5 Influential Women Who Made Our World A Better Place In 2015

by Carine Lavache

Because 2015 is almost over, we must take a moment to highlight the women who did some amazing things this year.

I'm not talking solely about feminism, I'm talking about women who took a stance on an issue or went against the norm to prove a point about something that matters to them.

We've seen historical moments, bold career moves and courage in so many incredible and influential women this year, and these accomplishments cannot be ignored.

With a mixture of accomplishments in politics, entertainment and fashion, this list is comprised of five women who really put themselves out there in powerful ways.

From Jennifer Lawrence to Viola Davis, these ladies have made their mark on an unforgettable year. Now let's get started!

1. Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence took on gender pay inequality in an honest essay penned for Lena Dunham's "Lenny Letter" after learning that she earned less money than her male costars in "American Hustle."

Yes, her circumstances are different, as she is one of the highest paid actresses of all time, but it isn't about the money.

This essay was about her mentality as a woman, and how she lets herself get in the way of making those big “manly” moves, which is really relatable.

So yes, she is the star of two hugely successful franchises, but her essay got people to talk about the pay gap and possibly enlighten people who didn't know it was even in problem in 2015.

2. Zendaya

This 19-year-old is an actor, dancer and singer, but she made headlines this year after Giuliana Rancic joked that the star must have smelled like “weed” on the Oscars red carpet for wearing dreadlocks.

Zendaya took to Instagram to address the controversy with a beautifully written note.

It read:

My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough. To me locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, like a lion's mane.

Zendaya showed every young girl that you do not have to let others put you down, and it is okay to stand up for yourself.

Zendaya even got her very own Barbie doll, which will continue to inspire young girls everywhere.

Now that's some real girl power!

3. Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton officially announced her 2016 presidential bid in April, and it's been a whirlwind ever since.

In the year of women, if Clinton wins this election, she will be the first woman Commander-in-Chief.

With her stance on women's rights, gun control, college debt and how to deal with terrorism, Clinton has been gaining a lot of support.

Her experience in politics continues to be a huge asset to her campaign, and it will be interesting to see what happens from here.

4. Viola Davis

Viola Davis is an OG.

She's been making her mark for decades, and she recently made history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series.

Her speech was special because she shared the accomplishment with her peers, including Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, Meagan Good and Gabrielle Union.

Davis also addressed the importance of opportunity in an industry that so rarely shines a light on actors of color. She said:

The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.

With her role in the hit series “How to Get Away with Murder,” she is sure to be on everyone's television screens for a while.

5. Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy is known for her hilarious roles in films like "Bridesmaids" and "Spy," but she also launched Melissa McCarthy Seven7, a clothing collection that includes sizes from 4 to 28.

She explained to E! News:

I just don't quite see the cut off, I don't believe in kind of sectioning and segregating people in anything...I think most women in the US are a 14. I think like 72 percent of women are a 14. So I think it's a little insane if you're in the business to tell your biggest section of clientele that you don't want their business.

She is a pioneer in the creation of clothes for all women, and shows there is no reason any woman should be excluded from expressing herself through fashion.

Citations: Melissa McCarthy Fashion (E Online)