BBC has released its list of the 100 most influential and inspiring women across the globe, in 2020.
The list includes women from various fields, contributing in a significant manner in various ways. The list intends to shine the spotlight on 100 women around the world who have been making a difference and paving the path for progress during this turbulent period.
This list includes such incredible women as Sarah Gilbert – heading Oxford University’s research for the coronavirus vaccine, Sanna Marin – leading Finland’s all-female coalition government, and climate activist and actress Jane Fonda.
In a surprising, but touching, departure from previous years, one name among in this year’s list has been left blank. “In an extraordinary year – when countless women around the world have made sacrifices to help others – one name on the 100 Women list has been left blank as a tribute,” the BBC website reads.
Four Indian Women Among World’s 100 Most Influential Women
Among the 100 remarkable women featured in the list this year, four are women from India.
Dadi Bilkis Bano
82-year-old Bilkis, is one of the stalwarts of the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protests in Delhi. Known fondly as the ‘dadis of Shaheen Bagh,’ Bilkis, along with two other elderly women would show up at Shaheen Bagh at 8 am every morning without fail, despite the freezing winter winds, and sit in peaceful protest till midnight. Bilkis – along with her shawls, cardigans, prayer beads, and endless hope – became the face of this rebellion that was at the center of India’s polarized politics.
“I will sit here till blood stops flowing in my veins so the children of this country and the world breathe the air of justice and equality,” she said to Rana Ayyub, the author of Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover-Up. Ayyub has called Bilkis “the voice of the marginalised”.
“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?” asks Bilkis.
She was recently also featured in TIME magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ list.
Manasi Joshi, is a para-badminton champion, who has aced her way to the top of the game, receiving several national and international accolades over the years.
In an interview with Kool Kanya, Manasi spoke about the need for greater and better inclusion and diversity in representation. “People have one kind of attitude towards people with disabilities. We will be able to change this once we see someone out there who is representing the community,” she asserts.
Recently, Mattel also modelled a Barbie after Manasi.
She believes this kind of representation is key to showcasing to young girls that nothing can come in the way of them achieving their dreams and goals. “I don’t want any child or young girl to think they can’t do something. I’ve had amazing role models who encouraged me to be more vocal. I want young girls to speak out, think, have ambition, and work hard to reach where they want to.”
Manasi was also named one of the ‘Next Generation Leaders’ by TIME magazine this year.
Isaivani is a gaana singer, and the sole female member of Tamil-Indie band, The Casteless Collective. Gaana is a style of Tamil-music, that originated in Chennai. A traditionally male-dominated space, BBC recognised Isaivani for breaking the norm.
“To perform on the same stage as other popular male singers can be considered an achievement by itself. Isaivani has successfully broken an age-old tradition, which has led other young female gaana singers to come forward and express themselves,” the BBC website reads.
The band she is a member of is also known for making witty and sharp political commentary through music. Isaivani believes strongly in empowering women through her platform.
“The world has changed a lot in 2020, but for women the world is changing every day: women have changed discourses and challenged spaces. This process will be constant for generations to come.”
Ridhima Pandey is a 12-year-old climate activist. Her first engagement with proactive action to protect the environment was at the young age of 9! At that young age, she filed a petition directed towards the Indian government, questioning why they aren’t taking steps to protect the climate. In 2019, she and 15 other activists filed a lawsuit in the United Nations, questioning five countries who were ignoring climate change.
“I want a better future. I want to save my future and the future of all the children and all people of future generations,” Ridhima says.
Currently, in addition to attending international conferences, she is raising awareness among students and educating people across the world to protect biodiversity and address climate change as a real issue.
Kudos to these phenomenal women, who aren’t letting geographical boundaries or regressive gendered norms keep them from breaking away from patterns holding women back, and leading women and the world towards a brighter future.
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