BBC 100 Women 2019: Who is on the list this year?


The BBC has revealed its list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2019.

This year 100 Women is asking: what would the future look like if it were driven by women?
From climate change activist Greta Thunberg, to trans woman Nisha Ayub who was put into a male prison aged 21, many on the list are driving change on behalf of women everywhere. They give us their vision of what life could look like in 2030.
Others, such as the "ghost" politician defying the mafia, and the footballer battling misogyny, are using their extraordinary personal experiences to blaze a path for those who follow.

The BBC's 100 women of 2019

You can filter the list using the categories below
100 women in total
  • Precious Adams

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    USBallet dancer
    Precious Adams spent so much time dancing round the living room as a child, that her mum signed her up for dance lessons. She trained at several top ballet schools, including the National Ballet School of Canada, the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow.
  • Parveena Ahanger

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    Indian-admin KashmirHuman rights activist
    Parveena is known as the "Iron lady of Kashmir". Her teenage son disappeared in 1990, at the height of an uprising against Indian rule in Kashmir.
  • Piera Aiello

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    ItalyPolitician
    Known as Italy's "ghost" politician, Piera Aiello ran for office with her face covered by a veil due to threats from the mafia. In 2018, after winning her seat as an anti-mafia candidate, she finally revealed her face to the public.
  • Jasmin Akter

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    UK-BangladeshCricketer
    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.
  • Manal AlDowayan

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    Saudi ArabiaArtist
    Contemporary artist Manal AlDowayan's work explores invisibility, archives, memory and the representation of women in her country. From black and white photographs of Saudi Arabia's female workforce, to a frozen flock of birds imprinted with the permission slip Saudi women require to travel.
  • Kimia Alizadeh

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    IranAthlete
    In 2016, Kimia became the first Iranian woman to win a medal at the Olympics since the country began competing in 1948. As a taekwondo athlete, Kimia is credited with "emboldening Iranian girls and women to push the boundaries of personal freedom" by the UK's Financial Times newspaper.
  • Alanoud Alsharekh

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    KuwaitWomen's rights activist
    Dr Alanoud Alsharekh is a founding member of the Abolish 153 campaign, calling for Kuwait's "honour-killing" law to be scrapped.
  • Marwa Al-Sabouni

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    SyriaArchitect
    When war broke out in architect Marwa Al-Sabouni's home city of Homs, Syria, she refused to leave.
  • Rida Al Tubuly

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    LibyaPeace campaigner
    Rida Al Tubuly is one of many women pushing for gender equality - but she's doing it from a warzone. Her organisation, Together We Build It, pushes for women's involvement in solving Libya's conflict.
  • Tabata Amaral

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    BrazilCongresswoman
    Tabata Amaral, one of Brazil's youngest congresswomen, came to national attention this year when a video of her grilling the country's education minister went viral.
  • Yalitza Aparicio

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    MexicoActress/Human rights activist
    Yalitza Aparicio trained as a primary school teacher, but ended up being cast as the lead in Alfonso Cuarón's Oscar-winning film Roma after accompanying her sister to the audition.
  • Dayna Ash

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    LebanonCultural activist
    Born in Lebanon but raised in the US, poet Dayna Ash was shocked when she was advised to hide her sexuality on her return to Beirut at 16.
  • Dina Asher-Smith

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    UKAthlete
    Dina is the fastest woman in British history and the first British woman to win a major global sprint title.
  • MiMi Aung

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    USProject manager NASA
    NASA's MiMi Aung is responsible for a team designing a helicopter to fly on Mars. After travelling alone from Myanmar to the US to further her education at 16, MiMi is now project manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology.
  • Nisha Ayub

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    MalaysiaTransgender activist
    At 21, trans woman Nisha Ayub was sentenced to three months in a male prison under a provision of Sharia law which prohibits "a male person wearing women's attire or posing as a woman in a public space.”
  • Judith Bakirya

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    UgandaFarmer
    Raised on a farm in Uganda, Judith Bakirya became the first of her peers to win a scholarship to a prestigious girls' boarding school, going on to obtain a masters in the UK and a job in the City.
  • Ayah Bdeir

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    LebanonEntrepreneur
    Branded as 21st Century building blocks, Ayah Bdeir's littleBits company makes kits of electronic blocks that snap together with magnets, allowing anyone to "build, prototype, and invent".
  • Dhammananda Bhikkhuni

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    ThailandMonk
    Buddhism is Thailand's most common religion, with some 300,000 Buddhist monks. But female monks - known as bhikkhunis - aren't recognised, and are banned from being ordained on Thai soil.
  • Mabel Bianco

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    ArgentinaDoctor
    Feminist medical doctor Mabel Bianco has spent four decades putting women's health, reproductive rights, abortion, and HIV/AIDS on the public policy agenda in Argentina.
  • Raya Bidshahri

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    IranEducator
    Raya is founder and CEO of the award-winning Awecademy, an organisation with a mission to use education to improve the world.
  • Katie Bouman

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    USScientist
    Katie was a key leader on the team that developed algorithms and techniques to recover the first-ever image of a black hole.
  • Sinéad Burke

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    IrelandDisability activist
    After recounting not being able to reach the locks on toilet doors in a candid speech in 2017, Sinéad Burke quickly became one of the world's most influential disability activists. Calling for all design to be more accessible, she has challenged some of the biggest names in the fashion industry - including Anna Wintour - to make clothing more inclusive.
  • Lisa Campo-Engelstein

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    USBioethicist
    Author of Contraceptive Justice: Why We Need a Male Pill, bioethicist Lisa Campo-Engelstein's work aims to improve women's lives through finding new methods of contraception.
  • Scarlett Curtis

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    UKWriter/Campaigner
    Scarlett is co-founder of The Pink Protest, an online community of activists who supported the successful #FreePeriods campaign to get free menstrual products in schools in England.
  • Ella Daish

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    UKEnvironmentalist
    Delivering post in rural Wales, Ella was shocked by the amount of discarded plastic on the streets.
  • Sharan Dhaliwal

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    UKArtist and writer
    British-Indian Sharan is founder and editor-in-chief of Burnt Roti magazine, focusing on mental and sexual health for young South Asians, and LGBTQ rights. Aided by crowdfunding, she published her first print issue in April 2016 and has since launched an online version.
  • Salwa Eid Naser

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    Nigeria-BahrainAthlete
    Salwa Eid Naser stunned the field in the 400m final in Doha this year by running faster than any woman has done for more than three decades.
  • Rana El Kaliouby

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    EgyptAI pioneer
    Rana el Kaliouby is a pioneer of artificial emotional intelligence, or Emotion AI. Her start-up Affectiva has developed software that can understand emotions by analysing facial expressions through a camera.
  • Maria Fernanda Espinosa

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    EcuadorUN General Assembly
    When Maria Fernanda Espinosa became president of the UN General Assembly, she became only the fourth woman to hold the position in the body's history - and the first from Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Lucinda Evans

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    South AfricaWomen's rights activist
    As South Africa faces rising rates of murder and rape against women and girls, Lucinda has emerged as a voice for women. She leads nationwide marches, rallying thousands of women in the streets of Cape Town, challenging government to translate policy into action.
  • Sister Gerard Fernandez

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    SingaporeRoman Catholic nun
    Sister Gerard is a Roman Catholic nun in Singapore, who worked for three decades as a death row counsellor.
  • Bethany Firth

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    UKParalympic swimmer
    Overcoming a fear of water after falling into an adult pool as a toddler, Bethany Firth burst onto the swimming scene at the London 2012 Paralympics. Bethany, who has learning disabilities, is now a four-time Paralympic gold medallist and multiple world record holder, and was Britain's most decorated athlete at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
  • Owl Fisher

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    IcelandTransgender activist
    Owl - aka Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir - is a journalist, writer and trans campaigner. They are the co-director of My Genderation, a film project focusing on trans lives and trans experiences.
  • Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

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    JamaicaAthlete
    After storming to victory in 10.71 seconds at the women's 100m final in Doha in September 2019, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce now boasts more 100m world championship titles than Usain Bolt.
  • Zarifa Ghafari

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    AfghanistanMayor
    At 26, Zarifa Ghafari is one of Afghanistan's first female mayors. The country's president appointed her mayor of Maidan Wardag, where support for the Taliban is widespread. She took the job despite it being too dangerous for her to live there - her office was mobbed by angry men on her first day.
  • Jalila Haider

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    PakistanLawyer
    Human rights lawyer Jalila specialises in defending women's rights in Pakistan, and provides free legal services to women in poverty.
  • Tayla Harris

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    AustraliaFootballer/boxer
    Tayla Harris is an Australian rules footballer playing for Carlton Football Club in the AFL Women's league, and a professional boxer.
  • Hollie

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    USSex trafficking survivor
    Hollie is a survivor of sex trafficking from Columbus, Ohio, US. She was first sold by her mother at the age of 15 and was enslaved through drug-use for 17 years. With the help of an innovative court programme called CATCH Court - which spots criminals who are actually victims - she was able to escape in 2015. Most women who are sex trafficked in the US are branded with tattoos or scars and she has since transformed the tattoos on her own body.
  • Huang Wensi

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    ChinaProfessional boxer
    Huang Wensi, 29, is one of a small but growing number of female boxers in China.
  • Luchita Hurtado

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    VenezuelaArtist
    This year, artist Luchita Hurtado landed her first solo show in a public gallery - at the age of 98.
  • Yumi Ishikawa

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    JapanFounder #kutoo
    Tired of the pain she suffered wearing heels eight hours a day at work, Yumi decided to vent her frustration on Twitter.
  • Asmaa James

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    Sierra LeoneJournalist/activist
    Through a career in journalism and community social work, Asmaa has become the voice of Sierra Leone's voiceless.
  • Aranya Johar

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    IndiaPoet
    Aranya uses beat poetry to address issues like gender equality, mental health and body positivity.
  • Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman

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    USAnthropologist
    Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman is an urban anthropologist, working to make cities better places to live in.
  • Gada Kadoda

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    SudanEngineer
    Dr Gada Kadoda helps women in remote areas use solar power to bring electricity to their villages by training them as community engineers.
  • Amy Karle

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    USBioartist
    Born with a rare condition which left her with missing skin, Amy Karle grew up fascinated by the possibility of what the human body could be capable of with the right technology.
  • Ahlam Khudr

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    SudanProtest leader
    Self-proclaimed 'mother of all Sudanese martyrs', Ahlam's 17-year-old son was killed in a peaceful protest in 2013. Since then, Ahlam has dedicated her life to seeking justice for him, and fighting for the rights of those killed or 'disappeared' in Sudan.
  • Fiona Kolbinger

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    GermanyCyclist
    In 2019, cancer researcher Fiona Kolbinger became the first woman ever to win the Transcontinental Race - one of the world's toughest cycling races.
  • Hiyori Kon

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    JapanSumo wrestler
    Hiyori Kon, 21, is a sumo wrestling prodigy in a country where women are still barred from competing professionally.
  • Aïssata Lam

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    MauritaniaMicrofinance expert
    Aïssata Lam set up the Youth Chamber of Commerce of Mauritania to support young women entrepreneurs struggling to access funding for their start-ups.
  • Soo Jung Lee

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    South KoreaForensic psychologist
    Forensic psychology professor Soo Jung Lee has worked on numerous high-profile murder cases in South Korea. Based at Kyonggi University in Seoul, she has challenged the legal system, helping introduce an anti-stalking bill.
  • Fei-Fei Li

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    USAI pioneer
    Fei-Fei Li arrived in the US from China at 16 with no English language skills, working part-time in her parents' dry-cleaning business.
  • Erika Lust

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    SwedenFilmmaker
    An award-winning independent adult filmmaker exploring how women can help shape the future of porn.
  • Lauren Mahon

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    UKCancer survivor
    Nominated for BBC 100 Women list by Jameela Jamil and the I Weigh community, Lauren Mahon is one third of the powerhouse trio "kicking cancer's arse" on BBC 5 Live's podcast You, Me & The Big C.
  • Julie Makani

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    TanzaniaDoctor/scientist
    Julie is from Tanzania, one of five countries in the world with the highest estimated number Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) births annually. She has dedicated the past two decades to research on treatment for the disease and working to influence health policies so that individuals across Africa can access vital diagnostic tests and medicines.
  • Lisa Mandemaker

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    NetherlandsSpeculative designer
    Lisa Mandemaker is leading the team building a prototype artificial womb, in collaboration with the Máxima Medical Centre in Holland.
  • Jamie Margolin

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    USClimate change activist
    At 16, Jamie co-founded the Zero Hour movement, using social media to organise the first youth climate change marches in 25 cities, including Washington DC.
  • Francia Marquez

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    ColombiaEnvironmentalist
    A formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, Francia Márquez spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile women's march to the country's capital, to take back their ancestral land from illegal gold miners.
  • Gina Martin

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    UKCampaigner
    After being upskirted at a music festival, Gina Martin launched a campaign to make upskirting illegal in England and Wales. The law was changed this year after an 18-month legal fight.
  • Sarah Martins Da Silva

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    UKConsultant gynaecologist/obstetrician
    Sarah is one of Scotland's leading gynaecologists.
  • Raja Meziane

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    AlgeriaSinger
    Singer Raja Meziane's political music video Allo le Système! has been viewed more than 35 million times on YouTube. Her anti-government songs tackling social injustice, alleged corruption and inequality have seen her forced into exile from Algeria.
  • Susmita Mohanty

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    IndiaSpace entrepreneur
    Hailed as 'India's space woman', spaceship designer Susmita founded India's first space start-up.
  • Benedicte Mundele

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    DR CongoFresh food entrepreneur
    When Benedicte looked around the Democratic Republic of Congo, she could see plenty of raw produce from potato to passionfruit, but still people were living in food poverty.
  • Subhalakshmi Nandi

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    IndiaGender equality expert
    Based at the International Center for Research on Women, Subhalakshmi has spent over 15 years working to improve gender equality in Asia.
  • Trang Nguyen

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    VietnamConservationist
    Trang Nguyen grew up in Vietnam, confronted from a young age with monkeys chained up for sale on the streets and bears held to extract bile for traditional medicine. So she obtained a PhD in Biodiversity Management, and set up WildAct, a non-profit organisation which helps authorities monitor illegal wildlife trade markets.
  • Van Thi Nguyen

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    CEO
    Van is co-founder of the Will to Live Center, which provides training for disabled people in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi.
  • Natasha Noel

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    IndiaYoga expert
    Natasha is a yogini, a female master practitioner of yoga and wellness coach.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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    USCongresswoman
    This year, aged 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. She grew up in the Bronx and volunteered as a campaigner in the 2016 Presidential elections.
  • Farida Osman

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    EgyptSwimmer
    Nicknamed 'the golden fish', in 2017 Farida became the first woman in Egypt to win a medal when she claimed bronze in the 50m butterfly at the FINA World Aquatics Championships.
  • Ashcharya Peiris

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    Sri LankaDesigner
    Ashcharya Peiris 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 to her disability, but ended up fulfilling her dream of becoming a fashion designer by describing her designs to a seamstress.
  • Danit Peleg

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    IsraelDesigner
    Fashion designer Danit once found herself at a conference with nothing to wear, so quickly designed a skirt on her laptop and 3D-printed it.
  • Autumn Peltier

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    CanadaClean water advocate
    Autumn Peltier has been campaigning for clean drinking water for indigenous people in Canada since she was just eight years old.
  • Swietenia Puspa Lestari

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    IndonesiaDiver/environmentalist
    Swietenia founded the Divers Clean Action Foundation to clear marine debris in Indonesia. They now have 1,500 volunteers working across the island nation and South East Asia.
  • Megan Rapinoe

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    USFootballer
    Megan Rapinoe is a two-time World Cup winner and co-captain of the US Women's National Team. She led the team to victory in the 2019 Women's World Cup, scoring some of the biggest goals of the tournament.
  • Onjali Rauf

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    UKWriter
    Onjali Rauf was recovering from life-saving surgery when the idea for her first book came to her.
  • Charlene Ren

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    ChinaClean water advocate
    As a graduate student, Charlene Ren created MyH2O, a solution to the lack of clean drinking water in rural China.
  • Maria Ressa

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    PhilippinesJournalist
    Maria Ressa is an award-winning journalist from the Philippines who set up website Rappler to expose fake news.
  • Djamila Ribeiro

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    BrazilWriter/equality activist
    Writer Djamila Ribeiro is one of the most influential figures in the Afro-Brazilian women's rights movement.
  • Jawahir Roble

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    UK-SomaliaReferee
    Jawahir Roble is the UK's first Muslim, black, female, hijab-wearing referee.
  • Najat Saliba

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    LebanonChemistry professor
    Professor Saliba is conducting world-leading research on polluted air. She grew up on her family's farm in rural Lebanon, but when civil war prompted a move to the city, she was awakened to the disturbing realities of air pollution.
  • Nanjira Sambuli

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    KenyaDigital equality expert
    Nanjira leads the World Wide Web Foundation in its bid to increase digital equality.
  • Zehra Sayers

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    TurkeyScientist
    Biophysicist Zehra Sayers has been hailed as a beacon of hope for the Middle East (Nature journal) for her success in her contribution to bringing scientists from eight Middle Eastern countries together.
  • Hayfa Sdiri

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    TunisiaEntrepreneur
    At 16, Hayfa founded not-for-profit Entrcrush, an online platform for future entrepreneurs where they could be matched with donors, and take e-courses in areas like management and accounting.
  • Noor Shaker

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    SyriaComputer scientist
    Computer scientist Noor Shaker left Syria for Europe in 2008 to follow her passion for Artificial Intelligence. After a successful decade in academia, she turned her skills toward entrepreneurial innovation. Motivated by her mother's fight against cancer, Shaker was compelled to bring her knowledge of AI to the medical world.
  • Bonita Sharma

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    NepalInnovator
    Inspired by her mum's determination to obtain a degree despite pressure to become a housewife, Bonita Sharma helps educate and empower women and girls in her native Nepal.
  • Vandana Shiva

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    IndiaEnvironmentalist
    In the 1970s, she was part of a movement of women who threw their arms around trees to prevent them being felled - the original 'tree-huggers'.
  • Pragati Singh

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    IndiaDoctor
    When qualified doctor Pragati Singh started researching asexuality, she received messages from women who didn't want to have sex but were facing an arranged marriage.
  • Lyubov Sobol

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    RussiaAnti-corruption activist
    Lawyer Lyubov Sobol investigates alleged corruption in Russia, documenting her work through social media and a YouTube channel with over a million subscribers.
  • Samah Subay

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    YemenLawyer
    Samah is a lawyer who has worked tirelessly in difficult circumstances since the war in Yemen started in 2015. She provides legal support to families whose children have 'disappeared'.
  • Kalista Sy

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    SenegalScreenwriter/producer
    Self-taught screenwriter Kalista Sy's TV series Mistress of a Married Man sent shock waves through her home country when it was released earlier this year.
  • Bella Thorne

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    USActress/director
    This summer, 22-year-old actress and director Bella Thorne released her own topless photos after a hacker threatened to leak them, saying, “It's my decision now, you don't get to take another thing from me.”
  • Veronique Thouvenot

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    ChileHealth expert
    Veronique Thouvenot leads the Zero Mothers Die initiative.
  • Greta Thunberg

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    SwedenClimate change activist
    In August 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thurnberg skipped school to protest outside the Swedish parliament. What started as a one-person strike has since spread to a worldwide protest over climate change. Her actions have mobilised activists across the world, with millions of young people taking part in Fridays for Future.
  • Paola Villarreal

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    MexicoComputer programmer
    Self-taught computer programmer Paola helped reverse 20,000 racially-biased drugs convictions by developing Data for Justice, a tool with an interactive map comparing police activity in white and minority neighborhoods.
  • Ida Vitale

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    UruguayPoet
    At 95, poet Ida Vitale is winner of the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Purity Wako

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    UgandaLife coach
    Purity is a modern day 'senga'. The role traditionally sees aunt-figures training brides-to-be in how to sexually satisfy their husbands.
  • Marilyn Waring

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    New ZealandEconomist/environmentalist
    Best-known for becoming New Zealand's youngest member of parliament in 1975 aged 23, Marilyn Waring is a pioneer of feminist economics, and author of the groundbreaking Counting for Nothing, which highlighted the value of womens' unpaid work.
  • Amy Webb

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    USFuturist
    Amy Webb is a futurist who advises government leaders and the CEOs of some of the world's largest companies on how to prepare for complex futures.
  • Sara Wesslin

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    FinlandJournalist
    Sara Wesslin is a Skolt Sami journalist. The Sami are the only indigenous people in the EU.
  • Gina Zurlo

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    USScholar of religion
    Having studied everything from megachurch social media use to whether women are more religious than men, Gina Zurlo is an expert in religion statistics.

How were the 100 Women chosen?

The BBC's 100 Women team drew up a shortlist based on names gathered by them and suggested by the BBC's network of World Service languages teams. We were looking for candidates who had made the headlines or influenced important stories over the past 12 months, as well as those who have inspiring stories to tell, achieved something significant or influenced their societies in ways that wouldn't necessarily make the news. The pool of names was then assessed against this year's theme - the Female Future - and measured for regional representation and due impartiality, before the final 100 were chosen.
Photo copyrights: Karolina Kuras, Hans Jørgen Brun, Nicola Virzì, Sage Sohier, Christian Petersen/Getty Images, Mooreyameen Mohamad, Amelia Allen, Getty Images/Maja Hitij, Getty/Marilla Sicilia, UN, British Swimming, Hauser & Wirth, Oresti, Tsonopoulos, Kawori Inbe, Amal Adam, Matt Kay, Constanza Lavagna, Paula Mitre, Theo Kruse, Venura Chandramalitha, Luis Crispino/Claudia Magazine, Anders Hellberg, Graciela Buffanti, Wakophotography, IBF China, Germana Costanza Lavagna, Neal Hardie, Sharon Kilgannon, Hanna Sotelo, Sumit Kumar Singh, Päivi Mäkelä, Pimienta Films, Siddharth Das, Venura Chandramalitha, Linda Roy by Irevaphotography

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