MORE THAN STORIES
BBC 100 Women names 100 influential and inspirational women around the world every year.
They create documentaries, features, and interviews about their lives, giving more space for stories that put women at the center.
Among those 100, in 2020 there is 29 leadership inspiring women.
Supporting the theme of #IWD2021 I have shortlisted 10 whom I found most connecting most of the women out there.
#10 RIDHIMA PANDEY
Climate activist, India
Ridhima Pandey is a climate activist who, at the age of nine, filed a petition against the government of India in response to its inaction to mitigate climate change. In 2019, along with 15 other child petitioners, Ridhima filed a lawsuit against five countries at the UN.
Ridhima is currently participating in international conferences and helping to empower other students, at all levels, to fight for their future for the biodiversity of the world. Ridhima is working to save her future and that of coming generations.
“Now is the time for us to be strong and united, and to prove how capable we can be in difficult times. If a woman is determined to achieve something, no-one can stop her.”
#9 GULNAZ ZHUZBAEVA
Disability activist, Kyrgyzstan
In Kyrgyzstan, there are more than 5,000 people living with visual impairment, but many important governmental documents remain inaccessible to them. Gulnaz Zhuzbaeva, the founder of the Kyrgyz Federation of the Blind, has been working tirelessly to make these materials available in Braille and improve access to those with visual impairment.
Her team runs a program for blind people to provide them with the skillset needed to enter the job market. Of the 22 adults who completed the program in 2020, six are already successfully employed and two are enrolled at university.
“Life is full of challenges; just take it as a given.”
Protest leader, India
At 82, Bilkis was part of a group of women who peacefully protested against a controversial citizenship law.
She became the face of a long-running protest at the capital’s Shaheen Bagh, the Muslim locality where the protests were held. Indian journalist and author Rana Ayyub described her as “the voice of the marginalized”.
“Women should feel empowered to step out of their homes and raise their voice, especially against injustice. If they don’t leave their homes, how will they showcase their strength?”
#7 ARUSSI UNDA
As Mexico faces rising femicide rates, Arussi and her feminist collective Brujas del Mar (“Witches of the Sea”) have emerged as a voice for women.
This year they inspired women across the country to stage a national strike on 9 March, when women stopped work and their other activities and stayed at home.
“At the moment there are so many slogans and mottos like “The revolution will be feminist” or “The future is feminist” – but the future is already here. We must be brave and keep rising.”
#6 SVITLANA TSIKHANOUSKAYA
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is a former presidential candidate in Belarus, where she led a national democratic movement. In August 2020, President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in the leadership election, sparking protests across the country amid widespread accusations of vote-rigging.
Shortly after the election, fearing for the safety of her children, Sviatlana fled Belarus for Lithuania. She continues to lead the democratic movement in exile.
“Never, for one second, believe anyone who says you are weak. We often don’t realize how strong we are.”
#5 NASRIN SOTOUDEH
Human Rights Activist, Iran
Nasrin Sotoudeh is an Iranian lawyer advocating for the rule of law and the rights of political prisoners, opposition activists, women, and children in Iran. She is serving a prison sentence for standing up against the country’s such-criticized justice system.
Despite her imprisonment and the constant threats to her family, Sotoudeh remains a defiant advocate for the rule of law.
“The hijab is obligatory [in Iran] – and if they can force this half-meter of fabric on us, they can do anything with us.”
#4 MANSI JOSHI
Manasi, an Indian para-athlete, is the current para-badminton world champion. In June 2020, the Badminton World Federation ranked her world number two in the SL3 singles. Manasi is also an engineer and a change-maker.
She aspires to drive a shift in how disability and para-sports are perceived in India. She was recently listed as a “Next Generation Leader” by Time magazine and appeared on the cover of its Asia edition as an advocate for the rights of disabled people in India.
“This year has been challenging for women in so many ways. Don’t let the tough times get the better of you: keep exploring every possibility. Give yourself some time off every day.”
#3 OKSANA PUSHKINA
State Duma Deputy, Russia
Oksana Pushkina is the deputy vice-chairwoman of the Committee on Family, Women and Children Issues, at Russia’s State Duma.
In 2018, when several dozen female journalists made sexual-harassment claims against Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Oksana was the only parliamentarian to come forward and publicly support the journalists.
“The world has changed a lot in 2020, but besides the trauma and crisis, one thing I’ve learned is that new challenges always bring out the best in people.”
#2 NEMONTE NENUIMO
Waorani leader, Ecuador
Nemonte Nenquimo is an indigenous Waorani woman committed to defending her ancestral territory, culture and way of life in the Amazon rainforest.
She is co-founder of the indigenous-led non-profit organization Ceibo Alliance, the first female president of the Waorani organisation of Pastaza prov,ince, and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
“As women, we carry the strength needed to forge a path out of these dangerous times, when the survival of our planet and humanity is in peril. Now is the time for women to unite.”
#1 SANNA MARIN
Prime Minister, Finland
Sanna Marin is Prime Minister of Finland and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Finland. The coalition government she heads has been formed with four other parties, all led by women: Maria Ohisalo (Green League), Li Andersson (Left Alliance), Anna-Maja Henriksson (Swedish People’s Party), and Annika Saarikko (Centre Party).
Finland has been hailed for its handling of Covid-19, with one of the lowest infection rates in Europe, as of November 2020.
“We as women leaders can show that it is possible to fight the virus and at the same time tackle climate change, invest in education, and make socially just reforms in society.”
WOMEN AT THE CENTER, CREATE MORE THAN JUST STORIES