While it seems like the gender gap is still vast, change is happening, and not just in the conventional corridors of power. In fact, the nature of power in itself is changing,becoming less top-down, less institutional and less predictable. There are plenty of women out there who are challenging what it means to be a woman and changing the world around them for the better. Let’s celebrate eleven powerful women who are helping to shape our futures.
Emma Watson, UK
Most people know Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger, despite her other roles. Emma knows that even though she has a career in acting, she understands that it is important to have a variety of skill sets, just like any budding entrepreneur. Emma also uses her strengths to influence others. HeForShe is a solidarity campaign that Emma is involved with which was created to increase the advancement of women. It was initiated by UN Women and its sole goal was ton engage men and boys as representatives of change; by encouraging them to fight against the negative inequalities that target women and girls. Emma was made a UN Goodwill Ambassador which allows her to use her influence to encourage men to support gender equality.
Catherine McGrath, Australia
Catherine McGrath is a political trailblazer who graced our screens as a political correspondent for SBS, before starting her own communications company Catherine McGrath Media. She campaigns to help increase the voice of women in the community speaking about important issues. She began a women’s workshop called Women Speaking, which has been hugely successful touring around Australian helping women’s harness their communication and speaking skills.
Michelle Obama, USA
Michelle Obama captivated audiences everywhere from the moment she stepped into the public eye. From her iconic fashion looks to her contagious positivity, the former First Lady has inspired us to prioritize self-care, use our voices for change, and be ourselves — unapologetically. She recently sat down with new royal Meghan Markle to for some woman-to-woman words of wisdom, and she does the same for those close to her. “Like I tell my daughters, women and girls can do whatever they want,” Michelle said. “There’s no limit to what we as women can accomplish.”
Oprah Winfrey, USA
Oprah Winfrey embodies the ambitious, self-driven woman that many women aspire to become. Her career in the entertainment industry has spanned over two decades and her natural ability to engage with people through television, lead her to be labelled as one of the most influential women onscreen. She uses her status as a platform to highlight global issues such as poverty and child abuse. Through her charity organisation, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation she has donated millions of dollars to provide help for people in countries across the globe. With the phenomenal success of her production company Harpo Studio, she has broken down the barriers of a male dominated industry and paved the way for other women to follow in her footsteps.
Carrie Green, UK
Carrie Green is Founder and CEO of the Female Entrepreneur Association (FEA), author of the international bestseller, She Means Business, and an accomplished public speaker. Celebrating the famous cliché, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, Carrie capitalised on her own struggles with mindset, limiting beliefs and loneliness in building her first business, going on to establish FEA. With over 600,000 fans worldwide, FEA is now one of the largest online platforms for female entrepreneurs. Within its Members’ Club, over 5,000 ambitious women get access to exclusive expert training, support and community to help build wildly successful businesses and turn their ideas and dreams into reality. Carrie is utterly passionate about inspiring women to overcome self-doubt and thrive in business. Her TEDx Talk, Programme Your Mind for Success, has garnered over 6 million views and counting.
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
Hailed as one of the world’s most influential and inspirational people, especially for women who want to have both a career and family, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets that reputation and then some. Jacinda first captured the world’s attention with the swift and compassionate way she handled the terror attacks on a Christchurch mosque earlier this year.
Priyanka Chopra, India
From being a superstar in Bollywood, to a rising star in American pop culture, Priyanka Chopra is truly a trailblazer, creating ripples in uncharted waters of television. One of the most recognised and applauded talents of Indian cinema, Priyanka Chopra, has always been a pioneer, pushing boundaries, navigating tough terrain and going where no woman has gone before.
Issa Rae, USA
Issa Rae supposedly made it when Insecure, her HBO television series became one of the more talked about shows in 2016, but if you dive deeper into her history, whether it be writing her own scripts or crafting web series then you know Issa Rae and Issa Rae Productions have been crafting platforms and doing amazing things on YouTube for a minute. She’s a best-selling author and actress now and as Insecure is set to return in the fall for its fourth season, the sky ‘s the limit for Los Angeles born writer and actress. The more she continues to stretch what it means to be a black woman in search of herself and owning her own talents and confidence on TV? The more black girls and others who are inspired by her will take that mantle to an even higher level.
Mary Portas, UK
British retail consultant and broadcaster, Portas is known for her television shows, including Mary Queen of the Shops, where using her retail and fashion expertise to turn underperforming shops into thriving businesses. Portas looks at everything through the lens of People (or PX), predominantly in the retail, fashion and service sector. In her spare time, Mary is a Retail Advisor, journalist, TV presenter, author, Save the Children ambassador and Government adviser.