Yes, we’re making another one of these lists because who doesn’t want to be inspired ONE MORE TIME? We could read about these change-makers over and over. Here are six brave and brilliant women who are bringing us together to end inequality:
The pioneering lawmaker continues to inspire. Not only are we excited to see her new biopic, On The Basis of Sex, but we applaud her continued resilience. She is a brilliant example of how change can last through generations, and has been quoted as saying of her mother: “I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons.”
You may not know her name, but you likely saw the image of a young girl behind the podium at the United Nations climate summit in Poland this December, speaking truth to world powers about the responsibility we all have to address climate change. Due to this epic moment as well as other campaigns Thunberg has undertaken to fight for a better future for all of us, TIME named her one of the world’s most influential teenagers.
The Canadian physicist was awarded the Nobel Prize this year, along with with Gérard Mourou, for her work with pulsed lasers. Strickland started her education as one of three women in her Bachelor of Engineering cohort, going on to get her graduate degree and doctorate. Strickland is only the third woman in 117 years to win a Nobel Prize for physics, and has commented that she’s worked to bring more women into her department at the University of Waterloo. She too is ending inequality through future generations – her daughter is a graduate student in astrophysics at the University of Toronto.
Another whose name likely doesn’t rest on the tip of many tongues, Ester Reiter is a lifelong social advocate. The retired women’s studies professor has marched to protest the Vietnam War with two babies in tow, visited and honoured the mass graves of Jewish family members likely murdered in the Holocaust and continues her activism to this day. Reiter makes our list because she continues to bring us together to end inequality. “…I inherited my parents’ grief and the understanding you don’t fight (injustice) for yourself. You fight it for everybody.”
Not only did Murad have the strength to survive capture and abuse at the hands of Islamic State fighters in her village of Kocho in Iraq, she went on to tell the harrowing story of the Yazidi minority people to the world. She addressed the UN Security Council, opened her world to documentary filmmaker Alexandria Bombach for the film On Her Shoulders and continues to campaign for an end to the inequalities faced by the Yazidi people. Her courage culminated in a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, shared with Denis Mukwege for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
The Canadian author was the first black woman to win the Giller Prize in 2011 for her novel Half-Blood Blues. Edugyan was at it again this year, bringing home the prize for Washington Black, a story of an eleven-year-old slave and his dreams for freedom. “In Canada I grew up with almost no African Canadian writers to emulate; my models came from abroad," Edugyan has said. "That is changing now, slowly. My own feeling is that the rooms of literature are vast and deep, and we would do well to linger in them.”