Rita Henley Jensen(WOMENSENEWS)–Women’s eNews proudly announces today its selection of 21 newsworthy individuals who have demonstrated throughout the year their commitment to improving the lives of women and girls and the capacity to continue to improve the future for all.

The development of new narratives in media, the active support of women running for public office and the determination to use available resources to create change are the dominant characteristics in this year’s 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.

Chosen from a reader-nominated list, the lives and work of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century 2012 continue to impress; their work ranges from organizing trash pickers in Cairo, Egypt, to supporting female candidates running for the U.S. Senate. Many have spent decades perfecting their strategies; others have recently created their own approaches. All are clear that much more work needs to be done before women and girls enjoy full equality.

Seven Who Catalyze Culture

Each of these seven leaders has a different approach, but attacks inequality through exciting and engaging cultural innovations.

This year’s Ida B. Wells awardee, Carol Jenkins, the founding president of the Women’s Media Center, has spent over 40 years agitating for equal rights for women and people of color in the media. Jenkins continues to serve on the board of the Women’s Media Center and also chairs the board of the African Medical and Research Foundation, supporting the health of women and girls in Africa.

As the founding president of the International Museum of Women, Elizabeth Colton has altered the view and the current reality of the lives of girls and women by creating a virtual space where they can connect with their identity, power and potential.

Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Media Center, was the first woman, producer and journalist to become the president and CEO of PBS. Mitchell now brings an international conversation about the media and gender to programs at the Paley centers in New York and Los Angeles.

Deborah Santana leverages her writing, philanthropy and award-winning filmmaking in her mission to empower women and girls to travel towards a peaceful and just world. With Do a Little, a nonprofit donor-advised fund, Santana serves the needs of women in their health, education and happiness.

Through SPARK, Deborah Tolman is building a girl-fueled movement to resist sexualization, objectification and violence in the media. A scholar as well as an activist, Tolman is a professor and researcher with a focus on the effect of media content on adolescents.

Beverly Willis was an airplane pilot at 15 who studied aeronautical engineering and art. She became an architect because it seemed like a good idea. She launched the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation in 2002 to ensure the work of women in architecture lives on and to support the rise of female executives in the world of architecture.

Founding vice chair of Women Moving Millions, Monica Winsor has found her niche exploring with women how they could direct their philanthropy into programs that benefit the lives of women, with the aim of supporting fairness, effectiveness and social justice.

Seven Who Engender Ballots

With the 2012 presidential and congressional elections on the horizon, this group of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century represents the effort to amplify women’s voices in Congress and to ensure that new legislation benefits a truly diverse representation of America’s citizens.

As the current president and CEO of the Women’s Campaign Fund, Siobhan "Sam" Bennett injects a tireless enthusiasm for equality into political races. Working to improve women’s representation in all political parties.

As the first female mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, and president of the International Women’s Forum, Deedee Corradini protects women’s participation rights in Olympic sports, including winning a hard-fought battle to secure a place for female ski-jumping in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

When Mary Hughes realized that women were just not running in large enough numbers to tip the balance in politics, she started the 2012 Project. Planning to take advantage of newly open seats from redistricting, Hughes is committed to increasing the number of women elected to Congress and state legislatures.

Inspired by women’s history, Kamala Lopez is working on the future of women in politics through the ERA Education Project. With an ambitious mission to educate young women on the Equal Rights Amendment, the project is just one string of Lopez’s focus on bolstering the global movement for gender equality.

As leader of Emerge America, Karen Middleton has her sights set on improving the numbers of Democratic women who are serving in state legislatures and the number of seats Democratic women hold in the U.S. Congress.

President and CEO of the National Foundation for Women Legislators, Robin Read provides support to female public officials, former and current, through the largest and oldest organization for elected women at all levels of government from every state and U.S. territory.

Founder and chair of Republicans for Choice, Ann Stone is organizing Republicans around pro-choice issues and actively recruiting like-minded candidates to continue the effort for the party to support a woman’s right to choose.

Seven Who Leverage Power

These seven leaders operate on the knowledge that if women are empowered, then entire communities benefit. Through supporting survivors of domestic violence to providing economic independence for young women in Egypt, they make profound differences in women’s lives.

Through her work as senior vice president and general counsel general for Prudential Financial, Susan L. Blount founded the Inclusion Initiative, calling on the heads of other legal departments in major corporations to hire women and minority-owned law firms. The result: the creation of a movement among major corporations to diversify their legal teams.

Leveling the playing field to ensure equality thrives is the daily work of the National Women’s Law Center, headed by two powerful women: Nancy Duff Campbell and Marcia D. Greenberger. Behind many of the country’s groundbreaking gender-conscious legislation and enforcement actions, this duo has written and will continue to write women’s rights into the legal structure of America.

Joe Keefe is founder, president and CEO of Pax World, an investment fund managing more than $2 billion in assets. Keefe uses his control over shares in major corporations to press for an increase in the number of women on corporate boards from the current 12 percent..

Yousriya Loza Sawaris is helping young women in Egypt build economically independent futures through the creation of Banat El Ghad: Girls of Tomorrow. Now aiding120 young women who previously lived on the street, the program provides vocational training as a path to paid employment.

Natalia Oberti Noguera is the founder of Pipeline Fellowship, which trains women to become angel investors in women-led start-ups.

Sue Osthoff’s organization, the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, is the first and only organization working solely with women who have been jailed as a result of their responses to partner violence.

One of the few women in think tanks, Juhu Thukal is director of law and advocacy at the Opportunity Agenda. Thukal uses her law license and analytical skills as tools to champion for the rights of low-income and immigrant women and the LGBTQ community, as well as to assist sex workers organize to protect their human rights.

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For more information:

Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century 2012 Home Page

Women’s eNews Announces 21 Leaders for the 21st Century 2012

21 Women Leaders 2012 – Seven Who Catalyze Culture

21 Women Leaders 2012 – Seven Who Engender Ballots

21 Women Leaders 2012 – Seven Who Leverage Power