Our Favorite Victories for Women from the Past Year

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In anticipation of International Women's Day, March 8, the West Michigan Woman team got together to share favorite stories of women supporting each other and victories for women—locally, around the world and even in space this past year.

Natalie Portman wears a cape to the Oscars embroidered with the names of snubbed women directors.

"Even though it was subtle, I appreciated that Natalie Portman wanted to recognize the phenomenal women who—even when making truly stunning art—are consistently ignored by Hollywood. Though progress is slowly being made for women in the film industry, it's always refreshing to see someone with a powerful voice in that space bring attention to other women who deserve recognition." —Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer

Grand Rapids native Christina Koch smashes records with the longest single spaceflight by a woman and the first all-female spacewalk, with fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir.

"I have never had an interest in becoming an astronaut ... I repeat, never. After watching Gravity with Sandra Bullock, the idea of getting stranded in space will not leave my mind. However, there was something particularly fascinating about Christina Koch's story. Maybe it's because she identifies as a female, maybe it's because she is a West Michigan native or maybe because she's fearless in exploring landscapes I would never dare venture to." Elena Winger, Social Media and Audience Development Coordinator

Part of efforts to end stigma and break the persisting silence around menstruation, the new period emoji—a drop of blood—became available in 2019.

"Emojis are one of the fastest-growing global languages and the period emoji aims to help women and girls discuss their menstrual cycles. As a mom to three teenage boys, I've tried to be more open about the subject of periods with them, too. It's only taboo if you don't talk, or text, about them!" Jill Carroll, Marketing Manager and Media Consultant

The 39th season of Survivor was marred with a series of sexual harassment incidents and two women risked it all to take a stand.

"Kellee Kim was one of several female contestants on CBS's most recent season of Survivor to be sexually harassed by fellow contestant Dan Spilo, but she was the only one who risked it all and spoke up to him and the tribe. Her reward? She was immediately voted off while the offender stayed many more days until CBS finally took action. That didn't sit well with the oldest female contestant, Janet Carbin. She, too, spoke up vehemently in support of Kellee and in a way that I think we all would hope someone would advocate for us. Unfortunately, being bold on Survivor, much like the workplace, puts a target on your back. And Janet was quickly voted off as well. But all was not lost! For using her voice, Janet was rewarded by super Survivor fan Sia with a $100,000 gift. Kellee's only reward was an embarrassingly late apology by CBS and a promise that they would do better." Lisa Young, Marketing Director

Chanel Miller reveals herself as Brock Turner's sexual assault survivor, after years of being anonymous under the name Emily Doe, and publishes her memoir: Know My Name.

"I remember reading Emily Doe's victim impact statement before the sentencing of Brock Turner. Her words were hauntingly poignant and brought tears to my eyes. Under the alias of Emily Doe, a name that would protect what little privacy she still had left, she as a survivor of sexual assault confronted the 20-year-old Stanford student Brock Turner, who took advantage of her.

"I remember bonding with friends over our collective rage over Turner's minimal sentence and how what happened to Emily could have happened to any one of us. According to RAINN, 23.1% of undergraduate females experience sexual assault. Years later, Emily has shed her anonymity and has revealed herself as Chanel Miller, an artist, and now author, living in San Francisco, California. As I read her memoir, I was struck by her bravery, her desire to take back her identity after it was robbed from her, her overcoming feelings of shame, and learning how to use her voice to spark conversations around sexual assault on college campuses." Hannah Pikaart, Marketing Coordinator

The creation of the algorithm that made the first-ever image of a black hole was made possible by an MIT grad student, Katie Bouman.

"Women in STEM are often forgotten figures of history. The invention of the GPS, the code written to put people on the moon, an invention of the process to isolate stem cells: all done by remarkable women. Because of the increased difficulties women face in male-dominant fields, I'm amazed by women paving the way for future generations. Katie Bouman's achievement is no exception and it truly struck me as inspirational.

"Approaching things with diverse perspectives is how we reach solutions. When more people are included, progress is inevitable. This story stuck with me because of the continued encouragement from Bouman that young people, especially girls and women, can find a rewarding career in STEM and that their perspectives are important for continued development." Haleigh Beasley, Media Sales Consultant

An army of female scientists in statue form: #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit

"I find this display so inspiring! As a young girl, I believed girls were not good at math and science—so I hope this inspires next generation of young girls to be STEM innovators. Seeing is believing!" Angela Brown, Marketing Manager

An all-women crew will produce the entire broadcast of an NHL game on March 8, which is also International Women's Day.

"There's nothing better than seeing a West Michigan woman making their mark on a national scale. Kaitlin Urka, a Ludington native, came up with this idea—which is pretty groundbreaking on a variety of levels. She was the brainchild of this broadcast and it's monumental for women in sports journalism. Fun fact: Kaitlin used to be an associate producer at WZZM before heading to ESPN." Jennifer Pascua, Content Engagement Manager


Disney's Queen of Katwe
In celebration of International Women's Day, SowHope is hosting a special screening of Disney's Queen of Katwe on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at Celebration Cinema Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids. Tickets are $10, must be purchased in advance, and include a complimentary small soda and popcorn. This family-friendly, award-winning movie depicts the plight of women in Uganda and the power of hope.

International Women's Day Pop-Up at Eastern Kille Distillery
Stop by Eastern Kille Distillery on International Women's Day, March 8, to enjoy incredible cocktails and support local women-owned businesses, among them:

This International Women's Day—and every day—get out there and show your support for the women in our community and beyond!

Courtesy of West Michigan Woman.

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