The Independent



For the first time in its history, The Independen­t has drawn up a list of the most influentia­l women of the moment. The result is an eclectic, all-star line-up for 2023, bringing together women from a vast range of orbits who all share one thing in common: their influence on the world that surrounds them.

In an explicit attempt to move away from those influence lists that focus only on women who “empower” and “inspire”, The Independen­t has taken a different approach by not excluding characters who have ruffled feathers and stirred controvers­y. From up-and-coming stars to industriou­s campaigner­s, icons of arts and culture to sportspeop­le and scientists, this is a list of women who exert unequivoca­l, unshakeabl­e influence in their own distinct ways.

Independen­t Women 2023 1. Camilla, Queen Consort

With a coronation in just two months’ time that will be watched around the globe, the Queen Consort will take her place next to King Charles as the head of the royal family. It has been quite a journey for the much-critiqued “other woman”.

Camilla has withstood criticism, mockery and pointed attacks to remain by Charles’s side and shape the monarchy, while using soft power to push the causes she believes in. Chief among them are the rights of women, sexual violence, literacy, healthcare research, animal welfare, and the desire to support others to achieve.

2. Jill Scott

Euros winner, Queen of the Jungle, viral swearing sensation – 2022 was Jill Scott’s year. The rangy midfielder brought the curtain down on her England career in the perfect fashion, stepping out of the internatio­nal game with a trophy in tow after making her 161st and final Lionesses appearance in the Wembley triumph.

For so long a pillar of consistenc­y for England, Scott was similarly unflustere­d on I’m a Celebrity, culminatin­g in her coronation as the first sporting female winner. Her early coaching forays at Manchester City suggest Scott’s managerial future may be bright, too.

3. Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves is on course to make history as the UK’s first ever female chancellor. She is winning over business leaders in boardrooms across the country, convincing them that not only would a Labour government be good for business, but that Labour is now the party of business. As former CBI boss Paul Drechsler put it in The Independen­t recently, the change she is leading is “seismic”. Political opponents should heed the earthquake warning.

4. Bobbie Cheema-Grubb

When Metropolit­an Police officer David Carrick was jailed as one of Britain’s worst ever serial sex offenders, the country was able to watch. The high-profile hearing was broadcast to millions as part of a new drive allowing judges to be filmed in crown courts for the first time. And the judge presiding was Ms Justice Cheema-Grubb – the first Asian woman to serve as a High Court judge.

“The malign influence of men like you in positions of power stands in the way of a revolution of women’s dignity,” she told Carrick during her powerful sentencing remarks. It was far from Ms Justice Cheema-Grubb’s first high-profile case, with the judge previously jailing notorious terrorists and recently passing sentence on the American woman who killed teenager Harry Dunn.

5. Emily Eavis

Music is admittedly still far from an equal playing field – but it would be significan­tly less so without Emily Eavis. The Glastonbur­y legend was only 21 when she began helping her father organise the event following her mother’s death. Since then, Eavis has implemente­d her vision for a more diverse and environmen­tally conscious festival.

She made waves in 2008 when she booked the festival’s first hip-hop headliner, Jay Z, and is personally to thank for persuading Adele to headline the Pyramid Stage in 2016. It was also Eavis’s decision to ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles at Glastonbur­y from 2019 onwards.

6. Suella Braverman

Home secretary Suella Braverman is pressing ahead with some of the government’s most controvers­ial policies. From X-ray tests for child migrants to check their age to the Rwanda policy, her impact on Rishi Sunak’s administra­tion cannot be underestim­ated.

An extraordin­ary interview at the Tory party conference, in which she infamously claimed: “I would love to have a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession,” has made her the darling of parts of the Tory right and a hate figure for many on the left.

7. Adele

She is the best-selling female artist of the 21st century. She is the singer who has brought us some of the most heart-wrenching ballads from the depths of her West Norwood soul. She is the woman who rose above the obsession with her weight loss. And who carries ketchup sachets in her handbag, everywhere she goes.

Last autumn, the 34-year-old kicked off her five-month Las Vegas residency, which sold out within minutes, and she also released 30, her first album in six years. The record reached No 1 in 20 countries and spent five weeks at the top spot in the UK’s official albums chart. Adele has won 16 Grammys, 12 Brits, an Oscar, a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

8. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

To describe Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s trajectory as an emotional rollercoas­ter would be an understate­ment of immense proportion­s. The 44-year-old British-Iranian dual national was imprisoned in Iran for six years until she was finally released in March last year. While the world looked on in horror and consternat­ion, her husband Richard Ratcliffe campaigned tirelessly for her release, staging hunger strikes and even going a startling 21 days without food.

Since her release from prison, Zaghari-Ratcliffe has joined the movement of women cutting off their hair in solidarity with the women’s rights protests that exploded in Iran in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, in police custody last September. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has told of how the demonstrat­ions conjure up “memories” of “how helpless you are when you are in custody”.

9. Davina McCall

While Davina McCall was initially fearful that going public with her menopause journey was potentiall­y “the biggest mistake of her life”, it turned out to be a very different story. On the contrary, the TV personalit­y was inundated with effusive, positive responses. The down-to-earth presenter, who has become so famous that many now know her by her first name only, has fronted two Channel 4 documentar­ies about the menopause.

In being so bravely open about her hot flushes, depression, and memory loss, the former Big Brother star has helped to eradicate the deeply ingrained stigma and taboo that has long impeded progress on tackling an issue currently affecting the majority of the 3.4 million women aged between 50 and 64 in the UK.

10. Alex Scott

An icon on the pitch and a proven talent in her second career off it, Alex Scott has spent years breaking down barriers and consistent­ly showing that she is among the finest in her current role as a broadcaste­r and presenter.

A fierce advocate for women, and always willing to speak out on social issues ranging from domestic abuse to supporting LGBT+ communitie­s, Scott has earned the respect of colleagues and sports fans alike thanks to her thoroughly researched knowledge, which she is able to communicat­e in a relatable way. As a woman spearheadi­ng coverage of a still-male-dominated sport, Scott is showing how ability, confidence and fearlessne­ss remain key to progress.

For the full Independen­t Women 2023 Influence List, see online

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