2020 witnessed the 59th US quadrennial presidential election, one of the most anticipated elections of the world and saw Kamala Harris become one of the emerging faces of the year. Popularly known as ‘Madam Vice President’, Harris is set to become the first woman, and the first woman of Indian heritage, to become the vice-president of the United States.
Born in Oakland, California, Harris is the daughter of an Indian-born mother and a Jamaican-born father. She was the first black woman to be the San Francisco district attorney and the first Asian American and black woman attorney general of California.
The 55-year-old was elected to the US Senate in 2016 with a landslide victory. When compared to the other far-left Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Harris has always been seen as a moderate.
In October 2020, Jacinda Ardern once again became the prime minister of New Zealand with a landslide victory.
Ardern’s leadership has been recognised internationally. Her approach towards handling the Covid-19 pandemic, stand for LGBTQ+ Pride, work for ending period poverty, among others were appreciated globally.
China's premier biochemical warfare expert Chen Wei, 54, spearheaded the efforts to diagnose and contain the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Straits Times recognised her as one of the 'Asians of the Year' 2020, tirelessly seeking a way out of the greatest crisis of this era.
According to the report, in barely 50 days, she and her team produced a potential vaccine with Chinese firm CanSino Biologics ready for clinical trials. In fact, it became the world's first vaccine to be approved for restricted use.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
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The executive chairperson of Bengaluru-headquartered biotech major Biocon supported the unprecedented speed in taking the vaccine from the development stage to the approval process.
Kiran has also been named among the world's 100 most powerful women by Forbes, describing her as "India's richest self-made woman."
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Suchitra Ella co-founded Bharat Biotech, the developer of India’s leading indigenous coronavirus vaccine, with her husband Dr Krishna Ella in 1996.
As joint managing director, Suchitra has been overseeing a wide range of operations in the company. In one of her media interviews, she reflected on the journey of her biotech firm and said, “The company was like my third child. For me, having children was no excuse to not take up new challenges on the work front”.
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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) signing the two articles of impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump before sending them over to the U.S. Senate during an engrossment ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2020.
Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made Trump's impeachment official.
In one of her iconic speeches, Pelosi said Trump must be held accountable and that no one is above the law.
Recently, Congress approved a $900 billion stimulus package to send billions of dollars to American households and businesses amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Pelosi supported the bill even though it did not include direct aid for state and local governments that Democrats had sought. She said they would try for it again next year after Democratic President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
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At just 18, the American singer-songwriter swept all four general field categories at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2020, becoming the first female and youngest artist to do so and the youngest solo act to win the prestigious Album of the Year award.
She also became the second-ever and the first singer to win all four general field categories in the same year since Christopher Cross did in 1981.
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Last year, when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott parted ways, Scott made the headlines for the biggest settlement ever awarded in a marital split: $38 billion in Amazon stock, making her the world’s fourth-richest woman.
But what next? MacKenzie Scott, author and philanthropist, says she has given away more than $4 billion in the last four months.
As the New York Times wrote, “They came like gifts from a Secret Santa, $20 million here, $40 million there, all to higher education, but not to the elite universities that usually hog all the attention. These donations went to colleges and universities that many people have never heard of, and that tended to serve regional, minority, and lower-income students".
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Bilkis Bano, popularly known as Shaheen Bagh Dadi, 82, was at the forefront of the Shaheen Bagh protests in Delhi and sat with hundreds of women under a canopied tent at the anti-CAA/NRC sit-in protest for over three months.
In September, the Time magazine recognised her as one of the most influential people in 2020 in the icons category." Besides, BBC also listed Bilkis Dadi in the list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2020. BBC listed Bilkis is quoted as saying: “Women should feel empowered to step out of their homes and raise their voice, especially against injustice. If they don't leave their homes, how will they showcase their strength?
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Ozlem Tureci co-founded German biotechnology company BioNTech along with her husband Ugur Sahin in 2008.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Tureci shifted her research focus to developing a vaccine, in partnership with Pfizer.
In November, Pfizer reported that the vaccine developed by Tureci and her team was more than 90 per cent effective in providing immunity against the virus.
Together with her husband, she is counted among the top 100 wealthiest Germans.
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Sviatlana Heorhiyeuna Tsikhanouskaya or Svetlana Georgiyevna Tikhanovskaya is Belarusian human rights activist, having spent more than half of her short political career in exile. However, in 2020 made the headlines for contesting as the main opposition candidate in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election.
Tsikhanouskaya has been honoured by the European Parliament President David Sassoli on behalf of the Co-ordination Council, a body set up by Belarus's political opposition to facilitate a transfer of power in the country following a presidential election in August that the opposition says was rigged and the West has refused to accept.
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Fifteen-year-old Indian-American Gitanjali Rao, a "brilliant" young scientist and inventor, has been named by TIME magazine as the first-ever Kid of the Year' for her "astonishing work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying.
Rao was selected from a field of more than 5,000 nominees as TIME's first-ever Kid of the Year. She was interviewed by actor and activist Angelina Jolie for the TIME special.