With so much in the news about what a tough year 2013 was for women and their rights, it got us thinking. What if, instead of focusing on the all the negatives around us, we repositioned ourselves to look only for the good?
What reverberations could that have? Could it be that we are unable to move forward into a new era of feminism because we let “setbacks” delay us from arriving at our desired destination?
That’s not to say that we forget our past, but rather we challenge ourselves to shift focus. To help us do that, we compiled a list of 10 women who totally rocked 2013. Let their stories of courage, vulnerability and fearlessness fuel your own story of hope and promise for 2014.
10) Marianne Williamson, the spiritual teacher, best-selling author and political activist, has recently placed her name in the running for the California District 33 congressional election in November 2014. Marianne is working to bring spiritual and political ideals into alignment with one another. On top of that, she’s just published a new book, A Year of Miracles: Daily Devotions and Reflections, to ring in the new year. #yougogirl
9) Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour became the first female co-anchor pairing last August. Although this isn’t the first time we’ve seen women take the lead on-air, this is the first time a network broadcast has had two female anchors. Television is the most powerful medium, and this duo of respected journalists provides the very best role modeling.
8) In September, Diana Nyad, an author, journalist, motivational speaker and world-record-holding long-distance swimmer, completed the more than 100-mile swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage. This was her fifth attempt, and it took her almost 53 hours to achieve her 35-year-old dream. “Find a way” is the motto she lived by, and find a way she did.
7) Thanks to her role on Orange Is The New Black, Laverne Cox has made television history as one of the most celebrated transgender individuals. She was also named by OUT Magazine as one of the 100 most influential gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people of 2013. It’s monumental to watch her opening the door for a more inclusive definition of what it means to be feminine.
6) Gloria Steinem has long been recognized as a leader of and spokeswoman for the Women’s Liberation Movement, and that recognition finally transcended through to the highest civilian honor when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with Oprah Winfrey and Sally Ride, last November, with the acknowledgment, “This was a medal for the entire women’s movement.” Bravo, Gloria!
5) Angelina Jolie publicly announced that she was undergoing a double mastectomy in early 2013. Nothing says bravery like broadcasting such an extremely personal decision about a medical procedure with the hope of inspiring other women and starting a conversation on preventative medicine for breast cancer.
4) Fawzia Koofi, Afghanistan’s first female Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, announced her bid for the country’s presidency. She is a force within the Middle East for women’s rights and is hoping to run despite the dangers of challenging a government under the oppressive influence of the Taliban. She is looking to propel her country “out of the days of darkness, and bring about change.”
3) Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth representing District 10 in the Texas Senate, staged an 11-hour filibuster of a measure to limit abortion in Texas. She is now running for governor of Texas and is an inspiration in advocating for the protection of the rights women in America have worked hard to acquire.
2) Eva (6) and Jasmine (8) were recently adopted by a foster family after releasing a prayer balloon with their desire to be adopted attached. This is the story of two extraordinary little girls who were brave enough to ask the universe for exactly what they wanted and, in return, were rewarded with the greatest gift—love.
1) Malala Yousafzai was an absolute beam of light in the world in 2013. This Pakistani schoolgirl was shot and nearly killed by the Taliban for taking a stand on the importance of education. Months later, after her miraculous recovery, she graced us all with a powerful speech at the United Nations — on her 16th birthday.
Her book I am Malala, shot straight to the top of the lists of best-sellers. She continues to demonstrate unrelenting hope, unwavering courage and a fierce intellect that can come only from facing danger head-on. She’s absolutely a young Woman on Fire and an unstoppable force for the next generation of feminism.
The Women on Fire Team