Bono Is 'Glamour's First Man Of The Year & It's An Important Honor

There's one thing you can count on when it comes to Glamour' s Women Of The Year list, which celebrates the achievements of women who are changing the way we look at celebrity, politics, business, sports and activism: it will be filled with women. But, this year, the magazine decided to change things up by making Bono the first man to be named one of Glamour's Women of the Year. Sure, one of these things isn't quite like the other, but honoring the U2 frontman and activist doesn't change the importance of the list or what it stands for. It just expands it.

The 2016 honorees include Black-ish actress Tracee Ellis Ross; Olympic gymnast Simone Biles; Black Lives Matter founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi; Stanford sexual assault survivor Emily Doe; model and body activist Ashley Graham; actress and activist Zendaya; International Monetary Fund Managing Director and Lifetime Achievement winner Christine Lagarde; anti-ISIS activist Nadia Murad; designer Miuccia Prada; and singer and style icon Gwen Stefani. Then, of course, it adds Glamour’s first Man of the Year, Bono. Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive said in a statement,

“In this historic year for women, Glamour is proud to honor these wonderful and wildly diverse trailblazers. Each honoree, including our first-ever Man of the Year, Bono, is changing the conversation and the culture, and making life better not just for herself — or himself! — but for all women.”

Bono might not be a woman, but it's worth bucking tradition to honor someone who's helped improve the lives of women through his work with ONE, an organization that is looking to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS. According to 2014 statistics from amfAR, an organization dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic, almost 62 percent of all new HIV infections among adolescents around the globe occurred among adolescent girls. They also found that, in sub-Saharan Africa, women constitute 58 percent of all people living with HIV. These statistics point to the sad truth this epidemic more greatly affects the women of the world than the men.

Last year, Bono also launched the ONE campaign, Poverty Is Sexist, which looks to help the world’s poorest women — specifically, those women who survive on less than $2 a day. According to ONE's 2016 Poverty Is Sexist report on the connection between poverty and gender, "half a billion women still cannot read, 62 million girls are denied the right to education, and 155 countries still have laws that differentiate between men and women." To put it in plainer terms, the campaign explains, "In too many countries, being born poor and female means a life sentence of inequality, oppression and poverty — and in too many cases is also a death sentence."

Bono is calling for global gender equality that would help women have as many opportunities as men, since there's not one place on earth where that is currently the case. This may be through donating money or through using your vote to keep leaders out of office who do not respect women. He doesn't care how you do it; he just wants all men and women to get involved.

Bono is a man, but gender wasn't a viable excuse leave him off the list, something as Leive pointed out in a recent interview with the Associate Press. "It started to seem that that might be an outdated way of looking at things," she said of only choosing women for the list. "And there are so many men who really are doing wonderful things for women these days. Some men get it, and Bono is one of those guys." Honoring Bono doesn't take away from the other honorees and what they're doing, just as urging men to get involved in women's issues doesn't take away from feminism or the fight for gender equality. It only helps further the conversation.

ONE on YouTube

Bono being the Glamour's First Man of the Year certainly makes for a good headline and perhaps, a few great thinkpieces, but the real takeaway here is that, in order to make the world an equal place, we need to get everyone — women and men — more involved in women's issues. That's the only way to see real change. It's why the United Nations launched its HeforShe campaign in 2014, which looks to engage men and boys in the battle for gender equality and hopefully break down long-held gender stereotypes that just aren't true. As Emma Watson said in her U.N. speech in 2015, "It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals."

In an interview in Glamour by Christiane Amanpour, Bono talked about what it meant to be a honorary Woman of the Year. It's an honor he swears he doesn't deserve, and his wife of 34 years, Ali Hewson, agrees. “I asked did she think I deserved it. She wasn’t sure,” Bono said with a laugh “She said I’ve work to do!” But, it's work he's willing to do — and has been doing for decades, which is why his legacy will be defined as much by those women he saved through his activism.

“I’m grateful for this award," Bono told Glamour, "as a chance to say the battle for gender equality can’t be won unless men lead it along with women. We’re largely responsible for the problem, so we have to be involved in the solutions." Spoken like a true Man of the Year.

Image: Sam Jones/Glamour