When I was growing up, saying you were a feminist always met with some kind of reaction - a beat of silence, perhaps, a wince, certainly a bit of a face. But this year it seemed to me that has began to change. In fact, being a feminist has finally started to become a given, to become a label that a new generation of young women feel proud to wear. 

Much to chauvinists' chagrin, interests in fashion and feminism are not mutually exclusive, and I think this shift may be down to women in the public eye wearing the feminist label along with a banging outfit. For me, this mood was personified by Patricia Arquette, starting 2015 with a roar at the Oscars. Wearing a super-chic monochrome dress by friend Rosetta Getty, she looked immaculate without conforming to the no-carbs-after-six actress stereotype. All the better to deliver an impassioned speech laying into gender inequality in Hollywood. 

In film and music, traditionally such a boys' club, women continued to dominate - something I for one found refreshing. See 50 Shades of Grey, as directed by the very elegant Sam Taylor-Wood, putting the women watching in cinemas in control (even if, arguably, Dakota Johnson's character wasn't) or Adele, the self-styled regular girl with signature eyeliner flicks topping the charts almost minutes after her single was released in October. 

And then there was Hillary Clinton, someone who I found myself rooting for beyond anything to do with politics. The pant-suited presidential candidate, who has been in public life for three decades, is dignified, clever and warm. I like her. And, fundamentally, I think a woman in the Oval Office would be awesome. Here’s to 2016 when I hope that possibility - and so many other things - might become a reality. 

1. The White House Woman: Hillary Clinton

When Clinton confirmed that she would be running for president in April, she did so via YouTube. If that sounds like a standard trick of a politician, watch the clip. She doesn’t appear until more than halfway through the film, and instead lets potential electors speak first. A clever move, yes, but also one that her supporters hope signals the start of things to come.

2. The Fabulous Baker Girl: Nadiya Hussain

The first Muslim woman to win The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya’s USP comes from how non-plussed she was. She said she 'wasn’t thinking about representing Muslims, I was thinking about my bakes'. That signifies to me a society that accepts diversity as a given.

3. The Rabble Rouser: Patricia Arquette

Giving an Oscar speech must be pretty scary. Giving one that takes on Hollywood is another story. So hats off to Patricia Arquette, who used her Best Supporting Actress win for Boyhood to demand 'equal rights for women in the United States'. The sight of Jennifer Lopez and Merly Streep applauding was like a #squadgoals post before the phrase went viral.

4. The Transformation: Caitlyn Jenner

Three words - 'call me Caitlyn' - was all it took to break the internet in June, when a Vanity Fair cover was revealed starring Caitlyn Jenner (formally Bruce) who was now living as a transgender woman. Caitlyn has since become a social media darling - she gained a million Twitter followers in four hours - and has her own TV show, I Am Cait.

5. The Funny Girl: Amy Schumer

Everyone knows mouthy women are the best, and they don’t get much mouthier than Amy Schumer. The comedian showed that to full effect in Trainwreck (which she wrote and starred in), playing a version of herself. The result was funny, clever and at times a little bit kind. Expect to see more of the 34-year-old in 2016 - she’s a star in the making.

6. The Sporty Spices: The Lionesses

If football was once a bone of contention in relationships across the land, this summer's success of the Lionesses, England’s women football team, should put paid to that. Led by captain Steph Houghton to the World Cup semi-finals - the first time any England team has got this far in a tournament since 1990 - they defined a new kind of girl power.

Read More: The best dressed women of 2015 - 22 stars that gave us style envy

7. The Voice Of A Generation: Lena Dunham

If there’s one lady who has owned the last five years, it might be Lena Dunham. Moving on from the delights of Girls, she has launched Lenny, an email newsletter. It's typically Dunham, and comes with the tagline 'there is no such thing as too much information'. An interview with Hillary Clinton suggests just how powerful the actress's pull now is.

8. The Race Campaigner: Amandla Stenberg

Who would have thought that Rue from The Hunger Games would grow up to be a strong voice in race politics? Seventeen-year-old Amandla Stenberg is just that. In April, she posted a video Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows (made for a school project) to her Tumblr page, and it has since had 1.7million views. An exciting young voice to listen to - both in acting and activism.

WATCH Amy Schumer in Trainwreck...