The cover story: Women of the Year

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The Cover Story
Women of the Year
By Naina Bajekal and Lucy Feldman

A defining project at TIME is the study of influence—who has it, what form it takes, and what it means to wield it. Our annual Women of the Year list examines the most uplifting form of influence, by spotlighting leaders who are using their voices to fight for a more equal world.

The 12 women featured on this year's list come from across the globe and have made significant impact in their respective communities and fields. Many of them have faced immense challenges that inspired them to push for change.

Anielle Franco turned to politics after her sister Marielle, a city councilor in Rio de Janeiro who campaigned against police violence and corruption, was assassinated in 2018. Now, as Minister for Racial Equality in Brazil's new government, she is channeling her grief into action. "I lost my fear when they killed my sister," Franco says. "Now I fight for something much bigger than myself."

Our project recognizes women around the world who are doing the same, like Masih Alinejad, a journalist speaking up against restrictions forced on women in Iran. And Olena Shevchenko, who is advocating for marginalized groups during the war in Ukraine. In Pakistan, Ayisha Siddiqa , who appears on one of our covers, saw the devastating effects of climate change on her community and was inspired to join the fight for climate justice.

In Mexico, activist Véronica Cruz Sanchez has long helped women safely navigate abortion restrictions. She is now turning her attention north, supporting American women affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Cruz is not the only leader on this year's WOTY list advocating for the right to choose. Indie-rock musician Phoebe Bridgers, who has long blended her art with activism, came forward last year to share that she'd had an abortion. Also making a difference in the arts is Cate Blanchett, one of this year's cover stars and a 2023 Academy Award nominee. She unpacks the ways in which she, as a leader in Hollywood, is fighting for change. 

Blanchett's prowess in front of the camera is itself a testament to the multitudes women contain. As Lydia Tár, the eponymous protagonist of one of the year's most celebrated films, Blanchett is both spectacular and reprehensible. "We are brave, we are noble, we are generous, we are collaborative," Blanchett says. "But we are also the dark side of that, because women are complex beings."

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