Tarana Burke is a social and civil activist. Though she is currently the Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity, she is best known as the founder of the global #MeToo movement. She originated the phrase back in 2006, but #MeToo has really become well known in 2017. #MeToo raises sexual abuse and assault awareness. Time magazine named Burke as one of the “silence breakers" for its 2017 Time Person of the Year.
Uzo Aduba is an American Emmy award winning actress best known for her role as Suzanne Warren on the Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black. Aduba works to end world hunger through her work with Heifer International, an organization that provides impoverished people with livestock, seeds, and food to create self-sustaining businesses and fight world poverty. In 2017, she dedicated her #GivingTuesday campaign to raising money for Heifer International.
Priscillah Mabelane was appointed as the next chief executive officer for BP Southern Africa. She made history in 2017 as the first black woman to head an international oil major in Southern Africa. Though she has been working at BP Southern Africa for six years, Mabelane’s new role is one that will transform Southern Africa’s oil industry.
Ava DuVernay made headlines in 2017 as the first black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. This award was for her film “13th." As a film director, producer, and screenwriter, she has made history in Hollywood through her “firsts." Her next project, “A Wrinkle in Time," makes her the first black woman to direct a live action film with a budget exceeding $100 million.
Tiffany Haddish rose to prominence as a comedian and actress back in 2014. In 2017, Haddish became a breakout Hollywood star by landing major movie roles and becoming the first black female stand-up comic to host Saturday Night Live during its 43rd season.
Alicia Keys is a well-known pop star and activist with hit songs like “No One" and “Empire State of Mind." She has been active in the music industry since the mid-1990s. In 2017, she was actively involved in the Women’s March in Washington, where she was a key speaker. She fights for equal pay, women’s rights, and environmental protection. In Canada, she was presented with the 2017 Ambassador of Conscience award from Amnesty International.
Maame Biney is a must-watch during this month’s winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Born in Ghana, Biney is an 18-year-old speed skater who shined on the ice in 2017 as the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speed skating team.
Irene Nkosi is a South African woman making a global impact. She is recognized for her work with the organization mothers2mothers, as well as her advocacy for the prevention of HIV and AIDS. Her work with mothers2mothers supports HIV-positive women by aiming to prevent mother-child transmission.
Zendaya Coleman – best known as Zendaya – is an American actress and singer who gained prominence on Disney Channel back in 2010. Since then, she has impacted young girls across the globe through her social activism and advocacy. At the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, she used her acceptance speech as a platform to tell young millennials to use their voices and become advocates for social justice. Her speech was prompted by the 2017 events in Charlottesville, as well as the overall state of U.S. politics.
Ertharin Cousin completed her role as the executive director of the World Food Programme, one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, in April of 2017. As the executive director, she oversaw 14,000 staff serving in over 75 countries and working with 80 million vulnerable people.