Decade Review: Female Empowerment

The 2010s were full of milestones for women


First Lady Michelle Obama exercises with students and Olympic athletes during a Let’s Move event at the River Terrace Elementary School in Washington, D.C., April 21, 2010. Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle, News Editor

The 2010s was a decade of progress. From the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” to youth around the world protesting for climate action, the decade was characterized by breakthroughs. Now, the decade is over. A lot has changed but there is more to go.

One thing that stands out is female empowerment and feminism.  Let’s step back and take a look at what made the 2010s so great in female empowerment:


March 2010 – Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to receive an Academy Award for Best Director 

Bigelow received the award in the 82nd Academy Awards for her 2009 movie The Hurt Locker. She went against her ex-husband James Cameron for the award, who was nominated for his movie Avatar. Bigelow was the fourth woman to be nominated for the title and is currently the only woman to ever received an Academy Award for directing a movie.


March 2012 – The Hunger Games (Film)

Based on the book trilogy of the same name, the first movie came out in 2012 and it was a worldwide success. Male heroes have long taken over the big screen, but this movie features Katniss Evergreen, who has to fight for her life in order to save her little sister from that same fate, with the famous “I volunteer as tribute” line.


Aug. 2014 – Beyonce at MTV Video Music Awards

Beyonce finished her performance with the word “FEMINIST” taking over the screen behind her. With her influence, Beyonce had a big impact on how today’s society views feminism.


Sep. 2014 – United Nations launches HeForShe

“Ask yourself, if not me, who? If not now, when?” actress Emma Watson said during the launch of HeForShe, a campaign to end gender inequality, the first campaign of its kind in the UN.


Oct. 2014 – Malala wins Nobel Peace Prize at age 17

Since 2009, Malala Yousafzai has been an advocate for education rights, particularly for Pakistani girls. After an attack on her life by the Taliban in October 2012, she was transported to the U.K. where she received medical attention. She is the youngest person to receive the prize.


June 2016 – Emily Doe at Buzzfeed

Chanel Miller, known back then as Emily Doe, was sexually assaulted in 2015. In 2016, her victim impact statement went viral after it was published by Buzzfeed. Miller wrote on her statement, “The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence.” Her assaulter served three months in jail.

In California, because of the case, Assembly Bill 701 passed which expanded the definition of rape, as well as Assembly Bill 2888 which took away the possibility of offering probation for some sex crimes.


July 2016 – Hillary makes history by becoming the first female nominee of a major political party

The 2016 presidential election did not produce the results many feminists had hoped for, but Hillary Clinton made history by becoming the first woman to win the nomination of a major political party in the U.S. for a presidential election.

Sign that reads: A woman place is in the house, the senate, and the Oval Office.
Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle
Signs during the 2019 Women’s March at San Diego. Photo by Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle


July 2016 – First Lady Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention 2016

During her time as First Lady, Obama fought for education and female and black empowerment. With the election fast approaching, the First Lady gave a speech about unity, women supporting women, and not letting hate divide us. Of all of her speeches, this one is one of the most memorable.


Jan. 2017 – Women’s March

Two women holding a red sign that says, "A woman's place is in the struggle." Other women in the back.
Melisa Cabello Cuahutle
Women’s March at Downtown San Diego. Photo by Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle

The first Women’s March took place the day after Donald Trump became president. The main protest took place in Washington D.C., but many other cities across the country and the world joined. It was reported to be the biggest single-day protests in U.S. history. 


Jan. 2017 – Serena Williams won the Australian Open while pregnant

For the 23rd time, Serena Williams won the grand slam singles title. She later revealed she was pregnant during the match.


June 2017 – Wonder Woman

It is no secret that the superhero industry is dominated by men, but for the first time, the big screen had a female superhero as a protagonist.


Oct. 2017 – #MeToo

The Me Too movement started in 2006 by Tarana Burke, but it gained worldwide recognition after actress Alissa Milano asked Twitter users to reply to a tweet with the words “me too” so people would get a sense of the magnitude of the problem that is sexual assault.

Later turned into a hashtag, it became viral.


Jan. 2018 – Time’s Up

After New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey exposed Harvey’s Weinstein sexual misconduct, a conversation started in Hollywood about sexual assault, safety and discrimination.

During the 75th Golden Globes, the attendees decided to wear black to promote Times Up, which seeks to fight sexual assault and make the workspace safe. Although Time’s Up originated in Hollywood it has since expanded.


Jan. 2018 – Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes

Speaking of the golden globes, Oprah became the first black woman to win the Cecil B. deMille Award. Her speech spoke about truth to power, black recognition, female empowerment, and Times Up.

“I want all the girls watching here, now to know that a new day is on the horizon.  And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women… and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who takes us to the time where nobody ever has to say me too again,” said Oprah at the end of her speech.


Jan. 2018 – U.S.A. Gymnastics speak up

Larry Nassar sexually assaulted and abused hundreds of girls. In January of 2018, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina gave space to the victims to read their statements. He was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison, which added up to the 60 years he was sentenced for child pornography.


Feb-March 2017 – Emma Gonzalez speech

In February of 2017, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In response, students organized March For Our Lives, which protested for gun reform. Emma Gonzalez is one of the main activists and gave two, now famous, speeches.


Sept. 2018 – Ford-Kavanaugh hearings 

Christine Blasey Ford did not have many of the requirements sexual assault victims are asked (such as DNA or physical evidence) when she accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of assault. Nevertheless, she spoke and told her story.

The events gave a platform for victims to spoke of why these incidents are not reported. 


Nov. 2018 – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Sharice Davids take over the house

The time where government was reserved only for white men is going away. The 2018 elections gave space to more diversity in gender, color and religion in politics.


March 2019 – Captain Marvel

Another female superhero takes the big screen, this time from Marvel. The movie was also written, directed and edited by women.


Oct 2019 – First All Women Space Walk

 In Oct. of 2019, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch performed another  “giant leap for mankind,” in the form of an all-women spacewalk.


Nov 2019 – A Rapist in Your Way 

“A Rapist in Your Way” is a song that was originally performed by Chilean group LasTesis. The song quickly became a protest song that denounces rape culture and impunity. Although it started in Chile, it quickly spread to the rest of Latin America and then to other countries such as France, Turkey, India and the U.S.A.

The lyrics say, “It was not my fault, nor where I was, nor what I was wearing. The rapist was you. The rapist is you. It’s the police, the judges, the state, the president.”


Dec 2019 – Greta Thunberg is Time’s Person of the Year

A key moment in 2019 was Greta’s Thunberg global climate strike. The teenager led millions across to globe to strike, protesting the lack of climate action. She was named Time’s Person of the Year of 2019.


A lot has changed in the past 10 years. What were your most memorable moments of the decade?