What a challenging, yet exciting, year it has been for women. In 2017, mujeres fueled the resistance, starting with the history-making Women’s March on Washington and closing with the TIME “Person of the Year”-winning the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. We also broke hella barriers, from Danica Roem becoming the first openly transgender member of the Virginia House of Delegates to female-centered films and TV shows thriving massively. Latinas in particular held it down this year, whether in the boardroom, the political table, the movement or the charts.
Ahead, some of the Latinas who put in work that pushed the cultura forward.
1. Carmen Yulín Cruz
When Hurricane Maria’s powerful winds plowed into Puerto Rico this summer, it left one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history in its wake. Many parts of the island still remain without power or water, and people are still dying because of it. As President Donald Trump, who blamed islanders for the crises and callously threw paper towels at those in need, failed miserably in his recovery efforts, San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz called him out, challenging him and the U.S. government and becoming a key figure in the fight for relief for Puerto Rico.
2. Cardi B
No one had a better year than Cardi B. The Dominican-Trinidadian rapper, reality TV star and social media personality had the greatest glow up, got engaged and broke records. Her single “Bodak Yellow” dominated the charts for three weeks, making her breakout single the longest-running No. 1 by a solo woman rapper ever.
3. Carmen Perez
At the top of the year, Carmen Perez, along with organizers Tamika D Mallory and Linda Sarsour, put together the Women’s March, the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, which blossomed into an independent organization. The Chicana, a long-time organizer, became a leader in the resistance against Trump and inspired hundreds of thousands of women to become politically engaged.
4. Miss Peru Beauty Pageant Contestants
“Minhas medidas são: 2.202 casos de feminicídio nos últimos nove anos no meu país”, disse uma das concorrentes no microfone antes de se retirar para o outro lado da passarela. “Minhas medidas são: 81% dos agressores de meninas menores de cinco anos são pessoas próximas da família”, disse a candidata seguinte. A iniciativa não foi apenas das concorrentes, mas fazia parte da organização oficial do evento. Pouco depois, quando desfilaram em trajes de banho e enquanto a cantora peruana Leslie Shaw interpretou a canção Siempre más Fuerte, as telas do fundo mostravam manchetes de jornais locais com notícias sobre violência contra mulheres. @elpaisbrasil @el_pais #missperu #miss2017 #MisMedidasSon #violenciacontramulher
Contestants of this year’s Miss Peru pageant got all of our support. That’s because the women, who would have normally been tasked with revealing their body measurements, took their opportunity in the spotlight to instead share devastating statistics of sexual abuse and harassment in their country. The moment, as can be expected, dominated the Internet, with #MisMedidasSon (“my measurements are”) quickly trending on social media.
5, 6. Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala Campaigns
In the conservative state of Virginia, two progressive Latina politicos broke barriers. In November, Elizabeth Guzman, an immigrant from Peru, and Hala Ayala, the daughter of a Salvadoran immigrant, became the first-ever Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, with both women beating incumbent Republican representatives.
7. Francia Raísa
Francia Raísa had garnered our attention as an actress in “Bring It On: All or Nothing” and “The Secret Life of The American Teenager,” but the Honduran-mexicana captured all of our hearts this year when she gave her best pal Selena Gomez her kidney. Gomez called the donation “the ultimate gift” and has stated that Raísa saved her life. Raísa, who will star in the upcoming Freeform show “Grown-ish,” has earned the title of Greatest Friend Ever.
8. Geisha Williams
Geisha Williams (@geishaw) Heritage: Cuban-American Profession in U.S.: CEO & President, PG&E Corporation ? : @sfbusinesstimes At just five years old, Geisha and her family fled Cuba to safety in the United States. Little did they know that Geisha would grow up to become the first female, Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company and the first female CEO at PG&E. Tap the ? in bio to read more about how she became a fast-rising executive.
In March, cubana Geisha Williams took over electric utility company PG&E, becoming the first-ever Latina to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The 56-year-old, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1962, was one of just two women of color to make the list this year.
9. America Chavez
In 2017, Marvel’s America Chavez received her own solo comic series, becoming the first Latina superhero to have one. But that’s not the only reason why she’s so important. America is also a queer, college student who is fighting evil villains while still making time for her friends. Name us a cooler superhero! While there are rumors of the comic’s cancellation, the series, and the queer Puerto Rican writer behind it, Gabby Rivera, gifted us with a multidimensional heroine we could see ourselves in and be proud and excited of.