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Girls & Women

The BBC Just Revealed the World’s 100 Most Inspirational Women

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s Global Goals call for equal rights, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, age, disability, or any other status. Just like we honour the suffragettes who campaigned for female suffrage 100 years ago, it’s vital we champion the diverse women fighting for feminism all over the world. Take action for gender equality here.  

A belly-dancing refugee and engineer, the world’s most widely read Spanish language author, and the activist behind #SaggyBoobsMatter are officially among the world’s most inspirational women.

The BBC 100 Women list was released on Monday and covers the stories of influential women in over 60 countries.

It focuses specifically on heroic women fuelled by passion to change the world around them — as well as those whose achievements have been overshadowed by more famous male siblings.

Take Action: Tell the UK Government: Help Create a World Where #SheIsEqual

Over the next three weeks, the BBC will publish interviews with the women on the list — including Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, and Stacey Cunningham, the first woman to run the New York Stock Exchange. 

The series will explore themes like gender violence — reporting on female deaths over the course of one day in 2018 — and the hope that can come from such tragic stories. 

It will conclude with a look back at the No More Miss America protest (that birthed the concept of the “bra-burning feminist” from 50 years ago) and will ask women what they would they would change about being a woman in 2018 through interactive games and conversations.

And it’s all about inspiring the next generation of brilliant women.

On the list is Dr. Olivette Otele, Britain’s first and only black female history professor, who told the BBC that she wasn’t a “super human,” and wanted to “show women who look like me it can be done.”

"I think structural barriers prevent people who look like me and from other ethnic backgrounds from reaching the ladder and achieving certain things,” she said. "You have to work harder, much harder.”

"UK academia is very hard in general for anybody," she added. "But even harder for people of other backgrounds.

A recent report from the Royal Historical Society revealed that 94% of history professors are from a white background, while a third of black, Asian, and minority ethnic historians working in higher education have faced racism. There is only one other black history professor in Britain, a man appointed two years ago, according to Otele.

In total there are 12 women listed as “from Britain” — including former Australian prime minister Gillard, who was, in fact, born in Barry, Wales. Otele is listed as being from Cameroon, while London-based FGM activist Nimco Ali is described as being from Somaliland.

Those categorised as from the UK include The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil, Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee, and Barbara Burton, who began helping women in prison kickstart careers in fashion after she herself went to jail.

A Paralympian, a retired fashion designer, a blogger, and a catering assistant who travels the world teaching people about Downs syndrome are among the other Britons who made the list.

You can read all the stories on the BBC 100 Women list here.