Glamour announced its 2012 Women of the Year late last week, including a wide range of motivational women from filmmakers to fashion designers and politicians. Below, read about these motivational women and what they’re doing to change the world for the better.
Annie Leibovitz has shot everyone from Oscar winners to fashion editorials to the Queen of England, and has become arguably the world’s most renowned female photographer. She began her career at Rolling Stone as a token woman among male editors, writers, and rock stars, and has since catapulted herself to global fame, with her work appearing everywhere from the pages of Vanity Fair to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. “I fight to take a good photograph every single time,” says Leibovitz says. “I will do this until I drop!”
The first female winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize – essentially the Nobel Prize of architecture – Zaha Hadid is a powerhouse of modern design. Called “the Lady Gaga of Architecture,” Hadid has been designing her graceful yet avant-garde structures, including the aquatic center for the London Olympics, since 1993. She, along with her studio of 360 people, is currently working on 43 buildings – one of which is a house of her own.
Glamour calls Lena Dunham “The Voice of a Generation,” and with good reason. The 26-year-old creator, director, and star of HBO’s cult show Girls got her break with her 2010 film Tiny Furniture, and has been conquering the world with her smartly raw, matter-of-fact humor. She just recently signed a book deal for $3.5 million (which we plan to devour the minute it hits shelves), and is buddies with none other than Miuccia Prada.
Activist and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has made it her point to give a voice to the more than 1,200 women victims of acid attacks worldwide. “It takes one second to ruin a woman’s life,” she says. “You may need a license to buy a gun, but in many places a man can by acid from the corner store, throw it on a woman’s face, and from then on she is the living dead.” Obaid-Chinoy co-directed the film Saving Face, which told the stories of dozens of victims, and won her this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Additionally, she is working with Project SAAVE (Stand Against Acid Violence), which works to help survivors get the medical attention and support they need to start over.
USA Gold Medal Olympians
These five American women went for gold at this summer’s Olympic games: there’s swimmer Missy Franklin, judo gold-medalist Kayla Harrison, sprinter Allyson Felix, soccer player Carli Lloyd, and gymnast Gabby Douglas. Between all of their successes, it’s clear that at this year’s games, girls ran the show. For one, women made up a larger percentage of the U.S. team, and brought home more medals, to boot. “It felt awesome to be a part of Team USA,” Harrison said. “But it was even more amazing to be part of such a big female movement.”
Ethel and Rory Kennedy
Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy has made films about AIDS, nuclear radioactivity, and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. This year, she’s adding another subject to her repertoire – her mother. Ethel Kennedy, 84, the storied family’s hidden hero, has dedicated her life to philanthropy. She carries on the cause of her husband Bobby Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, by founding the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and raising a family of eleven children and dedicated humanitarians. “My family gets to spend time with my mother,” Rory said, “but I felt I should share her with the world.”
President and executive creative director of J. Crew, wife and mother, and style maven in her own right, Jenna Lyons is changing the way women think about getting dressed. She’s been with the brand for 17 years now, working her way up to the top ranks of the powerhouse American brand (now valued at $1.9 billion), and was the brains behind its switch from a classic prepster brand to the label that Oprah and Michelle Obama wear on the regular. As she says, “Amazing things happen when you’re having fun doing something you love.”
A child victim of sexual abuse, Merryn published her first book when she was just a senior in high school in Illinois. Entitled Stolen Innocence, the book describes her battles with being molested by an older cousin and a friend’s uncle. After years of flashbacks and even a suicide attempt, she decided to take action. In 2010, she helped to draft Erin’s Law, which encourages schools to educate children about sexual abuse prevention. Now 27, she has passed her law in four states, and is undaunted in her mission to have it pass in the other 46. As she says, “I want to put sex offenders out of business.”
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Glamour’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ruth Bader Ginsberg has made it her life’s work to break down barriers for women in the legal world. The second ever female Supreme Court justice was refused a job with a prominent male judge because of her gender; had to hide a second pregnancy to avoid workplace discrimination, and fought to get paid as much as a man. As Glamour writes, “she saw the legal web holding women back, and took it upon herself to tear it down.” Her fellow Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is a steadfast admirer of Ginsberg: “More than any other person,” Kagan says, “she can take credit for making the law of this country work for women. She is a transformational figure…and for me, an inspiration.”