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12 Women Newsmakers Of The Year 2020

Karthika S Nair | Dec 29 2020
Image credits: BP creatives

2020, as a year, saw a lot of challenges in the form of COVID-19 pandemic, economic downfall, and several incidents that lead to the rise of social justice movements. 

This year posed a challenge for women because they had to bear the worse brunt of the pandemic.

Yet, there were several women who made history this year and also made it to the news for their hard work or persistence. 

Here are 12 women who made the news this year; 

1. KK Shailaja

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Source: Twitter

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja lived up to her reputation as a slayer of the deadly virus this year with the help of her leadership and team efforts. 

Under her leadership, Kerala's model of limiting the number of coronavirus cases at one point successfully brought the number in the state to almost zero.

Thus, she earned the title ‘The Coronavirus Slayer.’ Her model was adopted by states around the world. 

She was lauded by international platforms including the United Nations and BBC. She was also featured in the November edition of Vogue India. 

As the Kerala Health, Social Justice, and Woman and Child Development Minister, KK Shailaja, commonly referred to as "Shailaja teacher", was also lauded for her efforts to contain the Nipah outbreak in the state. 


2. Minal Bhosle

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Source: Twitter

Minal Bhosle hit the national headlines as the first person to make the COVID-19 testing kit, that to days before she gave birth to her daughter. 

During the rising number of COVID-19 cases, Virologist Bhosle and her team developed India’s first testing kit in March, that too within a record-setting six-week period.

Minal Dakhave Bhosale is Mylab's research and development chief. In her research team of ten scientists, nine are women. 

Bhosle submitted the kit for evaluation by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) on 18th March and on the next day, she gave birth to her daughter. 

An hour before undergoing a c-section, she submitted the proposal to the Indian FDA and the drug control authority CDSCO for approval.

Read: 15 Major Social Justice Events And Revolutions In 2020 

3. Asha Devi 

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Source: YouTube

Asha Devi's fight for her daughter's justice made the headlines in the first three months of 2020. On December 2012, her 23-year-old daughter succumbed to fatal injuries after she was brutally raped and tortured by six men. But the entire nation rallied and cried for her justice. 

Seven years later, four men who raped her were sentenced to death. Asha Devi made it clear before the media; her fight is for her daughter's justice and will keep fighting until she gets it. 

After the execution of four rapists, Asha Devi said that she will continue to fight for other girls and women who faced brutal sexual assault. 


4. Tanushree Pandey 

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Source: YouTube

Hathras gangrape shook the conscience of the nation. Apart from the horrifying nature of the crime, what truly angered the citizens was the handling of the case by the Uttar Pradesh authorities. 

Indian journalist Tanushree Pandey exposed the police who burnt the victims' body at night, in the absence of her parents. 

She had to pay a hefty price for this as her privacy was breached. Her phone was hacked and a call between herself and the victims' brother was released. 

As the investigations turned out, Hathras' gangrape was revealed in CBI's charge sheet, along with the police inaction.


5. Captain Swati Raval 

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Source: Twitter

COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown lead to people being stranded in different parts of the world. Italy saw one of the worst outbreaks in the world earlier this year.

Captain Swati Raval played a role in airlifting 263 Indians from Rome to Delhi.

Captain Swati Raval, commander of the Air India Boeing 777, went to a COVID-19 hit nation risking her own life. Thus she made history as the first woman rescue pilot. 


6. Kamala Harris 

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Source: Twitter

The 2020 US elections ended up redeeming that massive disappointment in 2016 by electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the presidency against Republican nominee and current president Donald Trump.

Kamala Harris made history as the first woman to be elected as the vice president in the country. At the same time, she is the first black woman and south Asian descent to gain such a position. 

Read: WOMEN MAKING HISTORY: Kamala Harris 


7. Jacinda Ardern 

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Source: Twitter

The peculiarity of this pandemic is that nations led by women thrived better than the ones led by men. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became a classic example of great leadership as well as the epitome of woman empowerment. 

Under her leadership, the nation streamlined a perfect strategy to contain the outbreak and eventually the nation was declared COVID-19 free later this year. 

Ardern's handling of the pandemic, as well as a terrorist attack (which took place last year) and the Volcano eruption, earned her the support and this year's election victory.  



8. Bilkis Bano 

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Source: Twitter

Shaheen Bagh, Delhi saw a huge protest against the centre's Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which is meant to give Indian citizenship to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. 

Due to fears regarding possible detention over their inability to prove citizenship, Muslim women came together to protest against the law. 

Bilkis Bano, ‘Dadi of Shaheen Bagh’, became the face of the large-scale non-violent movement against CAA and NRC (National Registry of Citizens). 

She was recognised by TIME magazine as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People 2020' and was also in BBC’s ‘Top 100 women in 2020.’


9. Ridhima Pandey 

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Source: Twitter

Youngsters in India also raised their voice against climate change and pollution issues. The face of such a protest is Uttarakhand-based Ridhima Pandey, also dubbed as ‘Greta Thunberg of India.'

At the age of 12, she made on the BBC’s list of ‘100 inspiring and influential women from around the world', making history as the youngest person from India. 

Along with Greta Thunberg and other kids, she petitioned the United Nations regarding environmental issues. 


10. Gitanjali Rao 

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Source: Twitter

TIME magazine chose Indian-American Gitanjali Rao as the first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’ in 2020.

15-year-old, with a penchant for science and technology, used her creative skills to counter social issues like cyberbullying and water contamination.

11. Angela Merkel

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Source: Twitter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the country with composure and rationality when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. What helped is Chancellor's scientific background and expertise.
Under her guidance, the country implemented a coordinated system of scientific and medical expertise distributed across backed by public trust in her leadership.

12. Tsai Ing-Wen

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Source: Twitter

Tsai Ing-wen made history as the first woman to be elected as the president of Taiwan. She was re-elected this year with more number of votes.
Under her guidance and with combined efforts by the government, private sector, and society, the nation prevented a major COVID-19 outbreak.
She implemented highly effective testing and tracing programmes. The country had faced a SARS outbreak in 2003 which claimed lives. President reinstalled her faith in the country's people in terms of handling the outbreak. 

Read: Women Leaders Who Fought Coronavirus With Grace