The BBC has revealed the inspirational women on this year’s 100 Women List, celebrating trailblazing women across the globe – from high profile figures to lesser-known yet equally laudable names. This year’s theme for the 100 Women season is ‘The Female Future’, asking what the future would look like if it were driven by women.
The women featured on this year’s list include those at the top of their careers across science and the arts, politics, law, technology, sport, gender and identity, as well activists, campaigners and those who have responded to remarkable challenges in their own lives by making real change in the world around them.
Women from more than 58 countries are featured on the list, from India to Syria, and from Sudan to Venezuela, ranging in age from 15 to 98.
Below are the women from South Asia:
- Aranya Johar Poet – Aranya is an Indian poet who uses beat poetry to address issues like gender equality, mental health, and body positivity. Her performance of A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty has been viewed over three million times on YouTube.
- Ashcharya Peiris Fashion Designer – Ashcharya was on her way home from work at a bank in Sri Lanka when a bomb blast left her blind in 2000. She lost her job due to her disability but ended up fulfilling her dream of becoming a fashion designer by describing her designs to a seamstress. She was a finalist in Sri Lanka’s Up & Coming Fashion Designer competition, and is now a motivational speaker in garment factories, inspiring young women to follow their own dreams.
- Bonita Sharma Innovator – Bonita Sharma helps educate and empower women and girls in her native Nepal. In a bid to tackle child deaths to malnutrition, she designed Nutribeads, a bracelet for new mums with different coloured beads to remind them what to feed their babies. She has founded her own organisation to empower women and girls: The Social Changemakers and Innovators (SOCHAI).
- Jalila Haider Human rights lawyer – Jalila specializes in defending women’s rights in Pakistan and provides free legal services to women in poverty. She is the founder of We the Humans, a non-profit working with local communities to provide opportunities for vulnerable women and children.
- Jasmin Akter Cricketer – Jasmin is Rohingya, described by the UN as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. She was born in a refugee camp in Bangladesh just after her father died. Since arriving in the UK as a refugee, she has excelled at cricket, and together with her friends started an all-Asian girls’ cricket team in Bradford. This year she was selected to represent England in the first Street Child Cricket World Cup for charity.
- Natasha Noel Yoga expert – Natasha is an Indian yogini, a female master practitioner of yoga and wellness coach. The body positivity influencer often opens up about her traumatic childhood on social media, after losing her mother at the age of three and being the victim of child abuse.
- Parveena Ahanger Human rights activist – Parveena is known as the ‘Iron Lady of Kashmir’. Her teenage son disappeared in 1990, at the height of an uprising. Parveena set up the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). She says she has not given up hope of seeing her son again, with next year marking the 30th anniversary of his disappearance.
- Pragati Singh Doctor and sexuality campaigner – When qualified doctor Pragati started researching asexuality, she received messages from women who didn’t want to have sex but were facing an arranged marriage. So she began organizing meet-ups for people looking for non-sexual relationships. She now runs Indian Aces, an online community for asexual people.
- Sharan Dhaliwal Writer – Sharan’s parents moved to the UK from India in the 1970s, she is the founder and editor-in-chief of Burnt Roti magazine, focusing on mental and sexual health for young South Asians, and LGBTQ rights.
- Subhalakshmi Nandi Gender equality campaigner – An Indian campaigner of gender equality, Subhalakshmi is based at the International Center for Research on Women, Subhalakshmi has spent over 15 years working to improve gender equality in Asia. Her focus is on the rights of women farmers, ending violence against women and improving women’s education.
- Susmita Mohanty Space entrepreneur – Hailed as ‘India’s spacewoman’, spaceship designer Susmita founded India’s first space start-up. A passionate climate action advocate, she uses her business to help monitor and understand climate change from space.
- Vandana Shiva Environmental Activist – World-renowned environmental leader and winner of the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, the ‘ecofeminist’ sees women as the custodians of nature.
Some of the most recognisable names on the list from other regions include Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg; US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; the woman behind the first image of a black hole, Katie Bouman; artificial intelligence expert Fei Fei Li; Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio and US footballer and World Cup winner, Megan Rapinoe.
Exclusive films with Precious Adams, Katie Bouman, Maria Ressa and Jawahir Roble will air on BBC World News (TV) as part of the BBC’s 100 Women season, as well as a selection of documentaries, about how women are rebuilding the urban scene and the increasing use of avatars by women. The highlight of the 2019 season will be two conferences in London (17 October) and Delhi (22 October) featuring speakers who are included in this year’s list.
The full BBC 100 Women List 2019 will be published here on 16 October 23:01 GMT.
The announcement of the list launches the BBC’s 100 Women 2019 season, shining a spotlight on women’s experiences around the world with two conferences in London and Delhi, three weeks of special programmes, features, big name interviews, and digital content across the BBC’s UK and international TV and radio services and online.