The Duchess of Sussex was announced as the surprise guest editor of British Vogue‘s September issue this week and naturally, we were over the moon – especially when we saw the incredible cover, shining a light on the most impactful women of the moment.
The ‘Forces for Change’ issue, which is a collaborative effort between Meghan and the British Vogue team led by Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful, features 15 inspiration women of all ages, races and talents.
Each woman has something special which contributes to a wider change within society and as the Duchess points out, ‘breaks barriers.’ The cover also features a blank space designed to act as a mirror to ‘include the reader and encourage them to use their own platforms to effect change.’
So, if you’re in need of a little inspiration to do so, meet the 15 women behind Meghan’s Vogue cover…
British Muslim boxer Ramla was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in the early 1990s and moved to London as a refugee with her family when she was a toddler, after being caught up in the country’s civil war. In 2016, she won the England Boxing Elite National Championships, which she added to her 2015 Novice national championships title. As well as training to become the first Somali to compete in the Olympic boxing in Tokyo 2020, Ramla teaches self defence to a group of Muslim women.
27-year-old Adwoa has collected a number of impressive accolades for her work as a supermodel and pro-women and mental health activist. The model, who was born in Britain to an English mum and Ghanaian-born father, was Edward Enninful’s first cover star for British Vogue back in 2017, the same year she was crowned International Model of Yeah at the British Fashion Awards. Adwoa is also the founder of Gurls Talk, an online community for young women to safely discuss issues such as self-care, mental health, relationships and sexuality.
South Sudanese model Adut spent her earliest days as a refugee in Kenya before her family relocated to Australia. The 19-year-old rising star has worked with the biggest fashion houses in the world, shooting campaigns for the likes of Fendi, Moschino, Saint Laurent, Valentino and Versace. Adut was named as one of TIME’s “Most Influential Teens of 2018 and is currently working with the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to promote causes that support refugees around the world.
Jacinda Ardern is the Prime Minister of New Zealand and only the second elected leader in modern history to give birth while in office, after she had her daughter, Neve, in June 2018. She received praise from around the world following her compassionate handling of the Christchurch terror attack on 15 March, which saw a gunman kill 51 worshippers at two mosques in the New Zealand town.
British actress Gemma Chan starred in blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians, the first Hollywood film in 25 years with a majority Asian-American cast. The 36-year-old often campaigns for more exclusivity in the film and TV industry and said she hoped the success of the movie would act as defence against some of the excuses used for white-washed casting. The 36-year-old also works on charitable projects with UNICEF.
29-year-old Sinead is an educator and advocate for diversity. She hosts podcast, ‘As Me with Sinéad’ and last year, she did a TED Talk on why fashion should include everyone. She was also listed as one of Vogue‘s 25 – Britain’s 25 most influential and aspirational figures in 2018.
Laverne rose to fame in her breakthrough role in Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. The transgender actress is a huge advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. She recently teamed up with Smirrnof to promote and raise money for World Pride, and has been the face of Beyoncé’s Ivy Park collection.
Oscar winner Jane Fonda has had a successful career as an actress, writer, political activist and fashion model for decades. However her recent comeback with Netflix’s hit comedy Grace And Frankie has see the 81-year-old back on top. Jane co-founded the Women’s Media Center, an organisation providing advocacy for women in the media and has been outspoken about Hollywood’s sexual misconduct scandal and the rise of the #MeToo movement. She even campaigned against the Iraq War.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Award-winning Nigerian novelist, poet and feminist advocate Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is known for her strong body of work including her famous novels, Purple Hibiscus, Half Of A Yellow Sun and Americanah. In 2013, Beyonce sampled the 41-year-old writer’s speech entitled ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ for her hit single, ‘Flawless’.
19-year-old American actress Yara Shahidi is known for not only her roles in hit sit-com Black-ish and spin-off Grown-Ish, but her activism. She is widely outspoken about social and political issues not only in the States but internationally and regularly updates and educates her young fan base on current affairs, encouraging unity and solidarity. At the age of 15, she founded Yara’s Club, an online mentoring program, and later created Eighteen x 18, a platform that encourages voter registration in the US. She has also fronted huge beauty campaigns including Chanel and Bobbi Brown.
Channel 4 presenter turned The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil is a feminist advocate, often challenging the media and fellow celebrities (hello, Kardashians) on the toxic messages they spread regarding body image. She often speaks out about injustices for women and champions body positivity. The 33-year-old even has a dedicated Instagram page entitled @i_weigh which combats body shaming and is all about ‘radical inclusivity, so that no one feels alone.’
Royal ballerina Francesca Hayward was born in Kenya and raised in the UK. She was recently cast in the upcoming film adaptation of hit musical, Cats, playing Victoria, the principal dancer.
Christy Turlington Burns
The 50-year-old model is a campaigner and founder of Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere. Christy, who has two children of her own, founded the charity ‘to raise awareness about a global tragedy that many women face – but not enough are aware of until it is too late.’
Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old political activist. The Swedish teenager is an advocate for climate change and gained global prominence after starting a strike from school in her hometown of Stockholm in August 2018 to protest government inaction on the climate crisis. Earlier this year, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and she is set to travel to the US on racing yacht to cut environmental impact of travel as she attends a UN summit in New York City in August.
Salma Hayek Pinault
Hollywood royalty Salma Hayek Pinault has been an advocate for women’s rights for years. In 2017, she (among other women) spoke out against producer Harvey Weinstein, accusing him of sexual harassment and calling him a ‘monster.’