The Good and the Bad of the Foreign Policy 100 Leading Thinkers ListDecember 30, 2013
It wouldn’t be the end of December without another year-end wrapup. Every year Foreign Policy magazine produces a list of the people making a difference in the world, the 100 Leading Global Thinkers. The magazine’s editors compile the list annually from the biggest news stories and trends. This year, the list actually includes 134 individuals (or organizations), and sadly, only 40 of them are women, about 30 percent. One would hope that that number would be closer to 50 percent, but of course we can’t set our expectations too high, can we? Let’s take a closer look at the women who made a difference in the world in 2013.
Regardless of the numbers, the accomplishments of the women on this list speak for themselves. You will see the usual female powerhouses such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was recently elected to a third term in September; International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde; and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. Kudos to Foreign Policy for featuring women we may not have heard of, particularly “Natural” Ellen MacArthur,”Chronicler” Zanele Muholi, “Healer” Caroline Buckee, and “Artist” Noviolet Bulawayo.
The good: More than half of the 21 individuals in the advocates section are women, which demonstrates that 2013 was a year in which issues facing women and girls were at the forefront of the media.
The world was watching India as advocates protested the culture of sexual violence in the aftermath of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi. Urvashi Butalia and Kavita Krishnan are named for their work pressuring the Indian government for stronger action against sexual violence.
Malala Yousafzai stole our hearts in 2013 with her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, but kudos to Foreign Policy for naming sisters Gulalai and Saba Ismail to the list for their work to empower Pakistani girls through their organization, Aware Girls. We are pleased to see four American women, Mary Jennings Hegar, Zoe Bedell, Colleen Farrell, and Jennifer Hunt, round out the list. All four women served in the military on tours of duty in combat zones, and they filed a suit against the Pentagon to end the combat ban. Be sure to check out the other lady advocates: Heba Morayef, Navi Pillay, Fatou Bensouda, and Julieta Castellanos.
The bad: It’s disappointing to see that even on lists like this, women are underrepresented in traditionally male-dominated fields — the categories “Innovators” and “Moguls” have just one woman in each.
Of course the women who were able to break into these fields are incredible. Xiaolin Zheng, assistant professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, is the lone woman innovator, recognized for inventing the solar sticker, a small cell that can generate solar power on any surface. Noura Al Kaabi stands out as the only woman in the moguls category for making big waves in the media industry. Kaabi is the CEO of twofour54, a company working to train Arabic media talent and develop entertainment content “by Arabs for Arabs”. Kaabi was also included on Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 25 most powerful women in global TV.
Be sure to check out the rest of the list in print and online and share it far and wide to spread the word about women’s representation in global affairs and to applaud the achievements of the remarkable women who made the prestigious list. Here’s to 2014 and the women who inspire us.