20 of the most powerful moments for women in the past year

20 of the most powerful moments for women in the past year


BY Sophie Overington, 25 min READ

For International Women’s Day we’re celebrating some of the huge milestones women achieved over the past year. Read on and be inspired all over again by these incredible women. 

1. Celeste Barber used ‘people power’ to raise $52 million for bushfire relief

Over the past few months, comedian Celeste Barber has become the embodiment of ‘being the change you want to see in the world’. After initially hoping to raise $30,000 for bushfire releif, she broke Facebook records with over 1.3 million donating to her page.


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2. Greta Thunberg rose up to be the legend we didn’t know we needed.

Starting her protest in 2018 as a solo figure outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, 2019 saw Greta mobilise the entire globe (over four million people on one day alone) to get incensed over inaction on climate change – with future generations leading the charge. She’s been picked on for her blunt nature and Asperger’s Syndrome, and yet she hung out with Leonardo Di Caprio and been named Time Person of the Year – so I think we know who the real winner is here.

3. Jacinda Ardern cemented her place as every country’s #primeministergoals

If there’s one job we wouldn’t envy, it would be to lead a country in a time of crisis. Yet during the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Christchurch in March 2019, Jacinda responded with both strength and empathy, showing the best side of both her head and her heart. She mourned with the victims, covering all families funeral costs regardless of their immigration status. She cried. She wore a headscarf in respect to Muslim families. Let’s also remember, she’s just 39 (New Zealand’s youngest ever leader) and has a two-year-old child. She hasn’t just re-written the script for how to lead with compassion, she’s penned a whole damn Pulitzer-prize winning novel.

3. The Matildas took on the equal pay battle, and won

In a monumental agreement from Football Federation Australia and Professional Footballers Australia and a landmark moment in Australian sporting history, both the Matildas and the Socceroos teams will receive an equal share of national team generated revenues. The Matildas also received a well deserved pay rise to match that of the top Socceroos – now that’s worth strapping up your boots for! Other Aussie sporting leagues, take note (cough, AFL).


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Congratulations @matildas on a great win ✅ record crowd attendance ✅ and making history for women’s football with equal pay ✅

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4. Taylor Harris’s viral kick was immortalised in bronze at Federation Square

It’s likely you were familiar with her inner thigh and groin region before you knew her name, but now it’s a name not to be forgotten. The perfectly timed photo of AWFL Carlton star Taylor Harris gravity-defying kick drew global attention for all the wrong reasons. Instead of marvelling at her athleticism and flexibility (and the goal that came at the end of the kick), vile comments came flooding in about the 21 year-old, before being controversially removed by 7 News where it was originally posted. Not to let haters ruin a good thing, the image sparked a national conversation about the treatment of women and eventuated in the statue which reads, “not just a kick.”. Thank you, trolls – now, go and do the splits IN THE AIR before you decide to say anything else derogatory.

5. JLO and Shakira took on the Super Bowl half-time show

Although we’d celebrate them just for their spectacular performance (that choreography!) it was the first time two Latina performers took to the Super Bowl stage. Plus, with both women aged over 40, it reimagined what women can be doing at any age.

6. Melanie Perkins took her unicorn to the next level

A $125 million dollar fundraising round took Australian tech company Canva’s valuation to a whopping $4.7 billion. Some might find it hard to believe that founder Melanie Perkins is only 33. Some might find it ever harder to believe that her and her co-founder and fiance Cliff Obrecht are still together after 12 years in business together. 


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Today’s featured innovator: the amazing @melaniecanva, Co-Founder & CEO of @canva. • The path to $1B was a windy one… Along the way, Melanie dropped out of college, did several rounds of 3 months here and there in the Bay Area (coming from Australia), and hustled hard for 3 years to secure funding and a great team. She candidly discusses her challenges dealing with culture shock, coming from Australia to Silicon Valley – the norms around self-promotion in the U.S. radically differ from the Australian customs, making it a big push for Melanie to promote herself and her accomplishments so openly. “It was three years between first pitching to an investor and actually landing investment,” she says. “This is an incredibly long period of time, and we had hundreds of rejections along the way.” Nevertheless, she and her team learned to use the roadblocks and rejections as growth tools, and utilized the time to seriously refine their pitch and finesse their strategy so they were ready to execute quickly once they received funding. • Now worth more than $1B (one of the few female-founded unicorns!), Canva’s easy-to-use (and largely free) software helps democratize design for all. Cheers to Melanie and her team for spreading the gift of great design ✨ #WomensHistoryMonth #WomenInInnovation photocredit 📸: @huffpost

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7. Lizzo tore up the Grammys as the most nominated artist

After being named by Time in 2019 as their singer, dancer and flutist (has that happened before!?) Entertainer of the Year, she was nominated for eight Grammy awards. Bringing home three, 2019 saw Lizzo redefine success as a black woman, who ten years ago was living out of her car and ready to give up music.


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8. The world discovered a new Einstein – and she’s an eight-year-old girl from Mexico

Adhara Perez is not to be underestimated. With an IQ higher than both Einstein and Stephen Hawking and having already finished high school, she was recently featured in Forbes Mexico’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Mexico list – a ranking we estimate she’ll maintain for at least the next 60 years or so.

9. Payal Kadakia became the first unicorn of the decade

As the Founder of ClassPass, Payal is going from strength to strength and 2020 is no different. She was named the first unicorn of the year and is a testament to every person who has failed (maybe more than once!) and just kept on going. If you want to read more about Payal and her two business ventures before ClassPass, you can here.

10. AOC showed that superheroes DO wear capes

Why comment on a powerful women’s outfit choices over her achievements when you can do both? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) joined the Democratic Women’s Working Group at her first State of the Union in a now iconic white cape, paying homage to the women’s suffrage movement, and the internet went wild.  


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Walking into #SOTU like . . w/ @cpdaction

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11. NASA completed an all-female spacewalk

United States astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir took some large steps for womankind when they completed the first all-female spacewalk in October last year. Noting the historic nature of the activity, they lamented how they just wanted this to be normal. To be honest, so do we – soon it’ll just be two ladies going about their business, strolling on the moon making repairs to critical space infrastructure, nothing to see here. You know, the usual work-day stuff.

12. Sandra Oh made history at the Golden Globes

The first person of Asian descent to host the coveted awards celebration; the first women of Asian descent in 39 years to win a Golden Globe for best actress in a TV drama, and the first woman of Asian descent to win multiple Golden Globes. And probably the first person to thank their parents in Korean and bow to them whilst accepting their award. If it isn’t finally the diversity we’ve all been screaming for in Hollywood. Oh put it clear as day, “I see you, all these faces of change. And now, so will everyone else.” 

13. Ash Barty became world number one after a 43 year drought in Australian women tennis champs

She’s young, she’s powerful, and she’s closed out last year by securing the world number one ranking – and a place in our hearts. Ash Barty, recognised equally for her exceptionally strong tennis and remarkably humble attitude, credits the unconditional love of her parents and her tight knit support group for her success. 

14. A women topped Australia’s CEO pay rank for the first time

The highest paid CEO in Australia in 2019 was a woman, for the first time ever. Macquarie CEO Shemara Wikramanayake took out the top spot for CEO pay rank thanks to her $18 million annual paycheck. She was also named one of Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women’ in the world. She was one of just four women on the list of 50 CEO’s. 

15. Tones and I broke the all-time record for longest stay at #1 on the ARIA Singles Chart

Stealing the spot from Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, Australian artist Tones and I’s hit ‘Dance Monkey’ spent the longest time at the top of the charts since they were created in 1988. She also picked up four ARIA awards to add to her accolades. Using her fame to spread love and reality, Tones and I opened up on Instagram to give fans an insight into the ‘relentless bullying that follows every proud moment’, reminding fans that she’s just a human doing her best.


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People always say “tones how does it feel, it’s must feel great, what are you feeling, you must be over the moon” It does and I don’t want to take anything away from my well deserved achievements and to my fans I love you unconditionally but I have been hiding a big black hole for a while now and feel if I hide it like most artists do then how are we going to help the next generations of young artist to come.. truth is (and we have all seen it) with success comes judgement and opinions, this I was prepared for, it’s normal (which is sickening) but the relentless bullying that follows every proud moment tears my mind in two. I make music, I have chosen to follow my passion in life and stick to it until it stuck to me. I am a very open honest, caring, good person and in the dark times of death threats and very harsh judgements from strangers I have never met, I have decided to push past it and show any artist that you can get through it and maintain your sense of self, even though I don’t see an end in sight, this is how I will live my life now. I am Toni Watson, A female artist from Australia I am going through the best and worst time of my life. And today I am OK. I love you and as always.. we are in this together 🖤

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16. The first image was captured of a supermassive black hole

Dr Katie Bouman, a PhD student in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) helped develop an algorithm that led to the image of a black whole being captured for the first time. Though she emphasised she was only a small part of a huge collaborative effort, the viral photo of her reaction to the image is the best reminder to celebrate your wins.

17. The Spice Girls came back to remind us that we always Wannabe enjoying life with our friends

They came, they broke Ticketmaster, and they delivered. Oh man did they deliver (aside from those too Posh to join). In a moment that had us all ugly crying into our Union Jack minis, they closed their final show bringing out their mums and kids on stage – reminding us that family is both your blood and those you surround yourself with over the years. GIRL POWER.


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It felt amazing to be back onstage ❤️✌️🌍 #Spiceworld2019 📸 @timmsy

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18. Aria Stark killed the Night King

The youngest and most fierce of the Stark females somehow managed to defy all logic (even by GOT standards) and defeat the Night King, ending what was possibly one of the most anticipated TV battles of all time. All we could say was, ‘wow’ (and ‘why is one of the most expensive scenes of television and film history so dark we can’t see a darn thing’).

19. Reese and Jen came together to give us the #MeToo movement through TV’s eyes

Reese Witherspoon has been committed to bringing us strong, complex female leads to the screen, and let’s be clear – she’s done it again. If Jennifer Aniston, Reece Witherspoon and Steve Carrell on screen together weren’t enough, the show grapples with sexual politics in the media industry workplace, two years after the Harvey Weinsten-induced cultural reckoning. It’s as fascinating as it is entertaining, and it puts women at the centre of it all. Plus, Jen is so absurdly good that we’re left wondering if Friend’s was hiding a truly glorious dramatic actor this whole time.

20. Over 100 women raised their voices against Harvey Weinstein

In 2017, The New York Times first published their groundbreaking investigation into alleged criminal behaviour by Harvey Weinstein, with actress Ashley Judd being the first to go on record. What followed was over 100 women to stand with Ashley and her experiences, and has recently seen his precedent-setting conviction. The reports were a turning point in the #MeToo movement and propelled women to unite and action to happen.

If you want to read some more inspiring International Women’s Day stories, we’ve got you covered: 


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