Honoring the Women Who Are Changing TV for the Better

On Monday May 18, the Feminist Majority Foundation (publisher of Ms.) will honor showrunners Jenji Kohan and Shonda Rhimes at its 10th annual Global Women’s Rights Awards. The award is the highest honor given by the organization.

Rhimes and Kohan are being recognized for their innovative programming that breaks sex and racial stereotypes, and gives voice to a variety of characters not often seen or heard on television—a critical component in winning full equality for women.

“Women like Rhimes and Kohan are changing the way women are represented in popular culture—for the better,” said Mavis Leno, who co-chairs the event with her husband, Jay Leno.

In the current issue of Ms., writer Dani Klein Modisett describes how groundbreaking women showrunners are redefining whose stories count on television. She writes:

Media innovators such as Kohan, Rhimes and their peers not only run successful shows but also are having a far-reaching effect on society. According to a study conducted by Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, women playing doctors, lawyers and politicos like the ones in ShondaLand, or even Amy Poehler’s hysterically funny bureaucrat Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation, have a positive effect on how women see themselves and their potential achievements.

Click through the slideshow below to see some of the celebrities who will pay tribute to Rhimes and Kohan on Monday, then check back with the Ms. Blog next week for the best quotes of the night.

Subscribe to Ms. today to read more about these powerful women and for exclusive interviews with Shonda Rhimes and Transparent creator Jill Soloway.