Last year's Marie Claire Future Shapers Awards saw us recognise the work of some of the UK's most innovative female game changers, so we decided to ask them what women they'll be lifting up in 2020
At Marie Claire, we love nothing more than roaring loudly for the achievements of other women. So in honour of this fine International Women’s Day, we decided to ask our inspiring Future Shapers of 2019 what trailblazing females they’ve set their sights on this year and why. May the flaming torch of sisterhood forever burn bright…
Emma Barnett is a BBC broadcaster, journalist and author. Presenting the morning programme on BBC Radio 5 Live and Late Night Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. Last year, she joined the Newsnight team as part of an all-female line-up. Her agenda-setting interviews, grilling the likes of former prime minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, have won her legions of fans and accolades. Her first book, Period., was written with a view to smash the taboo around period talk, and is celebrated as a refreshingly honest account of the monthly cycle that we are all too bloody familiar with.
Emma’s watching: Dr Helen Pankhurst
The great granddaughter of radical suffragette leader Emmeline, Helen Pankhurst CBE is an international development and women’s rights activist and writer. Currently CARE International’s senior advisor in Ethiopia, Pankhurst has directed her focus on developing policy to enhance women’s rights and overall water hygiene and sanitation in the region and across the UK.
Emma says: ‘Helen is fighting the good fight for women in developing countries with her work for CARE International – helping women who need access to water and sanitation. She’s tireless, humble and on the frontline for women.’
*Period., by Emma Barnett is out now in hardback, priced £12.99*
Seyi Akiwowo is the founder and executive director of Glitch, a not-for-profit organisation designed to end online abuse. In 2014, she was elected as the youngest black female councillor in east London, aged 23, serving four years before launching Glitch in 2017. In 2018, she presented to the 38th United Nations Human Rights Council on online gender-based violence and was named Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defender. Last year, she delivered her first Ted Talk on the impact of online abuse.
Seyi’s watching: Gabby Edlin
Gabby is the CEO and founder of Bloody Good Period. What began in 2016 as a Facebook search for donations of sanitary towels and tampons has transformed into a 200 strong team of volunteers headed up by Gabby. Together they provide more than 6,000 menstrual and hygiene products a month to asylum seekers and those living in period poverty across the UK. Gabby is also the co-founder of F U Pay Me, an online community set up to end the taboo around women getting paid. Seyi and Gabby created the space together, encouraging members to share advice on how to ask for money and set the rates they deserve, as well as revealing tell-all stories on leading companies.
Seyi says: ‘Gabby is changing the narrative around menstruating for all women and those who menstruate to feel positive about their periods. She’s thoughtful and inclusive in her activism, and helps me see the best of myself as well as holding me to account. I’m so blessed to know Gabby’
Laurie Nunn is the screenwriter and creator of Netflix’s smash hit Sex Education, starring Gillian Anderson and Asa Butterfield. The show won universal praise for its accurate portrayal of sex and friendships. Its highly-anticipated season 2 (released in January 2020) unapologetically busted down the door of mainstream television by giving centre stage to hushed topics such as fetishes and sexual harassment. Laurie has also had projects developed with major companies including Kudos, Channel 4 and Revolution Film.
Laurie’s watching: Temi Wilkey
Temi is a playwright, screenwriter and actor, whose first play, The High Table, was recently performed at the Bush Theatre. On a mission to expand the space for queer women’s stories within theatre, Temi’s debut play chronicles the hurdles faced by a British Nigerian woman who wishes to marry her girlfriend against her family’s approval. Temi is currently writing an episode for the third series of Sex Education.
Laurie says: ‘Temi’s writing is funny, brave and ground breaking in how it tackles the intersectionality of being female, black and queer in 2020 Britain. I’m consistently inspired by how she puts fully-rounded female characters at the centre of her work, allowing them to be messy, flawed beings who are all more loveable because of their fallibilities. I think Temi’s star is rising and I can’t wait to hear what stories she’s going to tell next.’
Former management consultant Alice Tapper is the founder and author of Go Fund Yourself, an online platform and community designed to make personal finance more relevant and relatable. Working as a consultant for financial institutions and start-ups, Tapper’s accessible money guides, digital masterclasses and weekly news bulletins focus on making complex topics digestible and entertaining. Her book, Go Fund Yourself, was released in July 2019.
Alice is watching: Charlotte Steggall
Charlotte Steggall is a career, apprenticeship and employability expert. She is also the founder of The Ganbaru Guide, which was set up in January 2019 to create a space for young people to gain the tools they need to achieve career success. As a Higher Education Champion on the neaco project (Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach), Catherine worked with disadvantaged students across various schools in Suffolk to enhance access to the world of higher education.
Alice says: ‘Charlotte’s Instagram feed (@theganburuguide) is packed full with useful advice about careers, skills and work success. The work she’s doing to empower disadvantaged young people is incredible.’