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The Independent’s Women of the Decade, from Greta Thunberg to Serena Williams

The -’s Women of the Decade, from Greta Thunberg to Serena Williams

The past decade will go down in history as one filled with milestone moments for women: the rise of fourth wave feminism, the growth of the #MeToo movement, a second female Prime Minister for the UK, and women leading activism across a range of social issues, including climate change and poverty. 

But growing abuse of female politicians online, the continuation of the gender pay gap, and women being disproportionately impacted by austerity, begs the question – how much have things changed for the better?

Undoubtedly one of the biggest moments came late in the decade, with allegations of sexual misconduct against producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017 sparking a worldwide discussion about women’s experiences of sexual harassment.

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Weinstein denies the claims but the case still became the catalyst for the resurgence of the #MeToo movement, originally started by Tarana Burke in 2006, inspiring thousands of women to share their stories of sexual violence.

Although, in theory, this set the stage to empower women, high profile test cases showed not much had changed: Dr Christine Blasey Ford testified against Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, saying he assaulted her as a minor. But the case was dismissed and he was still nominated to the high profile legislative role.

For most of the decade women have also been grappling with fourth wave feminism, which began around 2012, and is focused on intersectionality and amplifying the voices of women in other minority groups such as BAME women or those with disabilities. The democratising force of social media has undoubtedly allowed a wider cross-section of women’s voices to be heard.

Young women have also been propelled to centre stage, thanks in part also to the internet, as teenagers like Malala Yousafzai, whose fight against the Taliban in her home of Pakistan, was displayed to the world through her Biorports blog. Or Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who inspired 1.3 million school students to strike. 

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As we look back on the past decade, and look forward to what 2020 has in store, The Independent has compiled a list of women who bore significant impact in their field. Some have courted controversy in the past, while others have emerged from under the radar to becoming household names.

From the astronauts who participated in the first ever all-female spacewalk to young activists making a difference, click through the gallery above.

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