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Happy New Year! What better way to kick off 2019, than to have a look back at some of the most incredible women that have inspired us in 2018! We absolutely adored pulling this post together, and we hope it gives you that first drop of motivation you need to start 2019 completely inspired.

We have scientists and actresses and world-leaders here, but we know there are millions of incredible women out there. So, let us know who you would have on your list in the comments, email us, or drop us a DM on Twitter and let’s get chatting about the people around us who inspire us the most.

For now, here are 9 women who inspired us in 2018.

jacinda ardern

1.Jacinda Ardern.

Jacinda Ardern is currently the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand. Not only is she a woman that has successfully made her way to the top, but she is only the second world leader to have given birth while in office in June of 2018. Talking about her pregnancy in an interview with The Guardian, she said:

“I'm not going to leave any room for doubt that I can do this.” And do it, she most certainly did!

She also made history by taking her three-month-old daughter to a UN General Assembly with her, as she was still breast-feeding at the time, raising awareness and starting the conversation around the difficulties of juggling life as a working-mother.

Jacinda acknowledged that she has some ‘exceptional circumstances’ that make it possible for her to continue to be Prime Minister and raise her daughter and she hopes that one day, it will be ‘the norm for all women wanting to balance a career and parenting’. - The Guardian.


2. The Duchess of Sussex.

At first glance, Meghan Markle’s story looks nothing short of a fairy tale. However, you only have to just start digging a little deeper to realise there is so much more to the new Duchess than meets the eye. 2018 saw HRH become one of the most recognisable and influential women in the world, and “as a bi-racial American and campaigning feminist, Meghan Markle is not only a powerful symbol for Britain and the royal family, she's a game-changing role model for millions.” - Afua Hirsch for Vogue.

One of our favourite Meghan quotes came in February of this year, when she was speaking about her work for women's rights and explained that her activism will continue, at a forum organised by the official Royal Foundation charity. Meghan said:

"What's interesting is that I hear a lot of people saying, when talking about girls‘ empowerment and women as well, you’ll often hear people saying, ‘You’re helping them find their voices', I fundamentally disagree with that. Women don’t need to find their voice. They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen.”


3. Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a one of the UK’s leading astronomers, but she’s also a woman who knows all too well the challenges women face. In 1974, she was left out of the prize citation for The Nobel Prize for Physics, even though every single one of her male counterparts were included.

However, this year, she won the Breakthrough Prize for the discovery of radio pulsars (a type of neutron star that emits a beam of radiation - don’t worry, we had to Google this too!), and instead of keeping her £2.3m winnings, she is going to use the money to fund women, under-represented ethnic minorities, and refugee students to become physics researchers.

What. A. Woman.


4. Sinéad Burke

Sinéad Burke is a 3ft 5in tall woman, who has a very clear mission to change the fashion industry and educate designers to not only be more inclusive, but to be fully inclusive.

“Through writing, public speaking, lecturing and social media, I highlight the lack of inclusivity within the fashion and design industries and consult with leadership to ensure the process of designing for, with and by disabled people is embedded into their business model. I also critique the ways in which the media talks to women and offer an alternative conversation that celebrates the achievements of others with the ‘Extraordinary Women’ interview series.” - Sinéad Burke


5. Farrah Storr.

Farrah Storr is Editor-in-Chief of Cosmo magazine here in the UK as well as the author of The Discomfort Zone, and as a woman who has worked hard to overcome lots of challenges to get to the top, she also inspires us because of her mindset. She’s a woman who’s openly talked about her decision not to have children because she would not be able to do her job trying to raise children at the same time - once again starting the discussion around the notion that women can, or should, ‘have it all’.

Our favourite pieces of advice from Farrah are:

“Keep applying for new jobs. Even if there’s no chance you’ll get it or the job is three steps ahead where you think you should be, go for it anyway. It might get you 15 minutes in front of someone senior.”

“Nobody at the top knows what they’re doing, they’re just making it up as they go along. The best thing you can say to your boss is, "I’ll take care of that for you".” - Management Today.


6. Tarana Burke.

We couldn’t write this list without including Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement. MeToo might have gained momentum in 2017, but it certainly hasn’t slowed down in 2018, and this incredible lady is the one who started it all.

This year, Tarana spoke about how she felt the movement had ‘lost it’s way’ a little, and will continue to campaign and work on her strategy to get #MeToo back to what she founded years ago. In an interview with The Cut, she said:

“We have to shift the narrative that it’s a gender war, that it’s anti-male, that it’s men against women, that it’s only for a certain type of person — that it’s for white, cisgender, heterosexual, famous women. That has to shift. And I think that it is shifting…”


7. Michelle Obama.

Give us the name of one woman who doesn’t worship the former First Lady, Michelle Obama…?

Michelle Obama has been an inspiring role model for girls and women everywhere from the second she stepped into the public eye. Just like our Duchess of Sussex though, there is so much more to this woman than having been the first African-American First Lady. She was a lawyer who was educated at Princeton, and a woman who has consistently championed the education for girls and for America’s poverty-stricken families.

Despite all of this, Michelle Obama isn’t afraid to speak about all of the things we talk and worry about. In her new book, Becoming, she even talks about that dreaded Imposter Syndrome:

“It doesn't go away, that feeling that you shouldn't take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.” - Michelle Obama

And, about getting that seat at the table:

“So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we’re still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up. And that’s not a criticism, because for so many just getting to the table was so hard, right? So you’re just holding on!” - Michelle Obama


8. Natalie Portman

Let’s take it right back to the very beginning of January 2018, when Natalie Portman was presenting an award at The Golden Globes for Best Director, when she uttered an albeit blunt, but very factual and necessary statement:

"And here are the all-male nominees..”

Some people disagreed with Natalie’s comment, saying it was rude, disrespectful and uncomfortable. However, Zimbio made, in our opinion, the most brilliant observation on the story:

“Listen, confronting power paradigms, racial inequality, and gender disparity is not comfortable — for anyone. But, it is necessary if we want diverse stories from diverse storytellers. To get to a place where creators of all colours, genders, and backgrounds are recognised, we must first call out the voices that have dominated Hollywood and media in the past.” - Zimbio.


9. Dame Helena Morrissey

Dame Helena Morrissey, head of personal investment at Legal & General, mother of 9 children, and founder of The 30% Club, which as of September 2018, reached it’s initial target for the FTSE-100.

Helena started The 30% Club in 2010, when a mere 12.5% of board members of the top FTSE-100 were women, with a target of getting that number to 30%. And the work of the organisation has been amazing.

There are now 0 all-male boards in the FTSE-100, compared to the 21 there were in 2010. Even more impressively, there are now only 4 all-male boards in the FTSE-250, compared to a staggering 131 in 2010!

We all know there’s still so much work to be done, but it’s thanks to women like Dame Helena that progress is being made.