By Heidi Stevens
I interviewed a ridiculous number of inspiring women in 2015. Women who gave me perspective. Women who gave me hope. Women who are changing the world for the better, for all of us. Here are 15, in no particular order, who stood out in a humbling, impressive crowd.
Gloria Steinem, whose new book, “My Life on the Road,” explores her life as an activist, an educator and a wanderer. We talked about her book and other events during the same week Playboy magazine announced it would no longer publish nude photos.
Her take: “For Playboy to stop publishing nude photos of women is like the NRA saying it’s no longer pushing handguns because machine guns and assault weapons are so easily available,” she said. “Playboy would have to change its title, heart and brain cells in order to express the full humanity of men or women.”
K. Sujata, president of the Chicago Foundation for Women, whose 100 Percent Project aims to end gender bias by 2030. Make no small plans, right? “There’s a sense that gender violence and gender bias are happening elsewhere, because looking in a mirror can be hard,” she told me. “Men in India might burn their wives with kerosene, but here we have easy access to guns, so one shot is deadly. We say, ‘Why should we think about child marriage here?’ But teen girls are getting pregnant, and that interrupts their education and takes a toll on their health too.”
Sarah Zematis, who has become a tireless advocate for pediatric cancer research since her 3-year-old daughter, Sophia, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in January. “I want to do something that helps not only Sophia, but all these kids whose families we see, families who travel from all over to be at Lurie (Children’s Hospital),” Zematis told me. “What kids with cancer really need is answers and help and good drugs that will target their cancer.”