Visible Women

'TIME's most influential people list has a record number of women

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Emily Reynolds
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TIME’s list of the most influential people of the year has, in previous years, been dominated by men. But this year’s list looks a little different

If you want to get an overview of the world’s political and cultural climate, you could do a lot worse than looking at TIME magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Featuring a range of public figures, from actors and comedians to politicians and scientists, the list takes a look at who’s making a difference in the world, for good or for bad. 

And there’s something particularly notable about this year’s list, which has just been announced – it contains the highest number of women since its inception in 1999.

2018’s list contains 40 women – including New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, activist and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, rapper Cardi B, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and actor Meghan Markle. 

Tarana Burke, one of TIME’s most influential people of the year. 

Millie Bobby Brown, best known for her breakout role as Eleven in Netflix show Stranger Things is also on the list – and, aged 14, she’s the youngest ever entry on the list. 

Writing about her inclusion in the list, Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul described her as his “adopted daughter”. 

Having taken her to an ice-cream shop with his wife, Paul says he “immediately realised we were in the wrong setting”. 

“I had thought, Oh, she’s 12, let’s get ice cream. No. She may have been 12 in years, but her spirit and mind were timeless. A wise woman was speaking from her cherubic face. It was like speaking to a future mentor with a perspective and groundedness that I could only have dreamed of at that age. Or at any age, if I’m being honest.

“She somehow understands the human experience as if she has lived it for a thousand years. I’m proud to know her. To call her a friend. To call her my adopted daughter.”

Other essays were written by equally famous friends and admirers – including one touching essay penned by Adele for her friend Rihanna. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Adele and Rihanna attend the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

“I actually can’t remember the first time I met Rihanna; I was probably numb from the shock of it.”

“She is one year older than me, but I feel like she’s been around forever,” she wrote. “The progression of her superstardom feels steady, well deserved and extremely natural. She burst onto the scene with the absolute banger that is Pon de Replay in 2005, so young and breathtakingly beautiful. But the first time it felt like she made everyone sit up was with Umbrella.

“It crossed her over to every platform and into everyone’s lives. It felt like she had truly arrived, and she hasn’t slowed down since. Even more, she has designed and conquered an entire lane of her own. The innovative and groundbreaking world of Rihanna that no one else will ever be safe in and get away with copying.

“She makes her own rules and bends ours.”

The list also contains some more contentious names – US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being just two of the political figures featured on the list. TIME has always been clear that the list isn’t an endorsement, instead reflecting those who have the biggest impact on the world.

In a letter accompanying the list, TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal said that the list is “a reflection of its moment”.

”TIME’s annual list of the world’s most influential people is a designation of individuals whose time, in our estimation, is now,” he writes. “The TIME 100 isn’t a measure of power, though many on the list wield it. Nor is it a collection of milestones accumulated.

“While we remain much too far from gender parity in global leadership, there are more women than ever on this year’s TIME 100—proof that there are ways of changing the world beyond traditional power structures.

“These women are leading out loud, and inspiring others to do the same.”

Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.

Images: Getty / Rex Features