“There’s a lot of stereotyping that Muslim women are oppressed,” says Zara Mohammed, who, in January and at the age of 29, became the youngest person and first woman to be elected as secretary general of The Muslim Council of Britain. “I’m here to help smash the glass on that perception.” Born and raised in Glasgow, as the representative of the most diverse Muslim umbrella organisation in the UK, Mohammed is keen to show her peers – and the world – that young people can lead “and women can certainly lead, too. Don’t define us without us,” she adds. “We’ll be the ones to say who we are and what we represent.”
Chair, UK Vaccine Taskforce
Kate Bingham heads up the UK Vaccine Taskforce. PAUL WETHERELL
When venture capitalist Kate Bingham was asked to chair the UK Vaccine Taskforce, she was reluctant. Not because of the responsibility, but because “I thought it would fail,” she says. Luckily, her daughter convinced her to change her mind. Under Bingham, several successful vaccines were found and, at the time of writing, more than 87 per cent of the UK’s adult population has received a first dose. How does she feel? “Fantastic.” And confident about the future. “The vaccines work really well, but at some point we will need to be able to pivot to develop a new one. And we’re in decent shape for that,” she smiles.
Renowned chef Margot Henderson’s food has long been a byword for elegant British cuisine, and post lockdown, it was to her Rochelle Canteen – a restaurant open nearly 20 years – that the in-crowd flocked. It was a just reward. As a mentor, alongside her husband Fergus, to some of today’s most lauded chefs, her impact can be felt across the UK’s gastro scene – a fact recognised with last year’s OBE. In an industry of fickle fads and viral recipes, she’s a true influencer.
Chair, The Football Association
Come January 2022, Debbie Hewitt will be the first woman to be named chair of the Football Association in its 158-year history. The successor to Greg Clarke, who resigned after a series of “unacceptable” comments, Hewitt is perfectly poised to lead the FA as English football enters a new and exciting chapter.
From the long tail of Brexit to the last days of the Trump administration and the pandemic, the news cycle these past five years has been relentless. So has Marina Hyde. A master satirist, her blistering columns for The Guardian routinely go viral for their ability to lay bare with scathing ease the corruption, scandal and hypocrisy that is so often to be found at the heart of our governments and institutions. An unparalleled commentator on – and for – our times.
Last December, environment campaigner Rosamund Kissi-Debrah’s years-long battle to prove pollution contributed to her daughter Ella’s death came to an end when a coroner ruled in her favour, setting a powerful precedent in the fight for cleaner air. But her work continues. The landmark verdict – the first time a person has had air pollution listed as a cause of death – has led to urgent calls for the government to reduce national air pollution limits, and to save tens of thousands of lives.
In the predominantly male world of motorsports, women have notoriously been overlooked. But Charlie Martin, a veteran of British endurance racing car driving, is among those redressing the balance. This year, she became the first trans woman to compete in the uniquely challenging Britcar Nürburgring 24 Hours, with the goal of ultimately entering the legendarily gruelling Le Mans – the oldest endurance race in history. In a sport with little diversity, Martin is an important and welcome face.
Head of music (UK & IE), Spotify
The role of head of music at Spotify – which has more than 158 million subscribers worldwide – is a powerful position to occupy, with the ability to make or break artists. Which is why, last year, Sulinna Ong helped launch the streaming behemoth’s Radar programme, giving 12 months of support to up-and-coming artists (one of the first recipients, Young T & Bugsey, went on to receive three nominations at this year’s Brits). Committed to bringing equality to the industry, in terms of both the artists promoted and those working behind the scenes, Ong is a key force in shaping the future of music.
Representing some of the brightest minds in the UK – from Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo to debut novelist Natasha Brown; academic Emma Dabiri to author Shon Faye – literary agent Emma Paterson of Aitken Alexander has an eagle eye for talent. Combining market savvy with a keen sense of social responsibility, her reach has been instrumental in bringing some of the finest, agenda-shifting writing of recent years to publication.
Phoebe Dynevor broke through as the lead in Bridgerton. PAUL WETHERELL