Meet GlobalWoman Trailblazers of 2016

Nearly twelve months ago when I set ‘Breakthrough’ as my intention for 2016 I had no idea how the year would unfold. I only knew that this year I was committed to breaking through old beliefs, habits and behaviours in order to up-level of any serious consequence and influence.

So here we are, nearly twelve months later, when ‘Breakthrough’ is layered with a deeper, more complex meaning. Each new day emerges with a sense of more chaos in the outer world which our inner world is required to process and integrate.

Nothing can be taken for granted.

The breakthrough lesson of 2016 turned out to be that nothing can be taken for granted. Most likely that has always been true but events of this year brought a whole new urgency. 

On a personal level, the year was positive, though not without its challenges. The decision to up-level brought its own resistance which provided many opportunities for breakthrough.

But as every GlobalWoman knows, life doesn’t exist only on the personal level.

I’ve come to realise, at the closing of 2016, that ‘Breakthrough’ means to optimise whatever platform I/you/we have, build or are given.

That’s the journey of a trailblazer

Hence the women that make the 2016 GlobalWoman® trailblazers list. Inspirational and innovative, each know the power of using their voice.

Meet 2016’s GlobalWoman Trailblazers


Iraqi born, British architect Zaha Hadid who was dubbed ‘Queen of the Curve‘, passed away earlier this year. Hadid had a reputation as an architect of unconventional thinking, whose buildings are organic, dynamic and sculptural. She was a trailblazer who challenged ideas of form, function and flow. 

Zaha was a master at bringing together people across all nations, cultures and religions, bridging differences and forging solid bonds. She taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people, and not walls.


We’ve written about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of “We Should All Be Feminists” before. Certainly 2016 was a breakthrough year for her with a front-row appearance at Dior’s spring runway show as well as her inclusion on Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed list.

In 2016 Chimamanda was also appointed ambassador for the Boots No 7 beauty brand. She is the embodiment of how to use a platform to speak to the issues that matter. 

Though Chimamanda’s feminism may seem at odds with this embrace of the beauty and fashion world, Ms. Adichie has argued, most recently in a letter she posted to her Facebook page about raising a daughter, that diminishing things that are considered feminine, such as makeup and fashion, is part of a culture of sexism.

Originality is a beautiful thing.


In 2016 Beyonce cemented her role as a feminist icon and political activist spoke up on the Black Lives Matter movement. Beyonce’s evolution as a artist/activist was apparent with the release of “Formation,” when she declared herself an artist willing to use her power to provoke difficult but necessary conversations about fraught topics in American life.

In other words, she’s not just going to keep wearing her crown, she’s going to keep earning it every step of the way.

I dream it, I work hard, I grind till I own it.


Madonna in her over 30 years in public life has been consistently ferocious, funny and brutally honest in using her platform to call out ageism and sexism. 

Her weapon? Something that can’t be contained, faked, reproduced or put a price on: blunt, personal truth. In December of 2016, Madonna bluntly shared with the Women In Music audience a vital lesson she’s learned:

In life there is no real safety except for self-belief.

In the post November 8th 2016 world order, Madonna said that it was important for to make a stand and speak her mind.

As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other's worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support, and enlightened by.


In her time in public life, Hillary Clinton has been a polarising figure controversial in part because she hasn’t played “the game.” It’s easy to forget, amid her longevity, that Mrs. Clinton was once considered a renegade: speaking out and pursuing power in ways that were considered overly ambitious for women.

She, along with Madonna, has fought for equality and respect, seeking the kind of influence and money and fame that men have. 

Trailblazing is a solitary game.

Hillary Clinton and Madonna are both lonely warriors who this year reached a critical moment: the time when they spoke up for their achievements and called out their haters. 2016 was the year the ‘Witch’ and ‘Nasty Woman’ became sisters in arms


Franca Sozzani was the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia from 1988 to 2016. But she was so much more than that. A maverick spirit, Franca turned her Vogue into a magazine that not only celebrated the power of the image, but also used fashion stories as a platform to discuss broader issues.


Franca was fearless in her willingness to tackle provocative and controversial social and cultural issues through the medium of fashion photography. Tweet This

Start with a style and you are in chains, start with an idea and you are free.


On December 10th, Teenage Vogue contributor Lauren Duca, wrote an op-ed on the president elect’s attempts to destabilise the truth and weaken the foundation of American freedom.

Apparently this upset some people. They demanded that Teen Vogue stay in the lanes of fashion, beauty, entertainment and other areas associated with the 21st Century teenager.

In many ways, Teen Vogue is simply doing what a fashion magazine does best: observing trends, and disseminating them. But it’s also giving young women valuable information about issues they care about, not to mention taking them—and their varying interests—seriously.


When Patti Smith sang Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at this year’s Nobel prize ceremony in Sweden, the entire performance felt like a fierce and instantaneous corrective to times like these — the practical utility of art to combat pain.

It’s in the last verse that Smith’s performance hits the strides, when the song asks, “And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son? And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?” The reply is as powerful and potent now as it was when Dylan wrote the lyric in 1962.

This is what we’ll do.

And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, and reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it.

Not long after her performance, Ms Smith wrote in the New Yorker, “When my husband, Fred, died, my father told me that time does not heal all wounds but gives us the tools to endure them. I have found this to be true in the greatest and smallest of matters.” Tweet This

Looking to the future, I am certain that the hard rain will not cease falling, and that we will all need to be vigilant. Patti Smith


Toni Morrrison, the great American author and professor reminds us what to do in time likes this.

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.


We’re choosing to end this year with love.


This time last year I was immersed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, a collection of essays on living a creative life. In September of this year Elizabeth announced via a Facebook post that she was in love and in an intimate relationship with her longtime friend Rayya Elias. In other words, she came out.

Because I believe in love, I will ask for love.
Whatever extra love you might be carrying around in your hearts right now, could you direct some this way? I would appreciate it so much, and — trust me — it will be felt. And it will help. We will resonate with it, and we will thank you for it. Because truth is the force that guides us to where we need to be in life, but love is the power that heals us once we arrive there.

And you.

To every GlobalWoman trailblazer across the planet, thank you for sharing this year’s breakthrough 2016 journey with me. In so much gratitude x

Yamini x

  • Julie

    December 31, 2016 at 2:42 pm Reply

    It’s about Madonna…yea, railing against ageism while having extensive plastic surgery to try to look ‘young’ ( and now looks like a freak)..

  • Hayley

    December 31, 2016 at 6:21 pm Reply

    Fantastic! Thanks for publishing Yamini. What a wonderful reminder of who we we are as global women and who we can be! Have a fabulous 2017 everyone

    • Yamini

      January 3, 2017 at 7:32 pm Reply

      Hi Hayley, thank you for your comment. May we each GlobalWoman® forward in 2017 x

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