What a difference a decade makes: The women that have defined the last ten years

From the #MeToo movement to a second female prime minister, this last decade has been a momentous one for us women. As we start a new year – and a new decade – we thought we’d look back at those women who have defined the last ten years for us.

Michelle Obama: Showing kindness is always cool

We wonder if Michelle knew the impact she would have when she became first lady of the US in 2009? So much more than just the President’s wife, she spent her time in the White House promoting women’s issues, enlightening the word about modern poverty and generally being a darn amazing inspiration for all us women out there. Oh, and let’s not forget her amazing arms and stylish wardrobe, plus the fact she did all of the above while being a mum to two young daughters.

Her memoir, Becoming, was the best-selling book of 2018 and she has since launched a project called Let Girls Learn, which allows access to education for young girls around the world.

“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.”

— Michelle Obama

Gina Martin: Fighting to change the law

While Gina Martin was out enjoying a concert in Hyde Park with her mate, she was subjected to a random stranger taking a photo up her skirt. While she told the police about the incident, the case was closed down pretty quickly, leading her to begin her own campaign to ban upskirting –  the act of taking a sexually intrusive photograph up someone’s skirt without their permission. After launching a petition on social media, Gina ended up working closely with MPs and the ‘Upskirting Bill’ finally came into effect on 12 April 2019.

“We don’t push for better because it’s a game to be won, we do it because it’s the right thing to do. And the right thin often isn’t easy.”

— Gina Martin

Adele: Staying true to herself and top of the charts

Despite The Official Chart Company declaring Ed Sheeran ‘Artist of the Decade’, Tottenham lass Adele is the queen of the last decade for us. Her albums 21 and 25 have outsold every other album this decade, and she’s just behind Taylor Swift in the international best-seller list.

This decade she’s recorded a Bond theme tune, broke attendance records in many countries including the UK during her last tour and give birth to her son, Angelo. A momentous decade, which has come with many, many awards, but without doubt the reason we love her is she stays true to who she is. She’s never felt pressure to change her look or fit into a mould – and she’s also never afraid to say exactly what she thinks. She’s our kind of girl! And this is only the start of her career – we can’t wait to see what comes next.

“Be brave and fearless to know that even if you do make a wrong decision, you’re making it for good reason.”

— Adele

Christina Koch and Jessica Meir: Making space history

In October 2019, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history by completing the first every all-female space walk. The pair, who spent seven hours outside the International Space Station replacing a failed power unit, were praised by Trump for being “brave, brilliant woman”.” The mission however nearly didn’t happen as NASA only had space suits to fit men, so it was delayed until a smaller suit could be designed.

“It’s wonderful to be contributing to human spaceflight at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role and that can lead, in turn, to increased chance for success.”

— Christina Koch

Jessica Ennis-Hill: Olympic champion

At just 33, Jessica has probably achieved more than most of us do in our life-time. An Olympic medallist twice and three times world champion, Jessica is one of our most successful athletes ever. Despite breaking a bone in her foot and having to pull out of the 2008 Bejing Olympics, Jessica came back bigger and better – she even won of her titles just 15 months after giving birth! We were lucky if we could run 100 metres after having a baby!

She retired in 2016 – the same year she was made a Dame – and since then she’s written a book for kids, launched her own fitness app and continues to campaign for charities close to her heart.

“Motherhood has changed me as a person. I’m much happier and very content with life. That can only transfer positively to the track. It will make me a better athlete.”

— Jessica Ennis-Hill

Kathryn Bigelow: Creating a first in the film industry

It’s unbelievable to think that it took until 2010 for a female director to win an Oscar. Thankfully Kathryn Bigelow changed all that with her film The Hurt Locker, a war film about an American bomb squad that disables explosives in Iraq. Unbelievably, she is still the only woman to have won this award, showing that there’s still some way for Hollywood to get up-to-date with what’s going on in society. What we love about Kathryn is that she confounds stereotypes about what subject matter female directors should be involved with choosing action-packed dramas over love stories – plus, she chooses independently movies to allow her more control over the creative process.

““There should be more women directing. I think there’s just not the awareness that it’s really possible. It is.””

— Katrhyn Bigelow

Meghan Markle: Changing the face of the Royal Family

While she’s received the sharp end of the British and World press, there’s no denying that former actress Meghan has helped bring the Royal Family a little more into the modern world. Not only is Meghan of mixed race, but she’s a divorcee – something that would never have been embraced by Queen Liz and her family prior to 2018.

Meghan has chosen to use her giant platform to speak about those things that matter to her – equality, mental health and helping women back into the workforce. She’ll certainly divide opinion for a long time – she’s no Kate Middleton, this is a woman who knows her own voice and isn’t afraid to use it!

“Women don’t need to find a voice, they have a voice, and they need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to be encouraged to listen. ”

— Meghan Markle

Rose McGowan: Being brave and speaking out

In October 2017, actress Rose one was of several high profile actresses – alongside Ashley Judd and Selma Blair – to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, thus beginning an avalanche of women coming forward to complain about abuse within the film industry. Rose wrote about the alleged assault in her memoir Brave and she continues to speak up for those women who have suffered similar experiences. It’s thanks to actresses like Rose that Weinstein is finally facing up to his crimes with his trial starting on 6 January 2020.

“We cannot let up, and as hard as it is, we must continue to get even louder, to push even harder. We all count. We all matter. Here’s to freedom, yours and mine.”

— Rose McGowan

Greta Thunberg: Campaigning to sae the planet

She may be only 16, but we couldn’t do a list like this without including Greta. The environmental activist, who has spearheaded a world-wide movement, was named Time magazine’s Person Of The Year – not bad for a young girl who started her campaign by simply standing outside the Swedish parliament holding a sign that read: ‘School strike for the climate.’ Her stance inspired millions of school children around the world – 1.4 million children took part in the Fridays for Future school climate strike campaign!

If we didn’t already love her, the fact that she didn’t want to meet with Donald Trump at a United Nations summit on climate change as he doesn’t listen. Speaking to BBC radio, she said “I probably wouldn’t have said anything, I wouldn’t have wasted my time.” Hear, hear Greta!

“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”

— Greta Thunberg

Serena Williams: Calling out sexism in sport

Where do we start with this titan of tennis? She has won 23 major singles titles, the most by any man or woman since 1968 when the ‘open era’ began. She holds the most Grand Slam titles combined among active players. She won the Australia Open while pregnant. She’s also been one of the highest-earning female athletes two years in a row, making over $29 million dollars in one year alone!

But that alone isn’t why we love her? While her sassy style on court makes us want to don tennis whites, her sassy attitude also rocks. In 2018, she called out the double standards for men and women when an umpire penalised her behaviour during the US Open in 2018.

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.”

— Serena Williams

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Creating a new narrative for women on screen

As someone whose career only really started at the beginning of the decade – as an actress on stage – it’s utterly amazing and fabulous to see just what a major player she is in the entertainment industry as we enter 2020. With shows like Fleabag and Killing Eve, she’s created a place for relatable, strong, slightly awkward female characters that are flawed just like us. In fact, we sometimes wonder if she can see inside our brain such is her instinct for showing what it’s really like to be a woman in this modern day.

For Killing Eve, which stared Jodie Comer as quite frankly the most stylish assassin we’ve ever seen, she won Emmy Awards and BAFTAs galore, proving that she is indeed able to provide what we really want to see on our TV screens. She was most recently asked to inject a bit of her Waller-Bridge edge into the latest Bond film – here’s hoping it results in some three dimensional female characters for a change!

“Women know what they’re doing all the time, and they’re pretending that they don’t.”

— Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Who would make it onto your list? Don’t forget to comment below!

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