No time like a crisis to show us the true resourcefulness of women as leaders. From politics and finance to activism, here are 10 female trailblazers who give us hope.
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, American Politician
Known also simply as AOC, this representative for New York’s 14th congressional district is responsible for parts of the Brox and Queens. Winning accolades not only for her zesty wit (just search up that famous ‘OK boomer’ burn), Ocasio-Cortez is also the youngest woman elected to congress. She is actively pushing for criminal justice reform, which disproportionately affects minorities and POC.
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Laverne Cox, LGBTQ+ Activist
Cox is known for her raw and honest break-through role portraying the trans convict Sophia Burset in Orange is the New Black. In doing so, the style-forward beauty became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, paving the way for others to follow in her glorious footsteps.
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Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
The 39-year old PM has not only been called the most effective leader on the planet, she has also been lauded for her leadership style, which is grounded in empathy. Following the Christchurch massacre, her response was not to scapegoat, but to tighten gun laws. When a global pandemic appeared on the horizon, she stepped up to deliver clear, consistent, and dare-we-say soothing messaging, that is not only proving reassuring during uncertain times, but is also showing as extremely effective. This proves that you don’t have to adopt toxic masculinity to get the country’s top leadership spot, or to spew distracting and divisive rhetoric, like another leader we all know.
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Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce, and Labour of Canada
Showing unwavering leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns, Hajdu has proven a steady source of information while the rest of the nation bore the lockdowns. She is a strong advocate for youth, women’s rights, affordable housing and better drug policies.
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Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter
Artist and activist, Patrisse Cullors is also one of three Black Lives Matter co-founders who not only held up a much-needed mirror to our society’s misshapen norms and the way systemic racism propped them up, they’ve also stepped up in a big way to bring about meaningful and lasting change, inspiring people around the globe to do the same.
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Opal Tometi, Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter
Alongside Cullors and Garza, Opal Tometi helped forge a movement we now know as BLM. The human rights activist is also a writer, community organizer and formerly the Executive Director of the United States’ first national immigrant rights organization for people of African descent.
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Alicia Garza, Co-Founders, Black Lives Matter
This powerhouse not only joined Cullors and Tometi to co-found Black Lives Matter, the civil rights activist is also a writer bringing attention to issues of health, rights for domestic workers, police brutality and gender non-conforming POC. Garza is also the Principal at the Black Futures Lab (an organization working to transform communities).
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Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
Another leader on this list who is at the helm of a country that handled the COVID-19 pandemic in an exemplary way (notice the pattern here), Merkel is known for grounding her decisions in solid science – part of the reason Germany has managed to stave off some of the horrific tolls many other countries continue to face.
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Theo Sowa, CEO, African Women’s Development Fund
Born in the West African nation of Ghana, Theo Sowa is an outspoken independent adviser working to change the conversation surrounding finance, and enabling more women and girls to cease economic opportunities and to be financially empowered, throughout the continent and beyond.
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Autumn Peltier, Clean Water Warrior
Peltier is not only one of the many Indigenous women leading the way for future generations, she is actively fighting to ensure access to clean water for all (many Indigenous communities remain under boil water advisories), and better stewardship of our environment, on the whole. She proves that true leaders lead with future well-being as the compass, not just profit.
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Rihanna, Singer, Founder of Fenty
Not only is Bad Girl RiRi one badass boss bish, she is also leading a beauty brand that leads by example and that ensures women of every colour see themselves represented. This trend-setter has not only given us inspiring looks over the years, she’s shown us women need not be meek, and apologetic about being the top.
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Ethel Blondin-Andrew, Canadian Politician
Blondin-Andrew is the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the Parliament of Canada. She is a member of the Dene nation and was born in Tulita, NWT and experienced Canada’s painful residential schools first-hand as a child (she actually ran away). Her experiences inform her dedication, and her work with Indigenous communities has earned her recognition over the years.