It's easy in these unsettled, dark times to think that the world is all doom and gloom. But, while we still have a long way to go, there are women everywhere showing us that there is hope on the horizon; women who are challenging racism, conflict, sexism and stereotypes in their own glorious ways.
Here, we recognise their achievements.
The war victim Nadia Murad rose to become a crucial human-rights activist
Nadia Murad was among more than 5,000 Yazidi women who was captured by Isis and repeatedly abused and raped. She was tortured for over three months before successfully escaping to a refugee camp in Stuttgart. Since then, she has bravely spoken out in front of the UN about her harrowing experiences to raise awareness of the plight of the Iraqi and Syrian peoples and to urge more action to protect refugees from the conflict with Isis. In September 2016, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee became the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations.
Ieshia Evans showed the world how to protest gracefully
Iesha Evans Twitter/ Reuters/ Jonathan Bachman
The image of a young nurse called Ieshia Evans standing in a billowing dress as armed policemen charge towards her made front pages across the world. She was arrested and held overnight before being freed. The photo, taken by Jonathan Bachman during the Black Lives Matter protests in Louisiana last July, has become iconic – a symbol of peaceful, defiant protest.
Beyoncé created a landmark album for women everywhere
Beyoncé's visual album Lemonade changed the music landscape and was hailed a revolutionary landmark in the black women's movement. It opened a discussion about race, feminism, music, matriarchy and infidelity, and was widely lauded for offering multidimensional images of black, female life. The record and its imagery are a cultural phenomenon. Scholars and academics debated and analysed its meaning; it is unarguably one of the most influential albums of the year.
Adele showed the ultimate symbol of sisterhood for Beyoncé
In February 2017, Adele won a Grammy for Best Album for her work 25. Upon collecting her award, she broke the statue in two, saying the honour truly belonged to Beyoncé and Lemonade. "I can't possibly accept this award," she said during her acceptance speech. "You are the artist of my life. And this album to me, the Lemonade album, is just so monumental. You are our light. And the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering. And you make them stand up for themselves." In doing so, Adele made an important statement of humility, acknowledging the challenges that society places on even the most successful of women.
Hillary Clinton made history for women in politics
She may not have won the US election, but Hillary Clinton smashed gender boundaries and went further in politics than any woman has done before. She retained her integrity in a heated, scheming presidential race and, in defeat, inspired millions around the world. In her concession speech, she said: "To all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."
JK Rowling repeatedly took down the dinosaurs of Twitter
JK Rowling's wit and intellect did much for feminism this year, proving how social media can be used for good. She has made clear her views on Donald Trump's plans to make abortion more difficult for women; she artfully sparred with the TV presenter Piers Morgan after he declared allegiance with the US President; and has been forthcoming with messages of hope for those feeling disillusioned with the world. "The easy thing is to keep your head down and let the bullies run amok," she tweeted. "The right thing to do is to challenge racism, misogyny and hatred."
Meryl Streep called out Donald Trump
Meryl Streep used her acceptance speech for the Cecil B DeMille Award at the Golden Globes to powerfully highlight Donald Trump's unfair treatment of marginalised groups of society, specifically how he mocked a disabled reporter in July 2015. "Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose," she said. The speech attracted worldwide publicity.
Emma Watson redefined the notion of a Disney princess
Emma Watson took one of Disney's most memorable characters, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and turned her into an empowered modern role model for young women after choosing to play her in a new live-action adaptation of the film. She has batted off criticism that the character is a victim of Stockholm syndrome: "Belle has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm syndrome because she keeps her independence; she keeps that freedom of thought."
Maria Grazia Chiuri became the first woman to helm Christian Dior
Maria Grazia Chiuri made history when she clinched her role at the esteemed fashion house Christian Dior last year. Her appointment was announced in July when she left Valentino to bring a new sense of femininity to the brand. Her first collection, unveiled in September, received critical acclaim and was a love letter to girl power across the globe. Her "We should all be feminists" T-shirts have become a cult favourite.
All the women everywhere who protested during the monumental Women's March
Over 4.5 million women in seven continents marched the day after Donald Trump's inauguration on 21 January to highlight the importance of gender equality. What resulted was one of the largest protests ever and a powerful show of faith-restoring solidarity and strength.
Via Harper's Bazaar US