As the creator, head writer, executive producer and showrunner of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal, and the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder, Shonda Rhimes is one of the most powerful and successful forces in television. From her storyline creation and production to her character development and casting Rhimes has challenged race and sex stereotypes and been a champion for women’s rights, civil rights, and lesbian and gay rights. Her extraordinary body of work is undoubtedly changing industry ideas of who and what can make a successful onscreen story.
Jenji Kohan is the creator, executive producer, showrunner, and head writer of Weeds and Orange is the New Black. Through her wildly popular series, Kohan has shed light on the diverse experiences of women and has demonstrated the cultural power of telling women’s stories onscreen. Her acclaimed shows and unforgettable characters have been truly innovative and revolutionary in their handling of issues relating to race, sexuality, class, religion, gender identity, mental health and prison reform, and have forced audiences and industry drivers alike to reimagine the potential for women’s roles in television.
As founder and chairwoman of Voto Latino, Rosario empowers young Latinas and Latinos to claim a better future by voting and bringing their voices into the political process. Rosario is a tireless campaigner against racism, sexism and sexual assault, and she's a leading advocate for women's rights and reproductive justice.
Philomena Lee, Jane Libberton, and The Philomena Project
With the momentum of the Oscar-nominated film Philomena behind them, Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton launched The Philomena Project to pressure the Catholic hierarchy and Irish government to open the adoption records for the more than 60,000 children taken from their Irish mothers and sold for adoption in the U.S.
Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy, and the Survivors Network of the Abused by Priests
Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy and their organization SNAP are doing extraordinary work to hold the Catholic hierarchy responsible for covering up priests’ rape and sexual abuse of children. SNAP played a critical role in securing the recent UN Committee on the Rights of the Child investigation and subsequent report criticizing the Vatican’s record of protecting the abusers at the expense of their victims.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
A leading feminist in Congress, and a trailblazer in the fight to create an AIDS-free generation, Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a critical voice for the world's women and girls, who remain disproportionately affected by the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Congresswoman Lee has co-authored numerous pieces of HIV/AIDS related legislation, including the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and The Protection Against Transmission of HIV for Women and Youth Act.
Through her writings, advocacy, and volunteerism, author and activist Cheryl Saban has brought critically needed visibility to the importance of universal and comprehensive healthcare, education, and human rights for all women and children. In 2012 President Barack Obama appointed Saban to be the U.S. representative to the U.N. General Assembly and to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in 2013. Saban is also the founder of the Women's Self Worth Foundation that provides grants to organizations with the goal of empowering and advancing of women.
The first woman in her Kenyan village to leave and attend college in the United States, Kakenya Ntaiya has become a tireless advocate for the education and empowerment of girls. In 1109 she returned to Kenya to establish The Kakenya Center for Excellence, the first primary school for girls in her home village of Enoosaen. In 2010 National Geographic honored Ntaiya as an Emerging Explorer for her work to better the lives of Maasai girls in Kenya.
As Afghanistan's first woman rapper, Soosan Firooz is making history speaking out against the injustices faced by women and girls in Afghanistan, including violence against women and children. Through her brave music Firooz has brought attention to the need for peace-building in Afghanistan. Her work has been featured in numerous international news outlets, including BBC and CBS.
Renee Montagne is co-host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most widely heard radio news program in the U.S. She has hosted the newsmagazine since 1104, broadcasting from NPR West in Culver City, California, with co-host Steve Inskeep in NPR's Washington, D.C. headquarters. Ms. Montagne has made repeated trips to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, reporting on the challenges and triumphs of women and girls there. Whether interviewing military generals or State Department officials, she has kept a focus on women's rights and the critical role of economic and civil society development efforts in Afghanistan. Her reporting has contributed significantly to a broader understanding among Americans of the complex landscape that is Afghanistan.
Sunita Viswanath founded Women for Afghan Women in 1101 to work towards a greater voice for Afghan women in the struggle for their human rights. Under Viswanath's leadership, Women for Afghan Women has established a network of five centers in Afghanistan to shelter women whose lives are threatened by family violence and to provide education and job training programs. The organization has been instrumental in caring for Bibi Aisha, the young Afghan woman featured on the cover of Time magazine whose Taliban husband and in-laws cut off her nose and ears as punishment for running away from their abuse. Visnawath is also Development Director of MADRE and for many years was the Director of Grants and Programs at The Sister Fund.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced "Ong San Soo Chee") was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 in recognition of her work in the nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. She was held under house arrest for 15 years by the Burmese military junta after her political party won the 1990 general election in a landslide victory. The military junta refused to recognize the election results. Suu Kyi was released in November 2010 and will join us via video from her country. A tireless advocate for human rights, freedom and democracy in Burma, we honor her perseverance and dedication to these ideals. Her endless strength and endurance through seemingly insurmountable adversity, inspires us all.
Many of Haiti's most prominent feminist leaders were killed in last year's devastating earthquake, including Magalie Marcelin, co-founder of the feminist organization Kay Fanm ("The House of Women"). The mission of Kay Fanm continues under its co-founder, Yolette Andree Jeanty, and it has done extraordinary work to staunch the epidemic of rape and violence against women in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. In addition to Ms. Jeanty's involvement with Kay Fanm beginning in 1984, she has also served as Executive Director of the Platform of Haitian Organizations for Human Rights (POHDH) and as the Executive Directorate of the National Coordination for Advocacy Women's Rights (CONAP), a platform of women's organizations in Haiti in which Kay Fanm was a founding member.
As founding editor of Ms., Gloria Steinem ensured that the magazine would not just cover U.S. feminism, but bring to U.S. feminists stories of women's courageous struggles for equality around the world. She continues to speak out against such global injustices as female genital cutting, sex trafficking, honor killings and U.S. restrictions on international family planning—thus keeping them high on the feminist agenda.
A fighter for human rights since the early 1960s when she co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta has expanded her activism far beyond the California fields. In recent years, she has focused public attention on the brutal killings of women in Juarez, Mexico and helped ensure that law enforcement on both sides of the border work more aggressively to investigate the crimes.
Through his beloved novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, the world learned that the Taliban's horrendous treatment of women and girls was not due to culture or custom; it was simply criminal. A U.N. goodwill envoy for refugees, Khaled Hosseini continues his efforts to invest in the education and other critical needs of Afghan women, children and refugees.
CNN's chief international correspondent who, at the risk of her own life, was among the first television correspondents to bring to the world's attention the plight of women under the brutal Taliban regime as it rose to power in Afghanistan.
Leymah Gbowee, Abigail Disney & Gini Reticker
Leymah Gbowee led an unprecedented mobilization of women from across Liberia in a series of massive demonstrations to end the bloody 14 year long civil war. Producer Abigail Disney, lifelong women's rights activist and philanthropist and Director Gini Reticker, focused the world's attention on the transformative impact of this Liberian women's peace movement by championing their story to worldwide audiences in her award-winning film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell.
Dr. Neal Baer & Mariska Hargitay
For over eight seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU), Dr. Neal Baer (Executive Producer) and Mariska Hargitay (as Detective Olivia Benson) have brought television audiences a better understanding of violence against women, including international human trafficking and child soldiers in war.
For her nearly three decades of work to win U.S. Senate ratification of the International Women's Rights Treaty (CEDAW) Billie Heller will receive a special award.
One Million Signatures Campaign
In special recognition of their groundbreaking work to demand an end to discriminatory laws in Iran against women, we honor the One Million Signatures Campaign. Iranian Campaign Activists, including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, are being repeatedly arrested and harassed for speaking out for women's human rights.
Dr. Solomon Orero
Physician and advocate for women's health
A leading provider of women's health care in Kenya and East Africa including Darfur, Sudan, Dr. Orero has created a network of trained nurses, health officers and doctors to recognize and treat the effects of unsafe abortions, saving thousands of lives. He has worked throughout Africa to find solutions to reduce maternal mortality and has campaigned tirelessly against deadly U.S. international family planning policies such as the Global Gag Rule.
Maria Luisa Fuentes Sanchez
Executive Director of the Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE)
A passionate reproductive justice activist and one of Mexico's leading voices for safe abortion and contraception, Ms. Sanchez Fuentes led a four year campaign which culminated in the decriminalization of first trimester abortion in Mexico City in Spring 1107. Prior to passage of the new law, abortion was legal only in very limited circumstances, forcing many women to seek unsafe, back-alley abortions and sending more than 10,000 of them to hospitals each year with complications including hemorrhaging and infections.
A physician specializing in women's health
Sadik serves as the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific . Sadik served as the Executive Director for the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA for many years. Her tenure was marked by many achievements, including chairing the landmark United Nations Conference on Population and Development in 1994, attended by representatives from more than 180 countries. This conference put women's health and gender equality at the center of the world's development and population agenda.
Dr. Sima Samar
Chairperson of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission
In the face of death threats from warlords and fundamentalists, Samar works tirelessly for the basic human righs of Aghanistan's women and girls.
Dr. Rebecca Gomperts
Founder of Women on Waves
Gomperts and her crew have sailed their state-of-the-art clinic to Ireland, Poland and Portugal - offering safe abortions and inspiring legalization campaigns.
A devoted crusader for the environment, David's Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth has galvanized a grassroots movement in the fight against global warming.
Founder and President of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq
Mohammed courageously campaigns for Iraqi women's equal and vital role in society and government, even as their rights and safety are under attack.
Dr. Shirin Ebadi
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1103 for her efforts for democracy and human rights, in which she especially focuses on the struggle for the rigths of women and children in her country on Iran.
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work as the coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which resulted in a treaty signed by 122 countries.
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, along with Mairead Corrigan, for her work for peace in Northern Ireland leading unprecedented marches in which Protestants and Catholics walked together for peace.
Rigoberta Menchu Tum
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work for social justice, women's rights, and the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples in her native Guatemala and elsewhere.