If you’re tired of your Instagram feed lacking authenticity and inspiration (and we’re not talking the fashion kind), we’ve rounded up 12 badass women worth scrolling through. From political activists to award-winning writers and women intent on breaking the glass ceiling, here are our top movers and shakers sure to inspire your 2020.
Her bio states ‘Feminist in progress’ but we’d say Jameela Jamil is a fully fledged women championing women’s rights already. Her big break came in 2009 when she hosted the hangover cure that was Channel 4’s T4 and went on to become a radio presenter, model, writer and actress (you may recognise her from NBC’s The Good Place), and most recently an activist. Her other account, @i_weigh, aims to push back on woman shaming, showcasing all the incredible things women ‘weigh’ other than their actual weight.
In a somewhat 360 Instagram moment, Jameela was part of a huge social campaign that made Facebook and Instagram tighten their rules on diet and plastic surgery posts. “This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/detox industry,” she said. “Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online sends an important message out to the world.
Jameela has been candid about her own struggle with mental health issues and eating disorder, and her account is one to follow if you’re after no bullshit real talk.
Follow Jameela at @jameelajamilofficial
On 31st August 2016 Lauren Mahon was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was just 31 and understandably felt very alone. She turned to the Internet to see if she could connect with women like herself, but found that there really wasn’t a digital space that connected with a young women going through cancer treatment. In Internet language, breast cancer was a disease for the over 50s. So Lauren starting blogging her cancer treatment with no holds bar pictures, updates and the now very recognisable #GIRLvsCANCER hashtag.
Lauren has become a campaigner and spokeswomen for cancer patients, has launched a hugely successful range of slogan tees with 25% of profits going to cancer charities, co-hosts the BBC’s You. Me & The Big C podcast and has become an influencer in her own right. She’s since had the all clear on cancer but continues to work hard for a better life and support for those affected by it.
Follow Lauren at @iamlaurenmahon
This woman really needs no introduction, she is basically American royalty. Born into poverty in rural Mississippi, media force Oprah Winfrey is now the richest African-American in the USA, and her work as a philanthropist makes her one of the world’s most generous contributors. Follow her for behind-the-scenes action, her famous book club, some seriously famous faces and good old fashioned positivity.
Follow Oprah at @oprah
When she was just 15, Great Thunberg started spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on global warming. Her sign read “School strike for the climate” and it has become one of the most iconic images of the last decade. Now 17, she’s one of the most famous women on the planet and continues to stand up to leaders, corporations and governments’ views on the climate change crisis.
Her no nonsense, matter of fact way of speaking out has earned her millions of fans and haters (the likes of Trump and Piers Morgan have publicly attempted to shame her on social media) but she continues to fight back. There have been documentaries made about Greta, she’s written a book, spoken at the UN Summit and sailed the Atlantic in a 15-day, zero-carbon expedition. Pretty impressive for someone who was born in 2003.
Follow Greta at @gretathunberg
Writer and activist Gina Martin launched a national campaign in 2017 to make upskirting illegal after a man took a photograph up her skirt at a music festival. She succeeded and as of April 2019 it became a criminal offence. But it wasn’t easy and even faced backlash from members of parliament – MP Sir Christopher Chope shockingly blocked the legislation in 2018. It’s worth noting this is the same guy that tried to block a law aimed at helping protect young girls from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Gina has gone on to inspire women the world over, change a law (over 100,000 people signed her petition) and win the award for Equality Champion of the Year at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2019.
Her feed offers a hefty dose of social and political commentary but it’s also wonderfully whimsical and fun.
Follow Gina at @ginamartin
More than just a pretty face, British model Adwoa Aboah has used her platform in the fashion industry to act as a voice for young people. She launched the social platform, Gurls Talk, a project that inspires open discussion of feminist and mental health issues. Adwoa has also fronted Edward Enninful’s first issue as Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue and was part of the Duchess of Sussex’s handpicked group of women who graced the pages of her guest edited issue of the fashion bible.
The model continues to shake up the fashion industry, speak out and has been named one of Business of Fashion’s BoF 500 – the definitive index of people shaping the fashion industry today.
Follow Adwoa at @adwoaaboah
We love London-based illustrator Florence Given’s bright colours and retro fonts just as much as the feminist messages they create. She’s become one of 2019’s best-loved British influencers, won a host of celebrity fans including Rita Ora and claimed the Cosmopolitan Influencer of The Year award last year. Her slogans, which include the likes of “It’s a wonderful day to dump him” and “Women don’t owe you pretty”, will leave you with some serious 2020 girl power vibes.
Follow Florence at @florencegiven
“When they go low, we go high” was the slogan Michelle Obama used back in 2016 during the American election, but its sentiment has never been more relevant. Since taking on the role of First Lady, Michelle Obama has spoken up about issues from the arts to education, poverty to nutrition. Her bestselling 2018 book, Becoming delves into her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign and her role as a mother. Read it and follow her on Instagram (if you haven’t already).
Follow Michelle at @michelleobama
With success often comes the naysayers and Rupi Kaur has had her fair share. The 27-year-old poet, who’s work became famous on Instagtam, was recently named “writer of the decade” by the New Republican and some people weren’t too happy. Such accolades are often reserved for Booker Prize winners or authors with a huge back catalogue, but times are changing and some of the biggest voices, movers, shakers and all-round influencers come from those little squares.
Whether you’re a fan of her work or not, there’s no denying Rupi has touched the hearts and minds of millions and is statistically one of the world’s top selling, living poets – her two books milk and honey and the sun and her flowers have sold a whopping 3.5million and counting.
Follow Rupi at @rupikaur_
Otegha Uwagba’s first book, Little Black Book offered a modern career guide for creative woman. The millennial pink-hued pocket book went on to become one of the most Instagrammed of 2018 and a Sunday Times Bestseller. She’s also a public speaker and Founder of Women Who – a community for working women.
Otegha is currently working on her second book, We Need To Talk About Money, and it’s set to be the book that gets women (finally) talking about their bank balances openly and unashamedly. Follow her on Instagram for some much needed life lessons.
Follow Otegha at @oteghauwagba