As part of our celebrations for International Women’s Day 2023, we decided to highlight some of the women who made a difference throughout last year and reflect on the outstanding achievements of all women across the world.
Here are our picks for the top 10 most inspiring women in 2023.
Ursula von der Leyen:
Ursula von der Leyen, a German politician of Belgian descent who became the first female defense minister of Germany and the first female president of the European Commission in 2019.
Prior to ascending to the top of German politics, she studied medicine and economics. She took the EU’s toughest job and has since led through Brexit, a 750 billion euro Covid relief bill in 2020, and became one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.
Sophia Smith Galler:
She is a multi-award-winning journalist and the first BBC employee to test out TikTok as a platform for news gathering and publication. Sophia has been helping the media in connecting with its predominantly Gen-Z audience on the video-sharing platform.
She has been using TikTok to report on her investigations across sexual and health rights, which reached more than 80 million views and been watched around the world.
Her innovative investigative style earned her “Innovation of the Year” at the British Journalism Awards the past year, and Harper Collins published her debut book, Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century. Sophia Galler transformed the journalism landscape and is currently a news reporter for Vice World News.
The 21-year-old singer and songwriter started her carer by creating music from her South London bedroom and blew out on TikTok. Her track “Just For Me” has been used in nearly two million TikTok videos. Pink has a tour scheduled after being named the BBC’s Sound of 2022 winner on the 6th of January. Her music is influenced by the 90s and brings nostalgia to when we were teenagers. She connects with listeners using her own life experiences, but her real name remains private for the majority of her student life.
An Afghan teenager survived one of the suicide attacks that killed near 50 people at a tuition centre in Kabul. Fatima suffered severe wounds including the loss of an eye. The 17-year-old studied for her university admission exams while recovering, taking them in October, and earning one of the top marks with a score of more than 85%.
Following the attacks, the Taliban leaders imposed a complete ban on women’s access to higher education. Fatima is hoping the international community will put pressure to protect women’s right to education and the right of women to work. Her current aspiration is to get a degree in computer science at Kabul University, as well as to mentor Afghan women and help them secure a better future.
The first black British woman to be appointed to the cabinet, she was also the first person of colour to lead a UK university when, at age of 61, she was named director of the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University.
After years of public service as a long-time leader of the House of Lords, UN under-secretary general, and former British High Commissioner to Australia, Baroness Amos was appointed by the Queen to become a Lady Companion of the 674-year-old Most Noble Order of the Garter at the start of 2022. Born in Guyana, Valerie Amos moved to the United Kingdom in 1963 with her family and established a career advocating for equal opportunities.
A former professional basketball player who now mentors teenagers and teaches them the sport all over Africa. Sarah is also the first female manager of scouting in Africa for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors basketball team. Her career has taken her all over the world, yet she has encountered racism and gender-based violence.
Sarah’s basketball career began in Kenia when she and her family fled the second Sudanese civil war. She won a basketball scholarship to play for Union University in Jackson, Tennessee and later played professionally in Africa and Europe.
She’s been fighting against early-age marriages and has been using sports to educate young teenagers through her mentoring charity Home At Home/Apediet Foundation.
The artist became a global sensation as well as Grammy Award-winning before the age of 20. And since the start of her career, the musician has been known for pushing musical boundaries.
Billie Eilish has spoken openly about body image, her periods of depression, and living with Tourette’s syndrome. She voiced her concerns about climate change alongside actor Woody Harrelson, and more recently, she spoke out against the US Supreme Court’s ruling that the right to an abortion should be outlawed.
Mie Kyung Lee:
Miky Lee is leading the global expansion of the Korean cultural wave. She is a key contributor to the success of K-Pop on a global scale and is an architect of the music festival KCON.
As vice chairwoman of the CJ Group, a significant film and television studio, cable operator, and music production company, Lee is in charge of the overall strategic direction and management of the group’s entertainment and media division, CJ ENM.
She recently served as the executive producer of Parasite, the first foreign-language film to win an Oscar for best picture, and was listed among Asia’s 50 Top Businesswomen by Forbes in 2014.
Nazanin Zaghari Radcliffe:
The 44-year-old British-Iranian dual national was detained in solitary confinement or under house arrest in Iran for six years on suspicion of spying before she was ultimately freed in March of last year. Richard Ratcliffe, her husband, campaigned tirelessly for her release, staging hunger strikes and even going an astounding 21 days without food.
Upon her release from prison, Zaghari-Ratcliffe joined the women’s hair-cutting movement in support of the women’s rights demonstrations that erupted in Iran when Mahsa Amini tragically died in police detention last September. In November of last year, she received the 2022 Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Inspire award.
Adele has won 16 Grammys, 12 Brits, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy. After releasing her most recent album in six years, 30, she returned to the top, ranking at No. 1 in 20 countries.
It was not always a smooth journey for the 34-year-old, Adele had to step away from the international spotlight in 2017 due to a surgery in her vocal cords. She is also the woman who rose above the obsession with her weight loss and for a long time was a role model for plus-size women.
Many of us have found comfort in her heartbreaking songs through difficult times. At one point, ‘Hello’ received a million YouTube views per hour.