Active Voice: A year in the lives of inspiring women

Although it’s the festive season, Active Voice is casting aside thoughts of the three wise men in favour of celebrating a handful of 2019’s inspirational and influential women. We hope that by feasting on their success stories you may be energised and motivated to find your own greatness and take it forward with you to fulfil your potential in 2020.

  1. We’re starting with the youngest first; Greta Thunberg, the teenage founder of the international youth movement against climate change. Greta is a juvenile powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm for saving the planet for everyone. She’s won a place in Hillary and Chelsea Clintons’ recently published “The Book of Gutsy Women”.   Commenting in the London Evening Standard, Hillary said, “It’s been fascinating to watch how scared a lot of grown male leaders are of this 16-year-old girl.”
  2. Dina Asher-Smith – the fastest woman in British history. She holds the British records in the 100 and 200 metres. World domination beckons and she has her sights set on Olympic gold next year in Tokyo.  Not only accomplished on the track, Asher-Smith has 10 A* GCSEs, three As at A-level and a 2:1 in history from King’s College London.
  3. Gina Miller, who has twice mounted legal challenges against the government - over Brexit - and won. Her success in the courts has come at a price - she has become a hate figure for many Brexit supporters and has been forced to employ 24-hour security after threats to her life. She says she does not want to block Brexit, but is standing up for Parliamentary democracy.
  4. Gina Martin – her mission to make “upskirting” a criminal offence finally became a reality when it was incorporated into the Voyeurism Offences Act 2019. Ms Martin campaigned tirelessly to change the law after being told there was no case to answer when she complained to police that a man had taken intrusive pictures by putting his phone up her skirt without her knowledge or permission.
  5. Ella Daish – is campaigning for the removal of plastic from all tampons… in September, the supermarket, Sainsbury, took action and banned plastic applicators from all its own-brand products, which has consequently, removed 2.7 tonnes of plastic annually.  See more here.
  6. Alison Rose – Banker Became CEO of RBS in November – she was the first female boss of one of the Big Four banks – following her appointment as deputy CEO of NatWest Holdings in December 2018.  Ms Rose has used her position to help other women. In March, her Treasury-commissioned Review of Female Entrepreneurship revealed the barriers women face in business, particularly in securing funding, and stated that closing the gender gap would contribute a massive £250 billion to the UK economy. As a result, the government has set a target to help 600,000 female entrepreneurs by 2030.
  7. Busayo Oyedoyin, an 18-year-old British-Nigerian youth politician from Hackney, who has become a major influencer in UK youth politics highlighting knife crime as the scourge of modern society. She has used her position in the UK Youth Parliament to influence politicians in the Commons. She admits to struggling with imposter syndrome and self-doubt. Imagine being the youngest person in a room filled with powerful leaders and making your voice heard.  Her advice is, “Always have your ‘why’ at the forefront of your mind. Never underestimate the impact and power that you have because you are powerful, your voice, your actions, your moves and everything you do is powerful.”
  8. And finally, one to watch… Liv Conlon, who left school, having been bullied, chose not to go to university but set up her own business instead. She has since built up an interiors company worth £1million, has recently been named UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year and mentors other women. All this and she’s only 21.

These women represent some of the most pressing issues of our time. May their commitment, dedication and single-mindedness enrich all women with a “can do” attitude to take us forward with our goals, ambitions and plans for the next 12 months and beyond.

For further inspiration, explore the BBC’s list of the 100 most influential women in the world.