Ladies who lead: Celebrating the trailblazers of 2019

The past year was "a milestone year for women in politics, sports, entertainment and so much more,” Brzezinski said.
Image: Megan Rapinoe; Nancy Pelosi; and Cokie Roberts.
Megan Rapinoe; Nancy Pelosi; and Cokie Roberts.NBC: Getty Images

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By Renee Morad

As 2019 draws to a close, Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski recently reflected on the biggest accomplishments for women over the past year and discussed some of the most memorable moments, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prominent role in President Trump’s impeachment to the U.S. women’s soccer team rallying for equal pay.

The past year was "a milestone year for women in politics, sports, entertainment and so much more,” Brzezinski said. “We want to reflect on the women trailblazers who rose to the occasion, broke barriers, inspired action and set the example for others to truly know their value.”

Brzezinski chatted with MSNBC political analysts Karine Jean-Pierre, Susan Del Percio and Adrienne Elrod and MSNBC “Morning Joe First Look” co-anchor Yasmin Vossoughian to hear their takes on the female movers and shakers of 2019.

One thing is certain: Rep. Pelosi broke many barriers this year, from serving her 17th term as a congresswoman, to leading President Trump’s impeachment, to being an inspiration for young women regardless of what side of the political aisle they're on.

Nancy Pelosi looks on as President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address at the US Capitol on Feb. 5, 2019.Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images file

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Del Percio recognized Pelosi’s “true sense of dedication to the process, to governing, to doing what’s right for our country.” She admitted, “I was so happy, even though I’m a Republican, that she [Pelosi] became speaker because I knew we could trust her to lead us through a difficult time with President Trump.”

“President’s Trump’s biggest miscalculation politically since taking office was underestimating Nancy Pelosi because she is a force,” Del Percio added.

“All the women who ran and won in the midterms… [Pelosi] has definitely forged a path, and women across the country, mothers, nurses, Air Force pilots have stepped up,” Brzezinski said.

Jean-Pierre added that Pelosi “will be known as one of the most influential speakers of our time and that is something that is just amazing to see.” She has outsmarted President Trump at every turn—and he respects her, she explained.

This past year was a big year for women in politics in general, simply because of the sheer number of women who ran for president. More women across the country, following Trump becoming president in 2016, decided to step up to make change and take back their country. This movement is also helping to normalize what people are looking for in a female leader, Elrod explained.

Democratic presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris speak during the third Democratic debate in Houston on Sept. 12, 2019.Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images file

The panelists agreed that the narrative about women running for office shifted from a candidate’s physical appearance or the novelty of a woman running for president, to their messages and campaigns. Del Percio pointed out in the case of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, little is said about the fact that she is a woman. “We never talked once about what she was wearing,” she said. “Now it’s as natural as can be … Of course there’s a woman running for president.”

The U.S. women’s soccer team paving the way for equal pay was also a big moment of 2019. “When you’re an individual woman that has a platform like playing for the U.S. women’s soccer team, you have a responsibility to elevate yourself and elevate the conversation and lead the charge when it comes to equal pay,” Vossoughian said. Women watched Megan Rapinoe’s accomplishments in winning her suit against the United States Soccer Federation alleging gender discrimination and have been inspired to chase and obtain equal pay in their own careers, she explained.

Megan Rapinoe of United States (C) running with the ball during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between USA and Thailand at Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims, France on June 11, 2019.Marcio Machado / Getty Images file

“I’m just so proud of them for using that platform in a way that’s very beneficial to everyone,” Jean-Pierre added.

In addition to big gains, 2019 has also had some significant losses, such as the passing of political journalist Cokie Roberts. “She was such a legacy as a female journalist,” Vossoughian said. “Losing someone like that can be so devastating and so hard to see happen but also you remember so much of what she has accomplished and you learn so much from women like Cokie Roberts who have paved the way for you.”

Cokie Roberts, Toni Morrison, Gloria Vanderbilt passed away in 2019. Getty Images/AP

RELATED: Gone but not forgotten: 13 trailblazing women we lost in 2019

This incredible loss to the journalist community touched many. “I grew up as a young girl in Arkansas watching Cokie Roberts and being so inspired by her to be excited about politics,” Elrod said. “To see her untimely passing was devastating for women across the board.”

Brzezinski and fellow guests believe that the lessons from 2019 will carry us into the new year. “It has been an incredible year for women,” Brzezinski said.