In 2018, women’s stories demanded to be told.

One woman alleged that a now-powerful man had sexually assaulted her while they were in high school. Another ran for a U.S. House seat, even as she told voters that “women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.” A third escaped genocide and sexual slavery, then wrote about it.

And the world listened.

Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the Senate during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became one of the record number of women elected to Congress; and Nadia Murad was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing attention to sexual violence perpetrated by the Islamic State.

Throughout the year, stories like these shaped history and spurred change — and, in some cases, revealed the limits of progress.

Below, we’ve highlighted big moments in news about women across eight categories. These stories were told in 2018; now, they’re worth remembering.

Illustrations by Lydia Ortiz.

(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

Women were an unprecedented political force in the 2018 midterm elections. Many called it another “Year of the Woman.”

More than 100 women were elected to the House this year, blowing the previously held record, 84, out of the water. With the recent appointment of Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) to the Senate, the number women serving in the Senate will hit a record high when the new Congress convenes, too.

What’s more, many women running for Congress or governor’s offices made history, including Reps.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who was the first woman elected to the Senate from Tennessee.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. (AP/Reuters/Lily illustration)
Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. (AP/Reuters/Lily illustration)

Here are 10 other big moments in political news from the past year:

• On Jan. 21, the second annual Women’s March drew hundreds of thousands of protesters all around the world, from Beijing to Dallas. But where the first Women’s March was a rebuke of the election of Donald Trump, the official “Power to the Polls” rally in Las Vegas this year aimed to turn political enthusiasm into action.

The Women’s March in New York. (Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
The Women’s March in New York. (Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

• Female Democratic lawmakers wore black clothing to President Trump’s State of the Union speech in January as a show of solidarity with the #MeToo movement.

• Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), at 77, gave a record eight-hour speech on the House floor in an attempt to force a vote on immigration and spare recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

• The Senate passed a rule in April allowing children to be on the floor while the chamber is in session. Soon thereafter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, the newborn daughter of Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), became the youngest person to ever go to the floor during a vote.

• Following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead, students were galvanized to action and organized the March for Our Lives the following month.

• Adult-film star Stormy Daniels sued Trump in March, seeking to void the nondisclosure agreement she signed regarding their alleged affair. That led to a deluge of legal issues for Trump and his long-time attorney, Michael Cohen. Separately, the defamation lawsuit against Trump lodged by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos quietly advanced.

• Gina Haspel, who came under scrutiny for her role in the interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after 9/11, was confirmed as the first female CIA director in May.

• Amid the family separation crisis, first lady Melania Trump wore a green jacket with the words, “I Don’t Care, Do U?” emblazoned on the back, prompting speculation from many.

• In October, it was reported that the Trump administration is weighing a new definition of gender that would qualify it as “either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.”

• In November, the Trump administration issued new guidelines for how colleges and universities are to handle allegations of sexual assault. The changes give new rights to the accused and allow schools to use a higher standard in evaluating claims.

(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

Many countries took steps toward gender equality in 2018 — including in Spain, where Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez appointed a majority-female cabinet, and in Iran, where women were allowed into a soccer stadium for the first time in 35 years.

(iStock/Lily illustration)
(iStock/Lily illustration)

Huge strides were made in India, where a patriarchal structure and a culture of gang rape have long branded the country as hostile to women. Specifically, a trio of Supreme Court verdicts in September marked a new era for the country. The court not only decriminalized gay sex and adultery; it also overturned a renowned temple’s effective ban on the admission of women of menstruating age.

Indian activists of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community celebrate during a rally after the verdict at the Supreme Court in Kolkata, Eastern India. (Piyal Adhikary/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Indian activists of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community celebrate during a rally after the verdict at the Supreme Court in Kolkata, Eastern India. (Piyal Adhikary/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Indian women also spearheaded their own #MeToo movement, which led to a reckoning in Bollywood, the media and the government.

Here’s what was happening elsewhere around the globe:

In France… women pushed back against their version of the #MeToo movement, which was known as #balancetonporc, or “squeal on your pig.” A group of 100 prominent women signed an op-ed in January, writing that the movement was going too far. A few months later, French lawmakers passed measures to curb sexual violence and street harassment in the country.

In Canada… a van attack in Toronto in April — which killed 10, most of whom were women — brought attention to the “involuntary celibate” community. Alek Minassian, the 25-year-old who drove a van into a crowded street, posted misogynistic messages on his Facebook page before the attack and called for an “incel rebellion.”

In Great Britain… the country celebrated the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who, as a mixed-race American woman who was previously married, represented a departure from the traditional royal family. In October, five months after they wed, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they are expecting a child in spring 2019.

In Saudi Arabia… a ban against women driving was lifted as part of a public push to modernize the country. However, women’s rights activists continued to be jailed — and only recently have their plights come to light. Insiders say the women have been subjected to severe abuse within the prisons.

In Ireland… citizens voted to overturn the country’s ban on abortion. The subsequent bill was signed into law earlier this month, and will take effect in January.

People celebrate the result of yesterday's referendum on liberalizing abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)
People celebrate the result of yesterday's referendum on liberalizing abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

In Ethiopia… the country’s government made several strides toward equality: Sahle-Work Zewde became Ethiopia’s first female president; Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a 50-percent female cabinet; and Meaza Ashenafi, a women’s rights activist, assumed the head role of its Supreme Court.

In Yemen… the civil war continued to rage, causing a humanitarian crisis in the country. Reports found that the country’s women and children are most vulnerable to suffering and abuse.

In New Zealand… Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the second elected world leader in modern times to give birth while in office. Six weeks her daughter was born, Ardern returned to work.

In Central America… women fleeing violence and danger, who hope to gain asylum in the United States, shared their stories after joining the migrant caravan heading north.

In the world… Yazidi activist Nadia Murad, along with surgeon Denis Mukwege, won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in bringing attention to sexual abuse in conflicts. Murad had managed to flee the genocide and sexual slavery enforced by the Islamic State in her village in Iraq and shared her story with the United Nations and the world.

Nadia Murad. (Patrick Seeger/EPA)
Nadia Murad. (Patrick Seeger/EPA)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

It has now been more than a year since the cascade of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein sparked what would become known as the #MeToo movement. In 2018, activists turned their attention toward enacting change by collectively demanding improvements to workplace harassment policies.

(iStock/Lily illustration)
(iStock/Lily illustration)

In September, in a strike that organizers called the first of its kind, McDonald’s workers across several U.S. cities walked out at lunchtime, demanding that the company hold mandatory sexual harassment training and create a secure system for responding to complaints.

McDonald's workers are joined by other activists as they march toward the company's headquarters to protest sexual harassment at the fast food chain's restaurants on September 18 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty; Lily illustration)
McDonald's workers are joined by other activists as they march toward the company's headquarters to protest sexual harassment at the fast food chain's restaurants on September 18 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty; Lily illustration)

Then, in November — following a New York Times article that revealed the company had suppressed allegations of sexual misconduct — employees from Google offices worldwide walked off the job in protest. Google ended its forced arbitration policy, which forced workers to settle sexual harassment claims privately.

Below, the biggest #MeToo stories from entertainment, academia and politics:

#MeToo in entertainment

It was only two weeks into the new year when a Babe magazine story detailing a date-gone-wrong between a 23-year-old woman and comedian Aziz Ansari sparked a nuanced conversation about sex in the #MeToo era. While some pushed back against the story, in which the woman described feeling coerced to perform oral sex, many women said it raised important questions about power and consent.

In April, Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a Temple University women’s basketball administrator whom he’d mentored. More than 60 women have accused the comedian and actor of sexual assault or harassment stretching back to the 1960s, but only Constand’s case led to criminal charges. In September, Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison.

In the music world, longstanding allegations against R. Kelly generated controversy throughout the year. The hashtag #MuteRKelly trended, and Spotify removed his songs from curated playlists. In July, Kelly released a 19-minute confessional song titled “I Admit,” which addressed the allegations.

The media world also reverberated with #MeToo scandals. CBS chief Leslie Moonves resigned after the New Yorker published two stories in which several women alleged he had sexually harassed them. Following a company investigation into the matter, CBS’s board announced that Moonves will not receive any severance pay, as it found him guilty of “willful and material malfeasance.”

Leslie Moonves. (Reuters/Lily illustration)
Leslie Moonves. (Reuters/Lily illustration)

And while the #MeToo movement derailed some careers in 2017, a few of those men began reemerging in the public eye. Louis C.K., for example, generated controversy when he performed a surprise set at the Comedy Cellar in August.

#MeToo in academia

Scandals at prominent colleges, such as Dartmouth and Harvard, revealed the harassment in higher education.

Several women authors also alleged that Junot Díaz, a famed writer and creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had sexually harassed them.

#MeToo in politics

In the political world, a few high-profile cases brought domestic abuse to light. Senior White House aide Rob Porter announced his resignation in February after two of his ex-wives alleged he was physically abusive.

And in May, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who was known as an advocate for women, resigned shortly after four women alleged he was physically abusive.

One the year’s biggest #MeToo stories landed in August, when Christine Blasey Ford told The Washington Post that she was the woman who had written a letter to lawmakers alleging Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school more than 30 years ago.

Coming forward upended the research psychologist’s life, and both she and Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee just a few weeks later. The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh’s confirmation Oct. 6, and he was sworn in the following week.

While the country was left deeply divided over the hearings, Ford’s testimony led many other women to share their stories of sexual assault on social media. Prominent women, such as broadcast journalist Connie Chung, said Ford inspired them to come forward, too.

(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

Across Hollywood, the music industry, the publishing world and more, women staked out the importance of diversity in entertainment in 2018.

Gemma Chan as Astrid, Awkwafina as Peik Lin and Constance Wu as Rachel in “Crazy Rich Asians.” (Getty; illustration by Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
Gemma Chan as Astrid, Awkwafina as Peik Lin and Constance Wu as Rachel in “Crazy Rich Asians.” (Getty; illustration by Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

Anticipation had been building all summer for the release of “Crazy Rich Asians,” which was the first Hollywood studio-produced movie featuring an all-Asian cast in 25 years. And when it landed Aug. 15, the movie delivered, garnering praise from fans and critics alike. By the end of its U.S. and Canadian box office run, it had become the highest-grossing romantic comedy released in the last decade.

Based on Kevin Kwan’s novel of the same name, the movie brought a new generation of stars to the big screen, including rapper Awkwafina and actress Gemma Chan. “I feel that this is an exciting time,” Chan told The Lily. “Things are changing for the better.”

Gemma Chan plays Astrid in "Crazy Rich Asians." (Sanja Bucko)
Gemma Chan plays Astrid in "Crazy Rich Asians." (Sanja Bucko)

Here are six other stories to know:

• In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Time’s Up became a central aspect of the 2018 Golden Globes, where activists and actresses alike wore black to show solidarity with survivors of sexual assault. Over the year, the Time’s Up GoFundMe raised more than $22 million for its legal defense fund, setting a new record.

• Comedian Michelle Wolf garnered criticism for her speech at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in April. Some said that her jokes, which targeted political figures such as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, were too harsh.

• In the pageant world, Miss America eliminated its swimsuit competition; Miss Universe, a separate competition, featured its first all-female judge panel and its first transgender contestant, Angela Ponce from Spain.

Angela Ponce. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)
Angela Ponce. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)

• Over the summer, ABC canceled “Roseanne” after its star, Roseanne Barr, stepped over the line with racist tweets. More recently, NBC made a similar move, canceling “Megyn Kelly Today” after its host defended blackface Halloween costumes on air.

• As midterm campaigns heated up, myriad celebrities urged their supporters to vote. Among these was pop superstar Taylor Swift, who had been notoriously silent regarding politics before. She took to Instagram to say she’d be voting for Democrats in Tennessee.

• Former first lady Michelle Obama’s highly anticipated memoir, “Becoming,” was released in November. It quickly climbed the charts to become the year’s best-selling book.

Michelle Obama's book, "Becoming." (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE; Lily illustration)
Michelle Obama's book, "Becoming." (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE; Lily illustration)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

Catsuits were banned and soccer stars were snubbed, making 2018 a contentious year in the sports world.

There were quite a few uplifting stories, too. Despite suffering from a kidney stone and being disappointed in her own performance, 21-year-old Simone Biles made history at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships by becoming the first woman to win four all-around gymnastics titles. And the accolades didn’t stop there: She won six medals in total, bringing her total world championships to 20 — a tie with Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina for the most by a female gymnast. She also became the first woman to earn a medal in all four events since 1987.

Simone Biles at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. (Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty; Lily illustration)
Simone Biles at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. (Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty; Lily illustration)

Here’s what else happened in sports this year:

Olympics

The Olympics in PyeongChang proved history-making for several competitors from the United States.

U.S. snowboarder Chloe Kim,17, placed first in the women’s snowboard halfpipe, making history as the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal.

Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel in the Olympics.

And, at 33, four-time Olympian Lindsey Vonn became the oldest female Alpine skiing medalist in Olympic history when she took home bronze in women’s downhill.

World Cup

At the Men’s World Cup in Moscow, one reporter, Julieth Gonzalez Theran, was groped and kissed by a man while doing a live broadcast. Another British sports journalist, Vicki Sparks, faced criticism for her “high-pitched tone.”

Separately, the feminist protest group Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for an incident in which four people — three women and one man — ran onto the field during the final dressed in police uniforms.

U.S. Open

Naomi Osaka, 20, beat Serena Williams in the U.S. Open in an upset victory in September. Osaka became Japan’s first Grand Slam champion, a fact overlooked by the match itself, which was mired in controversy.

Throughout the match, chair umpire Carlos Ramos issued a total of three violations against Williams, which resulted in a game penalty. The last one, a code violation for verbal abuse, came after Williams called Ramos a “thief.”

USA Gymnastics

In January, sports doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually abused gymnasts while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. At his sentencing hearings, more than 150 women shared their stories.

Throughout the year, both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University suffered blowback for the scandal. USAG filed for bankruptcy in December; former MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon was charged for lying to police in their investigation into Nassar in November.

(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

In an age dominated by images of “perfection,” many celebrities this year pushed back against unrealistic — and unhealthy — beauty standards. One of the most outspoken was “The Good Place” actress Jameela Jamil, who launched the Instagram account I Weigh in March to celebrate things about women beyond just their number on the scale.

“My obsession, more than my career or acting, is to try to make this world a safer place for the daughters I hope one day to bring into this world,” Jamil told The Lily in April. “I don’t want her to grow up thinking she is nothing if she doesn’t look like teenage sex doll — or whatever it is we’re all supposed to look like now.”

Here are six other big health threads from the year:

• A highly anticipated new report on breast cancer found that the majority of women with the most common type of early-stage breast cancer can forego chemotherapy after surgery.

• The Supreme Court ruled that what are referred to as crisis pregnancy centers do not have to tell their clients about the availability of their states’ contraceptive services, including abortion.

• Celebrities, including Serena Williams and Beyoncé, opened up about their struggles with potentially life-threatening pregnancy conditions, many of which affect black women at disproportionate rates.

• New government figures showed that in 2015, the latest year for which data is available, the number of U.S. abortions hit its lowest point since abortion was legalized in 1973.

• Physician Leana Wen was appointed as president of Planned Parenthood. She replaced Cecile Richards, who had held the post for more than a decade.

Dr. Leana Wen (Steven Senne/AP)
Dr. Leana Wen (Steven Senne/AP)

• The Food and Drug Administration approved the first app to prevent pregnancy. Separately, an abortion pill became available to buy online for U.S. customers.

(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

The world lost many high-profile women in 2018, three of whom we’ve featured below. Read our full collection of obituaries here.

Aretha Franklin

One of the most celebrated singers in American history, Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” died Aug. 16 at 76. Her defining hits, including “Respect,” were enduring anthems of black pride and women’s liberation. Franklin was paid tribute to by singer Jennifer Hudson, former president Bill Clinton and others at an eight-hour ceremony in her hometown of Detroit.

Kate Spade

Fashion designer Kate Spade — known for her accessible luxury handbags — died in an apparent suicide in June. She was 55. “Spade crafted a vision of fashion that was joyful and welcome,” Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan wrote after Spade’s death. “Countless women took delight in that. And they will remember her for it.”

Barbara Bush

Former first lady Barbara Bush died Apr. 17 at 92 — several months before her husband, former president George H.W. Bush, died at 94. She was known for being a strong matriarch of the Bush political dynasty. “Mom kept us our toes and kept us laughing until the end,” her eldest son, former president George W. Bush, said in a statement.

(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)
(Lydia Ortiz for The Lily)

• Doritos said it was developing a chip for women, because women “don’t like to crunch too loudly.”

• One of China’s biggest celebrities, actress Fan Bingbing, disappeared for months.

Fan Bingbing. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters; iStock; Lily illustration)
Fan Bingbing. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters; iStock; Lily illustration)

• The Texas Board of Education voted to remove former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and deaf and blind activist Helen Keller from its school curriculum.

• Cynthia Nixon requested that the room where she was set to debate New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo be set to 76 degrees.

• The hashtags #BBQBecky, #PermitPatty and #SouthParkSusan went viral.

• A study found that Arkansas is the most sexist state in America.

• The lyrics of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” generated a national controversy.

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