Marianne Schnall is the author of “What Will It Take to Make a Woman President? Conversations about Women, Leadership and Power” and the founder of Feminist.com and the “What Will It Take” movement. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)2017 has been a turbulent and trying year for women.

Beginning with the inauguration of Donald Trump, the year saw an escalation of the Republican Party’s attacks on women, including efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, undermine women’s legal and reproductive rights and slash essential health benefits. Marianne SchnallMarianne SchnallMarianne SchnallThere were also threats to issues women care about: protections for children, civil rights and the environment, just to name a few. And then came the explosive epidemic of reports of sexual harassment and assault, exposing just how pervasive this problem is for women in all sectors of society.With all that has happened, it’s been hard for many women — and men — not to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. And yet… there is an upside: women are rising. Read MoreIn response to these attempts to diminish our power and silence our voices, women are harnessing their outrage. They are more engaged, energized and resolute than ever. Issues that were long ignored are finally coming to the surface, and women are beginning to speak up and use their voices and influence to demand real change. As New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, founder of Off the Sidelines, put it to me: “One of the only silver linings of the Trump presidency is that more and more women are feeling emboldened to raise their voices and fight for the issues that matter most to them, from sexual harassment in the workplace to paid leave. We saw that with the Women’s March, and we saw it again on Election Day last month, when women all over the country got off the sidelines, ran for office, and won.” (Editor’s note: the author’s daughter has interned for the senator.) This fire now burning in women explains why, even after such a rough year, we have reason to hope. I’d like to offer these reasons to be optimistic about what 2018 has in store — to remind us that we are living in a watershed moment in our history, one we can broaden and deepen. A transformative moment.Rose McGowan: 'I have been slut-shamed'Rose McGowan: 'I have been slut-shamed'Rose McGowan: 'I have been slut-shamed'JUST WATCHEDRose McGowan: ‘I have been slut-shamed’ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Rose McGowan: ‘I have been slut-shamed’ 01:381. Women everywhere are rising up, taking the women’s movement into the mainstream. Women are protesting, marching, organizing and building power. From the millions who joined the Women’s March to the survivors who have bravely come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault, to the millions participating in the #MeToo movement, it’s become clear that women are not going to stay silent anymore. And these “silence breakers” — named as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” — are not only speaking out, but are being heard. The “women’s movement” has been swept into the mainstream and become more diverse, and social media has become increasingly effective at mobilizing younger generations of women and girls.At the same time, men are becoming more vocal and aware of gender issues and finding ways to be active as allies. And, this week, the word “feminism” was named as Merriam-Webster’s word of the year: It was the year’s most-searched word on the dictionary’s website. Harvey Weinstein is a symptom, but what is the deeper problem? Harvey Weinstein is a symptom, but what is the deeper problem? Harvey Weinstein is a symptom, but what is the deeper problem? As California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who has been one of the most outspoken advocates of this new “resistance” told me, “When I spoke at the historic Women’s March in January, I was extremely inspired and encouraged. Following the election of Donald Trump — a man who had defined himself as having no respect for women and who was prepared to use his office to turn back the clock on the progress that had been achieved by the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, and the LGBTQ movement — a very diverse group of women organized the Women’s March, which brought together thousands of women from all ages, ethnicities, religions, and walks of life, who showed up and gained the type of attention for our concerns that we haven’t seen in many years.She continued: “Since the march, I have been very pleased by the leadership and participation of younger generations of women, particularly the millennials, who are continuing what was started in January and are running for office at record levels, organizing their communities, and, as we have seen with #MeToo, are boldly speaking truth to power in order to fight for the change we so desperately need in this country. This is what the ‘resistance’ is all about, and these signs help me continue to be hopeful during this very tumultuous and chaotic period in our country.” 2. Women’s political power is growing. Women are running for office in record numbers, there has been a dramatic increase of women donors funding campaigns, and more and more strong women leaders are emerging. Parity for women in politics is being rightfully reframed as an essential component of a reflective democracy, and the need for women’s input and voices in government has never been more clear. Emily’s List, an organization devoted to electing female candidates, has reported a huge surge in women interested in running for office, with more than 22,000 women contacting the organization since Trump was elected. Other groups offering training programs for women report similar increases and also note the trends of a more diverse and younger cohort of women candidates. A large crowd walks down Pennsylvania Avenue after the start of the Women's March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 21. Organizers said the march is sending a message to Donald Trump that "women's rights are human rights." Similar protests unfolded across the country.A large crowd walks down Pennsylvania Avenue after the start of the Women's March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 21. Organizers said the march is sending a message to Donald Trump that "women's rights are human rights." Similar protests unfolded across the country. Photos: Women's March on Washington A large crowd walks down Pennsylvania Avenue after the start of the Women’s March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 21. Organizers said the march is sending a message to Donald Trump that “women’s rights are human rights.” Similar protests unfolded across the country.Hide Caption 1 of 24A woman chants at the Women's March on Washington. A woman chants at the Women's March on Washington. Photos: Women's March on Washington A woman chants at the Women’s March on Washington. Hide Caption 2 of 24Women with cat hats walk past the Capitol.Women with cat hats walk past the Capitol. Photos: Women's March on Washington Women with cat hats walk past the Capitol.Hide Caption 3 of 24Demonstrators at the Women's March rally toward the White House on the National Mall.Demonstrators at the Women's March rally toward the White House on the National Mall. Photos: Women's March on Washington Demonstrators at the Women’s March rally toward the White House on the National Mall.Hide Caption 4 of 24Demonstrators take a break from marching at the National Gallery of Art.Demonstrators take a break from marching at the National Gallery of Art. Photos: Women's March on Washington Demonstrators take a break from marching at the National Gallery of Art.Hide Caption 5 of 24Protesters gather on the National Mall near the US Capitol. Protesters gather on the National Mall near the US Capitol. Photos: Women's March on Washington Protesters gather on the National Mall near the US Capitol. Hide Caption 6 of 24Protesters gather near the US Capitol.  Protesters gather near the US Capitol.  Photos: Women's March on Washington Protesters gather near the US Capitol. Hide Caption 7 of 24Lily Donahue of Wappingers Falls, New York, center, is among the thousands with signs protesting violence against women.Lily Donahue of Wappingers Falls, New York, center, is among the thousands with signs protesting violence against women. Photos: Women's March on Washington Lily Donahue of Wappingers Falls, New York, center, is among the thousands with signs protesting violence against women.Hide Caption 8 of 24The pink "pussyhat" with cat ears became the symbol the the Woman's March on Washington as a reference to President Donald Trump's remarks about grabbing women by their genitalia during the election. The pink "pussyhat" with cat ears became the symbol the the Woman's March on Washington as a reference to President Donald Trump's remarks about grabbing women by their genitalia during the election. Photos: Women's March on Washington The pink “pussyhat” with cat ears became the symbol the the Woman’s March on Washington as a reference to President Donald Trump’s remarks about grabbing women by their genitalia during the election. Hide Caption 9 of 24Madonna performs during the Women's March on Washington, Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Washington. Madonna performs during the Women's March on Washington, Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Washington. Photos: Women's March on Washington Madonna performs during the Women’s March on Washington, Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Washington. Hide Caption 10 of 24The march evolved from a post-election call to action on Facebook to an organized effort that included high-wattage activists and attendees.The march evolved from a post-election call to action on Facebook to an organized effort that included high-wattage activists and attendees. Photos: Women's March on Washington The march evolved from a post-election call to action on Facebook to an organized effort that included high-wattage activists and attendees.Hide Caption 11 of 24A woman wears a pink hat to send a message during the protest.A woman wears a pink hat to send a message during the protest. Photos: Women's March on Washington A woman wears a pink hat to send a message during the protest.Hide Caption 12 of 24Demonstrators wearing pink hats gather during the Women's March on Washington in Washington, DC, on Saturday, January 21, 2017. Demonstrators wearing pink hats gather during the Women's March on Washington in Washington, DC, on Saturday, January 21, 2017. Photos: Women's March on Washington Demonstrators wearing pink hats gather during the Women’s March on Washington in Washington, DC, on Saturday, January 21, 2017. Hide Caption 13 of 24Singer Alicia Keys performs on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women's March on January 21, 2017.Singer Alicia Keys performs on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women's March on January 21, 2017. Photos: Women's March on Washington Singer Alicia Keys performs on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017.Hide Caption 14 of 24Demonstrators arrive at Washington's Union Station for the march.Demonstrators arrive at Washington's Union Station for the march. Photos: Women's March on Washington Demonstrators arrive at Washington’s Union Station for the march.Hide Caption 15 of 24Ginny Suss, Carmen Perez, Gloria Steinem, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Mia Ives-Rublee appear onstage during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Ginny Suss, Carmen Perez, Gloria Steinem, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Mia Ives-Rublee appear onstage during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Photos: Women's March on Washington Ginny Suss, Carmen Perez, Gloria Steinem, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Mia Ives-Rublee appear onstage during the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Hide Caption 16 of 24Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women's March on January 21, 2017.Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women's March on January 21, 2017. Photos: Women's March on Washington Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017.Hide Caption 17 of 24Ginger Naglee of Olney, Maryland, gets into the spirit on Independence Avenue. Ginger Naglee of Olney, Maryland, gets into the spirit on Independence Avenue. Photos: Women's March on Washington Ginger Naglee of Olney, Maryland, gets into the spirit on Independence Avenue. Hide Caption 18 of 24Women gather on a barricade on the National Mall. Women gather on a barricade on the National Mall. Photos: Women's March on Washington Women gather on a barricade on the National Mall. Hide Caption 19 of 24A man dressed as Abraham Lincoln stands with protesters.A man dressed as Abraham Lincoln stands with protesters. Photos: Women's March on Washington A man dressed as Abraham Lincoln stands with protesters.Hide Caption 20 of 24Protesters take a selfie on the grounds of the US Capitol.Protesters take a selfie on the grounds of the US Capitol. Photos: Women's March on Washington Protesters take a selfie on the grounds of the US Capitol.Hide Caption 21 of 24Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women's March on January 21, 2017.Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women's March on January 21, 2017. Photos: Women's March on Washington Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017.Hide Caption 22 of 24Girls hold anti-Trump signs during the march.Girls hold anti-Trump signs during the march. Photos: Women's March on Washington Girls hold anti-Trump signs during the march.Hide Caption 23 of 24New Yorker Nicole Monceaux joins in the march.New Yorker Nicole Monceaux joins in the march. Photos: Women's March on Washington New Yorker Nicole Monceaux joins in the march.Hide Caption 24 of 2428 womens march dc 12 womens march dc25 womens march dc 27 womens march dc 26 womens march dc 05 womens march dc 13 womens march dc14 womens march dc22 womens march dc 19 women march dc16 womens march dc RESTRICTED17 womens march dc21 womens march dc RESTRICTED21 womens march dc Alicia Keys18 womens march dc20 women march dc24 womens march dc 06 womens march dc 07 womens march dc 08 womens march dc 09 womens march dc 23 womens march dc 10 womens march dc 11 womens march dc This November, one year out from Election Day 2018, the number of female House and Senate candidates was nearly double the number at the same point in 2016, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers. The recent November election results offered promising wins for women and diversity, with cities across the country electing their first women, minority and/or transgender candidates into public office.Changes to the political landscape are further exemplified by the mobilization of black women voters as a decisive influence in the US Senate race out of Alabama on Tuesday.Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock encourages all women to get involved politically in any way they can: “My call to everybody is to get engaged now. And the way that we really make it happen, coast to coast, in every state, is by getting involved, whether it’s a local race, whether you’re running or you’re backing somebody up. Democracy is not something you just sit on the sidelines of — you actually have to get involved, roll up your sleeves, and help out your sisters in doing this. We can make this happen.” 3. Powerful men are being held accountable in cases of sexual harassment and assault. The world is watching as some of the most powerful and well-known male public figures topple from their pedestals as they face allegations of abusive behavior. Nearly all are swiftly losing their jobs and their platforms, and facing harsh public backlash. Reports: More women accuse Lauer of harassmentReports: More women accuse Lauer of harassmentReports: More women accuse Lauer of harassmentJUST WATCHEDReports: More women accuse Lauer of harassmentReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Reports: More women accuse Lauer of harassment 03:10Corporations and media entities are issuing strong statements and demonstrating zero tolerance for sexual misconduct, and politicians accused of abuse are also being pushed to resign. Reports of Alabama candidate Roy Moore’s alleged sexual abuse arguably were responsible for his Senate loss this week, and a growing chorus of lawmakers and others are calling for Donald Trump to resign because of his alleged abuses (CNN has reported that both men deny the allegations).Eve Ensler, founder of the anti-violence group V-Day — and playwright of “The Vagina Monologues” — told me that she recognizes that this moment of reckoning is a good start, but reminds us that we must continue to be proactive: “This could be a tipping point, but a lot has to happen. This tsunami of telling has to translate into concrete irreversible action — from telling to transformation, from revealing to revolution.”4. And men are a part of this cultural revolution. As #MeToo becomes the story of the year, many men are freshly reflecting on their own and their colleagues’ behavior, and our society appears to be in the beginning of a long-overdue national conversation about the abuse of power and privilege, the socialization of men and boys, the objectification of women and a culture of toxic masculinity. We need 'extreme vetting' for toxic masculinityWe need 'extreme vetting' for toxic masculinityWe need 'extreme vetting' for toxic masculinityThere is an important reframing underway: these are not “women’s issues” — too long misplaced, trivialized and marginalized as such — they are human issues that we need to address together. Ted Bunch, co-founder of A Call To Men, a group that educates men all over the world on healthy, respectful manhood, shared with me his hopes for the transformation this shift could bring: “We hope that men will start to understand that they are the solution. We have an opportunity to educate men about how our collective socialization results in a culture that devalues women and ultimately allows many forms of violence and discrimination to persist and harms all of us.” Although 2017 has been full of obstacles, we can’t deny that it has also emboldened women and girls. This is a potential tipping point, if we constructively use it and harness this energy. It requires that we all stay vigilant and address the issues we care about. Sen. Gillibrand told me: “As we head into the new year, my advice to women is this: Don’t wait for some white knight in Washington to ride up and save us. You will wait forever. It is the grassroots who will create the message, launch the campaigns, and win the elections that finally change our country for the better.”

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http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/14/opinions/2018-will-be-the-year-of-women-schnall/index.html

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