11 Women Who Defined The Last Decade


Women of all ages are doing their part to influence change in their communities and the world. Politics, social activism, and male-dominated roles are just a few ways these women have broken society’s glass ceiling.


Ayanna Howard

Dr. Howard poses with an artificial intelligence
robotics design for Vanity Fair Magazine.

Ayanna is a roboticist, educator, and innovator of technology. She holds many electrifying positions, including the highly ranked chair position for Interactive Commuting at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. One of her profound accomplishments involved developing the next generation of Mars rover while working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Ava Duvernay

Ava Duvernay
Ava Duvernay is an Emmy, BAFTA, and Peabody Award winner.
Source: AvaDuvernay.com

Ava is a groundbreaking feature filmmaker and distributor who has produced many projects including A Wrinkle In Time, When They See Us, and Selma. She is the first black woman to receive the directing award for the Sundance Film Festival in the drama category in 2012. Ava is laying the groundwork for the future of multicultural filmmaking.

Rep. Debra Haaland

Rep Deb HaalandRep. Deb Haaland is sworn in wearing traditional Indigenous attire.
Source: GlobalNews.com

Debra Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, currently serves as US Representative for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district. Her campaign concentrates on renewable energy jobs, youth development, and increasing equality opportunities in her community. She strives to maintain healthy recognition of her native heritage by wearing traditional attire to congressional events.

Marley Dias

MarleyDiasMarley Dias was dubbed “world’s most gobsmackingly intelligent pre-teen”
by Elle Magazine. Photo Credit: Tyler Joe

Marley is a teenage feminist and social activist who powered the movement behind 1000 Black Girl Books, then, at the age of 12. The purpose of this movement was to collect and donate 1000 books featuring black girls as the main character. As she keeps her head in her books, she’s published her first book titled Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You. This young book worm encourages and advocates for the importance of literacy.

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, & Opal Tometi

Black Lives Matter Women
Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, Co-Founders of Black Lives Matter
Photo Credit: Ben Baker – Redux

Opal, Alicia, and Patrisse are the joint founders of the globally social activist organization, Black Lives Matter. Their powerful organization originated in 2013 after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Since then, these women have vigorously spread awareness and erected eye-popping campaigns against systematic racism and violence toward black people. This movement, alone, has shaken the dynamics of politics and shed light on social awareness issues.

Kelsey Martinez

Kelsey MartinezCoach Martinez surveys her players during team practice.
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal

The National Football League is an industry dominated by men. Kelsey Martinez did not let that block her from becoming the Oakland Raiders’ first female assistant coach. Martinez, along with only a handful of other women with NFL franchise positions, are kicking doors down for more women leaders in the future.

Jemele Hill

JemeleHillJemele Hill speaks to an audience about her struggles and accomplishments.
Photo Credit: Paras Griffen

Jemele is also another woman who carved her own footsteps in the male-dominated field of sports journalism. She worked as a columnist and hosted ESPN’s His and Hers broadcast. Unfortunately, ESPN suspended Hill after a controversial Twitter conversation about an NFL boycott. Hill stands by her bold statements and set an example to women to continue being unapologetic for their beliefs.

Ilhan Omar

Ilhan_OmarIlhan Omar, Minnesota’s 6th District,
United States House of Representatives
Photo Credit: House.gov

Rep. Ilhan Omar made her entrance into US politics as the first Somali-American, naturalized citizen from Africa, the first woman of color elected from Minnesota, and the first (of two) Muslim women to serve in Congress. Omar maintains a strong stance on social equality, immigration, LGBT rights, Medicare for All, and human rights.

Tarana Burke

Tarana BurkePhoto Credit: Randy Shorpshire – Getty Images

Tarana is a social and civil rights activist with a passion for activism against sexual abuse for women across the globe. She founded the Me Too movement, which itself, aims to raise awareness and prevention of sexual assault in today’s society. Burke coined #MeToo in 2006 and claims to be a forever voice for women who are victims of sexual abuse because, she’s been there too.

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg PortraitsPre-teen, Greta Thunberg received a mound of social media attention for skipping school for environmental protest efforts outside of Swedish Parliament.
Photo Credit: Michael Campanella – Getty Images

Climate change has been on the political foreground lately, and it wasn’t until a 16 year old Swedish girl took to the internet to challenge her own community and, ultimately, the world to take a closer look at Earth’s evolving climate. She raised eyebrows after ditching school just to spend days camped out in front of Swedish Parliament to raise awareness. She’s since then has addressed climate issues at the United Nations, held a meeting with the Pope, and inspired millions worldwide to join and international climate strike in September 2019. Greta is not only making waves in attempts to save the planet, but she’s opened the floodgates that will lead to global preservation solutions.


Emma Gonzalez

Emma GOnzalezPhoto Credit: Emilee McGovern – SOPA Images – LightRocket,
via Getty Images

With the conversation about gun control in the U.S. at an all-time high, Emma, a Parkland shooting surviver, is a staunch activist for strict gun laws in the US. She, along with many other classmates and teens around the country, have started a strong movement to bring awareness to the dangers of firearms. She co-founded the gun control advocacy group Never Again MSD and consistently challenges the NRA and the overall gun narrative.



Jannah Bolds is a writer, journalist and responsible for membership and subscription engagement for Walker's Legacy.

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