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The 25 Most Incredible Moments for Women in 2016

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We often nod our heads in agreement when we hear the phrase no news is good news. Between school shootings, a ridiculously horrible presidential campaign and several soul-sucking instances of sexism and racism, it's tempting to just shut off our phones and hide from the news at all costs. But when you look back at the momentous events that took place in 2016, a pattern emerges: W-o-m-e-n. Women kicking ass. Women making history. And women just plain owning everything they do.

Let’s take a look back at these empowering women who are proving day after day that girls run the world.

1. Women ran the Senate after a winter blizzard

After a blizzard in Washington D.C. last January, female participants were the only ones to show up to the Senate meeting. “As we convene this morning, you look around the chamber, the presiding officer is female. All of our parliamentarians are female. Our floor managers are female. All of our pages are female,” said Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

2.  23-year-old Yara Mowafy combatted college homelessness at George Mason University

As a newly minted freshman in 2011, Mowafy addressed an issue overlooked by her university's campus.  Two years of research and proactivity later, Mowafy spearheaded the institution of a food pantry for college students seeking food, employment or housing assistance.

3.  Amara Hajeed challenged the stereotypes of Muslim women in America with the ‘Hijab Project’

Hajeed was interviewed by Good Morning America for a project she began at age 16 that works to challenge Islamophobia. Participants of the Hijab Project wear a hijab for a day and then share their stories on her website. Now a freshman at Brown University, Hajeed works to build a common ground among Muslims and non-Muslims with these Hijab Project stories.

4. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team filed a wage discrimination suit

Players Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn and Megan Rapinoe (all coming off of a World Cup championship) were the force behind the formal complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Appearing on the Today show, these soccer stars decided to stand up for women and their rights both on and off the field.

5. Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna was accepted to eight Ivy League schools

As a daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Augusta set her sights on the ultimate American dream—and she achieved it. Augusta was accepted to not only Harvard, but also Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, Brown, Cornell AND the University of Pennsylvania. Talk about a ‘back-up school.'

6. Harriet Tubman was announced as the new face of the $20 bill

While we may have to wait a few decades to officially see the bills in circulation, this event is a historic recognition for not only women, but black Americans as well. Tubman is set to share the bill face (front and back) with our nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson.

7. JoLynn Smith instituted a financial literacy program in her high school that spread throughout the Midwest

After overcoming verbal apraxia, this 18-year-old wanted to not only make her voice heard, but have it mean something. So, she transformed her knack for numbers into a full-blown financial literacy program at her high school in Lenexa, Kan. Since its inception, Smith’s program has allowed over 33,000 high schoolers to take courses in finance, wealth building, credit and budgeting.

8. The United State of Women Summit—it happened!

Kerry Washington, Nancy Pelosi and even our nation’s First Lady led discussions on issues of gender equality. A nation of women convened (as well as watched via livestream) at the White House to stand united in the face of violence, unequal pay and unequal education. Cue the round of applause heard around the world.

9. Amelia Gapin became the first transgender woman featured on the cover of Women’s Running magazine

Gapin is an expert long-distance runner and was grateful for the chance to represent the transgender community in such a public light. During Gapin’s transition, running was an outlet—and for that to be featured on a magazine dedicated to women was the ultimate honor.

10. Hillary Clinton became the first woman in history to receive a major political party nomination

When Clinton received her Democratic nomination for the presidency, she claimed to have put the biggest crack in the glass ceiling. While Clinton was unable to secure the oval office, she took a step that historic night in July for women around the world—a step towards hope, progress and equality.

11. Yuriko Koike became the first woman elected governor in the city of Tokyo

Koike didn’t just win the previously male-dominated position—she annihilated her competition. She beat her opponent (without the help of her political party) by over a million votes. This momentous event showed a nation’s need for change regardless of the gender.

12. Women (and men) gathered around the world to Free the Nipple

In August, the streets from Manhattan to Hermanus, South Africa were lined with topless protesters. Over 60 cities participated in the International GoTopless Day—fighting the negative stigmas that surround women’s nudity and its implications of gender inequality.

13.  Rayouf Alhumedi fought Islamophobia with an Apple emoji

After failing to find a representative emoji like her friends, 15-year-old Alhumedi decided to propose her own emoji to Apple featuring her hijab. She presented her research on the importance of Muslim inclusivity to the Unicode Consortium in November and they expect the emoji to be available come 2017. Maybe Alhumedi and Hajeed (#4) should team up!

14.  A 9-year-old in Charlotte spoke out after the shooting of Kieth Lamont Scott

As tensions rose and divisions cemented in Charlotte, the voice of Zianna Oliphant was heard scolding the city leaders for not just one, but continued injustice. Through tears Zianna is heard defending the city’s protesters, “We do this because we need to and have rights.”

15.  Women put an end to Poland’s ban on abortion

Women were outraged over the legislation in Poland banning the right to abort pregnancy unless the mother’s life was threatened. So, they took to the streets with signs and vigor—forcing the government to reconsider the amended legislation. These women showed the (girl) power of peaceful protest.

16. Michelle Obama’s ‘Let the Girls Learn Initiative’ took the form of the ‘We Will Rise’ documentary

The film follows FLOTUS to Morocco and Liberia, where she meets school-aged girls discussing their dreams of education and future careers. The film uncovers the hardships girls in developing countries face to get a proper education—and in turn, We Will Rise imparts useful information onto those girls on how to take control of their future.

17. Minority women were elected to the Senate

In the turmoil that surrounded Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, the Senate was our source of light. In November, Nevada elected the first Latina Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto (D) to the Senate. Two Asian American women, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois (D) and Kamala Harris of California (D), were elected to the Senate. In addition, Oregon elected Kate Brown (D), the Senate’s first openly LGBTQ+ governor. Just add these women to the list of senators who will show up after a blizzard come January!

18. Kellyanne Conway became the first woman to run a Republican presidential campaign—and then she won it!

After growing up in a household run by her mother, her grandmother and two of her mother’s unmarried sisters—it comes as no surprise Conway went on to achieve magna cum laude at Trinity College and then a law degree from George Washington University. Some may call her a magician, others a miracle worker. Here at HC, she’s just Olivia. Pope, that is.

19. Sorority sisters disaffiliated in response to transgender inequality

Kristen Reeves and 46 other members of the Delta chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi at Tufts University deactivated their membership after hearing they could not extend a bid to a transgender woman. It appears that only three National Panhellenic sororities in the U.S. have a transgender protection policy included in their bylaws. It looks like the former members of Tufts’ AOII are looking to redefine the definition of sisterhood.

20. Ashley Graham had her barbie made to measure

At Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit in LA, Graham unveiled a barbie perfectly tailored to the plus-size model’s very own body measurements. Graham said goodbye to the ‘thigh gap’ and hello to loving your curves!

21. Ellen Degeneres received the Presidential Medal of Freedom

In late November, Degeneres was honored with the medal for her ability to lift spirits and bring joy into the lives of her viewers. As one of the last honorees President Obama will ever induct, he said of Degeneres that her individual efforts show us joy, laughter and love can brighten the world as long as “we just keep swimming.”

22. Loyola Marymount students fight tampon’s ‘luxury tax’

It’s hard to imagine that using a tampon to appease your monthly cycle would be considered a luxury—however pads and tampons by law are considered a luxury item. Since luxury items are luxuriously taxed, two women at Loyola Marymount University, Emily Campbell and Maddy Jones, are working to fight the injustice. GoFund their efforts as they help support those who can’t afford this particular luxury.

23. A 9-Year-Old Girl will be featured on National Geographic’s January cover

Avery Jackson will be featured as the magazine’s first transgender cover model. Jackson is a precursor to the magazine’s larger documentary, Gender Revolution. Jackson is quoted on the cover, ““The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to be pretend to be a boy.”

24. 18-year-old Aria Watson spoke out against Trump via art

As a student of Clatsop Community College in Oregon, Watson completed her final project of Intro to Photography by painting the bodies of mostly-nude women with quotes from the president-elect. Watson said the way Trump talks about women made her sick—so she decided to channel her emotions through her art. Watson is partnering with The Outrage to sell merchandise inspired by her art, and 15 percent of its proceeds will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union. In Trump’s name, no less. This is the art that speaks to you.

25. If you need a reminder of the growing number of women making a change—there’s an app for that!

SPARK, an organization created and run by women between the ages of 13 and 22, teamed up with Google last January to create an app called the Field Trip App. Every time you enter a space where a woman did something monumental (like the 24 who now stand before you) it’ll alert you! Girl power, it’s everywhere!


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