THIS International Women’s Day, our panel of judges celebrates the women making the future brighter for us all – from campaigners and activists to amazing athletes.
From Emma Raducanu to the Queen and Kate, we reveal the 25 most inspirational women.
The Queen has never wavered in her dedication, still performing her duties despite her advancing years and Covid
She’s spent seven decades on the throne, but recently Her Maj’s reign has been anything but smooth. She lost her beloved husband Philip in April 2021 after 73 years of marriage, she’s endured truth bombs from Harry and Meghan from across the pond, and in January she stripped her son, Prince Andrew, of his HRH title, as he continues to be mired in controversy.
Despite this, Liz has never wavered in her dedication, still performing her duties despite her advancing years and Covid, gearing up for her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June. What a trooper.
Emma is the youngest Grand Slam champion in 17 years
It was game, set and match to teenager Emma, from south-east London, when she made tennis history last September, winning both the US Open and a legion of devoted fans.
The youngest Grand Slam champion in 17 years, she sat her A levels just months before her stunning victory and is tipped to earn a £100million fortune from sponsorship deals alone. With a Vogue shoot and an MBE under her belt, and global brands lining up to work with her, a dazzling future surely lies ahead.
Sara wastThe youngest female investor ever to take a seat on Dragons’ Den
The youngest female investor ever to take a seat on Dragons’ Den, Sara joined the show in 2019 and quickly became our fave with her no-nonsense investment style.
Worth a cool £37million, self-made Sara, who has two children and lives in County Durham, launched her company Crafter’s Companion while she was at university, and now runs it with husband Simon.
Role-modelling pure grit and determination on last year’s Strictly, she made it to week seven before being voted off. 10/10!
Jess The MP is a passionate advocate for women’s rights
The MP for Birmingham Yardley is a passionate advocate for women’s rights.
After years of campaigning for measures to stop violence against women, she saw the Domestic Abuse Bill passed into law in 2021, and every year in parliament she takes on the harrowing task of reading aloud the names of all women killed by men in the preceding 12 months.
Jess has called out government failures and refuses to be silenced, despite being subjected to misogynistic trolling and threats.
Maggie was the lead investigator at Greater Manchester Police on the Rochdale child sex abuse ring case
A former-police-detective-turned-whistleblower, Maggie was the lead investigator at Greater Manchester Police on the Rochdale child sex abuse ring case, and supported vulnerable girls to give evidence against their abusers.
She resigned from the force in 2012, claiming it had failed victims, and has gone on to establish the Maggie Oliver Foundation, which supports adult survivors of sexual abuse in turning their “pain into power”, helping more than 2,500 people so far.
Judi made a big impression with her hilarious quips, effervescent energy and pride in her plus-size curves on Strictly last year
She shimmied her way into our hearts on Strictly last year, and despite only making it to the sixth week of the competition, Judi made a big impression with her hilarious quips, effervescent energy and pride in her plus-size curves.
“I’m always sexy… Mama always gets chatted up,” she has said. A single mum of two, Judi is also a stand-up comedian, Loose Women panellist and has a degree in community arts and social science and a masters in social work to her name.
As Kate celebrated her 40th birthday, her popularity has never been greater
In a year beset with scandal and stress for the royal family, Kate has proved a calming force. As she celebrated her 40th birthday, her popularity has never been greater and she continues to champion causes close to her heart, ranging from Early Years research to mental health and addiction.
At the start of this year she became the patron of Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL), taking over from brother-in-law Prince Harry, plus she even found time to read to the nation’s kids on CBeebies’ Bedtime Stories. Our future Queen never puts a foot wrong.
Dina set her sights on defending her 200m gold medal at the World Athletic Championships in the USA this summer
Blink and you’ll miss her! The fastest British woman in recorded history, and Team GB’s athletics captain, she had to make the heartbreaking decision to pull out of the 200m at the Tokyo Olympics last year after tearing her hamstring.
A true fighter though, she’s set her sights on defending her 200m gold medal at the World Athletic Championships in the USA this summer, and has spoken out about facing racism on and off the track.
Thanks to Davina the menopause is now well and truly out there
Once a taboo subject, thanks to Davina the menopause is now well and truly out there.
After her own experiences of brain fog and erratic emotions, which left her fearing she had early-onset dementia, the presenter set out to demystify “the change”, backing our Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign, presenting popular Channel 4 documentary Davina McCall: Sex, Myths And The Menopause, and successfully campaigning for a reduction in the cost of HRT prescriptions.
Essex girl Ellie has stormed the modelling world
She’s graced the pages of magazines around the world (including the cover of Fabulous last year), is a charity ambassador and the face of Gucci’s Unconventional Beauty campaign. She also happens to have Down’s syndrome.
Essex girl Ellie has stormed the modelling world, and smashed preconceptions about people with the condition, despite her mother being told that her daughter would never walk, talk or live an independent life. Last month, Ellie was named one of Mencap’s Myth Busters, championing people with learning disabilities and breaking down barriers.
Anne-Marie stepped into Rachel Riley’s Countdown shoes to cover her maternity leave and has blown us away with her brains
She’s stepped into Rachel Riley’s Countdown shoes to cover her maternity leave and has blown us away with her brains. A science and maths whizz, Anne-Marie sat A levels aged 11, and at 20 became the youngest-ever University of Oxford masters grad.
When she’s not doling out letters and numbers, she’s the CEO of social enterprise Stemettes, encouraging girls to study science, tech, engineering and maths, and in 2020 was named Most Influential Woman in UK IT.
Camilla has championed raising awareness of, and ending, violence against women
Not afraid to use her royal status to highlight difficult issues, Camilla has championed raising awareness of, and ending, violence against women. She’s called on men to join with women to end horrific crimes, saying: “Rapists are not born, they are constructed.”
Passionate about literacy, in January 2021, she launched her Instagram book club The Reading Room, which now has 132,000 followers. Last month, Camilla was given the ultimate seal of approval when the Queen announced she is to be Queen Consort when Charles becomes King.
Sophie is a force to be reckoned with and a familiar face on our TV screens
Paralysed from the chest down after a car crash in 2003, Sophie is a force to be reckoned with and a familiar face on our TV screens, fronting Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage last summer and a regular guest panellist on Loose Women.
When she’s not campaigning for greater inclusion for disabled people, Sophie is preparing to release her memoir Driving Forwards, which is out later this month. She has insisted her accident didn’t ruin her life, claiming instead that it’s brought her so many positives. What an inspiration.
Anthea worked throughout the pandemic, nursing the sickest patients at St George’s Hospital in London
She worked throughout the pandemic, nursing the sickest patients at St George’s Hospital in London, and her weekly emails to friends and neighbours became a missive from the front line, revealing the pain and camaraderie that her colleagues lived and breathed through the unimaginable stress and sadness of those months.
Her book Life, Death And Biscuits, inspired by those emails, was released last month.
TikTok star Lucy is blind and passionate about using the platform to dispel myths about sight loss
She’s a social media sensation with a difference, because TikTok star Lucy, from Sutton Coldfield, is blind – and passionate about using the platform to dispel myths about sight loss.
She lost her sight in her teens due to a rare genetic condition, but it hasn’t been a barrier to her channel @lucyedwards racking up legions of followers – 1.7 million and counting – plus she landed a gig at Radio 1, becoming its first blind presenter.
Times are definitely a-changing thanks to Anna
Long before the pandemic saw our working patterns change, mum-of-two Anna was banging the drum for greater flexibility for all, but particularly working parents, after her own experience of trying to juggle a career with child-rearing.
Her Flex Appeal campaign, launched in 2015, has led to the Bar Council recommending the government looks at overhauling employment law, and the Flexible Working Bill is currently making its way through parliament. Times are definitely a-changing thanks to Anna.
Natalie stands out for her compassionate, humorous and no-nonsense take on relationships and human behaviour
In a sea of self-help bloggers and podcasters, Natalie stands out for her compassionate, humorous and no-nonsense take on relationships and human behaviour.
Founder of the blog Baggage Reclaim, she draws on her own life experiences – including losing her father in 2017, chronic illness and a former penchant for emotionally unavailable men (before meeting her husband and father of her two children). Her latest book, The Joy Of Saying No, is due to be released in October.
Adjoa is now blazing a trail for older women in an infamously ageist industry
We can’t wait for the second season of Bridgerton to drop this month – mainly to get our fix of the formidable Lady Danbury, played by Bristol-born Adjoa, who is also a Church of England lay preacher.
One of the breakout stars of the smash-hit Netflix series, she’s performed in everything from Dr Who and EastEnders to Shakespeare’s Richard II – and is now blazing a trail for older women in an infamously ageist industry.
The University of Oxford professor helped to develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid
The University of Oxford professor’s leading role in helping to develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid facilitated the creation of more than 2.5 billion doses for distribution around the world, helping to save millions of lives.
In February this year, the mother of grown-up triplets, from Oxford, was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by Princess Anne at Windsor Castle, for services to science and public health.
Deborah has captured the nation’s hearts with her poignant and always candid revelations about living with cancer
Since being diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer five years ago, mum-of-two Deborah (AKA @BowelBabe) has bravely shared her experiences in a bid to save other people’s lives, launching the No Butts campaign last year to raise awareness of the disease’s symptoms.
Former headteacher Deborah also presents the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C, and has captured the nation’s hearts with her poignant, hilarious and always candid revelations about living with cancer.
Juggling her GMB presenting job with caring for Derek as well as their children, Kate was awarded an MBE this year
Life was turned upside down for Kate in March 2020 when her husband Derek, 54, fell seriously ill with Covid. Two years later, she’s navigating the fallout with incredible strength and stoicism.
Juggling her GMB presenting job with caring for Derek – as well as their children Darcy, 15, and Billy, 12 – Kate, who was awarded an MBE this year, has also written a bestselling memoir, The Power Of Hope, and her 2021 documentary Finding Derek won both a Bafta and a National Television Award. Follow-up doc Caring For Derek aired last month to further acclaim.
Deaf since birth, Rose made Strictly 2021 unforgettable for all the right reasons
She made Strictly 2021 unforgettable for all the right reasons when she lifted the Glitterball trophy, becoming the first deaf contestant and winner of the show. Remember her and Giovanni’s silent dance? Yes, we wept too.
Deaf since birth, Rose was already a rising star after playing Frankie Lewis in EastEnders since 2020, but her Strictly win has seen her turn activist and throw her weight behind a campaign for British Sign Language to be given legal recognition for the first time, which now has the backing of MPs.
Mel has bravely channelled the harrowing experiences of domestic violence she says she suffered during a 10-year relationship
Pop-star-turned-domestic-violence-campaigner Mel has bravely channelled the harrowing experiences she says she suffered during her 10-year relationship with film producer Stephen Belafonte into helping survivors.
Earlier this year, she was made an MBE for her work with the charity Women’s Aid, which has included starring in a hard-hitting music video called Love Should Not Hurt, to raise awareness of the realities of domestic violence against women. Once battered and suicidal, Scary is back to her strong and feisty best.
Anne created and launched digital-only Starling Bank in 2014, revolutionising the banking landscape
Tech entrepreneur Anne created and launched digital-only Starling Bank in 2014, revolutionising the banking landscape. After starting her career in 1981 and rising through the financial ranks to become a COO (chief operating officer), she decided she could offer customers something different from the big banks – and Starling was born.
No branches, no products, it’s banking via app only. Anne even sold her home to finance her vision and in 2018 received an MBE for services to financial technology.
Following the tragic death of her daughter, Tanya has channelled her grief into improving the lives of other allergy sufferers
Following the tragic death of her 15-year-old daughter Natasha in 2016, after she suffered a fatal allergic reaction to a baguette, Tanya has channelled her grief into improving the lives of other allergy sufferers by setting up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation.
Last October, Natasha’s Law, which requires food retailers to display full ingredients and allergen information, came into force in the UK. Tanya was awarded an OBE this year, along with her husband Nahim.
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Baroness Karren Brady: Businesswoman and vice-chair of West Ham United
Susanna Reid: Television presenter and GMB host
Jane Moore: The Sun columnist and Loose Women panellist