The BBC has revealed that singer/songwriter Bulelwa Mkutukana from South Africa, better known by her stage name Zahara is among the trailblazing women on this year’s 100 Women List, celebrating inspirational and influential women across the globe – from high profile names to unsung heroes.
In a year of unprecedented turbulence, this year’s theme is ‘How Women Led Change in 2020’ and celebrates some of the scientists, public health experts, and healthcare workers who have helped us weather the storm of the global pandemic, as well as women from other industries who have all been leaders of change in their own way – from politicians, lawyers and architects to actors, writers, athletes, singers and those who have sought to improve the lives of others in their community.
Bulelwa came from humble beginnings in South Africa, and found her love of singing in the school choir. She started her singing career busking on the streets, but in 2011 her debut album went double-platinum in less than three weeks.
The singer-songwriter has been showered with awards and is enjoying a successful career in the music industry – but she has also used her platform to speak out about violence against women in South Africa, something she revealed has happened to her.
Some of the other recognisable names on this year’s list include US actor Jane Fonda, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Malaysian actor Michelle Yeoh, Belarusian Politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pakistani actor Mahira Khan.
Other names on the list include:
Syrian film-maker Waad Al-Kateab (29) – Activist, journalist and award-winning film-maker who has received numerous accolades for her news reports in Aleppo and was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2020 her first feature, For Sama.
Dr Jeong Eun-kyeong (55) – Current commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency who has led South Korea’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and been described as a “virus-hunter”.
Campaigner Christina Adane (17) – Behind the UK petition for free school meals over the summer holidays, which footballer Marcus Rashford supported.
UK Scientist Sarah Gilbert (58) – Trained in microbiology, biochemistry, molecular virology and vaccinology, Sarah has been working to develop vaccines against emerging diseases since 2014.
Brazilian transgender model Lea T (39) – A pop-culture icon of transgender advocacy, speaking up about discrimination against LGBT people and calling for society to tackle it.
US astronaut Kathy Sullivan (69) – Holds the distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space and dive to the deepest point in the ocean making her the most vertical person in the world.
UK Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu(73) – Groundbreaking sickle cell and thalassemia nurse who campaigned for a statue of British-Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole and is a key figure in highlighting the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities.
Agnes Chow (23) – Pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong and a key figure during the 2014 Umbrella Movement. This year she was one of a handful of activists arrested under a controversial new security law imposed by Beijing.
Fang Fang (65) – Award-winning Chinese author who has produced more than 100 works. This year, she began documenting events in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged.
The full BBC 100 Women List 2020 is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-55042935
For the first time, this year’s List will see the 100th spot left blank to honour all the women who made an impact and a sacrifice in this extraordinary year and allow our audiences to fill it with someone meaningful to them.