.

  • Stella Creasy fights to eliminate the 'tampon tax'

    “If you offer me a Jaffa Cake I will refuse, but I do not consider them to be essential to my life.”

    (October) A strong feminist advocate since day one, Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, won our hearts once again in October, during the debate over the luxury tax on sanitary products.

    In a light-hearted manner, Creasy compared sanitary products to other un-taxed items, such as razors and even Jaffa cakes, Creasy perfectly summed-up why tampons are by no means a ‘luxury’ and that considering them so is “by design of an unequal society, in which the concerns of women are not treated as equally as the concerns of men.”

    Earlier in the debate, Creasy even challenged Tory MP Bill Cash to say the word ‘tampons’ out loud, as he insisted on referring to them only as ‘products.’ Needless to say, social media enjoyed this rather a lot. Although the tampon tax remains at 5%, Creasy’s fight for the cause will not go unnoticed. 

  • Sienna Miller quits play over gender pay gap

    “I was offered less than half of what he was going to be paid. If it was two men, it wouldn’t probably happen. Sad, but I walked away.”

    (September) We heard a lot this year from actors speaking up against sexism in Hollywood and the gender pay gap, but it’s rare for these complaints to extend beyond words.

    In September, however, Sienna Miller, 33, surprised us all by revealing that she refused a prominent Broadway role when she discovered that she was only offered half the salary of her male co-star, in a play of just two part.

    Miller’s move received widespread support in the acting industry. For a prominent actor to take such a firm stand against discrimination is significant indeed. 

  • Sonita Alizadeh campaigns against child marriage

    “Women must remain silent…this is our tradition.”

    (October) At 10 years old, Sonita Alizadeh’s parents tried to sell her into marriage, so they could afford to buy a bride for her brother - a tradition in some parts of Afghanistan. Rebelling against her parents, Sonita learned how to read and write, and began writing poetry and recording rap music. In October, Alizadeh appeared at London’s Women of the World Conference to speak about her experience. 

    She had previously created a music video, entitled Brides for Sale, which she posted onto You Tube. In the video, Alizadeh appears wearing a veil, covered in bruises and with a barcode stamped on her forehead. The song starts: “Let me whisper, so no one hears that I speak of selling girls...”

    Today, she continues to raise awareness about child marriage and has become a heroine to girls back in Afghanistan. 

  • Sisters Uncut storm the Suffragette premiere

    “Dead women can’t vote.”

    (October) The feminist collective, Sisters Uncut, stormed the red carpet of the London Suffragette premiere, setting off smoke bombs and chanting “the battle isn’t over yet” and “dead women can’t vote”.

    They lay down on the red carpet and refused to move, protesting about cuts to domestic violence services in the UK. Not only a great way to draw attention to your cause, but one which the suffragettes would have wholeheartedly approved. The film’s cast applauded the women’s efforts, saying they were pleased the biopic had roused people. 

  • Jennifer Lawrence speaks out about the gender pay gap

    “I’m over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion.”

    (October) The infamous Sony’s computer system hack of confidential emails revealed that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were paid less than their male co-stars for their roles in American Hustle. In October of this year Jennifer Lawrence penned a no-holds barred essay in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, in which she questioned why this happened, saying that she blames herself for ‘failing as a negotiator’, having feared appearing ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’.

    Lawrence finished her essay with the statement: “I’m over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable. Fuck that.” She received wide support in the acting world from both men and women, including her American Hustle co-star Bradley Cooper. 

  • Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess shows sexual consent is as simple as tea

    “Sexual consent, it's as simple as tea.”

    (October) The issue of sexual consent has been a huge topic this year and it's clear the issue is still mired in misunderstanding, especially among teenagers. To help tackle the issue, the blogger Rockstar Dinosaur Princess created a video cleverly explaining the issue and comparing sexual consent to offering someone a cup of tea. No blurred lines, no ifs or buts, simple.

    The video was so brilliant it was picked-up by Thames Valley Police for their #ConsentIsEverything campaign.

  • Charli Howard quits modelling agency after they body-shame her

    “I will no longer allow you to dictate what's wrong with my looks”

    (October) 5’8” and UK size 6-8 model, Charli Howard, became an internet sensation in October this year, after a letter she wrote to her modelling agency went viral. Having been dropped by her agency for being “out of shape”, Howard took to Facebook to tell her story, and quit her agency, saying: “Here’s a big FUCK YOU to my (now ex) model agency, for saying that at 5"8 tall and a UK size 6-8 (naturally), I'm 'too big' and 'out of shape' to work in the fashion industry.”

    Howard went on to slam agencies for perpetuating the size zero trend which requires fashion designers create smaller and smaller clothes, for women whose natural body shapes should be celebrated.

    She finished her letter saying: “Until (and if) an agency wishes to represent me for myself, my body & the WOMAN I've become, give me a call. Until then, I'm off to Nandos.” 

  • Mary Numair outwits anti-abortion protesters

    “Thanks for helping me with my yeast infections!”

    (October) 29-year-old Mary Numair wins her place for the most ingenious counter protest this year. At work one day, she noticed a group of anti-abortion protestors surrounding a Planned Parenthood in Portland, Oregon.

    Taking initiative, Numair created her own sign out of an old cardboard box and scribbled “Dear P.P., c on it. She then ran around like the brilliant pro-choice campaigner she clearly is, doing high kicks and shouting ‘yeast infections’, succeeding in scaring away the haters. We couldn’t love her more. 

  • Ava DuVernay campaigns for female filmmakers

    “It's a problem that's going to take a multipronged solution and allies all over the place who say, "We want to make a change.”

    (November) Last year, Ava DuVernay became the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for her Martin Luther King Jr. biopic, Selma, which also became one of the top-reviewed films of the year.

    Following the success of the film, DuVernay used her platform to become a prominent advocate of female filmmakers and stories about people of colour.

    Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter in November about the lack of women in film, DuVernay said: “It's not a problem that can be fixed by the word "diversity," whatever that means. It's a problem that's going to take a multipronged solution and allies all over the place who say, "We want to make a change.”

    This month, Star Wars director J.J. Abrams said he's got his eye on DuVernay to direct the next in the blockbuster franchise, and the DuVernay Barbie doll sold out in a matter of minutes, showing the level of her influence.

  • Jyoti Shah opens up about the sexist culture of operating theatres

    “As the only woman, you're asked to make the tea”

    (October) Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme in October, Jyoti Shah, one of Britain’s leading female surgeons, revealed the sexism that goes on inside operating theatres. Calling them a “hostile environment for women,” Shah said that operating theatres, and the surgical world in general were still very “male dominated, and it does still appear as an old boy’s club and you’re very much an outsider as a woman.”

    Shah described an incident in which a consultant brushed the breast of a female surgeon, and explained how she was constantly referred to as ‘the nurse’ or asked to make the rea. Shah called for a “cultural change so that women don’t feel uncomfortable or inferior.” 

  • Gloria Steinem tributes the doctor who gave her an illegal abortion

    “I’ve done the best I could with my life. This book is for you.”

    (November) In the dedication for Gloria Steinem’s latest book, My Life on the Road, the feminist activist and writer took the opportunity to thank Dr. Sharpe, the man who gave her an abortion when she was 22, in 1957, 10 years before abortions were legalised in the UK. He had asked Steinem not to reveal his name, but she decided to publish it after his death, and to thank him for helping her.

    The dedication reads:  “Dear Dr. Sharpe, I believe you, who knew the law was unjust, would not mind if I say this so long after your death: I’ve done the best I could with my life. This book is for you.” When Steinem read the dedication aloud, she brought the audience to tears - in an age when abortion sadly remains a contentious issue.

  • Matt Okine speaks out for absent women

    “What am I supposed to do? Be passive about it?”

    (November) Comedian, Matt Okine, took to the stage at this year’s Aria awards to accept the gong for Best Comedy Release. In his acceptance speech, Okine called-out the sexism in the industry, highlighting that there wasn’t a single woman nominated in any category and telling the Sydney audience: “I didn’t feel great reading that list of people.”

    Backstage, Okine told reporters he “felt silly” for what he had done, but “What am I supposed to do? Be passive about it? Speaking up is absolutely necessary.”

  • Russia's Lunar Mission Astronauts shut down sexist press questioning

    “We won’t have time to think about men.”

    (November) Preparing for a lunar mission is no mean feat. In November, a team of six female Russian astronauts commenced an eight-day isolation test, during which time they would conduct experiments and test the psychological pressure of a moon mission.

    At the press conference prior to commencing the mission, the astronauts were bombarded with sexist and demeaning questions, including one about how they would cope for eight days without men or make-up, to which the women replied: “We are very beautiful without make-up,” and, “We won’t have time to think about men.” “We are here to do our job,” they said. 

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's feminist speech is handed out to Swedish girls

    “Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.” 

    (December) Writer and activist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie captured the hearts and minds of many women worldwide following her inspiration 2009 TED talk We Should All Be Feminists. Beyonce loved it so much she even sampled part of the talk in her song, Flawless.

    This year, Adichie’s feminist pamphlet on the talk inspired a small book club in Nigeria to start a country-wide conversation about sexism in they experience. The hashtag #BeingFemaleInNigeria soon started trending with women sharing their experiences of the sexism they’d encountered.

    This month, following the news that feminism was being wiped form the curriculum of A-Level politics in the UK, it was surpassed by the brilliant news that Adichie’s speech is being distributed to every 16-year-old school student in Sweden by the Swedish Women's Lobby. Let's have the same here, please. 

  • Angela Merkel is named Time magazine's Person of the Year

    “She has provided steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply.”

    (December) If ever there was a woman kicking ass in a man’s world, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel is she. Names as Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ this month (the first woman to win the title for 29 years), Merkel, 61, is often described as the most powerful woman in the world.

    Whether or not you agree with her politics, there’s no doubt she has shown her prowess and strength over the course of a testing year for Europe. For her work in the Greek economic crisis and in supporting refugees, alone, Merkel will go down as one of history’s most influential leaders.

    Time editor, Nancy Gibbs said she was awarded the title “for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience.” 

  • Jessy McCabe campaigns for equality in music A-Level

    “It’s not an actual representation of history, it’s a representation of some people’s view of history.” 

    (December) When 17-year-old Jessy McCabe began studying for her music A-level, she discovered that there wasn’t a single woman featured on the Edexcel syllabus of 63 male composers.

    Outraged, McCabe launched a petition in August and wrote to the exam boards, calling for more women to be represented, saying “This has got to change. How can we expect girls to aspire to be composers and musicians if they don’t have the opportunity to learn of any role models?” 

    In December, it was announced that Edexcel had changed its syllabus to include five female composers for the 2016 exams, and recommended twelve more women for students to listen to.