For the first time ever, British Vogue has a guest editor for their September issue (the biggest issue of the year): none other than the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
The Duchess chose to feature the 15 women who most inspire her in the issue, which she’s titled Forces for Change. All 15 women feature on the cover, with one spot in the photo grid filled with a mirror to encourage the reader to bring about their own change.
Many of the faces are familiar but a few aren’t, so we decided to learn a bit more about these women and what makes them so extraordinary.
Aboah is, like the Duchess, a member of the British nobility—her mother’s family, the Lowthers, are headed by the Earl of Lonsdale. She’s a successful fashion model, having modelled for Calvin Klein, Fendi and many more, and founded an online organisation for young women called Gurls Talk.
Adichie is a Nigerian novelist. Her best-selling books include Purple Hibiscus, Americanah, and We Should All Be Feminists. Her TED Talk, ‘The Danger of a Single Story’, is among the top ten most-viewed TED talks, and in 2008 she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.
Akech is a South Sudanese-Australian model who was chosen as ‘Model of the Year’ in 2018, only one year after she started modelling. At only 19 years old, Akech has already walked for many of the top fashion houses and shot editorial campaigns for American Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris and Vogue Australia.
Ramla Ali moved to England from Somalia as a child refugee and began boxing as a teenager. She’s the current African Zone Featherweight Champion, and won the 2016 England Boxing Elite National Championships and The Great British Championships. She was the first boxer in history to represent Somalia at the Women’s World Championships in 2018.
Ardern is the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand—the world’s youngest female head of government (she was 37 when she took office), and the world’s second elected head of government to give birth while in office. She gained worldwide recognition for her response to the Christchurch mosque shootings in March, and has since introduced strict gun laws in response.
Burke is a writer and activist who is best known for her Ted Talk, ‘Why Design Should Include Everyone’. She is particularly active in advocating for inclusive fashion, and has appeared on the cover of The Business of Fashion alongside Kim Kardashian.
Christy Turlington is an American model and the founder of Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organisation dedicated to making childbirth safer for mothers and children around the world. She’s also directed two documentaries focussed on maternity care and the obstacles many women face in getting proper access to healthcare services.
Chan is a British actor and model of Chinese descent who’s best-known for her roles in the film Crazy Rich Asians and the TV series Humans. She studied law in school, but chose to go into acting instead.
Cox rose to fame for her portrayal of Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black and is an active advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. She is the first openly transgender actor to be nominated for an Emmy award, and has received awards for her advocacy work on trangender rights.
Hayward was born in Nairobi and grew up in England, where she pursued her passion for ballet. She is a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet in London and has a starring role in the upcoming film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, Cats, with a new song written especially for her character.
Jamil began her performance career as a presenter on T4 in 2009, and went on to work as a host for BBC Radio 1. She has a starring role in the American television series The Good Place and is an outspoken advocate of body positivity and accessibility.
Hayek began her career in Mexico acting in telenovelas. In 1991, she moved to Hollywood and began an illustrious acting career in American films and television. Her 2002 film Frida, which she produced and starred in, earned her multiple awards nominations. In 2017, Hayek published an op-ed piece in the New York Times detailing the abuse she suffered at the hands of Harvey Weinstein during the making of Frida, and she is an active advocate for Violence Against Women and other charitable organisations.
Shahidi is a 19-year-old actor known for her roles in Black-ish and Grown-ish. She is involved in multiple activist organisations, including Yara’s Club, which provides online mentorship with the goal of eliminating poverty through education.
Thunberg is a Swedish activist who gained international recognition when she began protesting outside the Swedish parliament when she was only 15 years old. Her ‘school strike for the climate’ has inspired millions of students around the world, and she’s received various awards and recognitions for her work, including a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Stay tuned to see if she wins in October!
The women Meghan Markle has chosen to feature in Vogue are all strong women fighting for change—just like the Duchess herself. Meghan’s charitable patronages include the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Mayhew and Smart Works, and she was the Global Ambassador for World Vision from 2016-2017.