As 2015 comes to an end we take a look at some of the many, many women who have been leaders, advocates and all-around champions in their fields.
They stand out because they speak their mind, push the boundaries and make us think.
In no particular order, here are Mamamia’s Women of the Year:
In the 2015 Women’s Football World Cup, the Matildas became the first Australian soccer team to get through a knockout stage after beating Brazil.
They lost in the quarter finals to Japan, the world champions.
The Matildas are now ranked ninth in the world. And while the men get the big bucks to lose (they’re ranked 58th), Australia’s most successful soccer team ever couldn’t even get paid a living wage.
But 2015 was the year the Matildas said no more. They went out on strike and forced the Football Federation to take their demands seriously.
As a team they stood together, and as women they stood up for the principle that women’s sports are just as valuable. They were rewarded with a significant pay rise in the new enterprise bargaining agreement settled in November. (They’re still not earning what the men do, but it’s a big step forward.)
In 2015 Michelle Payne became the first woman jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, riding Prince of Penzance.
Her victory was made even sweeter by the way she shared the prize with her brother Steven, a strapper for the horse.
The youngest of eight children, Payne’s mother died when she was just six months old. Payne had a horrific fall in 2004, fracturing her skull and bruising her brain, but she continued to climb through the ranks of this male-dominated sport.
Her first major win was in 2009. Payne was only the fourth woman to ride in the Melbourne Cup, and some of the horse’s owners didn’t want her on it. But she took the 100-1 chance all the way to first place.
She’s used her win to push for more women in the industry and highlight the gap between what male jockeys can get away with, as opposed to female jockeys.
As 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty continued her campaign to bring an end to domestic violence in Australia. She has been a tireless campaigner for victims of domestic abuse, despite receiving some pretty tasteless criticism from former Labor leader Mark Latham and others.