Six women who made 2015: from Charlotte Church to Calais campaigners

Amandla Stenberg called Hollywood out on its ignorance, Marilyn Mosby opposed police brutality and Chi Onwurah joined the shadow cabinet we salute them

Chi Onwurah


Chi Onwurah. Photo: James Drew Turner

The MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central joined the shadow cabinet following Jeremy Corbyns victory: she had nominated him for the Labour leadership, but you wouldnt call her support a reward for loyalty, precisely. She actually prefered Andy Burnham, but lent Corbyn her vote to broaden the debate. She always strikes me as sincerely believing this stuff, that the membership couldnt be railroaded, that differences couldnt be waved away, that points of view other than her own required a hearing.

Onwurah has breadth and depth an engineering background, a life before parliament and you can hear it in the way she talks about business; she is practical and full of insight where the political class generally adopts a kind of fawning, modern-day courtliness. As shadow minister for business, innovation and abilities, she could be extremelyvaluable to Corbyns Labour: sharp and independent minded, shes believable, likable and hopeful.

She could also potentiallypresent an antidote to an opposition that feels quite cliquey. She was active in the anti-apartheid motion but has no hard-left reputation to speak of. She also knows an absolute ton about broadband. Zoe Williams

Amandla Stenberg and Rowan Blanchard


Amandla Stenberg. Photo: Jon Kopaloff/ FilmMagic


Rowan Blanchard. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/ FilmMagic

Using your fame to discuss intersectional feminism isnt the standard career move for teenage starrings, but step forward Amandla Stenberg and Rowan Blanchard. The 17 -year-old Hunger Games actor first spoke out about the culture appropriation of African-American music and haircuts in a video posted on Tumblr in January.

She was junked as an angry black girl by commenters, but that hasnt stopped her building headlines into 2015 for writing about the effects of white ascendancy on black women in the US, campaigning for more nuanced film roles for non-white performers, and asking her followers to consider what would America be like if it loved black people as much as it loves black culture ?.

She has also co-written Niobe, a comic book with a black female protagonist, and topped Ms Foundations feminist celebrity of 2015 poll. Its a win she shares with 14 -year-old performer Rowan Blanchard who deserves an honourable mention for her own Tumblr essay on the importance of inclusive feminism. Tshepo Mokoena

Charlotte Church


Charlotte Church. Photo: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian

Its been quite a year forCharlotte Church, who outed herself as a prosecco socialist in this verypaper back in May. Mad as hell at the utterly unbearable Tory election victory, she met 250 or so others at the statue of Aneurin Bevan in Queen Street, Cardiff, and marched against austerity.

For Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, to describe my exercising of democratic freedom as unbecoming really says more than I ever could, she wrote. Perhaps he believes I should get back to the ironing and stop babbling on about airheaded notions such as to defend the NHS( a system that he himself has been most mobile in assaulting ), fighting for a fairer society( a conception that solely eludes his party ), and championing the plight of those in society who are less privileged than me. Perhaps he wants to quiet me because I threaten his status as a wealthy, privately trained, white male.


Who would want to get on the wrong side of Church? Church has proved herself to be an intelligent, passionate activist, speaking at at anti-austerity processions, Glastonbury and fracking protests. She has proved that politics is tons more interesting when womens voices are created. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Clare Moseley( and the volunteers in Calais )


Clare Moseley. Photo: Clare Moseley

From the horrifying paintings, frightening testimonies and sheer number of people involved, the refugee crisis built the world seem pretty bleak this year. The only respite were the defiant acts of kindness it also sparked.

In the Jungle the refugee camp in Calais I gratified Clare Moseley, an accountant from Merseyside. This week, like the rest of us, she should have been thinking about presents, her work Christmas party, or whether to buy a turkey or a goose. Instead, months ago, she left her husband, run, family and friends to distribute gifts and move temporarily to the French town.

After reading about refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, she wanted to show that there are people in Britain who care. And Clare isnt the only one. In Calais there was ex-firefighter Liz Clegg, who set up a women and childrens centre with a squad of young, female volunteers plus a constantstream of women fundraising or driving convoys of donations to the camp. It may not resolving the crisis, but the work of people such as Molseley, and the sleeping bags and warm clothes they brought with them, made a small change to huge numbers of people in 2015. Homa Khaleeli

Marilyn Mosby


Marilyn Mosby. Photograph: Algerina Perna/ AP

As she stepped up to the rostrum at Baltimores war memorial on 1 May, the citys state attorney could not have expected to become the focus of international headlines only 4 months into the job. But 35 -year-old Mosby, the youngest chief prosecutor of any major US city, delivered a damning indictment of unchecked police brutality when she charged six officers over the death of 25 -year-old Freddie Gray. To the youth of this city, she promised, facing a wall of reportersand flashbulbs: I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment, this is your moment Youre at the vanguard of this cause. And as young people, our time is now.

Grays death two weeks before in the back of a police van sparked mass protest. It is rare that a police officer is ever charged in the death of a suspect, and Mosby( who was forced to keep reminding critics that she hailed from five generations of policemen) took a major gamble to seek the example. Last week, after a deadlocked jury was unable to reach an unanimous verdict, the magistrate ruled a mistrial. But Mosby, who has faced down critics and the police unions attempts to counter-sue, is decided; a second trial is expected in the new year. Nosheen Iqbal

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