Women's March on Washington

Hats off to the (mainly) women who organised, and all the women who marched in, the global protest march on January 21st.

I was in New York at the time and the city and its subways came alive with an incredibly powerful, motivating and positive feeling of sisterhood strength and unity.

Amongst all the placards, the one that stood out for me simply read, "What Meryl said". Meryl Streep's voice at the Golden Globes spoke up for human rights, equality and dignity and denounced Trump's mocking of a disabled person and his attack on foreigners in America.

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"When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose," she said. I could not agree more.

Michelle Obama
There were few highlights for me in the 2016 US presidential campaign, but one standout was the performance of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Over the course of her time in the White House, Mrs Obama used her position and profile to campaign tirelessly for issues she is deeply passionate about, such as childhood obesity and the education and empowerment of young women.

She has been prepared to stand-up for what she believes in, including drawing attention to the plight of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.

Amidst the general unpleasantness of the US election, hers was an empathetic voice of inclusion, equality and dignity which was genuinely moving.


Georgina Beyer
At a time when public discussion about sexual identity was taboo in New Zealand, Georgina Beyer kick-started the conversation around transgender issues.

Back in 1999, I remember being immensely proud that New Zealand had produced the world's first openly transgender Member of Parliament, an achievement many viewed as the next chapter in New Zealand's long history of championing women's rights and supporting social justice.

Georgina is a brave and courageous women whose impact on New Zealand politics and society as a whole continues to be felt today.

Paula Bennett
I've always admired the story behind Paula's rise to become one of the most powerful and recognisable women in New Zealand politics.

Overcoming adversity has been one of her hallmarks since her early days as a solo teen mother and student.

In conversations I've had with Paula, it's clear she is driven by her values.

She combines deep empathy and understanding with a mental toughness and resilience that has helped her succeed in some of the most challenging ministerial portfolios over the course of her career.

And on top of all that, she's genuine, confident and great fun to be around.

Helen Clark
No list of inspirational women would be complete without Helen Clark.

As someone who dominated New Zealand politics for almost a decade, she continues to inspire women to have confidence in their abilities, overcome obstacles and push themselves to the highest echelons of their chosen profession.

In my experience meeting with Helen while in office, she was always open, constructive and supportive of women, irrespective of where they sat on the political divide.

While many of her generation are now content to start slowing down, she continues to seek out new opportunities to make a real difference on a global scale.