2023 Was A Big Year For Women, So Let’s Celebrate That

Who run the world?
Taylor SwiftGetty

It’s been a year of opposites: highs and lows, wins and losses, Barbie and Ken. We look back on the defining moments of 2023 and bid the year farewell.


There’s a reason Matilda was chosen as the Australian National University’s word of the year for 2023: the Tillies were on everyone’s lips. We cheered for “the girls” en masse in the stands at matches, in front of the TV at home and in packed sports bars overseas.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup broke the record for the most-attended women’s sports tournament of all time, with close to two million fans filling stadiums.

The Matildas vs France match became Australia’s biggest TV sporting event in 20 years, and Nike reported that the Tillies’ jerseys outsold the Socceroos’. But the tournament did more than just smash records, it changed women’s sport forever. And the Matildas did us all proud, going further than any before by making the semi-finals.

The Matildas
The Matildas. (Credit: Getty)


When songwriter Sia penned “Shine bright like a diamond”, she could have been thinking of our national netball team. This year, the Diamonds won the Netball World Cup in August and the Constellation Cup in October.

The players also negotiated an end to a drawn-out pay dispute. It was a historic year for the sport: 2023 marked 60 years since the first Netball World Cup champions were crowned. We were the champs back then and we’re still the champs today. The victories make the Diamonds the world’s No.1 netball side, and one of our greatest sporting teams of all time.

The Diamonds
Paige Hadley and Jamie Lee Price.


Don’t be fooled. Barbie wasn’t a film, it was a feminist reawakening, a cultural phenomenon, a moment in time. And OK, yeah, it was a film too.

In fact, it was the highest-grossing movie of the year, one of the fastest in history to make $1 billion, and the first female-directed film to do so. Greta Gerwig’s masterpiece, starring our own Margot Robbie, was created by women for women.

It broke the mould, saved the box office and gave us some iconic one-liners. I am Kenough. You are Kenough. We are all Kenough.

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in ‘Barbie’. (Credit: Warner Bros. )


In 2023, securing tickets became an international sport. We camped out, lined up and queued online in record- breaking numbers to see our favourite hit-makers live. Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour has been predicted to generate close to $US5 billion in consumer spending in the United States alone.

Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour has been reported as the highest-grossing tour by a woman, and Adele’s Weekends with Adele Las Vegas residency became one of Sin City’s favourite stints, with two extensions and 66 extra shows added to the original run.

These will all go down in the record books for doing more than just stimulating the economy, though. They will be remembered for reigniting our love for live music and fulfilling lifelong dreams for fans. We came, we saw, we bought the T-shirt (and swapped beaded bracelets).

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift.


First Nations designers were front and centre at fashion weeks across the country this year. In Sydney in May, Ngali founder and Wiradjuri woman Denni Francisco became the first Aboriginal designer to stage a solo runway show.

In Melbourne in October, the ganbu marra runway—celebrating emerging First Nations talent—was the hottest ticket in town. And in Darwin in August, there were a record-smashing 60 nominees at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards, highlighting the industry’s strength.

Ngali featured at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week.


When a referendum on the Voice to Parliament was announced, we knew it would have an impact regardless of the outcome. First Nations leaders—including Professor Megan Davis, Tanya Hosch and Narelda Jacobs—steered the campaign for constitutional recognition, and their work will lead to a brighter future despite the disappointing “No” result in October.

We stand united, more determined than ever to close the gap, to support communities and to listen to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Professor Megan Davis
Professor Megan Davis.


Knowledge is power and when it comes to closing the gender pay gap in Australia we need all the knowledge we can get. In March, parliament passed the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 in a big win for transparency and accountability.

The changes mean more than 4.5 million Australian employees will have access to their employer’s gender pay gap from early 2024. Considering Australia’s gender pay gap is 13.3 per cent, this legislation is a welcome step in the right direction towards equality.

Finance minister and minister for women Katy Gallagher, with treasurer Jim Chalmers.
Finance minister and minister for women Katy Gallagher, with treasurer Jim Chalmers. (Credit: Getty)


Sick of unmoving gender pay gaps and shocking levels of sexual violence, the women of Iceland staged a national strike in October – stopping all paid and unpaid labour for 24 hours (housework too!). The strike forced the closure of schools, shops and businesses across the country, including the office of prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Thousands (more than a quarter of the country’s entire population in fact) attended a rally in the capital Reykjavík, uniting under the slogan “You call this equality?”. Though Iceland regularly tops global gender-parity lists, women says the fight for equality is moving too slowly. Solidarity, sisters!

Thousands of striking women attend the rally in Iceland’s capital.


After almost six years in office, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stepped down in February. During her leadership, she carried the country through the aftermath of a white supremacist mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, a fatal volcano eruption, the Covid pandemic, and the threat of a recession. She also welcomed her first child while in office and became a global icon for women in leadership. Ardern’s resignation—which she candidly credited to burnout—further cemented her status as a refreshingly real leader.

Jacinda Arden
Jacinda Arden (Credit: Getty)


August marked two years since the Taliban took over Afghanistan and resumed their rule with fear and oppression. In that time, more than 50 orders have been imposed on women restricting their movements, wardrobe choices, and work and study opportunities.

This year, UN Women launched After August, a digital space documenting the lives of Afghan women and their strength and courage. In the face of the most hostile circumstances, Afghan women and girls have remained resilient and continue to protest, resist and raise their voices.

protesting in kabul
Afghan women protesting for their rights outside a beauty salon in Kabul.


For 16 weeks, Hollywood productions stood still, picket lines were drawn, and actors marched in solidarity in their call for more transparency in streaming, fairer contracts and salaries, and tighter AI regulations.

The SAG-AFTRA strike lasted almost four months – making it the longest actors’ strike of all time—before a tentative deal with studios was reached in November. At the helm was the indomitable Fran Drescher, the former star of The Nanny giving the pursuit of fairness and equity an instantly recognisable voice.

fran drescher
Fran Drescher at the SAG-AFTRA strikes. (Credit: Getty)

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