1. Julia Gillard: Our first female Prime Minister had kept silent on sexism directed at her and entrenched in Australian politics since her election but when she finally spoke it wasn’t just Australia, but the world, that stopped and listened. For many of the thousands of women who nominated her she is an inspiration . Throughout a difficult and turbulent year she has taught many of us an important lesson in how to stand up to sexism. It’s not an understatement to call her misogyny speech a watershed moment for women in this country. Click for more photos

The Most Influential Female Voices

1. Julia Gillard: Our first female Prime Minister had kept silent on sexism directed at her and entrenched in Australian politics since her election but when she finally spoke it wasn’t just Australia, but the world, that stopped and listened. For many of the thousands of women who nominated her she is an inspiration . Throughout a difficult and turbulent year she has taught many of us an important lesson in how to stand up to sexism. It’s not an understatement to call her misogyny speech a watershed moment for women in this country. Photo: Andrew Meares

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.

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.

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.

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.