05/01/2016 5:24 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

2015 Was A Good Year For Women

Looking back on 2015, I cannot help but think it was some sort of rising up for strong women. Whatever their cause or background, women stood up with strong voices and argued for equality.

Scott Barbour via Getty Images
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 04: Michelle Payne, Australian jockey speaks to the media a day after she won the 2015 Melbourne Cup, riding Prince of Penzance, and becoming the first female jockey to win the event during a Melbourne Cup Carnival press conference at Crown Entertainment Complex on November 4, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Looking back on 2015, I cannot help but think it was some sort of rising up for strong women. Whatever their cause or background, women stood up with strong voices and argued for equality.

It really felt that there was a sort of zeitgeist for positive change towards women claiming what is rightfully theirs: equality. I've thought about some of the women who have inspired or impressed me over the past 12 months and I am excited.

Funny woman Amy Schumer certainly raised her public profile worldwide in 2015. With the release of her film 'Trainwreck', which she wrote, produced and starred in, Schumer has given us a very funny and very refreshing look into life as a woman who says what needs to be said.

Amy's television show, 'Inside Amy Schumer' is at times risqué but often makes hilarious digs at the double standards that women sometimes find themselves facing. Added to all of this, Schumer is kicking some serious butt in comedy, an arena that is traditionally dominated by blokes.

Sticking to Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence, Patricia Arquette and Viola Davis have all used their profiles and awards to point out the performing arts still engage in subtle and not so subtle sexism.

Lawrence's essay in Lenny Letter started chatter in every industry as, once again, the gender pay gap was pointed out. She even got some high profile support from her very popular and very well paid co-star, Bradley Cooper.

Patricia Arquette and Viola Davis both used award acceptances as platforms to point out the pay gap and the lack of recognition and value of women, including women of colour for Davis. While their plight may apply to Hollywood, their direct approach to the gender inequalities in Hollywood are so relatable around the world.

2015 was also a great year for sport; women's sport in Australia more specifically. While our men's Ashes team forgot to turn up to matches in England, the women came home with the goods.

Women's AFL also got some prime time coverage, and a professional league is fast approaching. However, just like Hollywood, the women in sport get a lot less recognition and certainly a lot less pay. A viral video where reporters asked prominent male sportsmen the same questions that female athletes get asked, including the atrocious 'give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit' put a new spin on how the media treats women in sport.

The most Aussie response of all came on a certain November day when Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne told anyone who thought the women couldn't hack it to 'get stuffed'. And every Aussie woman beamed with pride as we imagined telling our own naysayers the same thing.

Politics was not immune to the rise of the woman. Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party won by a landslide in the historic elections in Myanmar. Although she has been subjected to decades of imprisonment, abuse and violation of her basic human rights, the Nobel prize winner has demonstrated her ability and her courage.

In my own professional sphere, #ILookLikeASurgeon was born on Twitter by US surgical resident Dr Heather Logghe MD following the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign. The surgeon hashtag has linked women and men across the globe to find support, collegiality, mentorship and friends. In Australia, around 9 percent of all surgeons are women, despite women now making up half of medical school graduates.

It may not be high profile but there was certainly a palpable change in the air. Men have stepped up to the plate and helped demand equality. And not just for their daughters, sisters or wives, but because it's simply time. And while we may not have achieved the giddy heights of equality just yet, it certainly feels like we just might.

In a modern society like Australia, it's easy to think that we're there, women have it pretty good. Unlike some other countries, we can drive, vote and be educated. If you are a white woman in Australia, you are even more privileged than women who are members of other minorities. But that doesn't mean that feminism isn't necessary for women from all walks of life.

We should never stop aiming higher for ourselves, other women and men and for future generations.