The Philippines’ first female president and the CEO of a news site critical of the current administration have made TIME Magazine‘s list of “100 Women of the Year,” a rundown of a century’s worth of influential women, most of them previously overlooked by the magazine’s long-running “Man of the Year” distinction.
In its write-up, published yesterday, TIME said that “there was a mythic quality” to former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, whom they described as “a well-born and a devout Catholic… a supportive wife” with seemingly no political ambitions until her husband, a prominent critic of the Marcos dictatorship was murdered. This set off a series of events that ended with the EDSA People Power Revolution toppling dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and Aquino taking office as president.
Naming her “Woman of the Year” in 1986, TIME also called Aquino the “Mother of Democracy,” and noted in yesterday’s story that the country’s “coarse, swaggering” current president, “Rodrigo Duterte, daily demonstrates both the machismo Corazon Aquino overcame, and the value of the principled civility she modeled.”
Joining Aquino on the list is veteran journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, who was TIME’s “Woman of the Year” in 2018. The magazine pointed out that Ressa already had an “impressive career in news” when she started Rappler along with three other women.
“But the news site turned into a global bellwether for free, accurate information at the vortex of two malign forces: one was the angry populism of an elected President with authoritarian inclinations, Rodrigo Duterte; the other was social media.”
It’s no secret that Ressa’s news outlet Rappler has been in hot water with the government after getting slapped with charges two years back for allegedly violating the country’s tax code and laws on foreign media ownership — charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated.
Ressa was previously CNN International’s Manila Bureau chief, headed ABS-CBN’s news division, and wrote for The Wall Street Journal before establishing Rappler.
Ressa and Aquino join the ranks of other women who were recognized at one point by TIME as “Woman of the Year,” as well as dozens of other women who didn’t get the cover treatment they deserved over the decades, including luminaries like Princess Diana, Serena Williams, and Oprah Winfrey.
The magazine explained that that the 100 women featured in the project were selected via a months-long process that began with more than 600 nominations submitted by the magazine’s staff, experts in the field, and a committee of women from various backgrounds.
TIME’s former editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs said the project looks at the ways in which women held power due to systemic inequality. “Women were already wielding soft power long before the concept was defined,” she said.