History has always been made by women who are unhappy and discontent with the opportunities afforded to them. These courageous women have a habit of standing at the precipice of change and choosing to jump so their partners, sisters, daughters and friends can lead a life bigger than themselves. They repeatedly enter uncharted territory so that no woman ever has to hear a no again. This year, we are celebrating precisely such women because we believe just like they do that the future is female.
In celebration of some of the world’s brightest minds and bravest hearts, here is a list of 18 #WomenToWatch who show that #TheFutureIsFemale by Founder of egomonk Sartaj who is an entrepreneur with an unreasonable dream to positively impact 1 billion human lives within his lifetime. He currently operates his holding company — egomonk — which has interests in consulting, media, events and travel. Sartaj considers himself a global citizen and has travelled, worked and co-created in more than 50 countries so far.
1. Karen Dolva
2. Maria Ressa
Maria has always been a woman to watch over her tenured career with CNN and ABS-CBN News whether it is investigating international terrorist networks or being hailed as Philippines’ “sexiest woman alive”. However, her entrepreneurial stint with Rappler is what has really catapulted her into the global conversation surrounding ethical and courageous media coverage and its tenuous relationship with those in power. Maria’s stance on Duterte and her uncompromising reportage on his bloody drug war and troll army will serve as an exemplar for the first generation of digital native journalism! We are expecting more twists and turns in the Rappler saga this year, but if there is anyone we would bet on to weather a political storm in South East Asia, it would undoubtedly be Maria.
3. Ola Doudin
Ola is for many the face of cryptocurrency in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and for all the good reasons! The young 32-year-old Jordanian entrepreneur is the founder of BitOasis, the leading digital asset wallet and exchange. She bought her first bitcoin in 2013 and was immediately hooked. It is her single-minded resolve to usher in this digital transformation that has allowed the 3-year-old startup to raise millions of dollars from an enviable list of investors and rock the boat for the regional $130 Billion remittance market! Ola’s participation in the Global Blockchain Council has helped government officials better understand the emerging technology and paved the way for several other startups to gain credence in the UAE and the region. The future is female and Ola’s desire to create an environment where all of us can win is completely representative of the future we are building!
4. Dua Lipa
Dua has been breaking hearts and topping music charts for a few years now, but 2017 saw her achieve mainstream success with her self-titled debut studio album and numerous awards. This year has gotten off to a strong start for her with wins at the BRIT Awards and a new album in the works! We’re sure this is just a taste of what is in store for this prodigious british talent, but as Dua experiments more we believe she will be using her voice and foundation to champion causes dear to her such as the promotion of arts and creativity in Kosovan society. Emma Watson set the world ablaze with her famous He for She speech in 2014 and we believe this is the year Dua could play a similar role for young women all over the world wanting to be more!
5. Bel Pesce
Bel is known to be the queen of innovation in her home nation of Brazil and has been actively helping others embrace accelerated learning and radical growth for the past few years. Although you may have already seen her on TED or read one of her amazing books, we believe 2018 will be a watershed year for Bel. Her work at FazINOVA is helping hundreds of thousands of folks gain access to knowledge around cultures, new professions and behavioral subjects. Enkla is helping complex subjects be told in a simpler manner to the widest possible audience while BeDreamis spinning one of the world’s first collaborative mentoring networks entirely for free! Bel has invested close to a decade of her life to learning and this year is when all that momentum and energy translates into world-changing action.
6. Katja Iversen
Katja isn’t a new face on the global development landscape. In fact, she is one of its earliest pioneers with more than 25 years of experience having served nonprofits, corporates and several United Nations agencies with distinction. In her current avatar as the CEO of Women Deliver, she has been charged with the responsibility of convening diverse voices and interests to drive progress for gender equality, particularly in maternal, sexual, and reproductive health. Katja is a fierce gender advocate who has tirelessly worked to change the toxic narrative of accusation and victimization into one of empowerment where the world wakes up to invest in every single girl and woman! 2017 was defined by America’s #metoo movement, but this could be the year where Katja and her team are able to shine a spotlight on the rest of the planet!
7. Lang Leav
Lang isn’t just a celebrated writer, but a woman with a narrative as complex and layered as her poetry. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand to Cambodian-Chinese parents who eventually fled to escape the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Lang broke out as an instapoet in 2014 and has quickly grown into a publishing juggernaut with three volumes of poetry and a novel. Her radically honest and reflective tone of love, life and emotions is immediately endearing and has inspired a whole new generation of poets. We believe Lang will continue to push her boundaries and write about socially pertinent issues such as the refugee crisis so more authentic and heartfelt conversations can be had!
8. Shaza Fatima Khawaja
Shaza is one of the youngest female politicians in Pakistan and is a current member of National Assembly of Pakistan, belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League (N). She was recently appointed as Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Commerce and Textile and has quickly proven herself to be a woman who gets things done, even amidst political uncertainty. Shaza has been closely involved with a variety of important initiatives such as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and in her role as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper is actively serving her community by encouraging youth to join polity.
9. Saoirse Ronan
Saoirse is already an on-screen veteran having been active on the film circuit for well over 15 years now. Her recent triumph was Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film Lady Bird and if the past is any indicator of the future, the 23-year-old Irish American is set to stun us with two movies scheduled to release in 2018. However, Saoirse’s interests and responsibilities aren’t just limited to her craft as can be seen by her ambassadorship of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. We believe Saoirse has an informed and particularly unique opinion to share with those who appreciate her talents and wits and hope she embraces the responsibility of fame to amplify the voices of those who are in need!
10. Najla Al-Midfa
Manager of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa), Najla has left her mark in the history of the Arab world — she was the first female to ever be on the Board of an Arab bank, the United Arab Bank in 2012. Revolution-driven, she has one mission: “to see a dynamic community of enterprising youths who are empowered to aim for the stars.” Najla’s vision has extensively grown as she continues to discover and address gaps in the nascent Emirati entrepreneurial ecosystem. Her persistence and passion are unquestionable and she serves as the bridge between companies and high potential Emirati talent. As the UAE doubles down on its youth development efforts such as the 1 Million Arab Coders initiative, her stewardship of ecosystem development will become vitally more important!
11. Tony Gum
Vogue called Tony “the coolest girl in Cape Town” and we couldn’t agree more! She is an artist on the rise that fashions astounding masterpieces with a vibrant blend of culture, tradition and heritage while fusing into the western world with a free soul. Apart from being a second-year film student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, she is a co-founder of the trendy The Local Collective vlog on YouTube. Her eager passion and talent was self-evident in her debut solo exhibition, Ode to She, and earned her the 2017 Miami Beach Pulse Prize. With a dynamic art scene developing in Africa and armed with ferocious creativity, Tony is bound to leave a mark on all of us!
12. Loie Hollowell
Loie articulates the power of the female through her paintings and drawings, highlighting a sense of humor that resonates uniquely with physicality and sexuality. She seamlessly melds abstract art with a playful and sexual touch and has quickly risen to the top in a little more than a year, being represented next to David Hockney and Julian Schnabel. Loie’s work is progressing quickly thanks to three-dimensional surfaces and her unstoppable connection with her own body. The growing intimacy in her artwork is appealing to collectors and the public alike. It is indicative of a continued strong feminine influence in her future pieces and hope she will embrace issues surrounding consent, sexual freedom and morality!
13. Darin Al Bayed
Raised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Darin is a 20-year-old buzzing comedic social media genius with over 4 million followers! She tackles the talk of gender with her own twist: she speaks for both sides! In a society that is quickly moving forward, especially for women, Darin seems to have adopted the mantle of a proactive youth icon who doesn’t shy away from having difficult conversations. Her social media following is skyrocketing as a result and she recently played the lead role in Saudi Arabia’s first, all-female theater show “Khawatir Shabaha”. With something new always on her radar, Darin is progressing with an increasing focus on using her popularity for social good!
14. Masha Drokova
This 28-year-old in her current avatar as a venture capitalist is the inspiring founder of Day One Ventures. Masha, a former politician, possesses the invaluable skills of public relations, communication, network and strategy, all of which she employs effortlessly in her daily life. She has an eye for potential in businesses that are mission-focused and have an outrageous impact on their community. What sets Masha apart from other investors is how deeply she cares and dives into the operations of start-ups with one goal: making the best even better. She is very much inspired by Amazon founder Bezos and has a deep love for planet earth. This is why Masha is also currently serving as an advisor to Oceanic, a non-profit using virtual reality to bring attention to issues impacting our oceans. We hope she continues to invest and support radical initiatives that will take our world one step forward!
15. Tara Emad
The beautiful former Miss Africa winner is an Egyptian model and actress who began her career at the young age of 4. Tara showed early glimpses of her prodigious talent in Miss Teen Egypt and won the contest. She then pursued a degree in Business Administration from the American University in Cairo while attending workshops and persistently enhancing her acting skills. Since then, Tara has appeared on a long list of television series and in the process made every Egyptian girl want to be her! The 24-year-old has shown no signs of stopping and is extensively engaged in Help From Your Heart, her own charity organization since 2013. We know Tara will continue to break barriers and inspire countless women as she tackles body shaming and discrimination of women all over the world!
16. Rósa Guðrún Erlingsdóttir
Rósa does not mince words and walks the talk on behalf of all women trying to achieve gender equality. Belonging to Iceland, she is head of the Gender Equality unit at the Ministry of Welfare while also being a project manager of the action group on equal pay. While lots of women dream to make equality a reality, Rósa has consistently taken charge and made a dent earlier this year by pushing through legislation that made the gender pay gap illegal! By 2022 any public or private body in Iceland employing more than 25 people would need to be independently certified as paying equal wages for work of equal value. This should eliminate the 14 percent to 20 percent gap that currently exists in the market and will see the small nordic nation maintain its top position on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Equality Index!
17. Terah Lyons
It doesn’t get cooler than AI superstar Terah Lyons these days! A former policy advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the White House, Terah is the founding Executive Director of the Partnership on AI, a non-profit initiative that seeks to tackle the challenges posed by artificial intelligence. It enjoys the support of top global organizations such as Apple, Google, IBM and Amazon. Terah believes the simplest way of building a future free from fear and anger where machines really work alongside humans is by engaging industries and societies to articulate policies regarding machine intelligence. She wants to advance public understanding and awareness through discourse so we can build consensus and share best practices from all over the world!
18. Kanyinsola Onalaja
Passion. Inspiration. Color. Kanyinsola is an exemplary fashion designer that expresses her talent through a mixture of tradition and conceptual greatness. She has recently completed her post-graduate degree in womenswear design from the reputed Istituto Marangoni in London. Kanyinsola was awarded a full scholarship owing to her breakthrough collection in 2014. Her collections represent her home, Nigeria, with a dynamic and upbeat mix of textile and a variety of media. The young fashion designer is the powerhouse behind her contemporary label Onalaja and has already become well known for its high craft experimentalism. Kanyinsola’s designs bring together imaginative concepts of culture, heritage, luxury and a contemporary appreciation of beauty. Her nuanced approach to balancing her identity through her work is inspiring and will usher in necessary ideological diversity in African fashion.
This article was first published in Medium by egomonk
Egomonk is a future factory; an organization that imagines and then realizes multiple futures and possibilities every day to see what sticks. This hands-on purpose-driven approach to foresight and its application in the real world is in complete resonance with our mission to build bridges to a better future, life and planet. Our goal is to positively impact a billion human lives by 2030. This singular pursuit of impact is the thread that connects who we are with everything we do across industries and geographies.