From the Women’s March on Washington to real conversations and convictions about the sexual predators of Hollywood, 2017 has been the year where women decided to stand up for justice, progress and equality.
From activists, journalists, social media commentators to celebrities, these 20 women, in this list compiled by She Knows, inspired us to find our inner badass in 2017.
1. Tarana Burke
Tarana is a civil rights activist who created the “Me too” movement in 2006 to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault in society. She was named one of the Silence Breakers in Time’s 2017 Person of the Year issue.
2. Gabrielle Union
The 45-year-old actress and activist who always talks candidly about rape culture and sexual violence has a book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, in which she talks about her own rape, her relationships, and life as a black woman.
3. Lupita Nyong’o
The Oscar-winning actress was one of the many women who came come forward about sexual harassment from the film producer Harvey Weinstein.
The 30-year-old singer released a song called Praying in which she channels her feelings of severe hopelessness and depression and also opens up about her abuser, Dr. Luke.
5. Uma Thurman
The Kill Bill actress told a reporter that she is still not ready to talk about all the sexual allegations that stormed through Hollywood this fall. For Thanksgiving, the actress shared a photo on Instagram that she captioned: “Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! (Except you Harvey, and all your wicked conspirators.”
6. Heather Heyer
Heather Heyer was an anti-fascist activist who got killed in the violence at a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. There is a foundation in her name with the purpose of providing scholarships for all of those who care about civil rights.
7. Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande had a benefit concert that raised $13 million in funds to help bombing victims and their families of the May 22 terror attack after the singer’s show at Manchester Arena.
8. Kelly Marie Tran
Kelly Marie Tran is the first Asian woman to be cast in a lead role in Star Wars. She came to wider attention for her role as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
9. Tessa Thompson
The 34-year-old actress who played Jackie Cook on the television series Veronica Mars got a role in Thor: Ragnarok and she fully supports her character’s bisexuality.
10. Danica Roem
The 33-year-old journalist and politician is the first openly transgender woman to be elected to a state legislature.
11. Ava DuVernay
The film director who won the Best Director Prize for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere has amazing attention to detail and the ability to bring black girls to the forefront of incredible stories.
12. Roxane Gay
The 43-year-old author of The New York Times best-selling essay collection Bad Feminist released a book called Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body for which she got fat shamed. However, she showed everyone that there are a lot more pressing issues in her critical essays and op-eds.
13. Keah Brown
The creator of the #DisabledAndCute hashtag will be telling her own story about being a black woman with cerebral palsy in a book of essays called The Pretty One.
14. Patty Jenkins
The 46-year-old director is the first woman who directed an insanely popular DCEU film. The Warner Bros./DC Comics blockbuster of 2017, Wonder Woman, made $821.8 million at the box office,
15. Issa Rae
The creator of the YouTube web series Awkward Black Girl got an HBO series called Insecure and secured herself a place in the white-dominated network.
16. Janelle Monáe
The Hidden Figures actress showed her support during the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and gave a very passionate speech.
17. Gina Rodriguez
The Latin American actress is recognizing actors of color on her Instagram account every week. The project is called #MovementMondays.
18. Zoë Quinn
The girl who developed the interactive fiction Depression Quest released a book called How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate in which she talks about dealing with online harassment.
19. Lauren Duca
Lauren is a columnist at Teen Vogue who despite being the subject of verbal harassment from high-profile men and politicians, never stopped writing her critical think pieces.
20. Janet Mock
The transgender rights activist and TV host released a deeply personal book, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me, which is a great read for anyone who is in their 20’s.