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WATCH: Mamamia's Men of the Year.

It would be easy to look back on 2015 as a year filled with conflict, aggression and some truly horrible events. But from challenge comes resilience and persistence, optimism and energy.

These are qualities that Mamamia’s Men of the Year have in spades.

Here they are, in no particular order.

Peter GrestePeter Greste

Peter Greste started 2015 in an Egyptian prison on trial for doing his job. Freed, but not off the hook, in February Greste came home and began a long and unwavering campaign to fight for the freedom of his Al Jazeera colleagues and for his own charges to be dismissed.

At the same time, he spoke out for press freedom around the world, and challenged the federal government directly on its plans for increased data surveillance and a lack of transparency in offshore detention centres.

In September while filming a television segment, Greste learned his colleague Mohamed Fahmy had been pardoned. His response was caught on film and is one of the loveliest things you’ll ever see.

Waleed Aly

Waleed Aly

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Already well known for his sharp and thoughtful commentary, lawyer, academic and co-host of The Project Waleed Aly spent 2015 leading national opinion on issues including laws that could silence critics of the Federal Government’s refugee policy, terrorism and climate change.

Following the Paris terror attacks in November, Aly delivered an editorial from the desk of The Project that was shared around the world. It was hailed as the speech the Prime Minister should have given, and called on Australians to unite against ISIS.

In December Aly proved he was a man of many talents, shredding a Pink Floyd classic at the 2015 Walkley Awards.

Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes

In 2015 Australian Rules Football farewelled one of the greats of the game. Unfortunately, the treatment of Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes in his final year playing was not something that AFL audiences should be proud of.

The former Australian of the Year spent the bulk of the 2015 season being booed by AFL “fans” from rival clubs, and subject to a raging debate about whether those boos were racist or not. Eventually the controversy forced him from the field.

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But like the two-time Brownlow-medal-winning champion Goodes is, the on-field drama never stopped him from supporting some of the most important causes in Australia today, including the push for Indigenous recognition in the consitution, and the campaign to stop violence against women.

2015 might not have been kind to Adam Goodes, but Goodes rose above and continued to inspire and lead.

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau Facebook pic quote

Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau swept to power late in 2015, but he has already made a significant impression on the world, not just his home nation.

Trudeau has been credited with re-energising Canadian politics, and his youthful enthusiasm has captivated media and world leaders alike. Not since Barack Obama has an leader been so sought after for photo ops on the world stage.

But it’s not just his charm that appeals. Trudeau is acting on a range of important issues, including climate change and gender equity. His first cabinet is a 50/50 split of men and women, and his reason: it’s 2015.

Most recently Trudeau personally welcomed the first Syrian refugees to Canada of a planned 25,000 that will be accepted in the coming months.

David Pocock

David Pocock Instagram stu walmsley PIC quote

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Environmental campaigner, same sex marriage advocate, animal conservation activist, Australian rugby player. David Pocock continued to surprise and inspire as he moved through 2015.

Although the Wallabies didn’t take home the Rugby World Cup in October, Pocock did walk away from the 2015 season with the Rugby Union Players’ Association Medal for Excellence, a peer-voted award that is considered one of the highest honours in the sport.

He couldn’t accept the medal because he was in Zimbabwe protecting endangered rhinos. Pocock doesn’t just talk about the causes he passionate about, he acts.

Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Tunrbull Facebook pic quote

We started 2015 with one Prime Minister and ended it with another, and no, you didn’t miss an election.

While late night Canberra leadership tussles might not seem like a breeding ground for calm and stable government, new PM Malcolm Turnbull has managed a remarkable turnaround in both his own party’s fortunes and the spirits of the nation.

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While Turnbull has not signaled policy departures on key issues like climate change or same sex marriage from the Abbott Government, he is enjoying a massive boost in personal popularity and has seemingly put an end to the cycle of negativity that has dominated federal politics in this country for years.

Also Tony Abbott is no longer the Prime Minister. Just let that sink in.

Stan Grant

Stan Grant SBS pic quote

Stan Grant has spent the bulk of his career reporting on international news. In 2015 he turned his sharp gaze back onto his own community, and became a forceful voice for Indigenous Australians.

His defence of Adam Goodes at the height of the AFL booing scandal was a powerful intervention into the debate, and an argument that was hard to ignore.

“This is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth,” he wrote in The Guardian.

That column, and some of Grant’s subsequent work won him a Walkley award, and were some of the best writing of the year.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook pic quote

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In 2015 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg became a dad. This in itself is not so significant (unless you are Zuckerberg or his wife Priscilla Chan), but how Zuckerberg chose to juggle that with heading up the social media giant is.

Men should spend more time with their children, and many want to. But the biggest barrier they face is workplaces that don’t see fathers as primary caregivers. Paternity leave is usually a short-term afterthought of a policy, and study after study shows there’s pressure on men not to take too much time off after the birth of their child.

So Zuckerberg announced that he was taking two months off, a wonderful example of leading cultural change from the top. Employees at Facebook were also told they would get four months paternity leave, that could be taken at any time in the first 12 months of their baby’s life.

And he and Chan said they would give away 99 per cent of their fortune.

Ai Weiwei

Ai WeiWei instagram pic quote

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Artist and dissident Ai Weiwei finally had his passport returned to him by the Chinese government in July 2015, after four years banned from leaving the country.

He promptly relocated to Berlin to be with his young son, and announced an exhibition that opened in Melbourne in December.

At 57, Ai has a long history as a political activist and artist uses his art to highlight corruption, inequality and injustice.  He is a long-time critic of the Chinese Communist Party. All of that made the toy giant Lego uncomfortable and the company refused to fill a bulk order for Lego that Ai required for his Melbourne exhibition.

So, as he has done many times before, Ai turned to the internet and asked for donations – and the world responded. The artist was flooded with Lego. Another example of the power of the internet Ai champions so effectively.

Francois Hollande

Francois Hollande pic quote

France, and Paris in particular, has endured a horror year. In January extremist gunmen killed 12 people in a massacre that began at the offices of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In November terrorists again roamed the streets of the capital killing people in theatres, restaurants, bars and a major stadium in an attack that horrified the world.

Hollande steered the country through the difficult aftermath of both of these attacks and has since played host to the Paris Climate Change summit that delivered the most significant global agreement since Kyoto. Going into 2016, Hollande will remain a figure to watch as France steps up its military presence in the middle east, pursuing the terrorist organisations that targeted the cobbled streets of Paris.

Who was your man of the year?

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