Feminist highlights of the decade

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  • The first ever Feminism Summer School, hosted by UK Feminista was a major hit, picking up international coverage.
  • ‘The Noughtie Girl’s Guide to Feminism’ and ‘Reclaiming the F Word’ usher in a new attitude towards feminism for the decade and hints at the resurgence in popularity feminism and women’s rights will see over the next ten years.
  • Serena Williams wins Sportswoman of the Year and features in TIME as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
  • Kathryn Bigelow, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director.


  • Maya Angelou is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • UN Women is formed out of a number of existing UN organizations to further the empowerment of women and girls and to advocate for gender equality.
  • Adoption of the ILO convention of decent work for domestic workers, providing protection for domestic workers – 80% of whom are women. 


  • The ‘fourth-wave’ of feminism begins. It is characterised by a focus on empowerment and the use of internet tools and communities.
  • United Nations passes a historic resolution outlawing Female Genital Mutilation.
  • Nkosazana Dlamini-Zumathe is appointed the first woman head of the African Union.
  • UN Day of the Girl celebrated for the first time on 11 October.


  • Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to “lean in” with her landmark book encouraging women to excel in the workplace. 
  • The US military removes the ban on women serving in combat.
  • Orange is the new Black premiers, a series depicting an unprecedented range of women’s experiences, bodies and relationships.
  • Wendy Davis successfully blocks Texas abortion bill with her heroic 11 hour filibuster speech.


  • Malala Yousafazi becomes the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting girls’ education in Pakistan.
  • Facebook stopped censoring images of women breastfeeding
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie releases her landmark book ‘We Should All be Feminists’.


  • Monica Lewinsky reclaims her narrative in TED talk about the price of shame
  • The No More Page Three campaign succeeded in removing sexist and outdated photographs of topless women from The Sun newspaper. This set a precedent, with the Daily Star following suit in 2019.
  • Recognition of the need for feminism to be intersectional grows in prominence. Liv Little established Gal-Dem an online and print magazine, amplifying the voices and experiences of women and non-binary people of colour.


  • Beyonce releases her visual album, Lemonade, a monumental celebration on black women, independence and women owning their own story. 
  • Zimbabwe bans child marriage, hugely effecting basic human rights for girls and young women.
  • At the age of 100, Ida Keeling breaks a world record in the 100 meter dash, becoming the oldest women ever to do so.


  • Jodie Whittaker announced as the next Dr Who, making her the first female to take on the role.
  • #MeToo movement unite surivours of sexual violence and marks cultural shift in attitudes towards sexual harassment, particularly from men in positions of power
  • Ashley Graham is the first ever plus size woman to be on the cover of Vogue magazine, signalling changing attitudes towards women’s bodies and the changing definition of modern beauty.
  • An estimated 3.5-5.5 million people worldwide who attend the Women’s March on 21 January 2017 in solidarity for women’s rights.


  • Larry Nasser sexual assault trail – more than 150 young women come forward to give testimonies and Nasser is sentenced to 175 years in prison.
  • Following on from the momentum generated by the #MeToo movement, women in Hollywood announce a $13 million Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund to support women seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault.
  • 29 year-old Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez leads a grassroots campaign to win a seat at US Congress.


  • Women’s football finally gained the same level of respect as men’s, reaching 1 billion viewers for the first time ever. 47% of the UK population watched the BBC coverage during the tournament. Sadly, the prize money is still wildly disproportionate to the men’s.
  • 16 year old Greta Gunthberg is named Times’ Person of the Year in recognition of her commitment to fighting climate change, becoming only the fifth woman to have won independently in the accolade’s 92 year history and the youngest awardee ever.
  • Rayka Zehtabchi’s documentary ‘Period. End of Sentence.’ That spotlights the stigma of women on their periods in India, wins an Oscar.
  • Finland forms an entirely woman-led government with the world’s youngest Prime Minister, 34 year-old Sanna Marin.

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