In honor of International Women’s Day coming up, here are Toni’s top ten women to follow in 2014.
10. Laura Hillenbrand & Angelina Jolie
Garnering much attention right now, “Unbroken,” the book written by Laura Hillenbrand, is based on a remarkable true story of Louis Zamparini, a juvenile delinquent turned Olympian turned war hero, who’s bomber was shot down in the Pacific during World War II yet he survived. This book continues to transfix readers all over the world. Now, humanitarian Angelina Jolie is wearing her director’s hat and turning this incredible story of courage and resilience into a movie, coming to theaters this Christmas.
9. Jaida Im
After San Francisco-based Jaida Im realized that human trafficking was happening in her own backyard, she founded Freedom House, the first long-term shelter for adult female survivors of sex trafficking in California. Just recently, in 2013, she opened a second shelter, The Nest, to help sex trafficked girls ages 12-17 take back their youth and get back on track towards a healthy life.
8. Robin Roberts
Her name is a familiar one, with more than 20 years of broadcast experience, and currently, a co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” she has used her public battles and triumphs with both breast cancer and bone marrow disease, to help raise awareness for important issues throughout the world.
7. Sonia Sotomayor
As the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice, Sotomayor attributed her career path to becoming a judge by watching “Perry Mason,” as a young girl, growing up in a housing project in the Bronx. Through sheer determination she was one of a few Hispanics in the seventies to graduate from Princeton and Yale. In her role on the High Court, she is one of nine justices that make decisions that affect our civil liberties and human rights by interpreting the Constitution and keeping the federal government and the states in check.
6. Christy Turlington Burns
The Californian supermodel, best known for her Calvin Klein ads and beautifully symmetrical face, still graces the covers of prestigious fashion magazines; however, Turlington Burns has proven over and over again that she’s more than just a pretty face. As the founder of Every Mother Counts, a global maternal health campaign to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for moms worldwide, she is a champion for women everywhere, saving lives combating infant and maternal mortality and bringing attention to this dire issue.
5. Rachel Aba Yankey
In storybook fashion, Yankey shaved her hair off at 8 years old to pass for a boy and play soccer for an all-boys team in England. Undetected, she did what she loved, playing for two years. Now she plays for England’s Arsenal and is the second female soccer player in history to win 100 caps. For those not familiar with soccer, a cap is a prestigious recognition donned on players for appearances in international matches.
4. Zaha Hadid
This Iraqi-British architect is the only woman to have ever won the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize. She heads an architecture and design firm based in London that has completed architectural treasures worldwide. In an industry dominated by men, she is considered a powerful, futuristic visionary and a talented force to be reckoned with.
3. Maria Shriver
She is an award winning journalist and former first lady of California, but the reason that we’re still crushing on this dynamic woman in 2014, is for her “Shriver Reports,” chronicling and exploring the status of American women today.
2. Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Newsom’s 2011 Sundance documentary, “Miss Representation,” demonstrates the way that media portrays women also hurts them. Now, through her nonprofit MissRepresentation.org, she charges, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” challenging those negative images, while pushing for change. Today, she has also begun working on a new movie called “The Mask You Live In” that explores how our definition of masculinity also hurts men.
1. First Lady Michelle Obama
Not only is she the epitome of class and style, we also love how passionate First Lady Michelle Obama is about childhood obesity. In 2010, she launched Let’s Move! The goal of this initiative was to get families, communities, schools, businesses, and organizations to move in a healthier direction. With a comprehensive strategy, this program provides helpful information to parents, makes sure that healthier foods are served in schools, ensures that families have access to healthy and affordable food, and helps children lead a more active lifestyle, in order for everyone to enjoy a long and healthy life.
With so many tremendous women in the world, it was hard to only choose ten. So who did we miss? We’d love to hear from you! Let’s make 2014 a year of women helping women.