1. Bollywood welcomed an all-women cast film with open arms, and it was a success
For the first time ever, Bollywood released a film with all-women protagonists, Angry Indian Goddesses. Directed by Pan Nalin, the film addressed issues like gender equality and women's safety, while still being totally watchable fun.
WHY IT ROCKS: With actresses rallying for equal pay in Hollywood, this film marks a change for Bollywood as well. Instead of fulfilling roles as the hero's wife, or the villain's mistress, women are now being seen as strong protagonists. And that's a sign of victory.
2. Rihanna Became the Biggest-Selling Digital Artist
Rihanna is always topping the charts, but this year it was announced that she had officially sold more digital singles than any other artist. In history. Ever.
WHY IT ROCKS: The music world is filled with artists trying to forge a name for themselves. After 10 years and seven albums, Rihanna—a young woman from Barbados—has stood out, and that makes her a strong role model.
3. Celebs Called Out Instagram's Double Standards
Chrissy Teigen pointed out that Instagram removed a picture of her bare boob but would not do the same to an image of husband John Legend's (great) butt.
WHY IT ROCKS: Chrissy—and last year Rihanna as well—have shown the vastly different way in which Instagram treats nudity when it comes to men and women. Essentially, it highlights how women's bodies 'violate community standards', while men's don't.
4. Women Were Recognised By the Government
The year started with 25-year-old Captain Divya Ajith Kumar of the Corps of Army Air Defence leading a contingent of 154 women officers and cadets during the Republic Day parade on 26th January.
WHY IT ROCKS: While women have walked in the parade before, this was the first time that an entire contingent walked down Rajpath. A massive step towards gender equality, this addition is hopefully going to encourage more women to join the army, and change the way men and women both see the profession—male dominated and unfeminine.
5. Women Spoke About Menstruation Openly
When the chief at the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala refused to allow women to enter until a machine was invented that could detect if a woman was 'pure' or not—that is, if she was menstruating—women all over India took to the Internet to voice their anger. And what the #HappyToBleed campaign achieved was calling out the archaic practices that labelled women on their period as 'impure' and 'dirty'.
WHY IT ROCKS: For the first time, women in India had decided to speak up about menstruation. In a society that often forces women to feel ashamed or shy while on their period, the #HappyToBleed campaign helped forge a new dialogue that destigmatised the issue.
6. Transgender Men and Women Were Acknowledged
This list won't be complete without mentioning Caitlyn Jenner. What started as a tabloid rumour turned into the most public transition in history, and brought a lot of (mostly) positive attention to the transgender community.
WHY IT ROCKS: Real awareness was raised about the trans community. And in her interview with Vanity Fair, Jenner spoke about using her reality show on E! to focus on bringing down the growing suicide rates in the trans community—a cause that many believe she should fight for. Plus, we're closer to true acceptance of all people than we've ever been.
7. Plus-sized models went large
Tess Holiday was catapulted to supermodel status when she became the first size-24 model to be signed by Milk Model Management.
WHY IT ROCKS: The 30-year-old's rise to prominence was redefining beauty standards in a world where women are told to look a certain way or be a certain weight. Tess' social media hashtag #EffYourBeautyStandards challenged disempowering beauty norms and made her an ambassador for body positivity.
8. The World Saw the Truth
When BBC decided to make a film on the horrible Delhi gang rape of December 2012, there was a lot of backlash. But, with interviews of the accused, and the family members of the victim, this film put the truth out there for the world to see.
WHY IT ROCKS : The release of the movie reinstated the faith of the common man in society. Political pressure aside, three years later, someone was still fighting for justice, and that was comforting.