2016 was full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, but no matter where you're standing now, it was a monumental year for women. We are counting down ten of our favorite defining moments.
FEMALE-LED POLITICAL TEAMS & KATY TUR
Reporter Katy Tur lived out of suitcases for over a year and a half. Received endless threats (to the point where she needed Secret Service protection), and bullying at Trump rallies, but the reporter never stopped doing her job. Of the campaign trail she wrote, "For one thing, the boys on the bus are now the girls on the plane. Fellow NBC reporters Andrea Mitchell, Kasie Hunt, Hallie Jackson, Kristen Welker, and I are the first women-led politics team in the history of network news—just one remarkable shift in a campaign season where the only rule seems to be that there are no rules."
SIMONE BILES MAKES HISTORY
The reigning floor champion in gymnastics, American gymnast Simone Biles became the first female gymnast of this generation to take home four Olympic gold medals. At 19 she is considered the greatest gymnast in the world.
She's also a powerful advocate for radical self-acceptance. Biles who was just named the AP female athlete of the year has taken so much criticism about her body that she felt the need to address the bullying on Twitter recently: "you all can judge my body all you want, but at the end of the day it's MY body," she wrote. "I love it & I'm comfortable in my skin."
Call it a gold medal mic drop.
SAMANTHA BEE CHANGES THE LATE NIGHT GAME
With one of the best and most diverse writing staffs and its boss front woman, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee easily became one of the best shows in 2016. Bee might not have changed the outcome of the election, nor should a late-night comedy show have the ability to, but her satirical overtones are the best in the game. And she does it standing up, as if to remind people that she wears the pants. Beyond that, her writer's room diversity efforts have paid off and she's leading the charge, challenging other shows to do the same.
She won the popular vote, didn't win the race, but Hillary Rodham Clinton made history. For women everyone. For little girls who saw a woman command the national stage. For women who never thought they would cast their vote for a female nominee. At the DNC Clinton accepted her nomination saying, “When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit. So let's keep going, until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves. Because even more important than the history we make tonight is the history we will write together in the years ahead.”
SARAH MCBRIDE MAKES STRIDES FOR THE TRANS COMMUNITY
Sarah McBride became the first transgender speaker at a major political convention when she spoke during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She's interned at the White House, helped her home state of Delaware pass protections for the LGBTQ community and is now the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. Though she one worried that her dreams and her identity were incompatible, she has become a brilliant example of the power of inclusively. "Will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally?" she asked the convention. "A nation that's stronger together?" Will will if she has anything to do with it.
THE FOREST THROUGH THE TREES: SENATE SILVING LININGS
We may not have realized our first female president, but there are now a record number of women in the Senate. On Tuesday, three women of color were newly elected to the Senate, quadrupling the number of sitting members. Prior to Tuesday's election, Hawaii's Sen. Mazie Hirono was the only woman of color in the Senate. She became the first and only Asian-American woman elected to the Senate in 2006, along with the first woman elected senator in Hawaii. Amongst the newly elected members of the Senate is California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is both African- and Indian-American. Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina senator in U.S. history and the first woman elected senator in Nevada. Tammy Duckworth became the first Thai-American senator in history after she beat out her Republican opponent for an empty seat in Illinois.
COMPANIES ARE MAKING MAKING MATERNITY LEAVE STRIDES
This past April Etsy employees became eligible for 26 weeks of fully paid leave over the first two years after a child's birth, with at least eight of those weeks taken continuously during the first six months following the birth.
American Express will offer twenty weeks of paid leave will be offered to men and women bringing a new child into their families through surrogacy, adoption, or birth, with an additional six to eight weeks for birth mothers.
Coca-Cola, EY, IKEA, and Basf are all expanding benefits as well. Though policies in the U.S. regarding paid parental leave are up in the air, the steps taken by these companies are important for the county overall. There is still a long way to go, but when big companies set the standard, others follow suit.
TAKING OUR ACHIEVEMENTS TO THE BANK
In America we believe in money, and in a move that’s long overdue, women will gain representation on U.S. paper currency for the first time in over a century. In August, the U.S. Treasury announced that women suffragists will appear on the back of the $5 and $10 bill, and Underground Railroad abolitionist and escaped slave Harriet Tubmanwill become the new face of the $20 bill.
BEYONCE GOT EVERYONE IN FORMATION
With her all female, all women of color drum line Queen B performed "Formation" at the Super Bowl to the tune of unapologetic black feminist overtones. She paid homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, Malcolm X, and the Black Panthers. A few months later, she dropped "Lemonade," a revolutionary visual album that Rolling Stone named the best album of the year.
MICHELLE OBAMA DELIVERS ONE OF THE BEST SPEECHES OF THE CENTURY
She may have been on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton, but when First Lady Michelle Obama took the microphone in Manchester, New Hampshire, she delivered one of the best political speeches many of us hear in our lifetime. She was raw, emotional, and brutally honest about the sexually abusive comments made by now President elect Trump. It was a rebuke that will reverberate for years to come. "It has shaken me to my core," she told the crowd. "If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children?" she asked. "What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this."
Move over Jackie, we can expect alllll of the Michelle Obama biopics.
Have more favorites? There are plenty more to choose from. Share in the comments below!
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