What does it mean to be an influential woman in 2018?

From the growth of the #MeToo movement originating from Tarana Burke, outing many of Hollywood’s esteemed for sexual misconduct, to Emma Gonzalez advocating for stricter gun control following yet another American school shooting, women are leading some of the largest social movements of the century. Do they, however, earn the same respect?

Try scrolling through the #MeToo movement hash-tag for a few moments before internet trolls fill up replies with mentions of exaggeration and false accusation, or turn the movement into a joke. It seems that being an influential, woke woman necessarily entails ridicule from far right anti-Feminist groups as well as the likes of Donald Trump. Trump has easily claimed his part by tweeting ‘if Hilary Clinton couldn’t satisfy her husband, she couldn’t satisfy America’.

Take Eve Ensler, a women’s rights activist who developed the movement ‘V Day’, which has educated millions about violence against women along with measures to end it. It has raised over $100 million to this date. The movement has helped reopen shelters and funded over 12,000 community based anti-violence programmes and safe houses in Haiti, Kenya, Egypt, and Iraq that provide women sanctuary from abuse, female genital mutilation, and honour killings.

How far have women come in being influencers since ‘V Day’ events took place in 2010? The case of the Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh showcases how even influential women can be let down by the justice system. This is less of a surprise following Trump’s accession to Presidency despite his inappropriate ‘locker room talk’. Many people who came forward put their reputation and career on the line. These women as some of the most influential females today. It seems as though we still have a long way to go as despite this, Kavanaugh was still sworn in as the 144th Supreme Court Justice in October 2018, sadly forcing one to question if influential women, are, in fact, influential.

All these women have strong leadership, determination, a desire for change, a need for a voice, in common, but most importantly an impact on those around them. Influential women are not just people of high power, status or fame. Sure, CEOs of corporate companies or founders of distinguished women’s rights movements pave the way for young girls to dream big and aim high.

The most important influential women, though, are the ones all around us. For example, spoken word poet Claire Schwartz, or actress Amandla Stenberg, who demanded a voice, at 19 years old, in a sea of people that did not believe she should have one. The most influential women are those directly around us: our mothers with selflessness and patience, or sisters, who help their fellow sisters find a voice when they are lost in the crowd.

To be an influential woman in 2018 is to be whoever you want to be.