We all know 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for just about everyone. But through all the chaos, confusion, heart-break and turmoil, we still had triumphant women leading us with their resilience, courage and strength. Don’t despair. These women make us hopeful that 2021 will be a better year for all.
Jacinda Ardern and Tsai Ing-wen
In October, Ardern won a second term in a landslide victory after leading her country through the coronavirus pandemic with fewer than 30 deaths. Arden recently told The Guardian she doesn’t think leadership should be a lonely gig; she prefers a collaborative sort of workplace.
Last week, she announced she’d secured two additional COVID-19 vaccines from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax. New Zealanders now have more vaccines available to them than they need. What did Ardern decide to do? She announced she would give the surplus vaccines to neighbouring nations, on top of $US65 million in aid to support them.
Over to the northern hemisphere, how’s this for approval ratings for a president?
A recent survey published by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan revealed that more than 60 percent of Taiwanese citizens were satisfied with President Tsai-Ing-wen’s performance.
According to the poll, more than 95 percent of people believed that the nation’s pandemic prevention performance was superior compared to other countries, and more than 83 percent were satisfied with how her government handled the virus. (Imagine those figures showing up here in Australia!)
Tsai Ing-wen made global headlines consistently throughout 2020 when Taiwan, a country of over 23 million people, went more than 200 days without a locally transmitted Covid-19 case. Her administration instituted one of the world’s most effective pandemic-response policies.
She started the year by securing a second term in an overwhelming victory, followed by swift border closures, tough travel restrictions and setting up contact-tracing and quarantine protocols. She was a Bloomberg 50 for 2020 — “Taiwan’s COVID Crusher,” and deemed to have led “one of the world’s most effective pandemic response protocols.”
MacKenzie Scott, Melinda Gates and hundreds more women
This year, prominent public figures have made headlines for parting substantial amounts of their wealth to those in need.
Generosity is abundant, and it seems that women are the ones leading this trend. For example, last month, MacKenzie Scott (who you may know as the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos) gave the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago a cool $9 million.
So far, Scott has donated more than $4 billion to 384 groups, including allocations to 59 other YWCA chapters in the last six months. That’s a lot of money right? Well, she is the world’s fourth-richest woman. According to the NYTimes, she has given away $6 billion this year – much of it to small charities and non-profits that centre marginalised women.
Who else has been uber-generous? Melinda Gates, who last week announced a further $250 million donation to support research, development, and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines — particularly to low-income countries. In June, The Gates Foundation pledged $1.6 billion to deliver vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.
Greta Thunberg, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Cardi B are among the hundreds of other superstars who have donated to charities, support organisations and to the Covid-crisis.
Miranda Tapsell and Nakkiah Lui — podcast hosts of Debutante: Race, Resistance and Girl Power
You might know Miranda Tapsell from the gorgeously charming 2019 flick Top End Wedding. And Nakkiah Lui? She hardly needs an introduction. The Gamillaroi and Torres Strait Islander playwright has been writing for the stage and television for years. She’s also known for her activism in indigenous rights, racism and the arts.
This year, she launched her own publishing imprint, Joan, which will commission books across a broad range of genres – a project which Lui called “a miracle.”
“I want JOAN to continue a legacy of radical, inclusive rebellion,” she said. “I want JOAN to help create space for the voices that challenge; exposing, critical voices. Voices that get formed in our community.”
In 2021, Lui will lead a fresh line-up of talent in a new show called Preppers.
Miranda Tapsell has been busy too. Coming off the back of an incredible 2019, where she starred in the Aussie rom-com Top End Wedding and secured a nomination to be included in the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Walk of Fame, in April this year, she released her memoir, Top End Girl, where she traces her life growing up in Kakadu National Park and winning a Bell Shakespeare Company regional performance scholarship as a teenager.
As the world raced to create a vaccine for the virus that has so far claimed more than 1.7 million lives, a number of prominent women have been working on the front line to get the world inoculated from the virus’ spreading force.
We’ve seen June Raine in the UK heading the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – the UK’s medical regulator. There is the Chairwoman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham and Christina Dold from the Oxford Vaccine Group. Sarah Gilbert is a Professor of Vaccinology at the Jenner Institute & Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine and is part of a team at Oxford working on a vaccine, called AZD1222 (development by AstraZeneca).
So many women leading this charge, working to secure a vaccine to make the world a safer place in this new reality. It’s reassuring that though science continues to be dominated by men, and men are given more airtime than women, when it comes to discussing COVID-19 related issues in the media, women are pressing on and accomplishing great things.
Serena Williams and Megan Rapinoe
Remember when Serena Williams donated her $43,000 prize money from the ASB Classic Match to Australian wildfire relief efforts? That was in 2020. Yep. It was 2020. Feels like a long time ago, hey?
She is perhaps tennis’ greatest ever player, yet she’s also a champion of change and social justice. This month, the Chicago-based startup ShoppingGives — a social impact e-commerce platform that gives their customers a chance to search more than 1.5 million nonprofits to support, announced it received investment from Serena Ventures, the venture capital firm launched by Williams in 2014.
In July, she donated 4.25 million face masks to schools in the US. Active on social media, she recently shared a ‘2020’ parenting moment on her Instagram account, showing her 2-year old daughter Olympia pretending to administer a COVID-19 test to her mother. She’s a sports superstar, a thriving entrepreneur and a parent who cares about the future of the world for her children.
Meanwhile, everyone’s favourite Megan Rapinoe, released her debut memoir this year, One Life.
She’s an Olympic gold medalist, two-time Women’s World Cup Champion and captain of the US Women’s Soccer Team. As active off field, Rapinoe has tirelessly advocated for women’s rights, transgender rights, LGBTQI rights, and Black Lives Matter.
This month, she joined a slew of famous athletes including Candace Parker and Billie Jean King in support of a brief against an Idaho’s Anti-Transgender law that would ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports in school.
With spectacularly brave, outspoken, trailblazing women in the sports world, we can sleep well at night knowing the future will continue to be a place where women resist discrimination.