From game-changers to trailblazers – meet our 2023 Women of the Year.
Take a bow, ladies…
Kate Middleton is the future of our monarchy
There’s no doubt Kate represents the future of the monarchy, cemented by her scene-stealing appearance, alongside her young family, at King Charles’ Coronation back in May.
Dressed in floor-sweeping robes and a sparkling headpiece, it was an unusually formal moment from Kate, who’s charmed well-wishers around the globe with her easy warmth on walkabouts.
It also served as a reminder of her unique ability to be regal yet relatable.
No wonder she and Wills continue to top the royal popularity polls.
READ MORE ON PRINCESS KATE
Truly, a queen in waiting.
Victoria Beckham’s beauty empire is on the up as well as her new Netflix doc
We’ve loved her since the Spice Girls, but the Netflix documentary Beckham gave VB a chance to show a new generation just how fab she is.
TikTok has since been full of clips celebrating her dry wit and the Noughties fashion donned by her and David.
What shone through was the humour and strength with which she has weathered the scandals over the years.
Also, her fashion and beauty empire finally turned a profit in 2023 – so never underestimate Posh.
Amy Dowden has powered on after being diagnosed with stage three breast cancer
After being diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, Strictly pro Amy faced the “toughest year of my life” as she underwent gruelling chemotherapy and a mastectomy.
The Welsh dancer discovered a lump in her right breast in April and was diagnosed in May.
She’s shared updates with fans throughout, including a video of her shaving her head.
While she hasn’t been able to participate in Strictly this year, viewers have been delighted to see her on the show.
Her first appearance – when she chose not to wear a wig – inspired those with cancer around the country.
Here’s to many more Strictly performances in happier circumstances, Amy.
Myleene Klass teamed up with Labour MP Olivia Blake to ensure women would no longer have to go through three miscarriages before accessing help
Myleene turned her “pain into power” after it was announced in July that the government would implement legislative changes she’s spent years campaigning for.
Having suffered four miscarriages, she teamed up with Labour MP Olivia Blake to ensure women would no longer have to go through three miscarriages before accessing help.
A Klass act.
TV presenter Alison Hammond took over host duties on This Morning
It’s been a controversial year for ITV’s daytime institution This Morning, but Alison has been key to shepherding the show and its viewers through the storm.
When host Phillip Schofield resigned in May after admitting an “unwise but not illegal” relationship with a younger male colleague, show stalwart Alison was among the roster of presenters who stepped up to co-host with Holly Willoughby – who herself left in October, after becoming the target of an alleged kidnap plot.
But that hasn’t been all for Alison, who was announced as Matt Lucas’ replacement on The Great British Bake Off, where her irrepressible cheer was a welcome new ingredient to the beloved show.
Margot Robbie starred as Barbie in the Barbie Movie
One doll dominated pop culture this year – which meant Margot did, too.
As both star and co-producer of the record-breaking Barbie film, she thrilled critics and audiences in her role as the iconic doll, sent on a journey of self-discovery after an existential crisis.
The result? A film that stayed true to its playful roots, but also asked the big questions about the pressures of womanhood, with America Ferrera’s powerful speech on the topic going viral.
It is the only billion-dollar blockbuster directed solely by a woman – AKA Greta Gerwig – and also gave us Ryan Gosling’s Ken-ergy (you’ll always be Ken-ough for us, Ry!).
Barbie would be proud, Margot.
Emily Atack has campaigned against online abuse
In January, Emily spoke out about the torrent of online abuse she faces as a woman in the public eye, in a bid to help make cyberflashing a crime.
In her powerful BBC documentary Asking For It?, she bravely told of the thousands of aggressive sexual images and messages she receives, and revealed just how common an experience this is for many women and girls.
Cyberflashing was made illegal in October in England and Wales when the Online Safety Act became law, but campaigners continue to call for more education to stamp it out.
Voices like Emily’s are needed – as she told her abusers in the doc: “I’m not asking for it. It is your fault.”
Our new queen Camilla has taken to the role with ease
Talk about a character arc.
Once dubbed the most hated woman in Britain, Camilla was crowned Queen in May to scenes of celebration across the country.
It’s hard to imagine the animosity against her was once so high, some feared she and Charles could never wed.
But it’s testament to her humour and stoicism that she’s turned it around.
Still, this wasn’t the easiest of years for Camilla, as the latest series of The Crown brought up difficult memories.
But publicly at least, it’s been smooth sailing, with a recent trip to Kenya judged a resounding success.
We all wannabe like Geri Horner after her work for the Royal foundation
Girl Power was put into practice as Ginger Spice teamed up with Prince William in June to launch a plan to fight homelessness.
Six locations are to benefit from a £3m, five-year-programme of expertise and investment from Wills’ Royal Foundation, with Geri as an ambassador.
It’s not the first time she’s gone into activism – Geri was a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund after leaving the Spice Girls.
We Wannabe like her!
Hannah Waddingham co-hosted Eurovision
What a year it’s been for Hannah.
As well as appearing in ITV’s period drama Tom Jones, she co-hosted Eurovision and Prince William’s Earthshot Prize, and will star in the next Mission: Impossible film.
But it hasn’t been overnight fame.
The London-born actress worked for years in musical theatre, before popping up in TV shows like Benidorm and Game Of Thrones.
But it was her turn in the US comedy Ted Lasso that saw her win an Emmy for her role as a football club boss (which she’s said she modelled in part on Fabulous’ Baroness Karren Brady).
A single mum to daughter Kitty, eight, she’s described the show’s success as “such a beautiful surprise”.
Rebecca Sharp won the hearts of the nation when she saved her children from a drunk driver
Rebecca won the hearts of the nation when a speeding drunk driver swerved towards her as she crossed the road with her baby daughter Lorena, in April.
Footage of the incident shows mum-of-three Rebecca pushing Lorena’s pram out of the way to safety – before she was hit by the driver herself, who left her for dead.
After two months in a coma, she is undergoing speech therapy and learning to walk.
The driver, Dale Clark, was jailed for three years eight months after admitting causing serious injury by dangerous driving, failing to stop at an accident and drink driving.
Rebecca says: “I would do the same again to save my kids.”
Following a stellar career, Tina Turner died this year at 83
The world said goodbye to the Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll when Tina died in May, aged 83, with Beyoncé paying tribute to her as “the epitome of power and passion”.
Born in Tennessee, Tina rose to fame alongside husband Ike in the ’60s, but was subjected to horrific domestic violence, before escaping the relationship.
Playing small shows as a solo artist in her 40s, the music industry wrote her off.
Then, at 44, she pulled off the greatest comeback in music history with 1984’s Private Dancer, making her the then-oldest solo female artist to ever top the US charts with the single What’s Love Got to Do With It.
Simply The Best.
This year Pamela Anderson released Pamela: A Love Story
Few women have been stereotyped as much as Pamela, once best known for her three Bs: Baywatch, blonde hair and boobs.
This year, she shared her side of things in documentary Pamela: A Love Story and memoir Love, Pamela, opening up about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child, the violence that blighted her relationship with rocker Tommy Lee, and the trauma of their sex tape being made public.
Throughout, she looked back on her journey – and her never-ending faith in romance, which has seen her marry six times to five different men – with warmth and humour.
She made more headlines this autumn by turning up to Paris Fashion Week completely make-up-free, explaining: “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my own skin.”
Pammy’s so much more than just a pretty face.
Dame Maggie was unveiled in October as the newest model for über-cool designer Loewe
Not content with starring roles in everything from Downton Abbey to Harry Potter, Dame Maggie was unveiled in October as the newest model for über-cool designer Loewe.
Shot by renowned photographer Juergen Teller, nonchalantly showing off the Spanish brand’s iconic Puzzle bag, she instantly went viral.
And she isn’t the only older woman smashing stereotypes: Bake Off’s Dame Mary Berry, also 88, joined a Burberry campaign, Charlotte Rampling, 77, appeared in ads for Massimo Dutti, and fellow actress Miriam Margolyes, 82, bagged a Vogue cover.
After all, what’s more chic than experience and wisdom?
Ellie Wilson has bravely spoken out about the lack of support for victims of sexual assault
Waiving her right to anonymity after being raped by her former boyfriend Daniel McFarlane – who received a prison sentence as a result – Ellie has since bravely spoken out about the lack of support for victims of sexual assault.
Considering that just 1% of reported rape cases end in a conviction, Ellie is now sharing her experience while working to expose the problems surrounding rape and sexual assault in the justice system, such as victims not being treated with the right level of respect.
She has said: “If I can help even one person, then that’s enough.”
England made it to the World Cup Final this year
Was it Alessia Russo for her epic semi-final goal?
Mary Earps for her sensational penalty save?
Manager Sarina Wiegman for her cool leadership throughout?
It’s difficult to pick out a lone member of the England women’s football contingent, after their teamwork took them all the way to the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney – a first for England – and had the nation glued to the telly in August.
Spain might have won 1-0, but the Lionesses returned to a sheroes’ welcome, building the profile of the women’s game and inspiring girls across the country.
As defender Alex Greenwood put it: “We will be back.”
Maya Jama was on the up in 2023
If 2023 had an It Girl, it was Maya, as ITV’s Love Island took her to a new level of fame.
Millions tuned in to see the former BBC Radio 1 presenter take up hosting duties for the dating show, as well as its spin-off Love Island Games.
The fashion world fell for her, too, helped by her run of fabulous outfits in the villa: she scored a Vogue cover, starred in a campaign for Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana and modelled for luxury brand Self-Portrait.
She’s also been busy with her own skincare line, Mij Masks.
In her personal life, she made headlines as she and ex Stormzy rekindled their relationship.
In October the pair went Instagram official, with Maya filming herself walking to meet the rapper as he held up a cardboard sign that read: “Maya Jama #1 Fan”.
Us, too, Stormzy!
Katherine Ryan reached new heights in 2023
We’ve long had a girl crush on the comedian, but this year it reached new heights when it was revealed that the unnamed male comic she had previously called out as a “sexual predator” was, in all likelihood, Russell Brand.
Her 2018 comments about how she had confronted the man on his behaviour resurfaced earlier this year after a joint investigation by The Times, The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches into allegations against Brand of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse by four different women.
Since then, he has been accused of sexually assaulting an extra on a film set in a civil lawsuit filed in the US.
Brand has denied the four women’s allegations and has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
Recently, Katherine said of her earlier comments: “I’m not going to let him think that I don’t know and that everybody he works with is just going to let him get away with it.”
Georgia Harrison has spoken out about her battle with revenge porn
It was only when a fan sent her a screenshot that the former Love Island and TOWIE star realised intimate footage of her was going viral online.
Georgia had been secretly filmed by her ex, Stephen Bear, who had shared the footage without her consent.
She went to the police, pressed charges and gave evidence in court, and in March this year, Bear was sentenced to 21 months in prison for voyeurism and sharing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress.
Meanwhile, Georgia helped secure changes to the Online Safety Act, making revenge porn easier to prosecute, plus she’s campaigning for the platforms that carry such footage to be held criminally responsible.
“I’ll never lose the stigma of being all over those porn platforms,” said Georgia.
“But if I’m known as the person who stood up and fought back – I’d be proud of that.”
Naga Munchetty has bravely battled adenomyosis
The BBC Breakfast host revealed in May that she has the condition adenomyosis, which causes the lining of the womb to grow into its muscular wall.
In October, she spoke about her experience at the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee as part of an inquiry into women’s reproductive health, describing the stigma, shame and ignorance surrounding the often misdiagnosed condition.
Sarah Lancashire wowed the world with her performances on Happy Valley
As Sergeant Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley, Sarah introduced a new kind of hero – a middle-aged mum who’ll pop on the kettle fresh from kicking a door down – and redefined how women over 40 are seen on screen.
In the opening of the final season of the BBC crime drama, two senior officers try to mansplain to Catherine how to do her job after finding a body.
Having already successfully identified the corpse, she walks off, saying: “I’ll leave it with you. T***s.” For February’s finale, 7.5 million tuned in to watch Catherine confront psychopath Tommy Lee Royce, and Sarah was awarded this year’s Special Recognition gong at the NTAs.
Nicely played, Sarge.
Sharon Henderson never gave up on finding her daughters killer
In October 1992, seven-year-old Nikki Allan was murdered.
Police charged the wrong man, yet Nikki’s mother Sharon never gave up.
The mum of three persuaded Northumbria Police to fund a review, where a DNA breakthrough helped identify the killer, David Boyd.
Sharon said: “Nothing mattered more than getting justice.”
Madonna is rolling back the years at 65
Proving that age is just a number, the Queen of Pop took her Celebration tour – featuring four decades of her greatest hits – on the road, selling out all 78 shows in minutes.
But at one point it wasn’t clear if the tour would go ahead, after she was hospitalised in June for a serious bacterial infection.
Recovering afterwards, Madge said she realised “how lucky I am to be alive”.
If ever it were needed, it was a reminder of how blessed we are to have her, too.
What a woman.
Paris Fury starred on her new Netflix reality series
At Home With The Furys may have focused on boxer Tyson’s tumultuous retirement, but it was his wife Paris who stole the show in the hit Netflix reality series.
We watched her support Tyson as he struggled to adjust to the change (he’s since returned to boxing with a big-ticket fight), as well as raise their six children in their chaotic but love-filled home.
Paris and Tyson met as teenagers and, since the show, have welcomed their seventh child, a baby boy.
She has also acted as an unofficial ambassador for the Traveller community, explaining their traditions and demolishing stereotypes.
“I wasn’t just taught how to shine silver or polish dishes,” she told Fabulous earlier this year.
“I was taught how to run a home, a business and be a strong and independent woman.”