RFL/RE – Two Iranians, one Pakistani, and a Russian have made the BBC’s list of 100 most “inspiring and influential women from around world” for 2019, based on this year’s theme of the “Female Future.”
Iranian athlete Kimia Alizadeh was noted for becoming her country’s first woman to medal at the Olympics in 2016. The taekwondo martial artist is credited with “emboldening Iranian girls and women to push the boundaries of personal freedom,” the BBC wrote on October 16, citing the Financial Times newspaper.
Alizadeh, 21, is currently training three times a day as she prepares for qualification in the next Olympic Games, taking place in Tokyo in 2020.
“In Iran, female athletes face different challenges. But I hope in the face of all the hardships we will continue and never give up,” she told the British broadcaster.
Iranian educator Raya Bidshahri was recognized for her award-winning online teaching courses, like 21st-Century Skills and Cosmic Citizenship, whose aim is to “bring positive changes to humanity for the future.”
She is the founder and CEO of Awecademy. “We can choose to create a future that is brimming with prosperity, progress, and love,” Bidshahri said.
Pakistani human rights lawyer Jalila Haider defends women’s rights in her home country and provides pro bono work for women in poverty.
Her nonprofit group We the Humans works in local communities to provide “opportunities for vulnerable women and children.”
The BBC noted that she is the first female lawyer from the persecuted Hazara community. In 2018, she went on hunger strike to demand protection for her people.
“This is the time now that the world should accept the future as female; [women] are the symbol of peace, fertility, creation, and coexistence. Let the women lead,” she said, rejecting the patriarchal world in which she says she lives.
Russian anti-corruption activist Lyubov Sobol made the list for investigating graft and documenting her work through social media, where she has more than 1 million subscribers on YouTube.
She and other activists were banned from running in the municipal elections in Moscow this summer, which prompted demonstrations in Russia’s capital and elsewhere in the country.
“To be honest, I don’t really think about the future. We live in an unpredictable country,” Sobol said. “Anything can happen here. But in some long-term perspective I do believe that we will win. We will defend our country. Russia will be free and happy.”
A team devoted to the BBC project compiled a shortlist that included suggestions from the broadcaster’s worldwide network of language services.
“We were looking for candidates who had made the headlines or influenced important stories over the past 12 months, as well as those who have inspiring stories to tell, achieved something significant or influenced their societies in ways that wouldn’t necessarily make the news,” the BBC said of the selection criteria.