– Hannah Davies, Director, One World Action
The 100 (unseen) powerful women in the list are fantastically inspiring each in their own way. They represent a huge range of activity and commitment – from a health campaigner in East London to a solar power project in Kenya. But do they have anything in common? Is there any unifying wider point? About the role of women? About social change?
The idea for the list came from reading an article about the upcoming list of powerful women that gets published every year by the Forbes magazine. While it’s great that they recognise women’s leadership it’s always a certain kind of woman and a certain kind of leadership: privileging the already privileged and recognising only certain kinds of power and influence.
More recently I have been reading another book that has an interesting take on how ordinary (or unseen) individuals can be powerful and affect change. In his book The Leaderless Revolution, Carne Ross stresses the simple idea of agency. In the face of an almost overwhelming barrage of global problems (terrorism, climate change, financial meltdown and so on), he emphasises how individuals taking control of their lives through individual or collective action is one way – possibly the only way – to overcome the challenges we face.
I think it’s particularly important for women to recognise their own agency – to not always look to be led by a charismatic leader (usually a man). That understanding of our own individual power is a fundamental part of empowerment: recognising this in each other is hopefully one of the benefits of the list.