Long before Donald Trump won the most bonkers U.S. election in modern history, and broken-hearted Hillary fans popped their “It’s a girl!” balloons, many women were feeling like 2016 was…less than excellent. There were high-profile sexual assault cases, including the Jian Ghomeshi trial and the Stanford rape case, vivid accounts from female politicians of the harassment they still endure in this country, reports suggesting the wage gap is getting wider, and a seemingly endless stream of new research showing everything from poverty and climate change to air conditioning is sexist. See: tough year.
At this moment, when Trump’s “locker room talk” haunts us and disbelief has us reaching for the boxed wine, it’s more important than ever to celebrate the many astonishing accomplishments of women in 2016. The long-awaited Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry began, with a set of the country’s smartest, most compassionate women leading the way toward justice and change. Our female athletes dominated the summer Olympics, our comedians redefined funny for the feminist era, our scientists made breakthroughs in cancer research, our academics fought for refugees and our tech tycoons shook up the dude-dominated gaming world.
Abroad, voters may have chosen to Brexit, but they also elected a power-player PM in Theresa May to clean up the chaos. Michelle Obama emerged as the White House’s fiercest advocate for women. And, most heartening of all, millions of us rallied to support each other online, in front of court houses and at pride parades, in #nastywomen tees and pantsuits.
And so, after a great deal of research and deliberation, we selected 12 people — comedians, scientists, activists, artists and everyday heroes — who have challenged and amazed us this year, who made us want to think bigger and do better in our own lives.
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