There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who respond to despair with discouragement and those who are motivated by it. To leverage the heaviness of oppression for positive social change isn鈥檛 second nature to many, especially in an admittedly grim political landscape. But if there was ever an opportunity for the marginalized鈥攑articularly women, and women of color鈥攖o rise up and stir hope through their passion, gifts, and grit, it was this year.

2017 held the potential for all of us to become and remain discouraged, but thanks to the leaders of the #resistance鈥攚omen who have defied cultural norms and expectations by taking the reins of positive social change at the grassroots level, and beyond鈥攚e鈥檝e seen some light. Let the strong, powerful women behind these important (read: world-changing) social movements inspire you to do good in your own way this year, wherever you are and whatever you may be facing.

Tarana Burke, founder of the #Metoo movement

Turns out there鈥檚 safety鈥攁nd a profound possibility for social change鈥攊n numbers. Though activist Tarana Burke started the 鈥淢e Too鈥 Movement in 2006 to empower women who had been sexually assaulted or harassed, it exploded earlier this year when allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood began to surface. Thanks to Burke鈥檚 boldness, thousands of brave women have since banded together to share their own personal experiences both on and offline, evolving what started as a simple hashtag into a full-blown movement, provoking empathy and understanding across cultural divides, and ultimately catalyzing a larger conversation on feminism. Currently, Burke is in the process of creating a documentary entitled Me Too, which is due to come out in 2018 (we can鈥檛 wait). (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty)


The well-deserved recipient of BET鈥檚聽Shine a Light Reward in 2017, Tamika Mallory is perhaps known most commonly for her work as national co-chair of the Women鈥檚 March in January 2017, which mobilized millions of women around the country in defense of human and civil rights in a time of political and cultural unrest. But that was just the beginning of Mallory鈥檚 role in the resistance. More than just a one-time event, Mallory says this year鈥檚 march was a catalyst for a broader movement that will equip women activists for conversations on social issues like racism and sexism, namely through the inaugural Women鈥檚 Convention in Detroit last October. Mallory also made incredible headway in her gun reform efforts this year when she launched her #NRA2DOJ project, an anti-NRA protest that included a march from the NRA to the Department of Justice in 2017. (Photo by David Goldman/Getty)

Tasha Morrison, Founder of Be The Bridge

When Tasha Morrison gathered a group of diverse women for a conversation on racial reconciliation, she didn鈥檛 expect to end up leading a non-profit organization. But the response to her mission after she spoke at a women鈥檚 conference on the importance of building bridges between races was overwhelming.

Be The Bridge, Morrison鈥檚 nonprofit, creates resources and fosters community focused on creating healthy dialogues about race and racialization in the U.S., with an emphasis on promoting understanding about racial disparities and injustices. Through a small group workbook she wrote and a growing Facebook community of nearly 16,000 women, Morrison has blazed a trail of unity amidst diversity in an otherwise disparaging climate. This year alone, her Facebook group was chosen for the Facebook Community Summit in Chicago, and Morrison was recognized as one of Ebony鈥檚 Power 100 in the Community Crusaders category.

Glennon doyle, AUTHOR + Co-Founder of Together RIsing

During a difficult (okay, very difficult) year, blogger and author Glennon Doyle has dedicated her social media platform to empowering hurting families and communities in a simple but effective way: by empowering the women that belong to them. Together Rising, a nonprofit powerhouse that believes there鈥檚 no such thing as other people鈥檚 children, exists to heal the world, one her at a time through practical support and general encouragement for mothers and their children.

Since 2012, Glennon and Together Rising have raised more than $8 million, mostly through its (admittedly inspiring) crowdfunding efforts. And last June, in the wake of President Trump鈥檚 decidedly anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation, Together Rising devoted their energy and resources to refugees, raising more than $50,000聽for聽displaced families in Europe and Syria.

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Munira Ahmed, Muslim Activist + Face of the resistance

Remember the stunning illustration of a woman wearing the American flag as a hijab? That鈥檚 Munira Ahmed, a freelance interpreter from New York whose face remains the visual symbol of this year鈥檚 resistance protests. As a Muslim woman, Ahmed says she frequently faces racism, but that didn鈥檛 stop her from carrying her resistance message at both the Inauguration Day March and the Women鈥檚 March this year (although she wasn鈥檛 expecting her photo to become鈥攚ell, viral).

The image, illustrated by Shepard Fairey in the same simple, ink-block style as his Obama聽鈥淗OPE鈥 poster,聽has become a powerful symbol of standing one鈥檚 ground in the face of oppression鈥攅ven during the difficult straddling of two very marginalized identities.

Which women of the resistance inspired you in 2017? Tell us at @BritandCo.