From historic victories to progressive change, music intended to raise awareness and equality in sports, women this month have been constantly pushing the boundaries. They are breaking the status quo and working for a brighter future. Read more to learn about the women who made headlines in July.
Our Lionesses this Month:
A baller both on and off the court
“M-U-R-R-A-Y-A.”— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 9, 2021
Watch the moment Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old from Louisiana, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee, becoming the first Black American to take the top spot in almost a century of contests. 🐝https://t.co/AZLqyIsnbu pic.twitter.com/jTHuGf17rv
Making history as the first African American winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde doesn’t even consider spelling her main talent. The Louisiana native is more focused on basketball than spelling. She already holds three Guinness World Records, including one for the most basketballs dribbled simultaneously. Avant-garde practiced 13,000 words a day, spending seven hours or so spelling. But still, she says that “spelling is really a side thing I do. It’s like a little hors d’oeuvre. But basketball’s like the main dish.”
Calling directly for change
At the Generation Equality Forum, world leaders gather in Paris to discuss and advance women’s rights. This July, they wrote an open letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Shou Zi Chew and Jack Dorsey – CEOs of Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter respectively. The letter urged these massive online platforms to create solutions and hold users accountable for the abuse that women face, especially disabled, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ women. The letter’s authors included Diane Abbott, a UK Member of Parliament, actress Gillian Anderson and Helen Cole, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Music to celebrate motherhood
Though there’s nothing wrong with not having children, singer-songwriter Halsey has been vocal about their desire for a child and their issues with reproductive health since she came into the public eye. Her new album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is about the “joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth.” It aims to eradicate some of the stigmas around pregnant and postpartum bodies. The announcement of the album also coincides with the birth of her first child, Ender Ridley Aydin. Fitting for this rainbow baby, Ender is Turkish means extremely rare.
Protesting unfair dress codes
A Norwegian women’s handball team was fined 1500 euros after choosing to wear shorts instead of the required bikini uniform. Though male players are allowed to wear shorts, the International Handball Federation requires female athletes to wear bikini bottoms that have a close fit and a side length of no longer than 10cm. Many women on the team find the required bikinis both degrading and impractical. The story blew up immediately on social media, with singer Pink offering to pay the fine and encouraging the women to keep making change.
A showcase of other history-making women:
- Candace Parker will be the first woman on an NBA 2K cover.
- Rear Admiral HW Howard became the first woman to become a Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC).
- Kataluna Enriquez is the first openly transgender Miss Nevada and Miss USA contestant.
- Marija Cicak will be the first woman to umpire the Men’s Wimbledon Final.
- RoseAnne Archibald will be the first woman to lead the Canadian Assembly of First Nations as national chief.
Looking for more stories of women who made headlines before July? Read our other choices for Lionesses This Month!