2017 saw devastation after devastation. From losing legends like Tom Petty and Mary Tyler Moore to epic natural disasters to the Las Vegas shooting massacre, our country was in what felt like a constant state of mourning. But there was a silver lining: 2017 was filled with powerful female-driven moments that will forever change the course of history. From Lena Waithe shattering the glass ceilings for African-American women in comedy with her Emmy win to the largest protest in U.S. history, we're taking a look back at the greatest girl-power moments of the year. Let's start with this major moment: On Jan. 21, the Women's March made history as the largest single-day protest in U.S. history shortly after President Donald Trump's inauguration. An estimated 5 million people worldwide participated in the protest, marching not only for women's rights but human rights. As reported by The Washington Post, upward of 650 marches in the U.S. filled the streets with signs and voices supporting LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, equal pay, reproductive rights, immigration reform and health care reform. At the largest march — in Washington — powerful female speakers including Gloria Steinem, America Ferrera and Scarlett Johansson urged Americans to speak out and take action. The youngest speaker, 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, reminded us to "fight with love, faith, and courage." The protests were peaceful, proving girl-power is a potent and effective kind of powerful. Keep reading for more…
Beyonce gives powerhouse speech at the 2017 Grammy Awards
After delivering a jaw-dropping performance of two tracks off her game-changing "Lemonade" album — while pregnant with twins — Beyonce accepted the best urban contemporary album award at the 2017 Grammys with a unforgettably inspiring speech. Her words emphasized the importance of empowering children of every race. "It's important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror — first through their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the Grammys — and see themselves," she told the audience, "and have no doubt that they're beautiful, intelligent and capable. This is something I want for every child of every race, and I feel it's vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes."
"Wonder Woman" and director Patty Jenkins break Hollywood records
The female-led box office hit "Wonder Woman" set Hollywood records this year. The action-adventure blockbuster — which stars Gal Gadot as the titular superhero and was directed by Patty Jenkins — became the highest grossing live-action film by a female director ever. And thanks to worldwide box office earnings of $821.74 million, in November, it became the highest-grossing superhero origin film of all time. Even sweeter? Patty is writing, directing and producing "Wonder Woman 2." After she closed the deal, it emerged that she'd broken a payday record. Variety reported in September that "while an exact number could not be unveiled, sources say the number is in the $8 million range… making her the highest paid female director of all time."
Serena Williams wins Australian Open while pregnant
Serena Williams made major news in April when she accidentally announced that she and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian were expecting their first child together. But perhaps the most spectacular part was that while she did take a break from competing after sharing her happy news, she didn't actually stop playing tennis until well into her third trimester. Another amazing feat? She won the Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant! We can't wait to see this mama back on the court in 2018…
Female actors support each other amid Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal
When The New York Times broke the news in early October that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had allegedly raped, sexually assaulted and harassed countless women, sparking other outlets to publish more exposes, A-listers, actors and even Weinstein Company employees shed their fear and spoke up, telling their stories in support of the victims. Gwyneth Paltrow went public with her tale of sexual misconduct, admitting to the NYT that she was "petrified" when Harvey tried to lure her into his hotel bedroom for massages when she was just 22 and that when she refused, "I thought he was going to fire me." Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, Lupita Nyong'o and Rose McGowan are just a handful of the powerhouse actresses who've come forward to share their horrifying experiences. Upward of 50 industry elites from Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson to George Clooney and Matt Damon have also publicly condemned the Oscar-winning mogul. The news sparked the #MeToo social media movement that saw women around the world speaking out about their own sexual assault and harassment experiences, and both women and men have since come forward to out other powerful Hollywood harassers, inspiring hope that things might finally change. "I think it's incredible what's happening," Gwyneth told CNBC on Nov. 3. "This is long overdue. There's been this incredible confluence of events that's really led to women coming together and feeling safe in numbers to come forward and talk about their experiences across all different industries."
Adele fangirls over Beyonce at the Grammy Awards
In 2017, what we need now more than ever is women lifting each other up as opposed to tearing each other down. And Adele did just that when she accepted the album of the year award for "25" — which bested Beyonce's "Lemonade" — at the 2017 Grammys. "I can't possibly accept this award. And I'm very humbled and I'm very grateful and gracious. But my artist of my life is Beyonce. And this album to me, the 'Lemonade' album, is just so monumental. Beyonce, it's so monumental," she told the audience, looking at Bey in the front row. "And the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering. And you make them stand up for themselves. And I love you. I always have and I always will." Beyonce mouthed "I love you" to Adele as she graciously shared her award with Queen B.
Lauren Hutton becomes a Calvin Klein underwear model at age 73
Lauren Hutton has modeled for most of her career, but she really shook up the modeling world in 2017: At the age of 73, Lauren became Calvin Klein's newest underwear model. And she looked amazing doing it!
Writer-actor Lena Waithe makes history at the Emmy Awards
Lena Waithe made history in 2017 when she became the first African-American woman ever to win an Emmy for comedy writing. She was awarded the statue for her and Aziz Ansari's "Master of None" episode titled "Thanksgiving," which follows her candid coming out. Aziz poignantly gave his time at the Emmy podium to Lena, who used her moment to thank him, her family, and her LGBTQIA community. "I see each and every one of you," she said. "The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is without us in it." We're fastening our capes today in honor of Lena and her powerful voice!
Pink gives empowering speech to daughter at the MTV VMA Awards
At the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, Pink was honored with the show's Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. In her acceptance speech, she dedicated her win to her 6-year-old daughter, Willow Hart, who had recently told her mom she thought she was ugly and looked like a boy. Pink's speech encouraged her and other girls to embrace exactly who they are even if it's not the perfect picture of femininity. "When people make fun of me… do you see me growing my hair? 'No, mama.' Do you see me changing my body? 'No mama.' Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world? 'Yes, mama,'" Pink recounted during her inspirational speech. "So, baby girl. We don't change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl."
Viola Davis becomes first African American ever to achieve the triple crown of acting
2017 was a major year for Viola Davis. At the Academy Awards, Viola took home the statue for best supporting actress for her work in "Fences." While that was an outstanding achievement on its own, it also made Viola the first African American ever (and the 23rd person overall) to achieve the triple crown of acting — winning a competitive Oscar, Emmy and Tony in the acting categories.
Jury sides with Taylor Swift in groping trial
When radio DJ David Mueller brought a $3 million lawsuit against Taylor Swift after claiming her allegations that he groped her in 2013 caused him to lose his job, Taylor fired back with a countersuit, suing Mueller for a symbolic $1 — and in August, a Denver jury ruled in her favor. Though David was forced to pay her just a buck, shortly after the trial, Taylor made a generous donation to the Joyful Heart Foundation, which is dedicated to healing, educating and empowering survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. While this was a personal victory for Taylor, it was much more one for our future generations. Taylor showed the world what it looks like for a woman to speak up about sexual assault. We bow down, Tay!
Emma Watson wins MTV's first gender-neutral acting award
MTV made history this year when it traded its best actor and best actress categories at the MTV Movie & TV Awards for the genderless "best actor." Emma Watson won the network's first gender-neutral acting prize on May 7 for her performance as Belle in "Beauty and the Beast," and she dedicated her win to those brave enough to see a bigger, more inclusive world. "But more seriously, I think I am being given this award because of who Belle is and what she represents," Emma said. "The villagers in our fairy tale wanted to make Belle believe that the world is smaller than the way she saw it, with fewer opportunities for her — that her curiosity and passion for knowledge and her desire for more in life were grounds for alienation. I loved playing someone who didn't listen to any of that. I'm so proud to be a part of a film that celebrates diversity, literacy, inclusion, joy and love the way that this one does."
Malala Yousafzai embarks on Girl Power Trip tour
At age 17, Malala Yousafzai — the Pakistani activist and champion of female education who was once banned by the Taliban from attending school — became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. But Malala, who was shot by a Taliban gunman in 2012, didn't stop her pioneering activism for women's education there. In 2017, she launched her Girl Power Trip tour, where she hit the road to visit four continents to meet countless young girls. The mission of her tour was to inspire women to carry on her torch of supporting female education for the next four years while she focuses on her college education at Oxford. If that's not girl power, we don't know what is!
Julia Louis-Dreyfus uses her breast cancer diagnosis to advocate for universal health care
On Sept. 28, Julia Louis-Dreyfus took to Twitter account to announce her devastating breast cancer diagnosis. What could have been a moment of defeat instead turned into one of the most inspiring girl-power moments of the year: In the same post, the Emmy winner used her moment in the spotlight to acknowledge her privilege while encouraging us all to continue to fight for universal health care. "The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let's fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality," Julia wrote. She received her diagnosis one day after she broke a record at the Emmys: Julia is now the performer with the most Emmy Awards for the same role (for her work on "Veep") and, along with Cloris Leachman, holds the record for most overall Emmy wins by a performer (they've both got eight — but Julia also has another three Emmys for producing "Veep").
Taylor Swift sends flowers to Cardi B after being knocked out of the No. 1 spot
Cardi B made history when her hit song "Bodak Yellow" knocked Taylor Swift's single "Look What You Made Me Do" out of the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in September. In doing so, she became only the second unaccompanied female rapper to top the chart in Hot 100 history (Lauryn Hill was the first back in 1998). Taylor's response? She sent Cardi B a huge array of flowers. Solidarity, sister!
Kesha releases phenomenal comeback album after Dr. Luke legal heartbreak
We haven't had a new album from Kesha since 2012's "Warrior," and it's understandable why: The pop star was in a seemingly endless legal battle with producer and record label exec Dr. Luke, who she accused of drugging, raping and abusing her early in her career. (He's repeatedly denied it and filed a lawsuit of his own.) In a heartbreaking blow in April 2016, a New York State Supreme Court judge "rejected her claims of infliction of emotional distress, gender-based hate crimes and employment discrimination, citing a lack of evidence and jurisdiction," The New York Times reported. But that didn't stop Kesha. In August 2017, she finally released new music to rave reviews. The album, "Rainbow," is filled with messages of hope, courage and healing and is proof that despite all she endured, Kesha is still a talent to be reckoned with.
Reed Morano wins Emmy for outstanding directing in a drama series
Director Reed Morano — perhaps best known for her cinematography work on Beyonce's "Lemonade" visual album — shattered a glass ceiling at the 2017 Emmys when she won the award for best drama series directing for the pilot episode of "The Handmaid's Tale." It's been 22 years since a woman has won the prestigious prize. And to add icing to this girl-power cake, "Offred," the episode Reed won for, is the first pilot she's ever directed.
The success of "Big Little Lies" proves stories by and about women are wanted
"The power of stories by and about women is impossible to ignore," Vanity Fair wrote after the female-centric drama "Big Little Lies" won big at the 2017 Emmy Awards. The show, which is co-produced by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, won five Emmys including the prestigious prize for best limited series. "It's been an incredible year for women in television," Reese said in her acceptance speech. We couldn't agree more.
Teen girl becomes the first female to receive a college football scholarship for Division II or higher
Meet Becca Longo. This year, she was awarded a football scholarship to play the position of kicker at Adams State University in Colorado. Becca didn't initially know that she was making history. According to Phoenix's 12News, her local NBC affiliate, becca is "the first female in the country to sign a national college letter of intent to play football at an NCAA Division I or II school." She explained, "Like, I had no idea. I just thought I was just signing a piece of paper, that I was just going to go do what I love to do." But indeed she was. Now, Becca, we'd love it if you decide to go pro and become the first female to play in the NFL. No pressure!
Kate McKinnon wins Emmy, debuts new girlfriend at the show
2017 was the year of "Saturday Night Live" star Kate McKinnon. Not only did she win an Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy for her work on "SNL" — she also remains the only openly gay female cast member in the history of the sketch show. In another empowering move, Kate brought her new girlfriend, actress (and clown!) Jackie Abbott, to the 2017 Emmys, showing men and women around the world the power and freedom of being openly gay in Hollywood.
Helen Mirren declares herself a feminist
Dame Helen Mirren officially declared herself a feminist and encouraged others to do the same when she delivered a commencement speech at Tulane University this year. "No matter what sex you are, or race, be a feminist. In every country and culture that I have visited, from Sweden to Uganda, from Singapore to Mali, it is clear that when women are given respect, and the ability and freedom to pursue their personal dreams and ambitions, life improves for everyone," she told the graduating students. "I didn't define myself as a feminist until quite recently, but I had always lived like a feminist and believed in the obvious: that women were as capable and as energetic and as inspiring as men."
Former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson makes appearance at the Oscars
It was a highlight of the 2017 Academy Awards: "Hidden Figures" star Taraji P. Henson brought the real-life inspiration for the film, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, onto the stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature. Katherine, who's now 99, is famous for calculating the trajectories and return paths for U.S. space flights in the '50s and '60s. As an African-American woman in the '50s, her work shattered not only glass ceilings but prejudices as well.
Meryl Streep inspires us all with her Golden Globes speech
This year at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award honoring her vast and remarkable career. Meryl used her acceptance speech to speak out about the diversity and compassion of actors, the importance of protecting the freedom of the press, and the dangers of high-powered politicians inciting disrespect. "Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose," she said. Meryl finished her important and inspiring speech to a standing ovation while reminding us all to continue to fight for our voices to be heard.
The "9 to 5" cast reunited at the Emmys
Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin presented the award for best supporting actor in a limited series or movie at the 2017 Emmy Awards. But that's not all they did. They used their "9 to 5" cast reunion to spread some major girl power. "Back in 1980, in that movie, we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot," Jane said on stage. "And in 2017, we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot," Lily added. #MicDrop
Katy Perry becomes the most followed person on Twitter
Tweet, tweet! In June, Katy Perry became the first person ever to hit 100 million Twitter followers. As of November, the powerhouse singer had amassed 106 million followers. What can you expect from Katy's Twitter, you might ask? She shares fun memes, political musings, engaging videos and so much more. You'll have to follow her to get the scoop!
Kudos, girlfriend! Tiffany Haddish became the first African-American female comedian ever to host "Saturday Night Live" when she appeared on the show on Nov. 11. It took 43 years, but at least that's some pretty sweet history for Tiffany to have made!
Women dress up as "The Handmaid's Tale" characters
As part of the "The Handmaid's Tale" for-your-consideration Emmy campaign, women dressed in red robes and white bonnets strolled around different parts of Los Angeles. Not only was it an effective campaign ("The Handmaid's Tale" won the Emmy for best drama series), but it was a chilling peek at what our country would look like if women's rights aren't protected. Women in Texas, not associated with the Emmy campaign, also dressed up as the fictional handmaids to attend Texas legislative sessions at the state capitol to protest anti-abortion measures, Slate Magazine reported.
Rapper ScHoolboy Q and daughter spread girl power at the Grammys
Beyonce and Adele weren't the only ones bringing girl power to the 2017 Grammy Awards. When ScHoolboy Q showed up to the awards show — accompanied by daughter Joyce — wearing a pink hoodie with the words "Girl Power" written across it, he made one thing clear: Dads can be feminists too. The rapper inspired his daughter and other girls around the world with his powerful, inclusive fashion choice.
Hillary Clinton says she's in it for the long haul
While Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, one thing's clear: She refuses to be silenced. Hillary let Stephen Colbert know that she will continue to fight for our country when she visited "The Late Show" in September. "I am not going anywhere," she told him, which was met with joyous cheering from the audience. Earlier this year, she also explained on "Today" that she's done being "likable," a trait woman tirelessly try to accommodate. "The more professionally successful a man becomes, the more likeable he is. The more professionally successful a woman becomes, the less likeable she is," she explained. Here's to being less likeable, Hillary!
Lena Dunham opens up about her endometriosis battle
Lena Dunham was rushed to the hospital with complications from a previous endometriosis surgery after walking the Met Gala's 2017 red carpet. In an Instagram post afterward, she reminded women around the world of their strength. "I also want to remind all the women suffering from chronic illness that we aren't weak — quite the opposite, actually," she wrote. "We do our jobs with skill even when we're struggling. We care for families even when we can hardly care for ourselves. We serve major face on a red carpet when we feel like lying face down would be more appropriate." Earlier this year, she also wrote a powerful piece for her "Lenny Letter" site explaining why women should have access to birth control. "I've been on the birth control pill on and off for almost 15 years. It's the only thing that can control my endometriosis pain, and it's made my skin clearer, my moods more even, and my life altogether finer," she wrote.
Jana Kramer shares her personal domestic abuse story
Hoping to help others in her situation, country star Jana Kramer opened up about her personal story of domestic abuse at the hands of first husband Michael Gambino, who served six years in prison for attempted murder after he tried to kill her, as she accepted Safe Horizon's Voice of Empowerment award in April. A tearful Jana bravely explained, "I didn't know if anyone would believe me so I just I hid and I hid and I hid. Finally I was just like, 'I don't want to live my life like this anymore.'" When Jana shared her powerful story, she made it clear there is a way out.
Stars wear Planned Parenthood pins to the Oscars
Celebrities including Emma Stone and Dakota Johnson adorned their Oscar ensembles with Planned Parenthood pins, using the high-profile opportunity to support the nonprofit as it faced defunding threats. Other stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ruth Negga opted to wear ACLU ribbons to show their support for the organization dedicated to protecting civil liberties.