ELLE 100: Women That Are Changing the World
These women are taking chances and changing society in their own ways.
by : ELLE Canada- Nov 28th, 2022
From Taylor Swift to Malala Yousafzai, here are 100 women who have impacted and inspired the world using their voices, talents and motivation.
They have fought tirelessly for our rights, battling prejudice at every turn. These women are using their voices to change the world.
REEMA BINT BANDAR AL SAUD, Saudi Arabia, 47 years old
WHY HER: As Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States she is the first female envoy in the country’s history. She has advocated for female empowerment and has worked to expand opportunities for Saudi women.
DEFINING MOMENT: Advocating for a woman’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia, a campaign that has finally achieved its aims.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “If you stand still, you give them the power to push you down. If you keep walking, they have to follow you.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Through her Catmosphere foundation, Princess Reema launches the second Catwalk walkathon in support of Big Cats on 6 November, to raise awareness of endangered big cats – like Saudi’s nearly extinct Arabian Leopard – and their ecosystems.
SHANNON MELISSA CHAN, Hong Kongese, 38 years old
WHY HER? Alongside her day job as an upper gastro-intestinal surgeon and assistant Professor at the Chinese University of Hong-Kong, Dr Chan works closely with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) to provide surgical care globally. She advocates for access to proper medical care worldwide and has put herself at the front line of medical assistance in extremely dangerous places ravaged by war, such as Yemen and Sudan. She was also pivotal to local Covid 19 vaccination drives in Hong Kong.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2021 she won the Hong Kong Humanity Award.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Find your meaning in life and do things that make you happy”.
WHAT’S NEXT? She has further affirmed her commitment to providing humanitarian aid to the less developed parts of the world.
VUSLAT DOGAN SABANCI, Turkish, 51 years old
WHY HER? A former publisher of newspapers in Turkey, she is Vice Chair of the Aydin Dogan Foundation which works for education equality and empowers young women. She’s also the founder of the Vuslat Foundation, a global initiative dedicated to ‘generous listening’ as a route to meaningful change. She’s a self-taught artist and has become a strong voice for human rights and gender issues in Turkey.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her foundation’s first creative installation project, commissioned for the Architecture Biennale, was chosen as Valentino’s couture runway venue in Venice in 2021.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “You need to be actively present to listen, and listening needs courage”.
WHAT’S NEXT? Continuing to advocate that we cannot fix our social systems before we fix our connections to ourselves, to each other and nature.
ANGELINA JOLIE, American, 47 years old
WHY HER? Do you really need to ask?! Actor, filmmaker, humanitarian, Cambodian American goodwill ambassador…She is known for her work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and is a committed conservationist and animal rights activist.
DEFINING MOMENT: In June 2020, Jolie donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Nothing would mean anything if I didn’t live a life of use to others.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She is starring in the movie Every Note Played as the ex-wife of a piano virtuoso who cares for him when he’s diagnosed with ALCS. Jolie continues to oversee UNESCO’s second “Women for Bees” programme, recently launched in Cambodia, to train women in beekeeping.
MARTA LEMPART, Polish, 43-years old
WHY HER? Because of her social and political activism Lempart has been targeted by the government with arrests and legal charges and faced death threats from opponents. This hasn’t stopped her from initiating and leading the Women’s Strike, which demands the right to abortion. Her work has also included advocating for equal rights for members of Poland’s LGBTQ+ community and for people with disabilities.
DEFINING MOMENT: Setting up the Polish Women’s Strike movement to confront the government’s propaganda.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Of course, we move backwards and forwards, which causes a great level of frustration. It’s obviously going to take time, but I know, in the end, we will get there because it’s impossible any other way.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Encouraging other activists to seek out mental health support.
MANJULA PRADEEP, Indian, 53 years old
WHY HER? From an orthodox Dalit family in Gujarat, she rose up, defying her abusive father, to become a lawyer and activist for the rights of India’s most deprived communities.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2021 she co-founded the National Council of Women Leaders.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I am proud that I am a woman. In my community when a girl is born, people feel uncomfortable. I have made a mark in such a society; have awakened those women who were reluctant to voice their opinions. Now they fight injustice.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Continuing the work she does via her WAYVE Foundation, which seeks to empower the country’s marginalized youth.
MARIA RESSA, Filipino-American, 59 years old
WHY HER? This journalist and former CNN correspondent in Southeast Asia is known for co-founding Rappler, a Philippines online news website. She has fought tirelessly against fake news and has been highly critical of the Philippine President. In 2019 she was arrested for “cyber defamation”, in what is considered a political act initiated by the government.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2021 she was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “You cannot succeed if at some point you haven’t failed.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Ressa faces a potential jail term of over 100 years in the Philippines for exposing the truth about global political online corruption, coming in September 2022. Her new book How to Stand Up to a Dictator (out now) is an explosive account of her game-changing investigations.
MACKENZIE SCOTT, American, 52 years old
WHY HER? She’s the fourth-wealthiest woman in the United States and has committed to give at least half of her wealth to charity. As a signatory to the Giving Pledge, Scott donated over $2.7 billion in 2021 alone. She has been Executive Director of Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying organization since she founded it in 2014. Scott is also a successful novelist and won an American Book Award for her 2005 debut novel, The Testing of Luther Albright.
DEFINING MOMENT: Divorcing billionaire founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, in 2019. Then later donating two of their Beverly Hills homes worth $55 million to the California Community Foundation, in 2022.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “People struggling against inequities deserve center stage in stories about change they are creating. This is equally — perhaps especially — true when their work is funded by wealth”.
WHAT’S NEXT? She will continue working with consultants to identify causes and recipients. And then, rather than imposing complex reporting requirements or interfering in management, she leaves spending decisions to the discretion of the beneficiaries.
EMMA WATSON, British, 32 years old
WHY HER? While childhood fame sends many on a spiral of self-destruction, Watson continued to build a successful film career after Harry Potter and used her growing passion for human rights and gender equality to forge a new role as an activist. Alongside her work as a UN Goodwill Ambassador, she has visited Bangladesh and Zambia as part of her humanitarian efforts, has worked to promote fair trade and organic clothing and served as an ambassador for Camfed International, a movement to educate girls in rural Africa.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her iconic “if not me, who? If not now, when?” speech at an event for the HeForShe campaign, at the United Nations Headquarters, New York.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I don’t want other people to decide who I am”.
WHAT’S NEXT? Working behind the camera and moving into directing.
MALALA YOUSAFZAI, Pakistani, 25 years old
WHY HER? Since being shot by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2012 when she was just 15, Yousafzai has demonstrated unimaginable resilience in the face of such horror, recovering from her own major injuries to double down on the activism she was attacked for. She continues to fight for education in countries where girls can be banned from schools.
DEFINING MOMENT: Winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and becoming the youngest person in history to do so.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Developing the Malala Fund’s Girl Programme designed to amplify girls’ voices, and equip them with leadership and advocacy skills.
OLENA ZELENZKA, Ukrainian, 44 years old
WHY HER? Olena is an architect graduate turned screenwriter who is the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She has launched a series of humanitarian initiatives aiming to help Ukrainians suffering from Russian aggression.
DEFINING MOMENT: Speaking to the US Congress about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in July 2022.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I really want the whole world not to get used to this war. Yes, it is far from you, it lasts long, and you can get tired of it, but please do not get used to it, because if everyone gets used to it, this war will never end.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Continuing her campaign to raise funds to buy much-needed emergency vehicles for Ukraine.
It’s time to seriously address our impact on the planet. These women are
leading the way.
XIYE BASTIDA, Mexican-Chilean, 20 years old
WHY HER? Bastida is a climate activist and member of the Mexican indigenous Otomi-Toltec nation. She is one of the main organizers of New York’s Fridays for Future protests. She’s a leading voice for indigenous and immigrant visibility in climate activism.
DEFINING MOMENT: She was invited as the only speaker at the Biden Climate Summit in 2021, where she spoke to 40 heads of state.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Take care of Mother Earth, because Mother Earth takes care of us.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She is currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania where she is studying Environmental Studies with a concentration in Policy.
JANE GOODALL, British, 88 years old
WHY HER? Goodall is a national treasure in the UK where she has devoted her career as an ethnologist and anthropologist to studying the behaviour of chimpanzees. Her work has profoundly transformed the understanding of the relationship between humans and animals. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute for the protection of biodiversity, sustainable development, and education and has received numerous awards and honours for her work.
DEFINING MOMENT: At a conference in 1986 in Africa she was made aware of the horrific conditions chimps were subjected to in the name of research and says at that moment she went from scientist to activist.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “If we kill off the wild, then we are killing a part of our souls.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Her latest project is The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times.
SONIA GUAJAJARA, Brazilian, 48 years old
WHY HER? This Brazilian Indigenous activist from the Guajajara tribe has moved into politics, becoming a member of the leftist Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). She was initially a candidate for President of Brazil in the 2018 election, before being chosen as the vice-presidential running mate of nominee Guilherme Boulos. This made her the first indigenous person to run for a federal executiveposition in Brazil.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2022, Guajajara was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
POWERFUL QUOTE: ‘Brazil is at a very tense moment. (Indigenous peoples’) land rights are under attack. Our very lives are at stake.’
WHAT’S NEXT? Guajajara has been bringing to national attention the trampling of Indigenous rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
EMILY LAM-HO, Hong Kongese, 38 years old
WHY HER? Despite coming from one of Hong Kong’s most prominent families, she chooses to devote her life to giving back. As CEO and Co-Founder of EcoDrive Hong Kong she promotes reduction of single-use plastics through community education and collaboration with corporates and schools. Earlier this year she also launched Empact28, an investment company focused on funding women entrepreneurs and corporations making a positive social or environmental impact.
DEFINING MOMENT: Emily was reappointed for a third consecutive term by the government as a council member of the Hong Kong Women’s Commission advising the administration on female supporting initiatives.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “It’s very important to have good women mentors. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to support similar people with a similar mindset. I think a lot of people just really need a chance.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Working on 8Shades, a purpose-driven lifestyle platform she founded, promoting sustainable living.
RIDHIMA PANDEY, Indian, 15 years old
WHY HER? When she was nine years old, she filed a suit against the Indian government for not taking enough steps to combat climate change. She was also one of the complainants to the United Nations, along with several other young climate activists, against several nations’ failure to take action against the climate crisis.
DEFINING MOMENT: Delivering an inspiring TED talk at a local Kanke event at the age of just 13.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I want a better future. I want to save my future. I want to save our future. I want to save the future of all the children and all the people of future generations.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Recently selected for the UN Women’s 30 for 2030 initiative, she will provide expertise on youth and gender issues and be central to policy-making for sustainable change.
AUTUMN PELTIER, Canadian, 18 years old
WHY HER? This Anishinaabe Indigenous rights advocate from the Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada is a force to be reckoned with. She was named Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation in 2019.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2018, at the age of 13, Peltier addressed world leaders at the UN General Assembly on the issue of water protection.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “My people believe that when we’re in the womb, we live in water for nine months and our mother carries us in the water. As a fetus, we learn our first two teachings: how to love the water and how to love our mother.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Having received a Young Leaders Human Rights award in 2022, Peltier continues to fight for the right to clean water for all First Nation communities.
SWIETENIA PUSPA LESTARI, Indonesian, 27 years old
WHY HER? Underwater diver, environmental engineer and environmental activist, Lestari is a modern-day Wonder Woman. She is the executive director and co-founder of Jakarta-based Divers Clean Action (DCA) and leads a team of volunteer divers who clear rubbish, especially plastic waste, from the reefs and recycle what they find.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2017, Lestari founded the Indonesian Youth Marine Debris Summit and in 2019 was invited to attend Barack and Michelle Obama’s Obama Foundation Leaders Forum in Malaysia.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Youths can drive bigger and faster changes.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Amplifying her campaign to say no to single-use plastics.
GUNHILD STORDALEN, Norwegian, 43 years old
WHY HER? This medical doctor and environmental activist is the founder and executive chair of the EAT Foundation, which aims to transform the global food system to ensure that the growing population has healthy and nutritious food within safe environmental limits.
DEFINING MOMENT: As an animal rights campaigner she refused to do an interview with ELLE until the magazine changed its policy on featuring fur, which it went on to ban across all editions in 2021.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “If a schoolgirl can change the global conversation alone, imagine what we can do together!”
WHAT’S NEXT? Continuing her work on several boards and advisory councils including the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, the World Economic Forum Stewardship Board on Food Systems, and as an ambassador for Friends of Ocean. She is also part of the International Leadership Committee for a Net Zero NHS.
GRETA THUNBERG, Swedish, 19 years old
WHY HER? She’s the voice of a new empowered generation of climate activists. From Sweden, where at the age of 15, she began protesting outside parliament every Friday with a sign that read ‘School Strike for Climate’, the movement gained traction among other people and soon school protests were seen around the world. She has unashamedly held governments to account and refused to be intimidated by patriarchal power plays.
DEFINING MOMENT: To avoid flying, she sailed by boat from Sweden to North America where she delivered the now iconic line ‘How Dare You?’ in her speech at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She has spoken of the toll her childhood of activism has taken and while she remains committed to the cause she would prefer not to be the singular face of the global climate justice movement. Thunberg is now stressing the importance of listening to local people on local issues.
HOA TRAN, Vietnamese, 42 years old
WHY HER? Vietnam has lagged behind some other nations with its environmental commitment so when Hoa Tran co-founded Greenhub Vietnam in 2016, its purpose was clear: to connect communities with resources while embracing greener lifestyle practices, sustainable production and natural conservation. For almost two decades she has worked with international organizations, managing development projects, and addressing issues such as natural resources co-management, waste management, environmental protection, plastic pollution and climate change adaptation.
DEFINING MOMENT: A strong advocate of the ‘zero waste’ approach, she has helped pioneer its introduction in Vietnam, sharing her experiences with global networks.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “You’re never too young to start learning about sustainable living”.
WHAT’S NEXT? Developing her “Zero waste schools and more” initiative (ZHub) which teaches children the basic 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. Plus, mapping plastic found along
Vietnam’s urban and coastal margins.
They’ve made waves in a historically male-dominated industry, and hold the purse strings of power.
REEM BADRAN, Jordanian, 53 years old
WHY HER? Known for her valuable business development and social impact, she was the first woman to run for election as a board member of the Jordan Chamber of Commerce in 2009, and she won. Spurred on by this success she then ran for election as a member of Parliament in 2010 and was the first woman in Amman to win a seat outside of the country’s quota system. Having trained as an Economist, she is now a member of several non-profit organizations operating in the fields of investment, women, youth, leadership, education, art and heritage, sports, finance and economy.
DEFINING MOMENT: She was named One of the World’s Most Successful Women in Business by the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Foundation in New York.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “The best thing for a person to have better revenue and profit is to start a business. That needs courage and persistence.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Continuing to serve as the Chairwoman of the National Microfinance Bank in Jordan which finances income generating projects for underserved segments of society.
CHOI SOO YEON, Korean, 40-years-old
WHY HER? Up to 95% of executive positions among Korea’s publicly listed companies are filled by men, and the average CEO is over 58. That makes Soo Yeon a brilliant anomaly.
DEFINING MOMENT: Korea’s JoongAng Daily called it an “extreme makeover” of Naver’s C-suite when she stepped into the CEO position at the age of 40. She became the youngest-ever leader of Naver — the number one portal operator and internet firm in South Korea, often compared to Google in its reach across search, online shopping, maps, and more. She is also its first female CEO.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “To take a leap forward, our most urgent task is to recover [our] corporate culture based on trust and autonomy.”
WHAT’S NEXT: She has had face-to-face meetings with 400 employees and listened to their views on Naver’s structural challenges and their suggestions to resolve them.
ESTHER DUFLO, French-American, 49 years old
WHY HER? Professor of Poverty Reduction and Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – now that’s a job title – she doesn’t try to answer the “big questions” like others in her industry with grand sweeping theories. Instead, she has transformed the field of development economics by pursuing practical answers to small questions: how best to persuade teachers in rural India to show up to work or parents to immunise their children?
DEFINING MOMENT: She was co-awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2019 for her work researching which policy interventions work to reduce poverty in developing countries. She was the second woman in history to receive the prize.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “The poor get bored the same as the rest of us. Their happiness might be as important to them as their health.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Her latest book Good Economics for Hard Times is out now.
GITA GOPINATH, Indian American, 50 years old
WHY HER? It would be impossible to list all Gopinath’s achievements in the short space allocated here, suffice to say, as Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who is recognized as one of the world’s leading macro-economists, has been extremely busy lately!
DEFINING MOMENT: She has been pivotal in helping to end the Pandemic, enabling accelerated delivery of vaccines to low-and lower-middle income countries.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I think about issues. I use my economic training to devise solutions”.
WHAT’S NEXT? She is bringing together policy-makers to fight against the effects of climate change, while publishing her research work as a Harvard scholar. She continues to be a trailblazer in the field of Economics.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, French, 66 years old
WHY HER? She’s President of the European Central Bank but Lagarde’s impressive career started in Paris at an international business law firm. In 2005 she became France’s Minister for Foreign Trade. Under President Nicolas Sarkozy, she was appointed Minister of the Economy. One of the few women in politics and economics, her every move was scrutinized in a way men in similar positions do not face.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2011, she left the French government to become Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where as the first ever woman in this role, she was confronted with the debt crisis in the eurozone (and you thought your job was tough!).
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I have a theory that women are generally given space and appointed to jobs when the situation is tough. I’ve observed that in many instances. In times of crisis, women eventually are called upon to sort out the mess, face the difficult issues and be completely focused on restoring the situation.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Inflation is at a record high in the euro zone, so her focus is on stabilizing price rises amid the war in Ukraine and marshaling agreement among policymakers from 19 countries to do so.
MARIANA MAZZUCATO, Italian, 54 years old
WHY HER? Translating economic ideas into policy is no easy job, but it’s what Mazzucato has devoted her career to. She is the Founding Director of the University College London (UCL) Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, Chair of the World Health Organization’s Council on the Economics of Health for All, and winner of the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. She continually challenges policymakers to shape markets using moonshot thinking to solve the greatest challenges of our time.
DEFINING MOMENT: Mazzucato’s moonshot thinking shaped Europe’s €100 billion innovation fund, putting the ideas in her globally influential book, Mission Economy: a moonshot guide to changing capitalism, into practice.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “History tells us that innovation is an outcome of a massive collective effort – not just from a narrow group of young white men in California. If we want to solve the world’s biggest problems, we better understand that.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Her new book The Big Con: how the consulting industry has infantilized government, weakened business and warped our economies is out this Spring.
STEFANIE STANTCHEVA, Bulgarian, 36 years old
WHY HER? Giving tax a compelling narrative that makes people want to engage in the subject is an achievement in itself, but Stantcheva, who is a Professor of economics at Harvard University, is so passionate about the subject it’s impossible not to be fascinated by her work. It centres around the long-lasting effects of tax policy – on innovation, education, and wealth.
DEFINING MOMENT: She was named one of the eight best young economists of the decade by The Economist.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I’m a very big believer in more information and more education on economic issues.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Exploring people’s attitudes towards taxation, health care, immigration policies, environmental policies, and social mobility using large-scale Social Economics surveys and experiments.
Transforming laws, changing minds and lobbying for a better world, these women know how to get things done!
JACINDA ARDERN, New Zealander, 42 years old
WHY HER: Since 2017 Arden has led her party and her country through crises no premier could have predicted – from the Christchurch terrorist attacks to the White Island eruption and of course, the Covid-19 pandemic. She has become known for her firmness and empathy and isn’t afraid to be honest about the reality of being a working mother. She won a landslide victory in the 2020 general election to become Prime Minister of New Zealand, giving her party more votes than any election in the previous 50 years.
DEFINING MOMENT: Bringing her 3-month-old baby to a United Nations Meeting.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I really rebel against this idea that politics has to be a place full of ego and where you’re constantly focused on scoring hits against each one another. Yes, we need a robust democracy, but you can be strong, and you can be kind.”
WHAT’S NEXT? An election looms next year.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, French-born American, 44 years old
WHY HER? She’s the first black and first openly gay White House press secretary in history. Before becoming a mother with her wife and taking on two of the most significant jobs of her life, Jean-Pierre was a political campaigner, activist, political commentator, and lecturer in public and international affairs at Columbia University. She has also been a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
DEFINING MOMENT: In August 2020, she became chief of staff to Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Dream big […] and don’t ever lose your true self.”
WHAT’S NEXT: With the endlessly volatile state of American politics, she’ll be busy communicating Biden’s vision to the nation as the White House press secretary.
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, Belgian, 64 years old
WHY HER? In her role as a German minister, von der Leyen has spoken out on a number of issues that challenged her more traditional party members – from increasing the number of nurseries for children, the introduction of a women’s quota for listed companies’ main boards, in favour of gay marriage and a nationwide minimum wage. She was the first woman to become Minister of Defence and was widely seen as one of Angela Merkle’s successors as leader.
DEFINING MOMENT: In July 2019, she was elected President of the European Commission, becoming the first woman to hold this position.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She has said the EU plans to ban 90% of all Russian oil imports by the end of the year.
SANNA MARIN, Finnish, 36 years old
WHY HER? The Finnish Prime Minister made international news recently after a video of her dancing with friends at a party went viral and garnered disproportionate criticism from detractors who forced her to take a drug test. Countless politicians and people of note have come out in support of her, highlighting the unfair treatment a woman in a position of power is subjected to. The furore over her dancing detracts from the work she has been doing as Leader, including taking a very firm line against Vladimir Putin, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and dealing deftly with the Covid-19 crisis.
DEFINING MOMENT: At 34, she became the youngest person to lead a government in the world. She has improved the nation’s already generous parental leave system for both mothers and fathers.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “The strength of a society is measured not by the wealth of its most affluent members, but by how well its most vulnerable citizens are able to cope.”
WHAT’S NEXT: She has pledged that Finland will be net zero by 2035.
ANGELA MERKEL, German, 68 years old
WHY HER? Named the most powerful woman in the world fourteen times by Forbes magazine, Merkel was originally a scientist before moving into politics and working her way up to the top job -serving as the chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021. She was the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)’s first female leader.
DEFINING MOMENT: The normally cautious Merkel won international praise with her bold move to open the country’s borders to refugees at the height of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015, rallying Germans with the mantra, “We can do it.”
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I chose to pursue a career in physics because there the truth isn’t so easily bent.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Merkel is working on a book of political memoirs with her longtime adviser Beate Baumann, due to be published in 2024. She is also the new President of the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity Jury (Climate crisis).
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, American, 33 years old
WHY HER? As if being the youngest female parliamentarian elected to the United States Congress wasn’t enough of an achievement, Ocasio-Cortez introduced a total of 23 pieces of legislation in her first term alone.
DEFINING MOMENT? There have been so many! Through committee hearings, she pressured a major pharmaceutical company into lowering the price of a drug that reduces HIV transmission; forced a defense contractor to return $16.1 million in federal funding; and got Michael Cohen to state on the record that President Donald Trump was engaging in tax fraud.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Change takes courage.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Her current term ends on January 3, 2023, so she’s busy running for re-election.
The pen is mightier than the sword! These forces to be reckoned with are writing their way into history.
DOLLY ALDERTON, Canadian British, 34 years old
WHY HER? It takes a certain kind of bravery to lay your own life, in all its gloriously messy detail, for others to consume. But that’s how this prolific columnist, magazine writer and author made her name. The TV adaptation of her first book, the memoir Everything I Know About Love, became one of the most buzzed about shows of the year. Her 2021 novel Ghosts was shortlisted for the British Book Award for Fiction Debut and she is known for her witty takes on pop culture and dating.
DEFINING MOMENT: The much-loved podcast she created and co-hosted The High Low garnered her legions of new fans and proved a lifeline for many listeners over lockdown.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Nearly everything I know about love, I’ve learnt from my long-term friendships with women.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She’s working on another novel and plans to carry on making TV.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, British-Iranian, 64 years old
WHY HER? Her name is synonymous with American journalism. In the early 1990s her reports of the Persian Gulf War brought her wide recognition. Her dispatches on the ground from the Bosnian war and other conflict zones earned her a reputation for fearlessness. She was CNN’s chief international correspondent from 1992 to 2010 and has since been an international politics anchor on ABC News.
DEFINING MOMENT: She famously put President Bill Clinton on the spot in an interview in 1993 accusing him of “constant flip-flopping” over conflict in Bosnia. He responded angrily but she asserted herself as a force to be reckoned with.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I quickly decided to turn loss and failure into my driving force.”
WHAT’S NEXT? After battling ovarian cancer Amanpour has said she has a new lease of life.
RANA AYYUB, Indian, 38 years
WHY HER? ‘Fearless’ is the word most often used to describe Ayyub, an Indian investigative journalist whose ‘Global Opinions’ column in The Washington Post isn’t afraid to tackle thorny issues which have provoked horrific trolling and death threats. She reports on politics and social issues in India and has been lauded for her undercover investigative work on the Gujarat riots of 2002.
DEFINING MOMENT: She carried out an almost eight-month long risky sting operation investigating the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah in the riots.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “India is an imperfect experiment.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Ayyub will soon join the University of Chicago, Institute of Politics as their prestigious Pritzker fellow.
VIRGINIE DESPENTES, French, 53 years old
WHY HER? The iconic writer, novelist, and filmmaker is known for her work exploring gender, sexuality and the effects of poverty or life as part of a marginalized community.
DEFINING MOMENT: She published her first novel, the rape-revenge story Baise-Moi, at the age of 23. In 2000, she co-directed a film adaptation of the novel starring a French porn star. It became the first movie to be banned in France in 28 years.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Past the age of 40, everyone is like a bombed-out city.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She has launched a publishing house specializing in the publication of works related to the societal issues of queer and feminist culture.
AMANDA GORMAN, American, 24 years old
WHY HER? In a matter of minutes, this American poet and activist became a household name around the world when she read her self-penned piece ‘The Hill We Climb’ at the inauguration of President Biden. Her work explores themes of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman became the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, but the global stage catapulted her into ‘Voice of a Generation’ territory.
DEFINING MOMENT: Becoming the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration in United States history. She is now signed to IMG Models and her books are best-sellers.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “There is always light. Only if we are brave enough to see it. There is always light. Only if we are brave enough to be it.”
WHAT’S NEXT: She intends to run for president in 2036.
ELIF SHAFAK, Turkish, 51 years old
WHY HER? Novelist, essayist, public speaker, political scientist, and activist, her novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her work has been translated into more than 50 languages. She’s also a committed feminist and humanist heavily influenced by Sufism and Ottoman culture. Her writing attacks all forms of xenophobia.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her novel The Forty Rules of Love, was chosen as one of the BBC’s 100 Novels that Shaped Our World.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Love exists within each of us from the moment we are born and waits to be discovered from then on.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Working on new books.
OPRAH WINFREY, American, 68 years old
WHY HER? She’s the world’s most famous TV host, the richest Black woman in the world and the first Black woman billionaire in the world, but what we really admire is her ability to build a brand around her strong sense of herself. Known now as the “Queen of All Media”, with podcasts, books, films, TV shows, live events and so much more to her name, there really is nothing Oprah can’t do – except, maybe, slow down!
DEFINING MOMENT: She has been nominated for two Oscars as both an actor and a producer but it’s her philanthropy which is the greatest marker of her character, providing significant assistance to schools, battered women’s shelters and campaigns to catch child abusers.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She is one of the four producers bringing the movie musical of The Color Purple to the big screen in 2023.
Using their role in the public eye to draw attention to issues and inspire powerful change.
ADELE, British, 34 years old
WHY HER? Despite being one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with sales of over 120 million records, 15 Grammy Awards and 12 Brit Awards to her name, Adele keeps it real and maintains her great British sense of humour and self-deprecating personality.
DEFINING MOMENT: Each of her albums has been a moment in itself, and her songs have become instant classics, but it was clear she’d made it when she was awarded an MBE in 2013 for services to music.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I have insecurities of course, but I don’t hang out with anyone who points them out to me.”
WHAT’S NEXT: After cancelling and postponing her Las Vegas residency in tears, Adele has confirmed she’ll be playing 32 shows at Caesars Palace, from November until March 2023.
BEYONCÉ, American, 41 years old
WHY HER? Where to even start with the powerhouse that is Beyoncé! From Destiny’s Child to Dangerously in Love – the solo album that catapulted her to superstardom – and her most recent album, Renaissance, Queen B has a preternatural ability to get the cultural moment before anyone else does. Her work transcends music and makes a dent in the zeitgeist, provoking conversation, fashion trends and entire social moods. She’s channeled her creativity into acting, producing, art, fashion and so much more and is one of the biggest selling artists in the history of music.
DEFINING MOMENT: Releasing the album Lemonade, which addressed her feelings of betrayal head on after rumours surfaced of her husband Jay-Z’s affairs, was a power move like no other.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Don’t try to lessen yourself for the world; let the world catch up to you.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Fans are hoping for a Renaissance world tour in 2023.
MICHAELA COEL, British, 35 years old
WHY HER? Since creating and starring in the E4 sitcom Chewing Gum, for which she won a BAFTA, Coel has used her voice on and off screen to make powerful statements. Her autobiographical show I May Destroy You which she wrote and starred in won two BAFTAs, and she made history as the first Black woman to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her iconic speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival in 2018 addressed discrimination and the treatment of sexual assault survivors in the entertainment industry.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Don’t be afraid to disappear.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Playing Aneka in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
ZHOU DONGYU, Chinese, 30 years old
WHY HER? The actress and producer has won a massive 37 awards for her work and continues to be one of the most in demand Chinese actresses of her generation. Her roles defy type casting, and she’s wowed in parts ranging from crime thrillers to romantic comedies. She is an ambassador for several luxury brands, but more importantly she is a committed environmentalist serving as a spokesperson for the Franco-Chinese Month of the Environment.
DEFINING MOMENT: She had no prior acting experience before she was chosen in 2010 by the famed director Zhang Yimou to star in his film The Love of the Hawthorn Tree. Her performance won numerous awards and led to her becoming one of China’s four most bankable actresses.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Human wisdom can change the world, but respecting, caring for, and cherishing the ecological environment, animals and plants should be a necessary
WHAT’S NEXT: She has three major films slated for release in 2023.
JUNG HO-YEON, Korean, 28 years old
WHY HER? She began her career as a freelance model back in 2010, but when she competed on the fourth season of Korea’s Next Top Model (she was a runner-up) her career really took off. She is now a famous luxury brand ambassador but, more notably, made her name as an actress after starring in the Netflix hit Squid Games.
DEFINING MOMENT: She won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series and earned a nomination for an Emmy Award.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I try really hard whatever it is. I swear it.”
WHAT’S NEXT: She will star in Alfonso Cuarón’s Apple TV+ thriller series, Disclaimer, alongside Cate Blanchett.
OLIVIA RODRIGO, American, 19 years old
WHY HER? The Disney child star to pop star journey is a well-trodden one, but Rodrigo has well and truly made it her own. Her debut single “Drivers License” became one of the best-selling songs of 2021. Before signing her record deal, she negotiated maintaining the rights to the masters of all her tracks. Time named her the 2021 Entertainer of the Year and Billboard named her ‘Woman of the Year’ in 2022. Along with pop stardom, she is committed to using her platform for good and helped encourage young people to get the Covid-19 vaccination.
DEFINING MOMENT: In response to the 2022 overruling of the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Rodrigo performed “Fuck You” with British singer Lily Allen at Glastonbury Festival.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I love constructive criticism as it means someone cares about you and your art.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Fans hope she will play Coachella in 2023.
TAYLOR SWIFT, American, 32 years old.
WHY HER: One of the greatest song-writers of her generation, Taylor Swift is a force to be reckoned with. She has sold over 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling musicians of all time. She has won 11 Grammy Awards—including three Album of the Year wins, 34 American Music Awards—the most for an artist, 29 Billboard Music Awards—the most for a woman, and an Emmy Award.
DEFINING MOMENT: She famously took back control of her entire back catalogue of music, after a public dispute with talent manager Scooter Braun and Big Machine. When they refused to let her buy the masters, she began re-recording her work and releasing each album with “(Taylor’s Version)” in the title.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame…But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday, when you get where you’re going, you will look around and you will know — it was you, and the people who love you, who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
WHAT’S NEXT: After releasing her 10th studio album in October, it is rumoured that Swift plans to get back on the road in 2023 with a global stadium tour.
With their films, photography and groundbreaking artwork, they have etched their legacy upon our cultural landscape.
MARINA ABRAMOVIC, Serbian, 75 years old
WHY HER? Her work explores body art, endurance art, feminism, the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body and the possibilities of the mind. She has been active for over forty years and calls herself the “grandmother of performance art.” In 2007 she founded the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), a non-profit foundation for performance art.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her performance piece Rhythm 0, involved putting her life and body completely in the hands of strangers, turning herself into an object to be used as one wished for a period of six hours in a gallery space. During this time, she agreed to remain completely passive until the experiment was over.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “People have so much pain inside them that they’re not even aware of.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Her first major UK retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts – initially planned for 2020 – will open in September 2023 and run until December.
MANAL AL DOWAYAN, Saudi Arabian, 49 years old.
WHY HER? Long invested in interrogating the gender-biased customs that impact the condition of women in Saudi Arabia, Al Dowayan is a sensitive yet critical witness to the cultural metamorphosis engulfing the Kingdom. She works across sound, neon, and sculpture. She recently partnered with a famous luxury brand and became the first Arab to redesign one of their iconic bags.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her participatory installations Suspended Together (2011) and Esmi – My Name (2012), the result of workshops offering channels for thousands of women in the Kingdom to address
unjust social customs.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “My presence is a challenge.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Creating a large-scale artwork for Wadi AlFann (‘Valley of the Arts’) a new cultural development in the Saudi desert.
JANE CAMPION, New Zealander, 68 years old
WHY HER? In 1993, she won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her film The Piano, making her the first woman filmmaker to receive this award. Then in 2014, she became the first female director to chair the feature film jury at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. She is the first woman in the history of cinema to have been nominated twice for Best Director at the Oscars in 1993, and in 2022 for The Power of the Dog, which she finally won.
DEFINING MOMENT: The Piano had a seismic cultural impact with Kirsten Dunst saying: “I knew that Jane was the ultimate in directing female performances…. That kind of acting is the goal.”
POWERFUL QUOTE: “What we learn in movies directed by women is what real women are about. I don’t think that men see things wrong and women right, just that we do see things differently.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Focusing on the Aotearoa Pop Up Film Intensive, a new film school she founded in New Zealand with funding from Netflix.
JULIA DUCOURNAU, French, 38 years old
WHY HER? The director and screenwriter’s most recent film Titane, which was hailed ‘a ferocious and unflinching body horror thriller,’ won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021, making her the second woman to win the award and the first to win it alone. She is now being hailed as one of the leading figures in genre cinema.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her debut feature, Raw, which explored graphic (cannibalistic) extremities introduced her to the international stage as a fearless storyteller who defies expectations of a female director.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I think it’s important to provoke a reaction or to provoke debate through art.”
WHAT’S NEXT? As part of the Villa Albertine artist’s residency programme in 2023, she will draw inspiration for her next film by investigating the worlds of skin surgery and tattoo artists.
YAYOI KUSAMA, Japanese, 93 years old
WHY HER? Known for her iconic red bob haircut and penchant for polka dots, the artist is as eccentric as she is talented. She voluntarily lives in a psychiatric asylum in Tokyo, which has been her home since 1977. In recent years, her large-scale exhibitions at the Tate Modern and the Pompidou Center have been blockbuster sell-out shows and garnered her new fans among the Instagram generation. After arriving in New York in 1958, the artist began applying the dot motif to paper, canvas, walls, and even her own naked body.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her early ‘Infinity Net’ paintings – monochromatic canvases filled with thousands of tiny dots – paved the way for Minimalism. She helped pioneer Pop, performance, and installation art, too.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Bring on Picasso, bring on Matisse, bring on anybody! I would stand up to them all with a single polka dot!”
WHAT’S NEXT? Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2023 show debuted a new collaboration with the artist through ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’-inspired bags, the full collection will be released in January.
ZANELE MUHOLI, South African, 50 years old
WHY THEM? This non-binary artist and visual activist’s work spans photography, video, and installation and focuses on subjects such as race, gender and sexuality. They are one of the most acclaimed photographers working today, and their work has been exhibited all over the world.
DEFINING MOMENT: One of Muholi’s most impressive projects is ‘Faces and Phases’, a series of portraits of South Africa’s Black lesbian and transgender communities.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I’m just human.”
WHAT’S NEXT? An exhibition at The National Gallery of Iceland features over 100 photos and is on until early 2023.
PRUNE NOURRY, French, 37 years old
WHY HER? This multidisciplinary visual artist collaborates with artisans, psychoanalysts, geneticists, anthropologists, and researchers on artworks combining sculpture, installation, performance and video. The works she produces are mainly large volumes made in situ, which she destroys, buries, or stages in documented rituals, through photography and video.
DEFINING MOMENT: In China, she created an army of women in terracotta, inspired by the warriors of Xi’an, for a project she entitled ‘Terracotta Daughters’. After being exhibited around the world, they have been buried in China in a secret location.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Art keeps us sane.”
WHAT’S NEXT? In 2030, Nourry will dig up her ‘Terracotta Daughters’.
CINDY SHERMAN, American, 68 years old
WHY HER? For four decades she has interrogated our fixation with identity; playing with the visual and cultural codes of art, celebrity, gender, and photography. She is among the most significant artists of the Pictures Generation who came of age in the 1970s.
DEFINING MOMENTS: Shortly after moving to New York, she produced her Untitled Film Stills, in which she put on guises and photographed herself as various setting female characters (and caricatures) such as the jaded seductress, the unhappy housewife, the jilted lover, and the vulnerable
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I wish I could treat every day as Halloween and get dressed up and go out into the world as some eccentric character.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Since 2019, alongside major retrospectives at institutions such as London’s National Portrait Gallery and Paris’s Fondation Louis Vuitton, she’s been turning the images she posted on her
Instagram into tapestries.
CHLOÉ ZHAO, Chinese, 40 years old
WHY HER? From Beijing to Brighton, then New York to New England, and now LA, this film director and screenwriter’s itinerant life has given her a rare and authentic ability to shift between people and places. It shows in her eclectic work – independent films, a sprawling modern Western, and most recently a Marvel blockbuster.
DEFINING MOMENT: Winning Best Picture and Best Director for Nomadland at the Oscars in 2020 made Zhao the second woman in history and the first woman of color to win the Best Director category.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Wherever I go, I am drawn to outsiders because I am one myself.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She has been slated to executive produce a yet-to-be-titled series about the origins of the largest ever pan-Asian-American protest movement.
These are the designers, stylists, models and leaders of change making the biggest impact in the fashion industry.
MARIA GRAZIA CHIURI, Italian, 58 years old
WHY HER? The artistic director of Dior is credited with bringing feminism to luxury fashion. While training at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome, she quickly teamed up with her fellow student Pierpaolo Piccioli. The pair started out in the Fendi studios in the late 1980s. After creating a line of accessories for the Italian designer Valentino in 1999, they joined the prestigious house. In 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri left Valentino to join Christian Dior. She is the first woman to hold this position since the creation of the brand in 1946.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her “We should all be feminists” slogan T-shirt boldly set the new direction for Dior in her debut Spring/Summer 2017 show. And since then, she has targeted the millennial generation of shoppers who revel in individualism and self-expression.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “You must always be courageous. Don’t let others define who you are.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Embracing technology and the future of fashion.
GABRIELA HEARST, Uruguayan-American, 45 years old
WHY HER? A pioneer of sustainability in luxury fashion, Hearst made it her mission to ensure there’s a ‘purpose to every piece’ and her label has become synonymous with effortless chic. In 2019, the luxury group LVMH invested several million in her eponymous label and in December 2020, the fashion designer was appointed Creative Director of Chloé.
DEFINING MOMENT: Hearst designed the dress worn by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for the 2021 presidential inauguration.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I don’t believe in perfection, I believe in trying to get it.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Hearst, whose eponymous label raises sheep on its ranch and produces its own merino wool, will impose her vision and philosophy of sustainability on Chloé. The Gabriela Hearst brand is now on sale at Le Bristol hotel in Paris.
IRIS VAN HERPEN, Dutch, 38 years old
WHY HER? She’s dressed everyone from Beyoncé to Fan Bingbing in her other-worldly, futuristic constructions. After studying fashion design at the ArtEZ Institute of Arts in Arnhem, van Herpen worked for Alexander McQueen and Claudy Jongstra. In 2007 she launched her own line which has attracted celebrities keen to make a statement thanks to her collections’ 3D designs and the use of innovative materials.
DEFINING MOMENT: Dressing Lady Gaga for the 2020 MTV Awards in a technicolour dress and pink gas mask.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I really see couture as the laboratory of fashion”
WHAT’S NEXT? Conquering the metaverse.
AURORA JAMES, Canada, 38 years old
WHY HER? She’s a creative director, activist, and fashion designer. In 2013, she founded the fashion label Brother Vellies, with the goal of promoting traditional African design practices and techniques. In 2020, James founded the 15 Percent Pledge as a non-profit organization to support Black-owned businesses. She was named one of the 100 most influential people by Time in 2021.
DEFINING MOMENT: Travelling around Africa in her 20s and meeting some of the artisans. She started working with a workshop in South Africa, which was at risk of closing. She was looking at the vellies (a traditional South African shoe shape) and began tweaking the colours and shape with them a little. She then took the shoes back to New York to sell in a market… and the rest is history.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Investing in a solid, well-made piece that will last for years and years is one way to become more eco-conscious.”
WHAT’S NEXT? James hopes that the fashion industry continues to move towards progress and evaluate what sustainability looks like and how consumers value that in a brand.
REI KAWAKUBO, Japan, 80 years old
WHY HER? Being one of fashion’s most influential designers, Rei Kawakubo strives to challenge the form of the traditional garment. She is the founder of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market and is notoriously under the radar. She rarely gives interviews, and yet her influence prevails. She is based in Tokyo and Paris and is only the second living designer to be honored with an exhibition at the Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2017, to coincide with the exhibition, the Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City was given the theme “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between”
POWERFUL QUOTE: ‘We can’t become a cool, new company unless we do things that have never been done before’.
WHAT’S NEXT? She will continue to create collections that distort the body and anything but “easy clothes”.
STELLA McCARTNEY, British, 51 years old
WHY HER? In April 2001, Stella McCartney created her own eponymous fashion brand, with clothes that are still to this day known for their simplicity, elegance and effortless cool. She opened her first boutique in the Palais Royal in Paris and later, New York. As a vegetarian like her mother, McCartney does not use fur or leather in her collections. Banning leather, fur, feathers, and animal glues made her a pioneer in environmental responsibility in high fashion.
DEFINING MOMENT: Buying back the 50% stake of her business that was owned by luxury conglomerate Kering Group.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “We are all living on this land with limited resources, and we all have to be conscious about how we consume and how we manufacture and how we source.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Working more with mycelium, the infinitely renewable underground root system of fungi, which can have the appearance of leather.
MIUCCIA PRADA, Italian, 73 years old
WHY HER? Miuccia Prada is a fashion designer by profession, but she’s also an art curator, film producer, architect, feminist, socialist and ex-mime artist. Yes, really! She transformed her family’s modest leather goods house into one of fashion’s ready-to-wear powerhouses. In 2022, Bloomberg estimates her net worth to be $5.19 billion, ranked 463rd in the world.
DEFINING MOMENT: In February 2020, Prada and Belgian designer Raf Simons announced that after more than four decades as Prada’s creative architect, she would now share that responsibility with Simons, the former creative director of Calvin Klein and Dior. Never before had two such well-known figures shared the creative responsibilities of a major fashion label.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “You need to be curious and never stop studying. You have to challenge yourself to think every day to understand and react to what is happening.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Believing business can be profitable and sustainable, there’s a plan to phase out nylon in favour of recycled nylon, and find alternatives to leather.
MARINE SERRE, French, 30 years old
WHY HER? With her famous “moon” logo, Marine Serre is one of the most prominent figures in French fashion today. Her eponymous label, launched in 2017, has been steadily climbing higher in the cool stakes, and is shown at Paris Fashion Week. She works with upcycled materials and high-tech fabrics for a look halfway between sportswear, utilitarian and a big night out.
DEFINING MOMENT: Beyoncé wore a crescent-covered catsuit in the Black Is King “visual album”. It exposed Serre to millions.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I take risks with everything. It’s not about money, I do things for love and change. I am stubborn.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Continuing to push for change and inclusion with her empowered designs.
LAUREN WASSER, American, 34 years old
WHY HER? At the age of 24, the model’s life changed overnight when she was rushed into hospital, just hours from death, with toxic shock syndrome – a condition caused by an excess of staphylococcus aureus bacteria in the body, most commonly associated with tampon use. It resulted in the amputation of both her legs. After some dark times adjusting to her new reality, Wasser began to build herself back up, and gain in confidence. With her trademark golden prosthetic legs, she has continued her career as a model to raise awareness and campaign for a new law requiring tampon companies to disclose what’s in their products.
DEFINING MOMENT: Leading the models down Louis Vuitton’s Cruise runway in May 2022 dressed in a shimmering metallic ensemble that revealed her gold prosthetic legs.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Seeing beauty is being able to look at another person in their humanity.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Further campaigning and fashion editorials, including the next iconic 2023 Pirelli Calendar.
RUI ZHOU, Chinese, 28 years old
WHY HER? Known for redefining the idea of everyday garments, such as the bodysuit, the tank top or the stocking, fashion designer Rui Zhou reveals and amplifies the body in equal measure with her brand RUI. It’s no wonder she’s loved by celebs such as Dua Lipa and Solange. Rui has won a number of Young Designer Awards and since launching her brand 2019, she has already made waves in the industry by creating gender-fluid collections.
DEFINING MOMENT: Zhou was one of the nine finalists for the LVMH Prize and went on to win the Karl Lagerfeld Special Prize.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I really like a peaceful world—a very soft, gentle emotion.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She wants to explore potential collaborations in the future.
These women are turning the art of beauty into brands with serious cultural clout.
HUDA KATTAN, Iraqi-American, 39 years old
WHY HER? This makeup artist, beauty blogger, social media star and entrepreneur, started off training at Joe Blasco Makeup Academy in LA, after studying finance at the University of Michigan. She started her “Huda Beauty” blog and YouTube channel to share tips with friends in 2010, before launching her first product, false eyelashes, in 2013. She never could have predicted it would quickly become the number one blog in the Middle East. Her global cosmetics line went on to become a $1.2 billion makeup empire.
DEFINING MOMENT: Huda Beauty has fast become the number one beauty Instagram account in the world with over 50.8 million followers and counting.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “The minute you decide to do what you love to do, you have made a life plan for yourself and a career choice.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Since stepping down as CEO of the company in 2020 to focus on the creative side ofthe business, she has become increasingly interested in crypto currency and is investing in a portfolio of NFTs.
KIRSTEN KJÆR WEIS, Danish, 57 years old
WHY HER? From growing up on a farm in Denmark to attending the prestigious Christian Chauveau School of Artistic Makeup, Kirsten Kjær Weis has worked around the world for some of the most renowned fashion magazines. As an in-demand makeup artist, she found that people were sacriﬁcing the health of their skin by using irritating, synthetic makeup. The natural products, however, were not up to par in performance. This inspired her to become a pioneer in organic, luxury beauty with Kjær Weis cosmetics.
DEFINING MOMENT: Working with designer Marc Atlan (the man behind the silver pebble Comme Des Garçons perfume bottle) to develop beautiful, sustainable packaging for her brand. His designs are incredibly exceptional.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Organic, sustainable, and high performing, you can have all these things. You don’t need to compromise.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Expanding the range of infinitely refillable products, such as the Red Edition metallic eyeshadow case which is made from refillable, recyclable, and compostable paper that looks like leather.
PAT McGRATH, British, 56 years old
WHY HER? She is the world’s most influential and in-demand makeup artist. For over 25 years, McGrath’s creative vision has made her a powerhouse of creativity, with a legendary reputation. She launched her own beauty line in 2015, which by 2019 had become a billion-dollar business and the best-selling beauty line at Selfridges.
DEFINING MOMENT: Dame Pat McGrath was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to the fashion and beauty industry.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Makeup is an extraordinary tool that allows me to share my inspirations, my fantasies, and my vision with the world”.
WHAT’S NEXT? Her new makeup line Mothership IX is coming soon.
ATSUKO MORITA, Japanese, 58 years old
WHY HER? It was when she developed asthma during her professional life as a flight attendant, along with dry skin and hair, that Morita turned to a French friend, who recommended phototherapy techniques. Through her research into pharmacology and cosmetics, Morita began to realize the transformative power of plants. After discovering that botanical therapy could support health and wellness from the inside as well as the outside, she began developing a series of plant-based beauty products that could be used throughout a lifetime and later launched her brand Waphyto. Her award-winning discoveries have made her a leading authority in the field of biomethodological phytotherapy – a combination of French phytotherapy and traditional Japanese herbology.
DEFINING MOMENT: When she left her airline career permanently to attend university and study botanical therapy in Paris.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Great skin doesn’t happen after one try.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Continuing to be a passionate wellness advocate for women. She specializes in phytotherapeutic self-care to support women‘s health in all ages
HYE-MIN PARK aka Pony, South Korean, 32 years old
WHY HER? As a blogger, influencer and makeup artist Pony is credited with popularising Korean beauty trends worldwide. Her make-up career has seen her author several how-to books and collaborate with multiple make-up brands before launching her own range of cosmetics, Pony Effect.
DEFINING MOMENT: Her mega-viral Taylor Swift transformation video from 2016 has over 23 million
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I create my looks for everyone!”
WHAT’S NEXT: Developing new lines, collaborating, creating and finding new ways to engage with her vast audience of fans.
RIHANNA, Barbadian, 34 years old
WHY HER? Fans are desperate for a new album from the best-selling female music artist of the digital era, but in 2017, the pop star created her own fashion line Fenty and then a spin off cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty, with the support of LVMH, and has poured her creativity into her businesses instead of music ever since. In 2020, she launched Fenty Skin, a skincare range. Her ethos is to make women everywhere feel included, focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, developing formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades.
DEFINING MOMENT: In March 2017, the Harvard University Foundation gave Rihanna its Humanitarian of the Year award in recognition of her dedication to promoting educational programs.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Makeup is there for you to have fun with. It should never feel like pressure. It should never feel like a uniform. Feel free to take chances, and take risks, and dare to do something new or different.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Growing her $1.4 billion fortune, raising her son and maybe, just maybe, making new music!
CHARLOTTE TILBURY, British, 49 years old
WHY HER? Think makeup, think Charlotte Tilbury. Her beauty empire started with a YouTube channel and blog where she’d post advice about skincare and makeup tutorials. In 2013, she had a powerful enough following alongside her high-profile editorial bookings to launch her beauty brand, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Ltd at Selfridges in London. Two years later she opened her flagship store in Covent Garden. Alongside her international reputation in beauty, she is an ambassador for the charity Women for Women International.
DEFINING MOMENT: Being awarded an MBE in 2018.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Beauty is power. And makeup is something that really enhances that. It’s a woman’s secret.”
WHAT’S NEXT: After opening ‘Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Wonderland’ in Liverpool, UK in October – she is looking to expand her stores worldwide.
VIOLETTE SERRAT, French, 33 years old
WHY HER? Her talent as a makeup artist has earned her collaborations with the greatest fashion photographers and magazines. Having spent the past four years as Global Beauty Director at Estée Lauder, she was named Creative Director of Makeup at Guerlain last year. Her own brand Violette_Fr, spans makeup, skincare, fragrance and hair care, with vegan and cruelty-free formulas.
DEFINING MOMENT: After moving to America in 2015, Serrat’s career soared, thanks not least to a collaboration with Dior.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I really want to embrace aging. It’s such a privilege.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Reinventing iconic products for the historic cosmetics house.
They are interior designers, architects, chefs…but there’s so much more to these women than their primary profession.
DOMINIQUE CRENN, French, 57 years old
WHY HER? Not only is she currently the only woman chef in the United States to attain three Michelin stars, for her restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, but she is also an activist, a champion of women’s rights and an icon of the restaurant community, the LGBTQ+ community and even the cancer community. In the oftenly toxic, aggressive and, let’s face it, male environment of restaurant kitchens she has made a name for herself for treating her staff well and avoiding the normal yelling and abuse associated with the high-pressure environment of her profession.
DEFINING MOMENT: Partnering with Rethink Food, a nonprofit on a mission to create a more sustainable and equitable food system, one where everyone has access to nutritious food. Each week, the sister restaurant, Petit Crenn prepares meals for communities facing food insecurity.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Being a chef is about feeding people, which is part of the story of all humanity.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Crenn is focused on using her platform to forge a better future for the new generation.
FRIDA ESCOBEDO, Mexican, 43 years old
WHY HER? One of the most outstanding architects of our time, she creates powerful spatial and communal experiences, while bringing attention to today’s socioeconomic and ecological issues. She founded her own architectural and design studio in 2006 which is located in Mexico City. In 2018, she became the youngest architect to work on the Serpentine Pavilion, and the second woman to be invited after Zaha Hadid designed the first in 2000.
DEFINING MOMENT: Being awarded the contract for Ray Harlem, a mixed-use development in New York that intersperses apartments with artist studios and co-working spaces, as well as Harlem’s historic National Black Theatre. The goal is to connect the new community with the existing one and the artistic world of the theatre.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I’ve always wondered what makes certain things stick, what makes certain things significant, how we build a common language.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She has been selected to design the new Oscar L Tang and HM Agnes Hsu-Tang Wing of The MET Museum in New York. The new wing will be home to the museum’s collection of modern art, encompassing works from the 20th and 21st century
LEONOR ESPINOSA, Colombian, 59 years old
WHY HER? Her restaurant Leo Cocina y Cava in Bogatá has been called one of the best in the world. Her approach to cooking combines tradition, memory and creativity featuring vibrant Colombian flavours. She is interested in combining contemporary art with field research, anthropological insight and an immersion in different communities around the world.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2008 she launched the Leo Espinosa Foundation which creates development
initiatives in rural communities by strengthening culinary traditions, nutrition and food security.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I wanted to eat up the world… I was hungry for it.”
WHAT’S NEXT? The chef’s ‘ciclo-bioma’ philosophy uses gastronomy as an impetus for social and economic development in indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
INDIA MAHDAVI, French of Iranian-Egyptian origin, 60 years old
WHY HER? With degrees in architecture, industrial design, graphic design, product design and furniture design, India Mahdavi started her career as an artistic director for decorator Christian Liaigre. In 2000, she opened her own design studio and, at the same time, her first showroom and a boutique dedicated to accessories in Paris. In 2003, she launched her first furniture collection. She is known for her numerous international projects – restaurants and hotels that fast become places to see and be seen in such as Hotel on Rivington in New York, the Café Français and the Germain in Paris, the Sketch Gallery and the Connaught’s Coburg bar in London.
DEFINING MOMENT: A collaboration with H&M Home earlier this year led to her beautiful aesthetic reaching a new demographic of shoppers, thanks to its affordability.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “The fragility of life has never been so close to us and has affected the ease of being. That means using every moment to learn, enjoy and laugh.”
WHAT’S NEXT? She has said, “There are collaborations coming up – but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you!”
J.J. MARTIN, American, 48 years old
WHY HER? J.J. Martin is the founder, chief creative and spiritual officer of La DoubleJ, a heart-first fashion and homeware label founded in 2015 that celebrates the best of made-in-Italy craftsmanship delivered with a maximalist wink from its home in Milan. Launched as a shoppable online magazine showcasing Martin’s vintage treasures, the company has now evolved into a full lifestyle brand that cultivates joy inside and out, while championing Italy’s craftspeople and its community of women.
DEFINING MOMENT: Melding her spiritual practice with her fashion experience and guiding immersive, multi-day restoration retreats held inside her “Sacred Grotta”, a cave under the Milan store.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “All colour has a special vibration and the more you notice that and embrace it, the more you’re able to tap into something deeper in yourself. Colour is power.”
WHAT’S NEXT? After bringing its vibrant prints to Lake Como, where it debuted its first permanent interior design project at the new Passalacqua hotel, we wonder if the brand will be partnering with more properties.
GWYNETH PALTROW, American, 50 years old
WHY HER? In 2008, Paltrow who was previously best known for her roles in films such as Iron Man and The Royal Tenenbaums, launched the weekly lifestyle newsletter, Goop, encouraging readers to ‘nourish the inner aspect’. Goop has expanded into Goop.com – a lifestyle and wellness empire including e-commerce (jade egg, anyone?). The focus is collaborating with fashion brands, launching pop-up shops, founding a wellness summit, a print magazine, a podcast, a cookbook, and a documentary series streamed on Netflix.
DEFINING MOMENT: The company released its first vibrator on Valentine’s Day in February 2021, with Paltrow joking she “had to pass the time” somehow during the coronavirus pandemic.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “My life is good because I am not passive about it. I invest in what is real. Like real people, to do real things, for the real me.”
WHAT’S NEXT? The docuseries based on Goop has been greenlit by Netflix for a second season.
PATRICIA URQUIOLA, Spanish, 61 years old
WHY HER? The architect believes in an original design point of view merging humanistic, technological and social approaches. Her design thinking is confronting challenges and breaking prejudices while finding unexpected connections between the familiar and the unexplored. She has taught the master’s degree in Interior Design at the Domus Academy in Milan and lectured at Harvard. Her studio deals in architecture (hotels, retail, exhibitions), industrial product design and strategy consulting. She starts each project by building an empathic connection with the user that will eventually interact with her designs. Several of her works are in the collections of MoMA.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2008, she was elected designer of the year at the French trade fair “Now! Design à vivre”. In 2010, she was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit for Fine Arts by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “There is no beginning or end. Today, everything is interconnected.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Designing better and smarter surfaces and fabrics to create a healthier and safer environment. She says, “We must no longer consider nature as a pretty setting, but as a part of ourselves. Ecology must be our driving force.”
Their work has been pivotal in pioneering developments on earth and beyond.
SARAH Al-AMIRI, Emirati, 35 years old
WHY HER? Al-Amiri is the Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency (UAESA) and the country’s Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology. Originally employed by the UAESA as a software engineer in her early twenties, about a decade later she was spearheading a mission to send an uncrewed probe to Mars to map the entire planet’s atmosphere. The spacecraft, called Hope, successfully entered the Red Planet’s orbit in early 2021 and has been sending back images and data ever since.
DEFINING MOMENT: Seeing a photo of the Andromeda Galaxy when she was 12 years old and deciding that she would learn as much about space as she possibly could.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Science to me is the most international form of collaboration. It is limitless, it is borderless, and it is run by the passions of individuals for the benefit of human understanding.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Overseeing a flyby of Venus in 2028, as well as a tour of seven different asteroids, complete with one landing.
EMMANUELLE CHARPENTIER, French, 53 years old
WHY HER? This powerhouse of a professor and researcher in microbiology, genetics, and biochemistry has been a director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin since 2015.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 2020, Charpentier and American biochemist Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for pioneering revolutionary gene-editing technology called CRISPR. This was the first science Nobel ever won by two women alone.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Personally, I don’t think it is acceptable to manipulate the human germline for the purpose of changing some genetic traits that will be transmitted over generations.”
WHAT’S NEXT? The first CRISPR gene-editing drug, designed to treat blood disorders, could be on the market by 2023.
SAMANTHA CRISTOFORETTI, Italian, 45 years old
WHY HER? Imagine spending almost 200 days in space! It would take a very special kind of resilience, but this European Space Agency astronaut, has everything it takes to thrive on board a space craft for so long. Cristoforetti was previously an Italian Air Force pilot and engineer. She held the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a European astronaut until June 2017 when this was broken (thankfully, by another female astronaut!) She is currently completing a mission on board the International Space Station and in September, she became the first European woman to be appointed commander of it.
DEFINING MOMENT: Becoming the first Italian woman in space.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “When you discover new things every minute and your mind is absorbing so many experiences, it feels like time expands.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Continuing to inspire the next generation as commander of the International Space Station.
TIMNIT GEBRU, African-American, 39 years old
WHY HER? Gebru is a hyper-smart computer engineer who has made it her mission to examine the ethical ramifications of artificial intelligence, with a specific focus on algorithmic biases that can manifest as racism. An advocate for diversity in tech, she is also a co-founder of Black in AI, which seeks to increase the presence of Black people working in the AI sector. At the end of 2021, Gebru launched her own independent AI research group called DAIR (the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute).
DEFINING MOMENT: While co-leader of Google’s Ethical A.I. team, she published research in 2020 revealing the facial-recognition technology is less accurate at identifying people of colour than white people, a flaw that can lead to discrimination. She was then reportedly fired by Google, leading to protests on her behalf.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I am very concerned about the future of AI. Not because of the risk of rogue machines taking over. But because of the homogeneous, one-dimensional group of men who are currently involved in advancing the technology.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Gebru will continue to challenge Big Tech by asking hard questions about who is building AIs, for what purpose and for whose benefit?
HAILAN HU, Chinese, 49 years old
WHY HER? In 2022, neuroscientist Hu was awarded a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Award for her breakthrough discoveries in the field of neurobiology and the treatment of depression, something that is estimated to affect about 5 per cent of people globally. Hu is also the executive director of the Center for Neuroscience at Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou.
DEFINING MOMENT: Conducting groundbreaking clinical trials in rodents that revealed how the anesthesia drug ketamine could be used as a rapid treatment for depression, with a better state of mind achieved in hours rather than weeks.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Chinese women scientists are ‘blooming’ and everyone is racing to get better.”
WHAT’S NEXT? The development of next-generation antidepressants.
KATALIN KARIKÓ, Hungarian-American, 67 years old
WHY HER? After moving to the US in her twenties, Karikó has since become a senior vice-president of BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals. One of Karikó’s biggest achievements has been using her knowledge as a biochemist to help protect the world from Covid-19 through the development of “messenger RNA” (mRNA) vaccines, which teach cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside the body. Her work ultimately contributed to the creation of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech inoculations.
DEFINING MOMENT: Earlier this year she was jointly awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for her vaccine development efforts.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I felt like a god.”
WHAT’S NEXT: It’s hoped that mRNA will also help form the foundation for vaccines against HIV, influenza and malaria.
CYNTHIA KENYON, American, 68 years old
WHY HER? When it comes to understanding human longevity, there are few people in the world more equipped than Cynthia Kenyon. A molecular biologist and biogerontologist who has made great strides in studying the genetics of aging, she is Vice-President of aging research at Google/Alphabet’s Calico Life Sciences division, and emeritus professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.
DEFINING MOMENT: In 1993, she discovered that a single-gene mutation can double the lifespan of healthy, fertile C. elegans roundworm, indicating that longevity is largely determined by genetics. She also noticed that giving them sugar decreased their lifespan and subsequently removed sugar and carbohydrates from her own diet.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “The link between aging and age-related disease suggests an entirely new way to combat many diseases all at once; namely, by going after their greatest risk factor: aging itself.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Unlocking the secret to immortality?
LISA MOSCONI, Italian-American, 45 years old
WHY HER? Mosconi is a neuroscientist with a particular focus on how the menopause affects the brain and the early detection of Alzheimer’s. She is also an associate professor of neuroscience in neurology and radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. In recent years she has written two non-fiction books – Brain Food and New York Times bestseller The XX Brain, which explores cognitive enhancement and Alzheimer’s prevention specifically in women. In it she explores evidence-based approaches related to diet, stress reduction and sleep that go a long way to protecting the female brain as it ages.
DEFINING MOMENT: Realising there was a connection between the menopause and Alzheimer’s, and the role that estrogen plays in protecting the female brain from dementia.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “It is this continuous exposure to food that makes diet the most important factor ever to affect our DNA.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Further research into how best to use HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to ward off Alzheimer’s.
SUSAN WOJCICKI, Polish-American, 54 years old
WHY HER? After more than 20 years in the tech industry, Wojcicki has worked her way up Google to become the CEO of YouTube. (She was one of the first people to be hired by the company when it was founded in 1999 after renting her garage to Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.) Now with a net worth of $765 million, she has also found the time to have five kids.
DEFINING MOMENT: Advising Google to buy YouTube for $1.7 billion in 2006, a company that she has run since 2014.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “What is important to me is that kids learn how to manage technology responsibly.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Figuring out how platforms such as YouTube can successfully balance people’s right to free speech in an era of increasing misinformation.
These women are winners in every sense.
ASHLEIGH BARTY, Australian, 26 years old
WHY HER? In addition to being a talented cricketer and golfer, Ashleigh Barty is one of the best tennis players on the planet. During her career she has won 15 World Tennis Association singles titles including the French Open in 2019, Wimbledon in 2021 and the Australian Open in 2022. However, in spring 2022, she announced her retirement from professional tennis aged just 25. Why? She wants to “chase other dreams”. She also said she wants to give more back to the community – particularly young Indigenous Australians.
DEFINING MOMENT: Winning the Australian Open to become the first home player to take the men’s or women’s singles title in 44 years.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “If I win, it’s a bonus. If I lose, the sun still comes up the next day, and it’s all good.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Barty has taken on a role as “chief inspiration officer” at Australian telecommunications company Optus. She is also writing a series of children’s’ books and a memoir.
SIMONE BILES, American, 25 years old
WHY HER? Probably the greatest female gymnast of all time, Biles has won seven Olympic medals and 25 World Championship medals. She has also been recognised for accepting “failure” with grace. During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics she withdrew from the competition after suffering from the “twisties” (a loss of mid air spatial awareness) connected to psychological pressures she was experiencing. Although she has taken some time out from competing professionally, she has by no means announced her retirement from gymnastics. In 2022, she was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Joe Biden, the highest civilian award in the US.
DEFINING MOMENT: Becoming the first-ever female gymnast to cleanly land a ‘triple double’ at the USA Gymnastics Championships in August 2019 – something considered to be an impossible move, and is now known as the “Biles II”.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I was built this way for a reason, so I’m going to use it.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Biles is now chief impact officer for mental health app Cerebral, and wants to use her profile to inspire girls to be assertive, competitive and strong enough to speak up.
EILEEN GU, Chinese-American, 19 years old
WHY HER? Gu is an Olympic champion freestyle skier who has competed for both the US (she was born in California), as well as China. Earlier this year, she won two gold medals and a silver for China at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. This feat made her the first freestyle ski athlete to win three medals at one Olympics. The year before, she won a trio of medals for China at both the Aspen 2021 World Championships and Aspen 2021 Winter X Games. Her ability to diplomatically navigate the geopolitical tensions around her competing for these two opposing nations has also been praised. Time magazine has ranked her one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.
DEFINING MOMENT: Landing a ‘double cork 1620’ at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I’m an 18-year-old out here living my best life.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Helping Salt Lake City prepare for its bid to host the 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympics in her capacity as an ambassador.
PERNILLE HARDER, Danish, 29 years old
WHY HER? The captain of the Danish national women’s football team, Harder is considered one of the most expensive players in the women’s game after being transferred from Champions League finalists Wolfsburg Frauen to Chelsea Women in 2020 for £300,000. In a world where so few male footballers have come out as gay, Harder and her girlfriend Magdalena Eriksson, a Swedish professional footballer who is also in the Chelsea team, have become proud role models for LGBTQ+ people around the world. In an Instagram post on International Women’s Day, they wrote: “We keep pushing forward because we want a world without discrimination and stereotypes, a world that really is better for everyone.”
DEFINING MOMENT: Becoming the first person in history to be named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year, twice (in 2018 and 2020).
POWERFUL QUOTE: “You don’t have to hide your sexuality to play football.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Harder’s contract will come to an end with Chelsea in summer 2023 – will she stay or will she go?
NAOMI OSAKA, Japanese, 25 years old
WHY HER? An elite tennis player at the top of her game, Osaka has won four Grand Slam titles since 2018 including the US Open in 2020 and the Australian Open in 2021. She is also the first Asian person to hold a number-one ranking – in fact, she held on to the top spot for 25 weeks in 2019. In addition to her passion for sport, she is a self-described “fashion nerd”, luminary, entrepreneur who is “building her own empire”. She has launched her own skincare range called Kinlò for darker skin tones and has earned over $50 million from endorsements with companies, from luxury fashion brands to Airbnb. She is also a social change advocate, with mental health a particular area of focus.
DEFINING MOMENT: When she beat her idol Serena Williams at the US Open in 2018.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “You just gotta keep going and fighting for everything, and one day you’ll get to where you want.”
WHAT’S NEXT? To be a world number one, again.
EMMA RADUCANU, British, 19 years old
WHY HER? Just three years after going pro, Raducanu is a professional tennis player who won the US Open in 2021 at the age of 18, an achievement that also meant she became the first British woman to have won a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade’s victory at Wimbledon in 1977. Not only that, but she did this by winning ten consecutive matches without dropping a set, making her the first female tennis player to win a Grand Slam tournament from the qualifying rounds.
DEFINING MOMENT: Beating Leylah Fernandez at the 2021 US Open to become the 23rd-best player in the world and the British number-one. She also scooped a price of $2.5 million.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “Every single player in the women’s draw has a shot at winning any tournament.”
WHAT’S NEXT? After being eliminated in the first round of the 2022 US Open, Raducanu is planning on working her way back up the rankings.
MEGAN RAPINOE, American, 37 years old
WHY HER? Rapinoe is a professional soccer player and Olympic gold medalist, having won gold with the US Women’s National Team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. She subsequently helped them win two Women’s World Cups in 2015 and 2019. Today, she is captain OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League, and is an outspoken advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQI+ rights. Open and proud of her sexuality, Rapinoe is engaged to professional basketball player Sue Bird. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden awarded Rapinoe a Presidential Medal of Freedom for “blazing trails for generations to come”. She is the first soccer player to ever receive one.
DEFINING MOMENT: Scoring a rare “Olimpico” goal from a corner kick at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – her team ultimately won a bronze medal for their efforts.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “No one should ever tell you what your limits are and tell you what your dreams are.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Rapinoe hopes to lead the US to victory in the 2023 World Cup, which will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
SERENA WILLIAMS, American, 41 years old
WHY HER? One of the most inspiring and successful tennis players of all time, Serena Williams has had a career spanning 27 years. She famously began playing tennis when was a child with her sister Venus, and their story has been dramatised in the recent movie King Richard. Serena Williams has won a total of four Olympic gold medals and 23 Grand Slam singles titles – the most of any player in the Open Era – and was ranked number-one in the world in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association for 319 weeks. Not only has she been the highest paid female athlete of all-time, she has used her fame to campaign for gender pay equality, racial justice, and affordable healthcare for mothers and babies. In August 2022, she announced her departure from the sport to pursue “other things that are important to her”, such as her young daughter, Alexis Olympia.
DEFINING MOMENT: Winning her first US Open title at the age of 17, defeating the then world number-one, Martina Hingis, in straight sets.
POWERFUL QUOTE: “I really think a champion is defined not by their wins, but by how they can recover when they fall.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Growing her family and building her new venture capital firm, Serena Ventures.
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