In honour of our Activist digital issue starring Millie Bobby Brown, we’ve profiled 50 incredibly inspiring activists.
International Women’s Day came and went but here at GLAMOUR, we want to continue the conversation and celebrate women every damn day. So if you’ve ever felt like you need a running list of of exceptional feminist icons to lift you up in times of need, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Temi Mwale, founder of The 4Front Project
This inspiring LSE law graduate balanced her studies with running this project, which aims to tackle youth violence by engaging with the communities that experience it and understanding the conditions that cause it, from systemic racism to impoverished neighborhoods, ignored by the government. She has also been singled out by Stormzy, TED and the MOBO Awards for her award-winning work.
2. Sandy Abdelrahman, filmmaker and founder of Skaped
Sandy uses her creative talents for good. The young film maker founded Skaped, an enterprise that encourages young people to tackle human rights issues and understand their own rights and voice, through creative workshops and events. They host stunning art exhibitions- with works that put human rights at the forefront – and Sandy’s initiative has recently won the ‘Making it Happen’ award at the East Works Programme.
3. Sonita Alizadeh, human rights activist
The Afghan rapper and human rights activist is an outspoken critic of the system of forced child marriages. She came to global attention when she made a rap video on YouTube back in 2014 called ‘Brides for Sale’ (controversially, while living in Iran where such an action is illegal) as a response to her family’s second attempt to sell her as a bride. Now living in the US where she is currently a student, she was the subject of the 2015 award-winning documentary Sonita.
4. Gabby Edlin, period poverty activist and founder of Bloody Good Period
Gabby founded her charity project, which donates sanitary products to refugee centres in London, in 2016 after learning that tampons and pads were classed as an ‘emergency item’ – as opposed to, we dunno, a NECESSARY one. She now has over 70 volunteers at drop-in centres across the UK and is one of the major players tackling period poverty right now.
5. Kuchenga, journalist and trans activist
The writer and activist is a brilliant, and inspiring, voice in the UK trans community who writes stirring polemics on the reality of trans life and can normally be found frolicking with her dog Nene, near her West Country home. She also lobbies for Black Lives Matter and organises a letter-writing project called Bent Bars, which supports LGBTQ prisoners in Britain.
6. Liv Francis-Cornibert, Kofi Asante, Shiden Tekleand Bel Matos da Costa, founders of Legally Black
This awesome foursome havefounded a powerful campaign tackling the underrepresentation of black people in the media. The teens started in early 2018 by reworking classic British film posters with black characters (Think an all-black Harry Potter line-up). Stay tuned for more of their power moves.
7. Poppy Jamie, founder of Happy Not Perfect
TV presenter Poppy founded this mental health and mindfulness app, which responds to your mood and caters over 300 meditations to you, back in 2015 before launching it last May. It’s the result of years of scientific research, as well as Poppy’s own interest in wanting to help anxiety sufferers, borne out of her relationship with her mother who is a neurotherapist. Cue a snappy, happy mindful app with real science behind it and a mental-health taboo cracking mantra. Woo and hoo.
8. Nonhlanha Makuyana, campaign coach
Noni works organising campaigns for the non-for-profit organisation Positive Money, which aims to help make the economy fairer for all, as well as helping us all understand a bit more about our money. Which is, let’s face it; kinda complicated. She also acts as a campaign coach, volunteering her free time to help young people get involved in activism. Quite literally paying it forward.
9. Tasnima Uddin, human rights activist and founder of Nijjor Manush
This 22-year-old British Bangladeshi activist has campaigned tirelessly to aid and publicise the plight of the Rohingya refugee crisis – a persecuted minority in Myanmar who began to fled the country in 2015 in boats- with hundreds dying and hundreds of thousands now homed in refugee camps. She works for the human rights organisation Restless Beings but also set up her own independent radical campaigning group, called “Nijjor Manush”, that aims to educate, empower and organise Bengalis and Bangladeshis in the UK. This is a girl who has a serious passion for change – and has done the work to prove she’s one to watch.
10. Bryony Gordon, Journalist and mental health activist
She was the UK’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw with her single girl newspaper column, who decided to share her mental health and addiction with the world. It turned her into an activist, determined to help others with similar struggles. She went on to found the @mentalhealthmates collective, a walking group which brings together mental health sufferers, and has written several books on mental health, including her latest release out this year, her first book for teenagers; ‘A Mad Girl’s guide to Being You’ as well as hosting her enormously successful podcast Mad World; with guests including actual Prince Harry.
11. Amelia Viney, founder of The Advocacy Academy
This 31 year-old former Parliamentary Researcher in Westminster founded The Advocacy Academy single-handedly back in 2014 with a handful of teens in a church hall. Today, it’s a hugely successful social justice fellowship, based in South London that teaches young people how to be activists.
12. Joeli Brearley, pregnancy discrimination activist
After getting sacked when she was four months pregnant, Joeli started Pregnant Then Screwed, a campaign for the rights of mothers, which also offers a free legal advice service. The group marched on Westminster on Halloween in 2017, dressed as mummies for the rights of ‘mummies’ (geddit?) and last year, they produced their first motherhood and work festival in Manchester.
13. Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, gun control lobbyists at March For Our Lives
The classmates and survivors of the Parkland High School shooting in Florida in February 2018 have become two of the most prominent voices in the fight for gun control in the US. They helped to organise the March For Our Lives, a mass protest in March 2018 that was, at an estimated turnout of 1.2million – one of the largest protests in US history, and continue to lobby for effective gun control. They are two of the founders of the student-led political action committee for gun control: Never Again, meaning that we have not heard the last of these two young activists.
14. Ed Winters, vegan campaigner
Ed is a passionate vegan activist; co-founder of Surge, the grassroots animal rights organisation, which created The Official Animal Rights March in 2016, producer of the vegan documentary Land of Hope and Glory AND creator of vast online educational content – which has so far convinced 33,248 to pledge to go vegan. Check out his insta content for truly stirring stuff that will possibly make you re-think that beef burger.
15. Kate Arnell, TV presenter and environmental activist
An eco-warrior with personality to spare: TV presenter Kate lives a zero-waste life, which she blogs about at eco-boost.co, on her YouTube channel and through her social media. Super friendly, super inspiring, she makes living an uber environmentally-conscious life look easy and achievable.
16. Aaron Phillip, model and inclusivity activist
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler, Aaron is Elite Model’s first black, gender fluid and physically disabled model campaigning for inclusivity in the fashion industry – and they’re only 17! This boundary-breaking powerhouse brilliantly launched their own career by posting a pic on social saying, ‘Honestly when I get scouted/discovered by a modeling agency it’s OVER for y’all!’ Watch out world.
17. Emily Fazah, female health activist
A personal battle with Severe PMS led Emily to start moodygirl.co.uk, a free online support group that’s “on a mission to get the world talking about PMS & PMDD.” Her insta-feed is full of feel-good, self-affirming mantras and she’s branching out into IRL events to bring people together – another step towards the de-stigmatisation of mental health. We’re here for it.
18. Plunge Theatre, feminist performers and activists at Plunge
This emergent, south-London based theatre trio make feminist productions tackling issues from body positivity and hair removal to equal pay and sexual harassment – placing activism front and centre in their art. The witty trio have made music videos on subjects as divergent as bikini waxes, Piers Morgan and men in ugly footwear, and are currently writing a sitcom.
19. Rosie Tressler, mental health advocate and CEO at Student Minds
This young mental health campaigner is now CEO of Student Minds, the UK’s leading student mental health charity. The organisation not only helps students across the UK, it empowers students to help create change in our attitudes to mental health, too. Rosie is a lifelong activist who got heavily involved during her own student days – running for student government and working with her university’s feminist society. In other words, she knows a thing or two about the power of student activism – and the importance of their mental health.
20. Louisa Casson, environmental activist
An oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, Louisa was part of the microbead banning campaign and is at the forefront of environmental activism in this country. Her inspirational stories and reports explain the effects of climate change and the true environmental impact we have every day – so that we all feel clued-up on our relationship with our planet.
21. Ragini, blogger and body positivity activist
Plus-size fashion blogger Ragini is an unapologetic campaigner for body positivity, raising awareness of self-love, plus-size fashion and challenging brands to up their game when it comes to size inclusivity. We love her fabulous style (slightly vintage with a sassy touch) as much as her gives-no-fucks attitude to loving her body.
22. Neelam Keshwala, inclusivity and feminist activist
The London-based activist is communications strategist for Girls Not Brides, an international organisation that works to end child marriage across the world, but Neelam has also founded DON’T SLEEP ON US – a networking collective space for those underrepresented in the creative industries. She’s busy making change happen, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
23. Carmel McConnell MBE, Food poverty activist and founder of Magic Breakfast
Carmel founded this inspirational UK based charity back in 2001 and has been awarded an MBE for her services. The organisation’s simple but amazing mission provides a healthy breakfast to over 40,000 school children in the UK growing up in poverty. It is widening its reach every day, as well as awareness for this issue that effects so many children in the UK.
24. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, environmental activist
This extraordinary American teen has been campaigning against climate change since he was a child, becoming one of 21 plaintiffs suing the US government for failing to act on climate change – back when he was just 15, the same year he gave his first TED talk. The indigenous activist, from Colorado is also a hip-hop artist and the youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organisation and is doing important work to broaden the awareness of environmental issues among younger generations – or at least his 63.5k Instagram followers.
25. Rochelle Barrett, body positivity activist
An accident as a baby left Rochelle with burns all over her body. After winning Miss Caribbean UK pageant – which she entered to boost her confidence – she founded Miss Unique Beauty UK, a beauty pageant used to create a space, not just for disfigurement survivors, but anyone with visible difference who hasn’t always felt accepted. By confronting her own hang-ups with her body image, she was able to empower others – talk about inspirational.
26. Jaz O’Hara, founder of The Worldwide Tribe
Jaz has been one of the leading female voices in raising awareness of the refugee crisis and has organised countless aid projects, including installing wifi in camps in France and Greece, funding a fire truck in Calais, and supporting a search and rescue operation in the Med. Follow their inspirational blog to hear all their updates – including super accessible ways to get involved – because they truly believe in the power of online activism.
27. Melati and Isabel Wijsen, environmentalists at Bye Bye Plastic Bags
These pioneering sisters from Bali have been campaigning to end plastic waste since they were 10 and 11. Five years later, they have succeeded in getting plastic bags banned in their home country. Now they have their sights set on the entirety of Indonesia, which is the second largest plastic polluter in the world after China. The awesome duo have travelled the world giving talks about their initiative, including a speech at the UN.
28. Elyse Fox, writer and mental health activist
Elyse founded @sadgirlsclub to destigmatise depression and mental health issues for women of colour. It organises IRL events across the US like a Sad Girls Running Club and Sad Girls film Club, but has a prolific Instagram and online presence which spreads Elyse’s message of support for all. Keep an eye out for her next project, Sad Boys Club, launching soon.
29. Deepica Mutyala, inclusivity beauty activist
American beauty blogger Deepica is behind livetinted.com, a movement that aims to change beauty standards to ensure that women of colour are more than a “diversity ‘check mark.” It is inspired by her own experience of too-frequently being the only brown girl on a shoot. Live Tinted exists as an inclusive beauty community, which intends to start and develop honest conversations about diversity in the beauty industry.
30. Pink Protest, activist collective
Founded by Grace Campbell, Alice Skinner and Scarlett Curtis, the Pink Protest is Gen Z activism in its natural habitat: Instagram. Through a potent mix of online and IRL activism, from viral videos to boots-on-the-ground marches, they have proven successful homes for the #FreePeriods and #GirlswankToo campaigns, and they’re not going anywhere. Next on the agenda? FGM.
31. Sadie Sinner, performer and founder of The Cocoa Butter Club
Sadie’s The Cocoa Butter Club is a pioneering organisation, dedicated to showcasing performers of colour that are marginalised; giving them a safe space to perform in venues across the UK. Sadie is herself a performer and is also the entertainment manager for @ukblackpride – one of the UK’s premier celebrations for LGBTQ people of colour.
32. Liam Hackett, anti-bullying activist
This young entrepreneur and activist first founded the now global anti-bullying charity @ditchthelabel back in 2007, when he was just 19. It was born out of his experiences of homophobic bullying while at school and now helps thousands of young people around the world.
33. Amrou Al Khadi, performer, writer and filmmaker
Amrou is a pioneering drag performer, founder of drag group @denimgirlband and also writes on, and campaigns about LGBTQ issues – particularly as a queer person of colour. They have just made a short film about faith and the non-binary experience and their memoir, Unicorn, is set for release this year.
34. Jada Sezer, model, mental health and body positivity activist
The model uses her considerable social media platform (208k and counting) to promote a message of self-love and body acceptance through her unfiltered body snaps and real-talk attitude. She also talks openly about mental health issues, is an ambassador for YoungMinds charity and ran the London marathon in 2018 in her underwear with fellow campaigner Bryony Gordon, to raise money for Heads Together mental health charity: something they will be repeating this year, and we’ll be cheering them on.
35. Amika George, Period poverty activist at Free Periods
From a laptop in her bedroom, this teen activist raised the issue of period poverty to national attention when she tried to raise funds for girls missing school because of period poverty. She started the hashtag #FreePeriods and her (literal) after-school activism spawned a movement celeb-packed (Hi there Daisy Lowe and Adwoa Aboah) protest outside Westminster in December 2017, and the pledging of aid from the UK government. A great result – though the fight goes on.
36. Erika Hart, sex educator and LGTBQ activist
Inspired by her work as am HIV/AIDS volunteer in Ethiopia with the Peace corps, US-based activist Erika works as a sexuality educator and an LGTBTQ activist. She also uses her experience as a cancer survivor to provide representation for those living with double mastectomies, modeling topless on catwalks, magazine covers and social media, as well as on stage in 2017 calling out the Philadelphia women’s march for its lack of diversity, and in the freezing January weather, too. What. A. Woman.
37. Charlie Dark, DJ, creative influencer and youth worker
This East London creative works heavily in community activism, supporting local young people in London and founded the initiative Run Dem Crew; a running crew with a difference, committed to supporting and mentoring young people along with the opportunity to explore London in a safe and supportive way.
38. Tess Holliday, model and body positivity activist
The plus-size American model has made it her life’s mission to promote body diversity and acceptance by unashamedly putting herself front and centre and speaking up on size discrimination. She started the movement @effyourbeautystandards in 2013 to challenge rigid ideas of beauty and to represent different body shapes online. Her controversial UK magazine cover in October last year caused ripples on both sides of the pond, and has risen her profile significantly – leading to more outspoken comments from this activist- like her instagram shaming of all the brands who couldn’t dress her for a recent awards show: “I’m showing up naked if designers don’t step it up.”
39. Shon Faye, writer, comedian and trans activist
Journalist and stirring LGBTQ activist Shon also presents an online series called Shon This Way; focusing on queer politics and history. She also campaigns for Stonewall and UN women, helping both better communicate with the trans community. Nothing escapes her spot-on commentary – like her most recent viral evisceration of Ed Sheeran’s t-shirt vs. Beyonce’s couture stage outfits on Twitter.
40. Sascha Camilli, animal rights campaigner
A PETA campaigner who has dedicated most of her life to animal rights; Sascha also founded @VildaMagazine – the first ever vegan publication. She uses her social media, as well as her work at Vilda and PETA, to show how easy being vegan can actually be and, crucially – how stylish too!
41. Charlie Fogarty, disability rights activist and youth worker
After he was hit by a car in 2012, aged 15, Charlie’s life changed forever. Once a promising footballer on the cusp of a professional career, he spent days in a coma and months in rehabilitation, re-learning how to walk, talk and eat. He is now a motivational speaker and an MBE recipient – one of the youngest ever – thanks to his youth organising work and help with sufferers of brain damage and other disabilities; founding the Solihull Moors FC Disability Open Age football team in his local community, and helping others with his inspirational recovery story.
42. Cathie Shiels, women’s and abortion rights campaigner
A key member of the #RepealtheEighth movement in Ireland, which successfully campaigned to repeal Irish legislation prohibiting abortion, Cathie is a tireless campaigner. She founded the @FreeSafeLegal abortion rights campaign and is not done yet. Her work on the Repeal movement inspired her to put her protesting into real political action. The result? She’s now a candidate for MP in her local area.
43. LevelUp, feminist activist collective
Online-based and emerging with serious womanpower, this feminist community champions true intersectional feminism, as well as taking on everyone from ITV to the tech giant facebook on sexist ads and refusing to combat sexual harassment – specifically training their eye on the UK. They only got started last year, so watch this space.
44. Charlie Craggs, trans activist and author
Doing someone’s nails may not seem like a revolutionary action, but Charlie has made simple moments matter, with @nailitofficial – combating transphobia, one manicure at a time. She also wrote the brilliant and inspirational book ‘To My Trans Sisters’ back in 2018, which celebrates and elevates the trans experience. Charlie continues to write and campaign on vital LGBTQ issues and adds her trademark sass to everything she does.
45. Carly Jayne Jones, autism activist and filmmaker
What doesn’t Carly do? Actor, activist, writer and autism campaigner, her work began on a local level, by raising money for the Berkshire Autistics Society before making films like The Kindest Label – which featured an 80% autistic cast. She has also spoken in the House of Commons, House of Lords and UN on behalf of autistic women, and has volunteered around the world; receiving an MBE for her incredible work.
46. Georgie Laming, freelance campaigns consultant
Political campaigning is in Georgie’s blood. She’s been campaigning since she was a teen, working as a city councilor and a Labour organizer for a People’s Vote push. But it’s not just politics that gets her going. ‘I ruthlessly prioritise girl gangs’ she says. Go Georgie.
47. Vicky Spratt, political journalist and housing rights campaigner
Though she wouldn’t call herself an activist, there’s no denying Vicky’s important activism when it comes to housing rights. She successfully campaigned to get letting fees banned in the UK, as part of her #MakeRentingFair campaign and her journalism frequently shines an important light on the inequalities of housing in the UK. In fact, she’s writing it all down for her new book TENANTS, out later this year.
48. Jeremiah Emmanuel, youth worker and activist
A Cadet Colour Sergeant in the Army Cadet Force, Jeremiah was awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to young people and the community in London. He’s a life-long activist, who started when he was a child – even serving as the Deputy Youth Mayor of Lambeth. In 2013, he founded One Big Community (1BC) which gives young people the chance to engage directly with decision makers and propose their own solutions.
49. Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, tech diversity advocate and founder of the STEMETTES
We all know we need to get more girls into STEM – that’s science, tech, engineering and maths – but maybe no one knows this more than Anne-Marie. She’s a tech whizz, motivational speaker and co-founder of the remarkable initiative Stemettes, dedicated to getting more girls involved. Don’t just take our word for it: let year, she received an MBA and Woman of the Year Award for her inspiring work.
50. Rebecca Bunce, disability and women’s rights campaigner, founder of IC Change
You know you’ve made it when you get personal praise from Barack Obama. Yeah, that one. Rebecca got just that, as she was namechecked by Obama – and then received a phone call from the White House – all as part of her amazing work as the founder of IC-Change, which aims to get significant legislation in the UK which would protect women from violence.