2017 has been incredibly eventful in ways the years before it weren’t—especially for women, who have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that two (genders) can play at that game. While it’s important to always celebrate the women in your lives, whether it’s your girlfriend, your mother, or your female friends, the names below astounded us all on a massive if not global level. End the year with a smile knowing these ladies have gone above and beyond in their respective fields, and looked kick-ass while doing it:
1) Gal Gadot
The Israeli actress is the first ever to play one-third of the DC Comics Holy Trinity, so Gadot was looked upon to exceed fanboys’ expectations. Critics widely panned Dawn of Justice, but declared her stunning portrayal of Wonder Woman as the film’s only saving grace. Today, she practically carries the DCEU on her back, adding a much-needed dose of feminine badassery to Justice League. Recently, she announced that she would not come back for the Wonder Woman sequel if accused sexual assailant Brett Ratner (and his production company RatPac Entertainment) continued to be attached to the franchise—Ratner has since been removed.
Girl didn’t even put out an album this year—her latest release was 2016’s ANTI—but she still came out on top as Spotify’s most streamed female artist of 2017. She also unintentionally propelled the “thicc” movement into the mainstream, proving to both men and women that curvy can definitely be sexy. Her eponymous makeup line, Fenty (that’s her last name) Beauty, was touted by TIME Magazine as one of 2017’s Best Inventions.
3) Angela Merkel
Merkel has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005; she was reelected to her fourth term this year. She’s the de facto leader of the European Union and undoubtedly the most powerful woman in the world. Her slogan, “Wir schaffen das (“We can handle it”),” is the battle cry that has taken in one million refugees into Germany, is working to save the euro, and is liberal democracy’s only hope in a free world ruled by the incompetent Donald Trump.
The arguably better half of the widely popular AlDub love team defended sufferers of mental illness, particularly depression, to veteran actor Joey de Leon in October, earning praise even from non-fans. In a move we’ve never seen from a young Filipina actress before, she also wrote an open letter criticizing the toxicity of the local showbiz industry and the suffocation of fandom culture.
5) Emma Stone
The Oscar-winning La La Land and Battle of the Sexes star earned $26 million this year alone, cementing her place as the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. Earlier this year, she spoke out against the gender pay gap in the industry, declaring that her male co-stars in the past had to take salary cuts so she could be paid equally.
6) Chai Fonacier
She might not yet be a household name, but the breakthrough star of Respeto, Pauwi Na, and Patay Na Si Hesus is already making waves in the local film industry. Locally, comedy tends to be looked down upon and perceived as “shallow,” but Fonacier aims to breathe new life into the genre, asserting that “comedy saves lives.” She’s also incredibly vocal about her Kagay-anon and Cebuana heritage, which does wonders for regional diversity in showbiz.
7) Kelly Marie Tran
The Star Wars franchise has transformed and adapted to modern audiences in many ways these past few years, but perhaps none more groundbreaking than the move to cast its first Asian-American in a leading role. Tran, who is Vietnamese, plays the mechanic-turned-galactic-heroine Rose Tico. She realizes the immense importance of her platform: “The idea that [John Boyega and I] are people of color [is] something we always address in interviews…we were shooting this scene and I remember him stopping and saying, ‘Kelly, we're making history right now’ ...and we were.”
Her latest release, the bittersweet Melodrama, has been declared by the likes of NME, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork as one of the best (if not the best) albums of 2017. Despite being only 21, her vocal quality and lyricism has a maturity to it that many other artists her age struggle to capture, and she’s poised to dominate the festival circuit in 2017. This year was truly the Year of Our Lorde.
Graham is the first-ever curvy model to debut on Forbes’ highest-paid models list, sitting comfortably at Top 10 with a $5 million haul in 2017. She’s the most recognizable advocate of body positivity in the modeling industry, which has paved the way for more body types, ethnicities, and physical abilities to walk runways the world over.
10) Ambra Gutierrez
Dozens of Hollywood actresses have spoken about instances of sexual assault perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein, but it was Filipina-Italian model Ambra Gutierrez’ damning recording of an encounter with the producer that helped the New Yorker and the New York Police Department build a solid case—and paved the way for numerous Hollywood actors, musicians, and other public figures who have sexually assaulted women in the past to finally face the consequences.
11) Erika Fille Legara
The STEM genius recently moved back to the Philippines from Singapore to spearhead the Philippines’ first-ever data science master’s program at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). Despite leading an illustrious career at Singapore’s Agency of Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), she decided to return home and share her much-needed expertise here.