Politicians, pioneers, superstars: these 20 women who marked the decade

Whether through their power, their convictions, their speeches or their media coverage, some women have established themselves as essential personalities of the 2010s. Portraits.

They marked the decade with a hot iron. Whether they are leading politicians, pioneers in their field, fierce defenders of great causes, or stars adored on social networks. Whether they change the world, or entertain it. If we had to retain only a few – a subjective and non-exhaustive selection of course – here are the 20 women who shaped the 2010s.

Greta Thunberg: we’re serious when we’re 17

Her steel blue gaze is enough to lower the eyes of politicians when she talks to them about CO2 and deforestation. Greta Thunberg arrived a little late on the scene of the decade, but in a few months has become an incarnation of the fight against global warming, in particular the spokesperson for a youth increasingly aware of this topic.

On December 4, 2018, the young Swede speaks at COP24 , the United Nations summit on climate change. Since then, she has also spoken in particular before the British Parliament and the French National Assembly. Always with the same maturity, the same aplomb, the same seriousness. On December 11, the one who will blow out her 17th candle on January 3, is named personality of the year 2019 by Time magazine.

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Yes, 2010 is still the decade of Angela Merkel, the most powerful politician in the world. Since 2005, the figure of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been Federal Chancellor of Germany. Merkel has been named “the most powerful woman in the world” thirteen times by Forbes magazine.

On several occasions weakened , in particular by the setback of the CDU / CSU in the 2017 federal elections, the 65-year-old leader is still holding up. But will the 2020 decade also be placed under the sign of Angela Merkel? Nothing is less certain: the Chancellor has promised that her current term, which ends in 2021, will be her last.

Malala Yousafzai: the school of peace

In 2012, after leaving school in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai was the victim of an assassination attempt. Targeted in particular because of a blog that she maintains for the BBC, where she describes acutely life under the Taliban yoke, and in particular the oppression of women. Despite the bullet going through her neck and skull, she survives. Since then, Malala Yousafzai has continued her fight against religious extremism and for the right to education. She also fights for the education of young girls all over the world. In 2014, at only 17, she won the Nobel Peace Prize , becoming the youngest winner in the history of the prize.

Simone Biles: Triple Golden Saltos

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States poses with the bronze medal during the Women’s Balance Beam Final medal ceremony on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

If there was an athlete to be retained, it would be her. At 22, Simone Biles redefined the notion of the limit in gymnastics , with formidable consistency throughout the decade. Quadruple Olympic champion in Rio. Five-time world champion in the general gymnastics competition, in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019. But why the hell did she not win anything in 2016 and 2017? Don’t look, she had taken a year off. It’s simple: with 25 awards, Simone Biles is the most medal-winning gymnast in history on the world stage. All that’s missing is a few gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics to start the 2020 decade on the right foot.

Emma Gonzalez: disarming

Her face, covered in tears of sadness and rage, struck. In March 2018, Emma Gonzalez gives a poignant speech during the “March for our lives”. Over a million Americans gathered to say stop gun killings. A month earlier, Emma Gonzalez escaped the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen high school students killed with semi-automatic weapons by a former student.

The young woman calls out Donald Trump , pointing out, according to her, his inaction and becomes a spokesperson for the “Never again” movement: “never again”. Emma Gonzalez has since been a key figure in the fight against the “National Riffle Association” (NRA), the all-powerful lobby defending the carrying of firearms in the United States.

First woman appointed Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2011 to 2019, recently appointed President of the European Central Bank (ECB), first holder of this post without training as an economist or experience as a central banker, Christine Lagarde, 63, Lawyer by profession, former vice-champion of France in synchronized swimming, has learned to coordinate and to impose herself in a very masculine world. All this while being relatively popular: 63% of French people have a positive opinion of Christine Lagarde, according to a poll published in July. Enough to come back to play a political role at the national level? Nothing is less certain: 7 out of 10 think that she would not make a good President of the Republic.

Theresa May: this way the exit

She was up against the wall as he threatened to collapse. After months of political chaos in Great Britain and heartbreak over Brexit, Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister on May 24, 2019, on the verge of tears, outside the door at 10 Downing Street. At 62, she took the head of government in July 2016, in the wake of the referendum which saw the British vote 52% in favor of leaving the European Union. An exit that the former Prime Minister paid for and which now seems inevitable, after his successor Boris Johnson triumphed this December by winning a majority in the British Parliament.

Christiane Taubira: Sed Lex

Its face will remain that of one of the laws that undoubtedly unleashed the most passions during the decade : the one opening marriage to same-sex couples, approved by the National Assembly on May 17, 2013. Christiane Taubira marked the memories by his speeches and his fiery responses to the opposition: sometimes lapidary and wrathful, “you don’t know that there is as much love in a homosexual couple as in a heterosexual couple!”, sometimes lyrical and invoking poets like Verlaine or Aimé Césaire. Talented oratory recognized by her supporters and detractors. Since then, Christiane Taubira has been more discreet. But she remains adored by a part of the left, who is still hoping for a return to the prominent political scene.

Dilma Rousseff: the harder the fall

The death knell sounds in 2016 for Dilma Rousseff , first woman invested president of Brazil in January 2011. The head of state is dismissed, accused of having disguised the public accounts. Nicknamed the “Iron Lady”, like a certain Margaret Thatcher before her, Dilma Rousseff was known for her strong temperament and praised for her capacity for work, before seeing her popularity rating drop below 10% , after her name has been linked to the corruption scandal of the oil company Petrobras. Former guerrilla tortured under the military dictatorship, dubbed and pushed by her predecessor President Lula, Dilma Rousseff left her mark on the 2010 decade. By her rise, as by her fall.

Marine Le Pen: in Papa’s footsteps

Her electoral successes attest to this: during this decade Marine Le Pen consolidated the place of the National Front, which had become under her leadership the National Rally , in the French political landscape. His party won the European elections of 2014, the first round of the regional elections in 2015 … Not to mention the second round of the 2017 presidential election, 15 years after his father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002. Successes often attributed by observers to a “demonization” of the far-right movement. But will the party’s militant base crumble? According to a senior RN official, interviewed in May, the movement would only have 25,000 up-to-date members , against just over 30,000 at the start of the 2018 school year.

Peggy Whitson: A Life in the Stars

Photo Date: 06/24/09.Location: Bldg.8, Photo Studio.Subject: Peggy Whitson Official EMU Portrait

In 2016 and 2017, you have surely seen her posing alongside Frenchman Thomas Pesquet aboard the International Space Station. The NASA researcher, a doctoral student in biochemistry, is a veteran of space expeditions . With 665 days in total, Peggy Whitson holds the record for time spent in space for an American astronaut. From 1992 to 1995, she directed the scientific section of the Russian-American cooperation program Shuttle-Mir. Peggy Whitson is part of the long line of space pioneers, a line started by the Russian Valentina Tereshkova, the very first woman to go into space in 1963. Peggy Whitson also remains, to this day, the only woman to commanding the International Space Station.

Maryam Mirzakhani: math boss

You may not know her name, but Maryam Mirzakhani is the only female Fields Medal recipient, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematics. It was in 2014 that she won the award with three other researchers, for “her exceptional contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces”. To put it simply, the Riemann surface is a notion which makes it possible to take into account the singularities and the topological complications which accompany certain analytical extensions of holomorphic functions. Always not ? Short. With this medal, Maryam Mirzakhani marked a disciplinary field still seen, by some, as the preserve of men. Unfortunately, the Iranian researcher passed away in 2017, at only 40 years old. By paving the way, no doubt, for a future generation of mathematicians .

Alyssa Milano: a hashtag to break the silence

Until now, she was best known for her role in the 2000s series Charmed. But, since 2017, Alyssa Milano has established herself as a fighter in the #MeToo movement , a hashtag dating from 2013 that she relaunched in 2017, following the wave of accusations leveled against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. “If you too have been harassed or sexually assaulted, reply ‘me too’, ‘me too’, to this tweet” :


Her partner in Charmed, Rose McGowan , also urged women to break the silence, being the first to accuse Harvey Weinstein. The actress has also published a vitriolic book, “Debout”, in which she denounces the hypocrisy of the Hollywood system. All this while refusing to mention the name of the producer: “we all know the name of the Monster, but I chose not to use it. I don’t like the name of the Monster. I refuse let it be in my book. ”

Susan Wojcicki: Say It With Views

Susan Wojcicki has been the “CEO”, including general manager, of the YouTube streaming video platform since 2014. We can easily understand why when we see the power and influence of Youtube today. Last year, the site had more than 1.9 billion connected users each month . At 51, Wojcicki, who sharpened her guns at Google, is often listed in the rankings of the world’s most powerful women. She is also considered by Time magazine as “The Most Powerful Woman on the Internet”.

Emma Watson: actress and feminist

“Him for her” . In July 2014, Emma Watson was appointed by UN Women “Goodwill Ambassador”. Since then, the actress has made the fight for gender equality one of her hobbies: “We are fighting for a united world, but the good news is that we have a united movement: ‘He for She ‘,’ Him for her ‘ , concludes the actress, citing the name of her solidarity campaign, at the end of a speech unanimously applauded by the United Nations. Model for teenage girls around the world in the Harry Potter saga, Emma Watson has become during the decade a feminist voice which, carried by her notoriety, resonates throughout the world. In February 2019, the Briton was one of the personalities gathered at the Élysée Palace, as part of the Council for Equality between Women and Men.

Beyoncé: African-American icon

Stage beast , capable of performing shows lasting several hours, dancing in high heels and shouting without weakening. 6 albums including 2, “Beyoncé” and “Lemonade”, acclaimed by the critics. A performance on the national anthem, during the inauguration of Barack Obama. Two over-publicized deliveries, in 2012 and 2017. The former member of the “Destiny’s Child” trio will have gone through the decade by strengthening her status as an essential star. Her hit “Formation”, to the glory of women and African-American culture , even became the most awarded song in history… ahead of a certain “Thriller” by Michaël Jackson.

Adele: royal voice

“Never mind, I’ll find someone like you” , “okay, I’ll find someone like you” laments Adele in her breakup anthem cult. Difficult, in any case, to find someone like the British artist. A star who, whatever she comes out, is sure to be a resounding success. Two albums released in 2011 and 2015, soberly titled “21” and “25”, sold respectively to 31 and 22 million copies worldwide. 15 Grammy Awards, the most prestigious musical award. On September 4, 2018, Adele receives her engraved stone at the Royal Albert Hall Walk of Fame, in London. At 31 and in a decade, the singer, who describes her musical style as “marked with his warm voice the history of music.

Rihanna: chameleon pop

Ok, “Riri” began to be rife in the 2000s. In 2005 precisely, with his hit Pon De Replay , before inviting us in 2007 to take refuge under his “Umbrella ” (ela, ela, eh, eh). But we have to face the facts: the last decade is clearly the one in which the Barbadian singer has consolidated her star position. Unifying hits like “We Found Love”, “Diamonds”, “Work” … Rihanna is the most certified artist in the history of digital music. But as singing songs that end at number 1 can be boring, Rihanna has also tried fashion. And again, the success is overwhelming. Teens are snapping up her beauty brand, Fenty Beauty, generated $ 500 million. Not to mention a fruitful partnership with the luxury brand LVMH. The Rihanna empire still has a bright future ahead of it.

Emilia Clarke: serial queen

Sometimes a role will suffice. In the 2000s, Emma Watson stuck to it by lending her features to Hermione Granger, the unforgettable witch best friend of Harry Potter. And in the 2010s, this cult role undoubtedly returned to Emilia Clarke. Emblematic face of the equally iconic ” Game of Thrones” series , which between 2011 and 2019 established itself as the series of the decade. Emilia Clarke is and remains, for now, Daenerys Targaryen. First of the name, Queen of Meereen, Overlord of the 7 Crowns, Protectress of the Kingdom, Mother of Dragons and Unburnt (for the short version). Or if not, call her “Khaleesi”: “queen”, in the language of the Dothraki people, and first name of thousands of little girls born in the decade.. To see if, like Emma Watson, Emilia Clarke will succeed in dissociating herself from a character who sticks to the skin. Spoiler : it could be complicated.

Kim Kardashian: the triumph of the void

Sometimes doing nothing is enough to mark a decade and in this game, Kim Kardashian is undoubtedly the big winner of the 2010s. Do nothing, okay, but on condition of being filmed and staging on social networks. It all started in 2007 for “Kim K”, with the reality TV show “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, or the 24 hour daily filmed daily of an American household. Since then, Kim Kardashian has taken advantage of the explosion of social networks to expand her media kingdom. They are 63 million on Twitter and 154 million on Instagram to follow his fittings and his idyllic vacations. Not to mention an ultra-commented wedding in 2016, with rapper Kanye West. And in 2014, a photo that “breaks the Internet”: Kim Kardashian who holds a glass precariously balanced on her bulky buttocks. Champagne, and wishing you a happy decade 2020.