A Monthly Recap On Why 2015 Was Feminism's Year

There are two women running for president, and two women who have graduated from the U.S. Army's ranger school. There will soon be a woman on the $10 bill. If that's not a feminist year, then I don't know what is. Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of work to be done on the feminist front, but 2015 was a great year for feminism, and now that the year is almost over, it's time to celebrate — with one quote from each month.

Debates over women's health issues and family leave policies are far from over, but thanks to a new wave of presidential candidates and a growing crop of outspoken celebrities, those conversations are becoming more and more mainstream. What's more, feminism isn't just an American phenomenon. Earlier this year, the United Nations released an extensive report on the role of women throughout the world, finding that feminism makes the world a safer place to live. "Peace is only sustainable if women are fully included, and that peace is inextricably linked with equality between women and men," according to the Global Study released in October. That quote should sum up the entire year, but there were plenty of highlights from month to month, as well.


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The 2015 Golden Globes set a great tone for the rest of the year to follow (and not just thanks to power work-couple Tina Fey and Amy Poehler). There were several speeches throughout the night that celebrated the progress women have made in the entertainment industry and beyond — some of them funny, some of them serious, all of them important. In particular, Amy Adams spoke about the rise of the powerful female role model in Hollywood.

It's just so wonderful that women today have such a strong voice. And I have a 4-and-a-half-year-old and I'm so grateful to have all the women in this room. You speak to her so loudly. She watches everything and she sees every thing. And I'm just so so grateful for all of you women in this room who have such a lovely, beautiful voice.


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The feminist Hollywood awards speeches continued into February thanks to Patricia Arquette's moment at the mic at the Oscars. Arquette won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood, and she called for equal pay for women in her acceptance speech.

To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights, it's our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.



After living for years as "that woman," Monica Lewinsky opened up about the slut-shaming and bullying she received after the Bill Clinton ordeal. She gave a TED Talk called The Price of Shame, in which she vowed to take back her narrative.

I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously. I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo and, of course, "that woman."


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After months of waiting, Loretta Lynch was sworn in as the first African American female attorney general of the United States in April. A native of North Carolina with humble beginnings, Lynch had developed quite a resume before her role as one of the most powerful lawyers in the world: She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School — and she was a cheerleader there. She sees these humble beginnings as a symbol of what she can do as attorney general.

if a little girl from North Carolina — who used to tell her grandfather in the fields to lift her up on the back of his mule so she could "see way up high, Granddaddy" — can grow up to become the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, we can do anything


Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a fantastically feminist speech at Wellesley College's spring commencement ceremony in front of hundreds of graduates and their families. The setting could not have been more fitting: Wellesley is a women's college in Massachusetts, with alumnae including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Diane Sawyer. Adichie incorporated personal anecdotes about her childhood and young adulthood in Nigeria, as well as an anecdote from her mother, who was the first female registrar of the University of Nigeria. Toward the end of her speech, Adichie included a powerful call to action.

Feminism should be an inclusive party. Feminism should be a party full of different feminisms. And so, class of 2015, please go out there and make feminism a big raucous inclusive party.



Rosie Rios is the treasurer of the United States, which means that she oversees the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and Fort Knox. When she assumed her current role in 2009, she made it her goal to get a woman's face on a piece of currency. In June, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that she had done just that — a woman would soon replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. Rios joined other women in celebrating the powerful moment in history.

What took us so long?


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The FIFA Women's World Cup dominated the media over the summer, shattering ratings records (and glass ceilings) in America. When the U.S. women's national team beat Japan in the final game, they might have also ushered in a new era of women's sports. Julie Foudy, one of the stars of the last American team to win the title in 1999, recognized how many of the conversations about the female athletes were different this time around.

We're talking about them as athletes, rather than some of the conversations we had in '99 — "My God, who are these women? They're kind of hot!"


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Two women, Capt. Kristen Greist and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, became the first women to graduate from the U.S. Army's prestigious Ranger School toward the end of the summer. Both women were already among a special crop of soldiers, having graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where just 17 percent of cadets are women. Their accomplishment came as an important step in the current administration's desire to integrate women more fully into combat positions — a trend they seem proud to be a part of. Greist explained that the accomplishment wasn't just about proving to the rest of the world what women are capable of, but proving it to herself, as well.

For me, the biggest accomplishment was that it was a goal I had for so long. It was always just about trying to get the best training that the Army can offer us.


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Truly, this wouldn't be a comprehensive snapshot of feminism in 2015 if it didn't include a reference to Hillary Clinton leading the Democratic race for president. Throughout her time in politics, Clinton has used her various platforms to advocate for women's rights around the world. In 1995, Clinton gave a famous speech at a United Nations conference in China, in which she declared, "women's rights are human rights." In 2015, Clinton reflected on that speech with a similar sentiment.

What's good for women is good for America.


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Jennifer Lawrence dominated October with a powerful essay in Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter. J. Law discussed the gender wage gap in Hollywood after salary information about her and her American Hustle co-stars came out last year during the Sony hack. She won over women across the country and fellow entertainment pros, including her perennial co-star, Bradley Cooper.

I'm over trying to find the "adorable" way to state my opinion and still be likable!



Making this 2015 snapshot for a second time, Clinton is no stranger to speaking about political issues and using her platform to campaign on behalf of women. Following a tragic shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in November, Clinton gave a fervent speech about the need to accept Planned Parenthood as a valuable asset for women's health issues. In doing so, she bought up an issue that has often become overshadowed in the competitive election season this year.

I know when I talk like this, some people, especially of the Republican persuasion, say I'm playing the gender card. Well, if talking about women's health, equal pay, paid family leave, and affordable child care is playing the gender card, deal me in.


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Earlier in 2015, Saudi Arabian women received the right to vote and the right to be elected to public office. These new rights became truly effective in December, when the first elections since the landmark decision was made took place. In total, 980 women ran for office and around 20 won election. One female winner, Rasha Hefzi, summed up the importance of the recent changes and the election for women:

It's very difficult because it's the first time — and we are competing against men. But people are thirsty for change.

In the U.S. and elsewhere, 2015 was a great year for women. Still, many of the feminist highlights from this year have revealed how much work we still have left. Here's hoping we see more forward progress in equal pay, equal rights, and more in 2016.

Image: WellesleyCollege/YouTube