13 Global Citizens Who Made TIME's Most Influential People List
From anti-FGM activists to chefs to politicians, these influential figures are changing the world.
TIME magazine published its annual list of the world’s “Most Influential People” today, including everyone from artists to actors to politicians. But this year’s list — in addition to featuring a record number of women — also highlights many activists, champions for change, and Global Citizens.
Here are 13 of TIME magazine’s Most Influential People of 2018 that we love.
1/Nice Nailantei Leng’ete
Nice Nailantei Leng’ete was 8 years old the first time she ran away from her “cutting ceremony,” as the act of female genital mutilation (FGM) is known her Maasai community in Kenya. The ritual is considered a rite of passage that makes girls more attractive for marriage, but even as a child, Leng’ete knew she wanted no part of it.
Since then, Leng’ete has worked with community elders — challenging traditional gender roles as elders normally don’t negotiate with women — to create new, non-harmful rites of passage for girls. Nearly 20 years after she escaped her cutting, she has helped save around 15,000 girls from FGM and child marriage.
“A fantastic storyteller” and “a defier of rules” — that’s how Lupita Nyong’o described Trevor Noah on TIME magazine’s list of the “Most Influential People of 2018.” Nyong’o commends him for bringing diversity to the small screen on “The Daily Show” and for his ability to bridge cultures, continents, and boundaries.
But the South African-born comedian does more than that. Noah has never shied away from addressing controversial topics and his on-air candor has done much to raise awareness about everything from climate change to the need for women’s healthcare funding. Despite being a talk show host, Noah isn’t just all talk.
He recently launched the Trevor Noah Foundation, which aims to provide orphans and vulnerable youth in South Africa with education and life skills development opportunities.
Conversations about workplace sexual harassment that began in Hollywood, prompted by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, have been ignited all over the world, thanks in large part to Tarana Burke. The activist has been credited with starting the “Me Too” movement, which gained global traction after actress Alyssa Milano promoted the hashtag #metoo on Twitter. Milano was responding to Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s New York Times expose on Weinstein’s decades of sexual abuse and Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker piece detailing his victims’ encounters. Kantor, Twohey, and Farrow are also among this year’s most influential people.
Burke, together with several other powerful women, was also named TIME magazine’s 2017 “Person of the Year” as part of the “silence breakers.”
Nicole Kidman told no big little lies in her Emmys acceptance speech last night 🙌 pic.twitter.com/D494xBNBcz— Global Citizen (@GlblCtzn) September 18, 2017
In the hit series “Big Little Lies,” Nicole Kidman plays Celeste, a woman trapped in an abusive relationship. And while Celeste is fictitious, Kidman knows that her plight is not. The Oscar-winning actress has used her platform to speak out against domestic violence and speak up for women’s rights.
Kidman also joined together with several other influential women in entertainment, including her “Big Little Lies” co-star, Reese Witherspoon, to start the “Time’s Up” initiative and legal fund to combat workplace sexual harassment and abuse.
TIME magazine named Global Citizen Hugh Jackman as one of this year’s “Most Influential People” — and we couldn’t agree more. In addition to being a celebrated actor, Jackman is proud champion for change and an outspoken advocate for equality and the elimination of poverty. He’s also worked with Global Citizen for years, often appearing on the GC Festival stage to help to end extreme poverty around the world.
As one of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Director for her film “Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig is breaking barriers and challenging norms. Gerwig is only the fifth woman to ever have been nominated for the category. Though she didn’t ultimately take the Academy Award home, Gerwig hopes to keep telling women’s stories whether she’s in front of the camera or behind it.
“I’m interested in young women; I’m interested in middle-aged women; I’m interested in women, period,” she told the Financial Times.
Jimmy Kimmel made his name telling jokes, but that doesn’t mean he’s afraid to talk about serious matters. In fact, the talk show host has addressed sexual harassment, climate change, and, perhaps most notably, access to healthcare on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
After sharing the very personal story of his son’s congenital heart condition, Kimmel made an emotional plea to lawmakers to vote against a healthcare bill that critics said would strip millions of Americans of their healthcare coverage. The bill was ultimately defeated by a narrow margin of one vote — but whether or not Kimmel influenced the bill’s outcome, his name deserves to be on this list.
8 and 9/Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were independently named to TIME magazine’s “Most Influential People of 2018” but ever since the pair announced their engagement, they couple has become an unstoppable force for change.
For years, Harry has followed in the footsteps of his mother, Princess Diana, championing HIV/AIDS awareness and Markle has now joined him in that fight. But well before they found each other, Markle was a vocal advocate for gender equality.
“When speaking about girls’ empowerment finding and knowing their worth, or women’s empowerment as well...you’ll often hear people say, you’re helping women find their voices,” Markle said at the Royal Foundation Forum in February. “And I fundamentally disagree with that because women don’t need to find a voice, they have a voice. They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen.”
10/Carmen Yulín Cruz
Seven months after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, its people are still recovering. In the wake of the hurricanes, the vast majority of the island was left without power and a shortage of food, clean water, and gasoline.
Despite the destruction and chaos, Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan — Puerto Rico’s capital — remained determined. Cruz “became the voice of the disenfranchised citizens,” actor Benicio del Toro wrote in TIME. “She was passionate, courageous and articulate. And little by little, her words got the crisis the attention it desperately needs,” despite hesitation from the Trump administration.
Cruz wasn’t the only one to step up after Hurricane Maria. Award-winning chef José Andrés delivered hundreds of thousands of hot meals to those affected by the disaster in Puerto Rico.
“I arrived to an island trying to feed a few people, and I saw a big problem, and all of a sudden, the people of Puerto Rico saw the same problem as me, and we did one thing: we began cooking,” Andrés said in a recent TED Talk.
And that’s because Oprah not only achieved her own dreams against all odds, but inspires people around the world to do the same. Winfrey has been a champion for education and a vocal critic of gender and racial injustice.
Rihanna “makes her own rules and bends ours,” singer Adele wrote in TIME magazine. And that’s true both on and off stage. The Grammy-winning artist is certainly a force to be reckoned with on stage where she dazzles and constantly reinvents her musical sound, but she’s just as powerful when she’s not performing.
The Global Citizen has been an education advocate for several years and founded the Clara Lionel Foundation — named for her grandparents — which aims to support education around the world.
The singer has also tweeted at world leaders like Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau — who are both featured on TIME’s 2018 Most Influential People list — and harnessed the strength of the “Rihanna Navy,” her loyal social media following to call on them to take action.