The biggest stories that impacted women in 2022

With the new year just around the corner, MAKERS is taking time to reflect on some of the biggest stories that affected women around the world in 2022. There were highs and there were lows. But through it all, there were powerful females standing up for the things they believe in, fighting for justice and equality and celebrating those who finally got the recognition they deserved. Here are some of the biggest moments.

The first Black woman on a U.S. quarter

A new US quarter dollar is seen featuring, Maya Angelou, noted author and poet. The quarter is part of the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program, The U.S. Mint has begun minting the first of 20 quarters honoring selected American women through 2025. (Photo by the U.S. Mint via Getty Images)
A new US quarter dollar is seen featuring, Maya Angelou, noted author and poet. The quarter is part of the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program, The U.S. Mint has begun minting the first of 20 quarters honoring selected American women through 2025. (Photo by the U.S. Mint via Getty Images)

The year started strong with the announcement from the U.S. Treasury that Maya Angelou would become the first Black woman to appear on a quarter. The late author and civil rights activist is the first one selected for a series of coins designed to celebrate the accomplishments of powerful American women. Upcoming coins will feature Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, as well as Anna May Wong, the country’s first Chinese American movie star.

Belgian-British aviator flies around the world

19 year-old Belgian-British pilot Zara Rutherford lands after her solo round-the-world trip, on January 20, 2022. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
19 year-old Belgian-British pilot Zara Rutherford lands after her solo round-the-world trip, on January 20, 2022. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Also in January, 19-year-old Zara Rutherford successfully completed a solo flight around the world. She broke two Guinness World Records in the process: the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a microlight aircraft and the youngest woman to do it. It took five months for the Belgian-British aviator to fly 32,000 miles across five continents. Rutherford is now headed to college and hopes one day to become an astronaut.

U.S. female Olympian wins two golds in the half-pipe

Chloe Kim of the United States reacts on the podium after winning the gold medal in the Women's Snowboard Halfpipe Final during the Winter Olympic Games on February 10th, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Chloe Kim of the United States reacts on the podium after winning the gold medal in the Women's Snowboard Halfpipe Final during the Winter Olympic Games on February 10th, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

At Beijing’s Winter Olympics in February, Chloe Kim became the first woman to earn back-to-back gold medals in the snowboard half-pipe. But this is not the California native’s first time making history. At the 2018 PyeongChang games, when she was just 17 years old, Kim dominated with a near-perfect score and became the first woman ever to land simultaneous 1080s — that’s three full rotations in the air.

The NFL introduces its first openly transgender cheerleader

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The Carolina Panthers welcomed Justine Lindsay to their TopCats cheerleading team in March, making her the first openly transgender cheerleader in the NFL. Lindsay told the NFL that her presence on the football field is about more than just being a cheerleader: “It's being a face of the possible.”

The first Oscar win for an Afro-Latina and LGBTQ actor

Actress Ariana DeBose poses with her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for 'West Side Story' at the 94th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Actress Ariana DeBose poses with her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for 'West Side Story' at the 94th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Ariana DeBose took home the best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Anita in West Side Story. Her win makes her the first Afro-Latina, openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award.

In her touching acceptance speech, she told the audience, "To anybody who has ever questioned your identity, I promise you this, there is indeed a place for us."

The U.S. Supreme Court confirms the first Black woman justice

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris applaud as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson delivers remarks on the Senates historic, bipartisan confirmation of Judge Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris applaud as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson delivers remarks on the Senates historic, bipartisan confirmation of Judge Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Ketanji Brown Jackson was officially confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court in April, making her the first Black woman to serve on the country’s highest court. Jackson spoke about her journey in a speech on the White House South Lawn and told attendees, "It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States," she said. "But we've made it. We've made it. All of us."

The overturning of Roe v. Wade

More than one thousand people protest outside of Portland City Hall against the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022. (Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
More than one thousand people protest outside of Portland City Hall against the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022. (Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Another big story came out of the Supreme Court this year with the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June. The decision meant women in the U.S. no longer had a federal constitutional right to abortion and instead, states would be permitted to set their own abortion policies.

As the fight continues in courtrooms across the country, there are now 13 states that have banned abortion, many including no exceptions for rape or incest.

Title IX celebrates its 50th Anniversary

Tennis star and equal rights advocate Billie Jean King reacts as she is honored at the 50th anniversary of Title IX at the United States Capitol building in Washington, U.S., March 9, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
Tennis star and equal rights advocate Billie Jean King reacts as she is honored at the 50th anniversary of Title IX at the United States Capitol building in Washington, U.S., March 9, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

The U.S. celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX in June. This landmark legislation gave women and girls equal opportunities in education and sports. In fact, women now make up 44% of all NCAA athletes compared to 15% prior to the passing of Title IX in 1972.

Tennis icon Billie Jean King was an outspoken advocate for the law and shared her thoughts at this summer’s celebratory event. “Let’s use this milestone anniversary to reenergize our focus on strengthening and advancing equity and opportunities for all girls and women but especially those who have been left behind by the law, including girls of color, girls with disabilities, trans athletes and all LGBTQ+ youth. We have to look forward.”

U.S. Coast Guard appoints its first female leader

Admiral Linda Fagan attends the US Coast Guard (USCG) change of command ceremony in Washington, DC, on June 1, 2022. Fagan became the 27th commandant of the USCG and first woman to hold the position. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Admiral Linda Fagan attends the US Coast Guard (USCG) change of command ceremony in Washington, DC, on June 1, 2022. Fagan became the 27th commandant of the USCG and first woman to hold the position. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

This summer, Adm. Linda L. Fagan became the first female officer to lead a branch of the U.S. armed forces. As commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Fagan is now in charge of all global operations that include 42,000 active-duty, 7,000 reserve and 8,700 civilian personnel. “We’re getting past the ‘firsts,’” Fagan told the New York Times. “I hope sometime soon we’re talking about the second female commandant and the third female commandant, and that we’ll have a Black male commandant.”

Marvel debuts the first Muslim superhero

Actor Iman Vellani speaks onstage during The 2022 MAKERS Conference on October 26, 2022 in Dana Point, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for The MAKERS Conference)
Actor Iman Vellani speaks onstage during The 2022 MAKERS Conference on October 26, 2022 in Dana Point, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for The MAKERS Conference)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced its first Muslim superhero. Iman Vellani, 20 years old, made her debut in June as Kamala Khan, the title character in the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel.

The Pakistani-born actor joined the MAKERS conference stage this fall and told the audience, “I really do hope we're humanizing and normalizing seeing Muslims and South Asians in these types of roles and taking on very powerful characters.”

U.S. women’s soccer scores equal pay settlement

U.S. President Joe Biden signs a proclamation to mark Equal Pay Day with soccer superstars Margaret Purce (L) and Megan Rapinoe, with members of the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team joining virtually. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden signs a proclamation to mark Equal Pay Day with soccer superstars Margaret Purce (L) and Megan Rapinoe, with members of the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team joining virtually. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

After years of fighting for equal pay, the U.S. Women’s National soccer team scored a $24 million settlement between the players and the U.S. Soccer Federation. The agreement will allow the men’s and women’s teams to receive identical compensation for all competitions and equal prize money for World Cup victories. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on the House to vote on the Equal Pay for Team USA Act that would require equal compensation and benefits for all U.S. athletes participating in global amateur athletic competitions, regardless of gender.

Iranian woman’s death sparks massive women's rights movement

A protester holds a picture of Mahsa Amini, who was killed by the morality police in Iran during the demonstration. (Photo by Tunahan Turhan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A protester holds a picture of Mahsa Amini, who was killed by the morality police in Iran during the demonstration. (Photo by Tunahan Turhan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The death of Mahsa Amini in Iran ignited the largest women’s rights movement in the country’s recent history. The 22-year-old died after being arrested by Iran’s “morality police” who claimed she broke a law by not properly covering her hair with a headscarf. That police unit has since been disbanded; however, Iran’s strict Islamic dress code laws for women still exist.

SpaceX launches the first Native American woman into space

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann waves as she leaves ahead of the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 5, 2022. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann waves as she leaves ahead of the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 5, 2022. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

In October, Nicole Mann became the first Native American woman to go to space. Serving as commander of the six-month SpaceX mission to the International Space Station, Mann is a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. She told NPR that she hopes her story inspires the next generation. “These young women, maybe Natives, maybe people from different backgrounds, realize that they have these opportunities and [that] potentially these barriers that used to be there are starting to be broken down."