This year, we’ve seen powerful women mobilising, creating, radicalising and achieving. Women continue to break ceilings and silences. A year after #MeToo, 2018 presented us with such human trash as Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso. Whether through sports, the arts or activism, these women have stood up for what they believe in, and we are proud to feature them in our The Year of Women story in our December issue, on shelf now. Here, watch and listen to their most powerful moments. 

Dr Christine Blasey Ford

Dr Christine Blasey Ford spoke out publicly about being sexually assaulted as a student when she testified against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Despite her testimony, Brett Kavanaugh was later sworn in as a Supreme Court associate justice. Dr Ford’s sexual assault testimony was ridiculed by US President Donald Trump who tried to discredit her as a survivor. But her voice and her bravery resonated with many women around the world. An outpouring of support from many celebrities and social media users shows the solidarity of women believing women:

 

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Hero.

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Naomi Osaka

Twenty-one-year-old Naomi Osaka is the first ever Japanese person to win a Grand Slam final. Naomi won the US Open against Serena Williams at the age of 20, and has been playing professionally since she was 16 years old. She described winning the US Open as ‘bittersweet’ after Serena Williams called the umpire, Carlos Ramos, a thief and a liar and accused him of sexism. While Naomi was in tears at the way the game ended, she was comforted by the GOAT (greatest of all time) Serena Williams.

 

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THE. FIRST. JAPANESE. PLAYER. TO. WIN. A. GS🏆🎌 // Also Haitian 🇭🇹❤

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The #DearBody Participants of 2018

In Marie Claire‘s 2018 #DearBody campaign, 15 powerful women bared it all. Each woman featured wrote a letter to her body about the sometimes difficult and vulnerable path to self-acceptance and self-love. Thousands of South African women then joined the conversation under the #DearBody hashtag and shared their own letters to their bodies too. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories of truth with us.

The 15 phenomenal women are author and actress Buhle Ngaba, radio personalities Sibongile Mafu and Sherlin Barends, influencer Lesego Thickleeyoncé Legobane, actress and presenter Khanyi Mbau, entertainer Zodwa Wabantu, radio personality Ayanda MVP, actress Nomalanga Shozi, fashion influencers Shelley Mokoena and Keneilwe Mothoa from Prime Obsession, comedian Tumi Morake, TV presenter Lalla Hirayama, comedian and TV presenter Nina Hastie, model and actress Michelle Mosalakae, and singer and actress Bianca Le Grange.

 

Cheryl Zondi

Twenty-two-year-old Cheryl Zondi testified against Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso regarding the alleged sexual abuses that started when she was 14 years old and a member of his Jesus Dominion International church. Timothy’s defence lawyer tried to discredit her by calling her a ‘good actress’. It’s no wonder so few women in South Africa – a shocking one in 13 –  choose to report their rapes, when the means to justice can be so punishing.

Cheryl Zondi’s testimony, bravery and resilience were recognised in a huge wave of solidarity from women around the country. Cheryl is quoted as saying: ‘Being a woman in this world is a challenging task on its own and we find ourselves having to defend our dignity on a daily basis. So, whatever battle I am fighting is the same battle every other woman out there is fighting.’

 

Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October this year for her anti-sexual-violence activism. After escaping slavery at the hands of the Islamic State (IS), Nadia sought to put an end to sexual violence being used as a weapon of war. She has also publicly testified about what she endured and the genocide of her people, the Yazidis. Legally represented by Amal Clooney, Nadia’s work involves a campaign to bring the IS leaders before an international court.

 

The women behind #TheTotalShutDown march

#TheTotalShutDown march against gender-based violence in South Africa has turned into a resistance movement magnifying the voices of survivors. Rape culture in communities and institutions remains normalised, as do high rates of femicide, intimate partner violence, and politicians getting away with assault. Through protest, the women and activists behind this movement have acknowledged that there is nothing to celebrate on Women’s Day, and have taken to radicalising instead.


On 1 August, South African women and gender non-conforming people marched and created large-scale conversation around gender-based violence with a list of demands for the government to tackle this issue. Many organisations took part, including Gender DynamiX, the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement, the Rural Women’s Assembly, the Scalabrini Centre Cape Town, Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies, South African Faith and Family Institute, and Child Welfare South Africa. See more pictures here.

 

Nosipho Dumisa

Nosipho Dumisa’s debut feature film, Nommer 37, was nominated for the Gamechanger Award at the South by Southwest and won Best Director at the Fantasia International Firm Festival in Montreal. The film starts its theatrical run in November in the USA. This Durban-born director has soared in the international film festival community and you can find an in-depth interview with the filmmaker here. She has the following to say:

‘I am of the belief that stories should transcend racial and cultural barriers. I am far more interested in building bridges, than walls that divide. We consume international media and though most of us have never lived in these parts of the world, we still manage to relate to the stories, because everyone understands hardships, family, life, death and love. I had to believe that, regardless of language, if I focused on respecting this story and the audience’s expectation of entertainment, the film would speak to everyone.’

 

Caster Semenya

Olympian, two-time world champion and Women’s 800m two-time gold medalist Caster Semenya has challenged the new International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) gender rules. Backed by Athletics South Africa, she’s taking on discrimination in the world of athletics. The new rule ‘only applies to women … who run the 400m, 800m and 1 500m races … No such kind of rule has ever existed for male athletes.’

The rule, if passed, will limit the natural testosterone levels of female middle distance runners and has called for competing athletes to modify their physical makeup through testosterone suppressants in order to fit the specifications. ‘The Olympian has had her sex tested, her physique interrogated, her gender attacked, her appearance critiqued, and her identity questioned constantly. Now, she is once again being pushed to have her body policed.’

In this stirring Nike video ad, Caster asks: ‘Will it be simpler for you if I stopped winning?’:

 

We celebrate these wonder women! You can find our complete The Year of Women list in the December issue of Marie Claire, on sale now.