BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour has revealed its list of 10 female influencers, featuring names such as Nicola Sturgeon, Angelina Jolie and Anna Wintour. It’s a great list, but it got me thinking about the women that influence me. Obviously, my mum tops the list, but as she’s not on social media here are 11 other women, in no particular order, that influence me and that I think you should be paying attention to.
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne
Co-founders of The Pool
Baker and Laverne launched The Pool earlier this year. A fantastic website, aimed at women, it’s fun, never mean, always informative, and can tackle serious news stories and lighter pieces without breaking a sweat. Forget women’s magazines and websites that point out every flaw, Baker and Laverne are influential because they’ve created a site that is about empowering and celebrating women, and that’s a daily stop for me.
During her two-year term as Children’s Laureate, Blackman spoke up for YA literature, and spoke out about a lack of diversity in books. But just because her tenure is now finished, it doesn’t mean her influence has diminished. She remains one of the UK’s best YA writers, in my opinion, and her work will have an influence on teenagers for years to come.
Author, project director at Quick Reads
If Rentzenbrink recommends a book, I know I’ll be giving it a try. She’s passionate about reading, and she’s not at all snobby about books, understanding that everyone loves something different. She’s also just written a memoir about her relationship with her brother. It’s a wonderful, emotionally heartwrenching book, but it proves Rentzenbrink can influence lives with her writing as well her reading.
Broadcaster and journalist
A brilliant journalist, always poised, Husain has many firsts to her name (first Washington-based reporter for the BBC, first to interview Malala Yousafzai after the teenager was attacked). Perhaps the most significant, for me, is that when she was appointed as a host for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she was only the second woman in the role, and the first presenter from an ethnic minority background. Her career inspires, and is something to aspire to.
Author, founder of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction
Mosse is seriously cool, talented and lovely, and a visionary. Her influence stretches far beyond books – almost 20 years after she co-founded the Women’s Prize for Fiction, it’s still relevant, still making headlines, and she’s still at the centre of it all.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate, author, campaigner
Education, education, education. Tony Blair might originally have said it, but it’s Yousafzai who is using her influence to really talk about and demonstrate how learning can make a difference to millions of young people around the world. She could so easily have decided to remain a victim or give up, but instead here she is, years after being shot by the Taliban, still speaking out.
Marvel won’t make a Black Widow film no matter how hard the fans plea, but in the meantime at least we’ve got Atwell’s Agent Carter, who is just as brilliant as the Black Widow, AND has her own TV show. Atwell is a hoot on Twitter, kind to her fans, and realises she can use her influence to call for things others perhaps can’t – she’s honest about the lack of diversity in Agent Carter‘s first season and has publicly said the show needs to do better.
Founder, Media Diversified
Asamandu is confrontational, and if you follow her on Twitter you’ll see she’s not afraid to be cuttingly honest, which sometimes gets people’s backs up. But what she’s done by founding Media Diversified is so important – highlighting the lack of diversity in media organisations in the UK, and pointing out instances of bias in news coverage, as well as taking positive steps to rectify this by, for example, creating a Media Diversified expert directory.
Journalist, author and campaigner
Meyer is a former editor at large for Time magazine, and I’ve long admired her writing. She’s also written a book about Prince Charles, but arguably really struck the public consciousness when earlier this year she co-founded WE, the Women’s Equality Party. The party’s aim is to “campaign for gender equality to the benefit of all”.
If there’s one thing that all the women on my list share (apart from influence), it’s that I think they’re all cool. And if I had to pick the coolest, I’d probably pick Adewunmi. She’s Buzzfeed’s culture editor, and has an eye for a great essay. Her Twitter account is worth keeping following, especially on a Friday when she posts Bim’s 10 Things, a collection of images, gifs, videos and more that she’s found inspirational and beautiful that week. Like many on this list, she’s about championing women and diversity, and that’s why she’s influential.