Gender activist Shruti Kapoor, Open Society Foundations’ Women’s Rights Program director Kavita Ramdas and Purna Sen, executive co-ordinator and spokesperson on Sexual Harassment, UN Women are among several women of Indian origin listed in Apolitical’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in Global Policy.
Drawn from over 9,000 nominations, the list “recognizes and celebrates the hard work being done on gender policy by so many around the world.” Featuring politicians, civil servants, academics and activists, the list honors high-profile icons and “shines a light on the unsung heroes whose work is indispensable to creating a fairer world for everyone,” Apolitical says.
Shruti Kapoor, founder of Sayfty, is a gender equality activist, economist, and social entrepreneur. Following the 2012 Delhi rape, Kapoor decided to found Sayfty, which began in June 2013. The organization works to make the daily lives of Indian women safer through a mix of education, self-defense workshops and online campaigns. Kapoor has worked at the World Bank and UN Women, and as an adjunct professor of Economics at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
Ramdas is an advocate for gender and racial equity, justice and sustainable development. She served as a senior advisor to the president of the Ford Foundation, an organization devoted to improving human welfare. She is currently director of the Women’s Rights Program at Open Society Foundations. She previously served as head of the Global Fund for Women and the executive director of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University.
Sen is the UN Women’s executive coordinator and spokesperson on sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, a role where she aims to introduce “survivor-focused approaches” to work tackling sexual harassment, Apolitcal says. She has had a three decades-long career as an activist, an expert on violence against women, an academic and a politician.
Others who are named in the list include Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research; activist Amika George; Roopa Dhatt, executive director and co-founder, Women in Global Health; Naila Kabeer of the London School of Economics; Geeta Rao Gupta, executive director of the 3D Program for Girls and Women and Nepali activist Bhumika Shrestha.
Kumari is a social activist, academic and prolific writer who has devoted her life to empowering women across South Asia. She serves as the director of the Centre for Social Research and chairperson of Women Power Connect. Previously, she was coordinator of the South Asia Network Against Trafficking in Persons. She has written nine books, including “Brides are Not for Burning: Dowry Victims in India.”
In 2017, George founded the #FreePeriods movement when she was 18 — inspired by the fact that period poverty was leading her contemporaries to miss school. In 2017, the group led a 2000-strong protest outside the British Prime Minister’s office, and it is now campaigning for free menstrual products to be introduced in schools in England, following the example of Scotland to the north. In the UK, sanitary products are deemed a “luxury item” and incur a significant sales tax.
Women make up the majority of health professionals worldwide, but only 25 percent of leadership roles go to women, the magazine says. This imbalance is what Dhatt and her three co-founders set out to correct when they founded Women in Global Health in 2015. Writing in the Lancet, Dhatt argues that the imperative is not only a moral one: women in leadership roles are more attentive to women’s health issues than male leaders, underscoring the need for gender parity in this field. Since its foundation Women in Global Health, an organization staffed entirely by volunteers, has expanded to become a global movement, with chapters in four continents and more than 21.000 followers in 90+ countries.
Kabeer is professor of gender and development at the London School of Economics Gender Institute. She also holds the position of president elect at the International Association for Feminist Economics. She is currently on the editorial committees of journals including Feminist Economics, Development and Change and Gender and Development, as well as the board of the Feminist Review Trust. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the International Labor Organization’s Better Works program.
Shrestha is a transgender activist, model, and actress, who has become a prominent voice of the transgender movement in Nepal. Due to her own experiences as a transgender woman, she has been outspoken on changing laws that prevent discrimination against the LGBT community. She played a prominent role campaigning alongside the Blue Diamond Society, a Nepali LGBT rights organization, to include a third gender option on Nepalese passports. She was the first Nepali citizen to travel with documents marked with the country’s legally recognized “third gender.”