The 20 Most Influential Female Voices of 2012

Clockwise from top left, Anne Summers, Susan Carland, Nicola Roxon and Stella Young.

Clockwise from top left, Anne Summers, Susan Carland, Nicola Roxon and Stella Young.

At Daily Life we feel it’s important to recognise, support and celebrate the loud female voices that have driven women’s issues onto the public agenda, ignited debate and agitated for change this year.

In many ways 2012 was a year of great change for Australian women. There were the big milestones like the availability of the RU486 drug, the birth of the Destroying the Joint movement and the day that 5000 people marched against victim blaming in a Reclaim the Night rally in the wake of Jill Meagher’s death.

Then there were the things that are less physical but just as seismic – in particular the resurgence of popular, vigorous and passionate discussions about feminism in the mainstream media. They crept in at first via widespread responses to articles like Anne Summers’ Her Rights at Work and Clementine Ford’s How to Spot a Misogynist. Later they reverberated around the world when a searing speech by Julia Gillard about sexism became a watershed moment for both the Prime Minister and Australian women.

That Speech was the catalyst of many of the effusive nominations Julia Gillard received to become Australia’s Most Influential Female Voice. And while it goes without saying that she is the most powerful person in the country – we asked for a list of women who took a strong, public stand on issues that are important to women this year and our first female Prime Minister delivered.

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Readers said, ''Julia Gillard has been a light on the hill for all women''. And, ''her speech captured how I feel about being a woman''. And, ''It was a bitch slap in the face of conformity for all the times I've been judged on how I look, how much I weigh or how attractive I am'' and, ''it was someone in a position of power finally standing up and saying they'd had enough, that they were genuinely sick of all the misogynist crap directed their way regardless of the consequences''. And ''my girlfriends and I now share our ‘channelling Julia’ moments''.

From more than 2000 nominations we selected the 20 women we felt most strongly were “a woman that empowers other women”.  This list is a timely reminder of just some of the inspiring and powerful women we have in our corner. They have all made an impact on the lives of Australian women this year and the issues that are most important to them. The list includes journalist Anne Summers, media commentator Jane Caro, Daily Life’s Clementine Ford, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and ABC journalist Leigh Sales.

 

16 comments

  • This is a great list, one which is title incorrectly however. One suggestion for an amended heading is "The most Feminist women of 2012" or any other variation that would stay that notion.
    With the exception of Penny Wong, the members of this list could hardly be considered 'influential'. Julia Gillard might also be an exception, but probably not in the way you'd expect. Her scope of influence and area of expertise lays in making Australia the laughing stock of the world which it has become, first as the usurper during Rudd-Gate, and then through the extremely public tet-a-tet with Abbott in which she played the part of Costello over Misogyny-Gate, and more recently her stunt about the end of the world in Idiot-Gate.

    So I don't seem overly inflammatory, I'll re-iterate my original point. This is a great list, but for something else. I don't know what exactly, groceries perhaps? But the word "Influential" should definitely be left out, unless of course the purpose of the article is to diminish the meaning of it.

    Commenter
    Dariusk
    Date and time
    December 11, 2012, 9:24AM
    • Well done, Stella!

      Commenter
      Heisenberg
      Location
      thisaggression.wordpress.com
      Date and time
      December 11, 2012, 9:26AM
      • How is it that Nareen Young is the only indigenous woman who made this list? Chrissie Swan makes it for "being herself" but not Prof. Larissa Behrendt for her prolific writing, education and activism on human rights law? Not Prof. Marcia Langton for being one of the worlds most respected anthropologists? Not Frances Rings for her outstanding choreography with Bangarra?

        Commenter
        Ceci
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 9:39AM
        • Because Aboriginal people make up 2% of the population? So Aboriginal women are actually overrepresented on the list? As are journalists. Or do we now favour the approach that we put Aboriginal women/men into every list whether they are relevant or not? These women influence the 52% of the female population whether Aboriginal or not, not just the 1% of Aboriginal women. It is getting very tiresome. We are all Australians, and beyond that, all creatures clinging to a little ball spinning in space. That said, Asian Australians should be complaining that they only have Penny on the list, it IS very Anglo.

          I agree with Mich, needs less journalists & more women who are doing things and therefore leading by example (go Julia & Penny), rather than just talking about it.

          Commenter
          Harriet
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          December 11, 2012, 12:15PM
      • I describe myself as a feminist but one thing I don't understand is why so many prominent feminist women have short hair. Maybe it's just a coincidence but I can't help but think it has something to do with making themselves look less "girly" and therefore more likely to be taken seriously. Or maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing...

        Commenter
        Cimbom
        Location
        Real World
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 9:41AM
        • Yes. Yes, you are.

          Commenter
          Old bag
          Date and time
          December 11, 2012, 9:59AM
      • "The Most Influential Female Voices". Something seems to be missing here a doctor who advanced research against cancer, an engineer who helped build better roads or equipment essential for health, economy, etc. All the marvelous women who advance education.
        Also someone like my wife (a hero to me and my son). She gives my son the principles to be a better citizen of the world and teaches him about who he. She fights for a strong family every day and consequently a strong nation.

        Commenter
        Mich
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 10:18AM
        • @Mitch Yes, these are all admirable women but they did not use their *voices* to *influence* and that was the criteria I think. This is not about who is the smartest or kindest or most inventive -there are other awards and lists for those. This is about using your voice and that voice having an impact. I am sure your wife is a very nice lady and @David Julie Goodwin is great at cooking but I do not see how either of them influenced the national conversation.You also have to remember that the people voting are readers of Daily Life so it's expected that they would vote for women who write for Daily Life.

          Commenter
          Sheba
          Date and time
          December 11, 2012, 10:58AM
        • Influence a family, influence a nation. I understand @Sheba your point and I gave my wife as example but there are millions like her. I would like just to point out the need to celebrate the role of the mother as an educator and her importance in teaching children to respect difference. Isn't that influential? And please no body tell me that we have mothers day for that because it is so commercial I don't know whats the point anymore, I think mothers and their roles are marginalized and I would like to give the backlash against Carla Bruni as example.

          Commenter
          Mich
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          December 11, 2012, 11:50AM
        • Mich, while I appreciate your passion for motherhood and its role in influencing families and therefore society (it's the premise of why women's education in the developing world is so important), I think it bears pointing out that at least 7 of the women on this list have children. Presumably, we can assume they are influential in this regard also.

          Commenter
          mothers can be other things too
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          December 11, 2012, 12:12PM

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