Meet PEOPLE's Women Changing the World in 2019

Actresses turned activists, brave civilians and three politicians who are making the world a better place this year

01 of 12

Oprah Winfrey: Empowering Women for Decades

Ruven Afanador

“There is not a moment that can’t turn out to be useful later,” this week's PEOPLE cover star says. “Life is a huge classroom, and when you learn one lesson, you get to move on to the next one."

02 of 12

Taraji P. Henson: Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness

Taraji P Henson
Sophy Holland

“My father always told me, ‘If you are blessed, then it’s your job to go out to the world and bless someone else,’ ” says the Empire star of launching her Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation.

03 of 12

Evan Rachel Wood: Giving Domestic Violence Survivors Time to Heal

Evan Rachel Wood
Kayt Jones

“Bad things can happen to you,” says Wood, who was inspired to advocate for the Phoenix Act after surviving domestic abuse herself, “but you can rise out of the ashes.”

04 of 12

Sen. Kamala Harris: Changing the Political Conversation

Democratic Presidential Candidates Attend The South Carolina Convention
Win McNamee/Getty

"Every position I went for, people said, ‘It’s not your time.’ That’s where I derive eternal optimism: the ability of the American people to see what can be, even if they’ve never seen it before," she says.

05 of 12

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Changing the Political Conversation

Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren Holds A Teacher's Union Town Hall in Philadelphia
Mark Makela/Getty

“For a long time women have been shut out of the process, devalued, told to be quiet,” she says. “We’re not doing that anymore.”

06 of 12

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Changing the Political Conversation

Presidential Candidates Attend Polk County Democrats' Steak Fry In Des Moines
Amy Klobuchar in Iowa in September 2019. Scott Olson/Getty

Running for office, says the Minnesota senator, “is about getting something done. I want to keep doing that.”

07 of 12

Reporter Julie K. Brown, Videographer Emily Michot & The Epstein Accusers: Taking Down a Sexual Predator

epstein whistleblowers
Gillian Laub

“I want women to know it doesn’t matter if a perpetrator is a big, grand, important rich person or somebody that’s living with you. Stand up for yourself no matter how hard it is," says accuser Michelle Licata.

08 of 12

Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe & Carli Lloyd: Championing for Equal Pay

US womens soccer
The 2019 U.S. Women's National Team. VI Images/Getty

“We want little girls to know their worth and dream bigger," Rapinoe on the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team's fight for equal pay.

09 of 12

Nelba Marquez-Greene: Supporting Survivors of Trauma and Gun Violence

Nelba Mårquez-Greene
Celeste Sloman

“I am still carrying the same weight as when I found out Ana was dead,” says Marquez-Greene, who founded the Ana Grace Project after her daughter Ana Grace was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. “What changes is your adjustment to that weight and the number of people in your life who are helping you bear the burden ... We all have a responsibility to be part of that.”

10 of 12

Zoë Saldana: Shining a Light on Migrant Families

zoe saldana
Lauren Dukoff

“These migrants are teachers, engineers, nurses,” says Saldana, who visited the U.S.-Mexico border with nonprofit This Is About Humanity earlier in the year. “You sit down with 12-year-olds who left with their 8-year-old siblings, running away from sexual or domestic abuse. We have to understand the human side of all of this.”

11 of 12

Great Thunberg: Fighting for the Planet

Thousands Of Americans Across The Country Participate In Global Climate Strike
Greta Thunberg. Drew Angerer/Getty

“People are unaware how big this crisis is,” the teen activist says of the state of the planet. Still, she adds, “we are not doomed unless we choose to be. My hope is that we can fix this crisis in time.”

12 of 12

Brie Larson: Setting a New Standard in Hollywood

brie Larson
Ramona Rosales

"It’s about being open to asking the tough questions, having the courage to implement changes and putting your privilege on the line," says the Captain Marvel star, who's been speaking up about injustices and lack of diversity in the film industry.

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