Thu, Dec 25, 2014 - Page 9 News List

Heroes, villains, victors: the women who shaped 2014

By Bim Adewunmi  /  The Guardian

US actress Mindy Kaling was briefly mistaken for Malala Yousufzai at a New York party earlier this year.

However, Pakistani children’s rights activist Malala was by far the winner in the list of women who shaped this year.

Malala would be in the list for obvious reasons — for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at 17, the youngest recipient, but also for having to wait to give her “first statement after school.”

Here are some more women who stood out this year for their pioneering initiatives:

THE #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS CAMPAIGN

The horrific abduction of 300 girls from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, by terrorist group Boko Haram triggered an international outcry.

On the ground in Nigeria, activists have not gone quiet: Every day since April 30, they have gathered in the capital to protest against the mass kidnapping.

Next year is an election year for Nigeria and the state of security in the northeastern regions will be an ongoing issue.

ACTIVISM’S FEMALE FACE

From Ferguson, Missouri, to New York City and elsewhere across the US, thousands marched for justice following the killings of unarmed black men and women by police, and they were largely organized and led by young women.

The Millions March NYC was set up by Umaara Elliott and Synead Nichols.

Harriet Wistrich won Liberty’s Human Rights Lawyer of the Year award for her work showing police failures concerning the women attacked by a London taxi driver.

THE MANY BATTLES OF THE FEMINIST PR WAR

Beyonce stood in front of a giant FEMINIST sign at the Video Music Awards, inspiring many tenuous thinkpieces and column inches; Emma Watson gave a speech as part of the “He For She” campaign at the UN in New York; Harriet Harman wore her Fawcett Society “This is what a feminist looks like” T-shirt to a UK parliament sitting for prime minister’s questions (a not-at-all subtle dig at British Prime Minister David Cameron); and the media managed to ask every semi-famous woman about her thoughts on feminism.

On balance, the feminist public relations war was largely won and with only minimal bloodletting.

HEROINES OF SCIENCE AND HEALTH

Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the Fields Medal in Mathematics; space scientist Monica Grady celebrated with the rest of the Rosetta mission when Philae landed on a comet, 10 years after its launch.

In Nigeria, hero doctor Stella Ameyo Adadevoh led a team that shut down the spread of Ebola in the most populous country in Africa and died from the virus after exposure.

MOST EXCELLENT IMAGE OF WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE

In September, India sent up the Mangalyaan satellite to orbit Mars, making it only the fourth nation to do so.

The photograph that marked the accomplishment was striking: A command control room showing six women in saris smiling and excitedly embracing one another in the foreground.

Whether in purple or red or pink or blue, this is what a scientist (can) look(s) like.

SMALL-SCREEN QUEENS

Yes, there was UK comedian Dapper Laughs and his patently ridiculous brand of “entertainment,” but generally, women did better than alright in television this year.

British TV was particularly strong, full of complex and nuanced female narratives and roles: Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Honourable Woman, Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley and Keeley Hawes in Line of Duty were highlights.

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