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Rashida Tlaib, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, celebrates her number in the Congressional Office lottery. (Getty Images)
Rashida Tlaib, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, celebrates her number in the Congressional Office lottery. (Getty Images)

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WITW’s 10 Crusaders of 2018

By on December 20, 2018

Attempting to decide whether an entire year was good or bad for women is a fool’s errand. What we can say however, with confidence and pride, is that the volume of the conversation in 2018 was louder than we’ve ever heard it before. We’re going into the new year with a huge amount of energy (which we can’t wait to set free at our 10th Annual Summit in April – tickets are now available!) and almost all of it comes from the stories we’ve read each day; of courage, confidence and resistance. With that in mind, it’s only right we look back at some of the women who put the wind in our sails in 2018. See you in the New Year!

The Women of 116
The midterms set a new American record for newly-elected women going to Congress. When the 116th Congress take its seats on January 3rd, it’ll include a record number of women of color, America’s first Palestinian-American member, Rashida Tlaib, first Somali American member, Ilhan Omar (both are the first Muslim Congresswomen), and America’s youngest congresswoman ever, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Lisa Borders
When she was president of the WNBA, Borders put part of the proceeds from ticket sales towards women’s charities. But when the moment called, she quit that job to become the first-ever president and CEO of Time’s Up. In a striking recent speech, Borders passed on her mother’s advice and her firm belief that a nation “deserves what it tolerates,” and she’s not tolerating the maltreatment of women anymore.

Nadia Murad
Watching Murad receive the Nobel Peace Prize last week was one of the highlights of our year. This Yazidi woman’s refusal to let freedom or fame deter her from her mission – to end sexual violence as a weapon of war — is a daily inspiration. Murad, whom Islamic State captured and imprisoned as a sex slave after killing several members of her family, announced this week that the funds from her Nobel will go to building a hospital in her hometown for Islamic State victims.

The Google Protestors
After Google reportedly paid out $90 million to an executive fired for sexual misconduct, thousands of employees around the world staged a mass walkout, forcing one of the world’s most obstinate companies to change its policies. The organizers — Claire Stapleton, Tanuja Gupta, Meredith Whittaker, Celie O’Neil-Hart, Stephanie Parker, Erica Anderson, and Amr Gaber — set out their demands in a clear-eyed essay that is worth your time.

Carrie Gracie
Her decision to step down as the BBC’s China editor citing illegal pay discrimination had huge results. An uproar over the pay gap at the broadcaster first erupted in 2017, but after Gracie’s actions in January, six of her male colleagues agreed to take pay cuts to balance the scales, while she donated the entire sum of her eventual back pay to a gender equality charity with no fanfare or celebration.

Maria Ressa
One of TIME’s People of the Year, Ressa is the Filipino journalist taking on Dictator Rodrigo Duterte from behind the editor’s desk of her news site, Rappler. Despite being arrested by a leader who warned journalists they would be “assassination targets” (she’s currently facing up to 10 years in jail) Ressa is undeterred, recalling her many years dodging bullets while a war correspondent as “much harder than this.”

Theresa May
While we’d never endorse her blazing ahead with Brexit whether or not a deal can be cut, the British prime minister has spent the entire year facing down the wrath of condescending men to her left and right at home, and in the E.U. leadership abroad. As a rotating cast of bullies and fools watch her every move, May’s indefatigable character has been on show throughout.

Michelle Bachelet
The former Chilean president became the head of the U.N. Human Rights mission in 2018, and has been taking on Saudi Arabia’s killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi without the support of the U.S. president. Bachelet insisted on a full autopsy of the body, the removal of immunity for the Saudi Arabian government, and an independent international investigation — rare and commendable actions from an organization meant to quietly keep the peace.

Gayle King
The only cool head at CBS during a horrific year at the network has had the unenviable challenge of still broadcasting each day while her executives cower in the back rooms. It’s been a joy to watch her handle it all with incomparable grace — and while she may be looking for other opportunities, don’t bank on it. In chaos there is opportunity.

Kara Swisher
The veteran tech journalist has the best access to Silicon Valley CEOs in the industry, and uses it to relentlessly called them out – often in public and to their faces – for their handling of women’s and national issues. Last month she used an interview with Elon Musk to ask if he would still take money from Saudi Arabia, and two weeks later asked Uber, “How do you like their toxic money now?”

And that’s just 10 of the many.

Before we go, don’t miss the brand new conversation between Tina Brown and legendary screenwriter Aaron Sorkin on The TBD Podcast. With Sorkin’s new adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird earning rave reviews on Broadway, he tells Tina about his battles with Harper Lee’s estate to finish the project, how he’d write a Trump character, and the strange corner of the internet he sourced the play’s new dialogue from: Breitbart comment sections.

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