Women across the world had big wins this week – in the courtroom, in sports arenas and on college campuses. They challenged laws, fought tooth and nail to overcome gender barriers in sports and spoke bravely to the world about their struggles. Here are four game-changing women who closed out the week like champs.
Jen Welter, NFL coach:
The touchdown of the week goes to women’s football veteran Jen Welter – and her new employer, the Arizona Cardinals – for making NFL history. The Cardinals announced on Monday that the former collegiate rugby player and 14-season professional football player will serve as a training camp intern – a historic hire that makes her the first woman to hold a coaching position in the NFL. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tipped his hat to Welter in a celebratory tweet welcoming her to Arizona.
Welter will make her coaching debut on August 15 when the Cardinals host their first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Dutee Chand, runner:
18-year-old Indian runner Dutee Chand took also took a notable stride for women’s equality in sports after a global court ruled in her favor that female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone – known as hyperandrogenism – could still compete in the female category. In 2014, the elite sprinter was banned from running against women and subsequently advised to take hormone-suppressing drugs or undergo surgery if she wanted to compete again. She refused, choosing instead to fight for her right to race as a female without changing her body. On Monday, the highest global court in sports suspended the regulation that prohibits athletes with hyperandrogenism from competing in a female field – allowing Chand to continue competing while it’s determined whether hyperandrogenism gives athletes a significant advantage.
“It’s a victory for women’s equality in sport,” Stanford bioethicist Katrina Karkazis, who argued in court on Chand’s behalf, told The New York Times. Chand has her sights set on the 2016 Olympic Games.
Kathryn DeWitt, college student:
A high-achieving college student from the University of Pennsylvania spoke out about her struggle with depression and attempted suicide in a New York Times story that spurred national conversation about the dangers and prevalence of mental health issues on elite college campuses. The 20-year-old shared details of her heart-wrenching battle with the overwhelming “pressure of perfection” on her campus – an all too common narrative for college students across the country.
The New York Times reported that DeWitt was one of the first students to publicly share her story for Pennsive, a blog launched to provide “a safe space for Penn students to better understand and openly discuss issues regarding mental health.”
Michelle Bachelet, Chilean president:
The Chilean president urged citizens to end their pact of silence – one that has for nearly 30 years veiled the horrors of Chile’s military dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet. According to the Associated Press, the Chilean government estimates that more than 3,000 people were killed during the 1973-1990 dictatorship, and thousands more were tortured or thrown in jail. Earlier this week, Bachelet spoke out against the atrocities and praised those who have already come forward. “Let’s put an end to the silence,” she said at a public event.