Visible Women

From Amy Schumer to Nobel Prize winners: the women making waves this week

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Moya Crockett
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Dropping every Friday, Women Making Waves is a series highlighting the women who rocked the boat, pushed for change and made history around the world this week.    

Maya Gabeira breaks world record for largest wave ever surfed by a woman

On Monday (1 October), Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira picked up a Guinness World Record for riding the biggest wave ever tackled by a woman.

Gabeira, 31, surfed the 68-foot wave at the World Surf’s League tournament in Praia do Norte in Portugal earlier this year. Collecting her award, she said she had fantasised about setting the world record for “many years”.

After a near-fatal accident in 2013, Gabeira said she began to think that setting the world record could be nothing but “a very distant dream”. But she got back on her board – and now, she’s in the history books.

“It took a lot of work to have a season like last year, to be 100% again,” she said. “To complete it with a Guinness World Records title is quite special.”

Watch the video above to see the moment when Gabeira rides the wave – making it look quite effortless. 

Louise Trotter named first woman creative director of Lacoste

Louise Trotter walks the runway following the Joseph show at London Fashion Week, February 2017

Despite its image as a female-orientated industry, the fashion world is largely run by men. Less than 20% of global fashion brands are headed up by women, and earlier this year many major UK-based labels explained away their gender pay gaps by pointing to a lack of women in high-ranking roles.

As a result, it’s always heartening to see women be appointed to senior positions in the fashion industry. On Thursday (4 October), former Joseph designer Louise Trotter was named Lacoste’s new creative director – the first woman to fill the position in the French fashion house’s 85-year history.

Trotter’s first collection for Lacoste will be unveiled at Paris Fashion Week in autumn 2019.

“I am delighted to join this French brand with such a unique heritage,” she said in a statement.

“For 85 years, the modernity of the Lacoste style lies in this singular fusion of sport and fashion. I am proud to contribute to the writing of a new chapter in its history.”

Hundreds of women arrested at anti-Kavanaugh protest 

Kirsten Gillibrand protests the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh with Emily Ratajkowski and Amy Schumer.
Kirsten Gillibrand protests the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh with Emily Ratajkowski and Amy Schumer.

Around 300 women, including comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski, were arrested as they occupied a government office building at a demonstration in Washington DC on Thursday (4 October).

The women were protesting against the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee for the US Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women, including Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who says he sexually assaulted her in the early Eighties.

“A vote for Kavanaugh is a vote saying women don’t matter,” Schumer told a crowd of women outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC before her arrest. “Let’s stay together, let’s fight, let’s keep showing up.”

In a statement issued after she was arrested, Ratajkowski said: “Men who hurt women can no longer be placed in positions of power… I demand a government that acknowledges, respects and supports women as much as it does men.”

Ford testified about the alleged assault in front of the US Senate Judiciary Committee last week, and a brief and controversial FBI investigation was launched into her allegations. On Friday, the US Senate narrowly voted to advance Kavanaugh to a final vote, now due to take place on Saturday. 

Nobel Prize goes to Nadia Murad and Donna Strickland 

Nobel Prize winners Donna Strickland, left, and Nadia Murad 

In happier news, two remarkable women won Nobel Prizes this week. On Tuesday (2 October), Canadian scientist Donna Strickland became the third woman ever to win the Nobel Prize for Physics, alongside her French colleague Gérard Mourou. It was the first time a female physicist had won the award in 55 years.

Strickland and Mourou were recognised for developing what the Nobel committee called “high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses”, which generate beams that can be used in laser eye surgery without damaging the eye itself.

“We need to celebrate women physicists because we’re out there. I’m honoured to be one of those women,” Strickland said after the announcement at the Nobel institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

On Friday (5 October), meanwhile, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Nadia Murad, a 25-year-old Iraqi Yazidi woman who was tortured and raped by Islamic State. Murad now campaigns against rape in warfare and for the freedom of the Yazidi people.

She received the prize alongside Denis Mukwege, the founder of a hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he treats women who have been victims of gang rape in wartime.

Murad told Reuters she shared the award “with all Yazidis, with all the Iraqis, Kurds and all the minorities and all survivors of sexual violence around the world”. She said she was also thinking of her mother, who was murdered by Islamic State in 2014.

Women Making Waves is part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign to raise awareness of women who’ve made a difference to society. See more Visible Women stories here.  

Images: Getty Images