From pop to politics, television to technology, meet the 30 women who are making a stand and changing the world as we know it.
POP STAR, 29
The fashion world can’t seem to get enough of Rihanna, and it’s not only because of her badass style on and off the stage. Over the past few seasons, the Barbadian has chalked up some serious fashion design cred: Her Fenty Puma line has evolved into a hot-ticket event on Paris Fashion Week’s calendar, plus she has worked on a jewellery line with Chopard. Along with Beyoncé and Victoria Beckham, this under 30-year-old singer is making the crossover from music to fashion design while shining bright like a diamond.
Maria Grazia Chiuri
CREATIVE DIRECTOR, DIOR, 52
Dior’s new headmistress is part of a groundswell of female fashion designers who are stepping up to the role of Creative Director—in positions that were previously held by men. Just four collections into her tenure, the platinum-blonde Italian wants to steer the conversation on femininity and power to equal opportunity instead: “I think there are very few places in the world where there is a powerful woman… people must have the same opportunities, and it’s not dictated by gender but equality,” she said to Kenneth Goh, Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s BAZAAR in an interview earlier this year.
CO-FOUNDER, ALIBABA GROUP, 42
Peng used to be the e-commerce giant’s Chief People Officer, with over 35,000 employees under her wing. With a net worth of US$1.14 billion, she is also the Executive Chairman of Ant Financial Services, Alibaba’s ﬁnancial-services affiliate, which raised the world’s largest private funding round for an Internet company.
FOUNDER AND EDITOR, MUSLIMGIRL, 25
As a teen living in the U.S., Al-Khatahtbeh faced Islamophobia daily. This pushed her to start MuslimGirl, a platform that explores the issues that young Muslim women encounter. Eight years on, the site is credited as a global cultural phenomenon, and the digital entrepreneur is now a noted author, speaker and activist for the modern millennial-Muslim generation. Remember the viral social media movement #MuslimWomensDay earlier this year? She started that with her band of strong-willed women.
Taraji P. Henson
She once worked as a secretary at The Pentagon to pay for college. Today, Henson boasts a résumé that includes Golden Globe and Academy Award winner, bestselling author, animal activist and keynote speaker at women’s empowerment conferences. Plus, no one else rules the red carpet with such ﬁerce, fabulous attitude.
Jamie Kern Lima
CEO, IT COSMETICS, 39
Lima turned a disadvantage into a billion-dollar business when her rosacea (a skin condition that results in the abnormal ﬂushing of the cheeks) led to the launch of her own line of skin-correcting makeup. Winning women over with a range of life-changing products, IT Cosmetics became so successful that L’Oréal acquired the brand for US$1.2 billion—the highest amount offered by the beauty behemoth in eight years—and made Lima the ﬁrst female CEO of any L’Oréal brand in all of its 108-year history.
China’s most proliﬁc fashion photographer shot to fame with a portfolio of hyper-stylised pictures that melded fashion and fantasy to perfection. Chen’s career began in 2003, when she lent her eye to a series of covers for a Shanghai-based magazine. Since then, countless celebrities have appeared in front of her camera, while her pictures have graced the covers of countless titles. Chen’s surreal blend of glossy glamour and emblems of Chinese heritage are said to capture the spirit of China on the cusp of becoming a superpower.
TECH INVESTOR, 45
At the forefront of China’s tech boom, Singaporean venture capitalist Lee busts all gender bias in her industry with passion, and a sharp knack for sussing out investment-worthy businesses and highly-innovative technology. The Shanghai-based managing partner of GGV Capital is also the ﬁrst woman to break into the top 10 of Forbes’ Midas List, which ranks the world’s top tech investors and venture capitalists.
SENIOR SOFTWARE ENGINEER, LINKEDIN, 30
Thanks to Taylor, jobseekers worldwide have been beneﬁting from developments like LinkedIn’s Learning app and messaging features. One of the co-authors of Women in Tech, she is well-known in the tech world for being an outspoken advocate for women and people of colour, speaking on the topic at various panels, including Silicon Valley’s Comic Con.
BEAUTY ENTREPRENEUR, 33
The American-raised Iraqi beauty guru ditched a career in ﬁnance to focus on her social media platforms, raking a reach of 1.8 million, 90.1k, and 20.2 million followers on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram respectively. Chasing her passion in makeup has proven to be fruitful for the beauty super inﬂuencer, who maintains a successful four-year-old eponymous beauty company.
TV STAR AND BEAUTY ENTREPRENEUR, 19
Once considered a supporting character in the world’s most famous reality TV family, Kylie Jenner has blossomed into a multimillion-dollar businesswoman, not to mention one of the world’s most inﬂuential stars—and she’s not even 20. Since turning her lip augmentation issue into an industry-transforming beauty empire, the curvaceous social media star has ventured into best-selling apps, self-titled merchandise and her very own spin-off series, Life of Kylie, which will hit screens very soon.
FOUNDER, CLICKNETWORK.TV, 36
Turning a proﬁt with clicknetwork.tv was unheard of when it launched in 2007, but Tan was adamant on producing content that would make people talk. With the use of vivacious personalities to host humorous unscripted web shows, things soon picked up. A decade later, clicknetwork.tv’s engagement has reached a million subscribers on YouTube—a ﬁrst for Singapore, all thanks to Tan’s passion and faith in its venture.
With a distinctive aesthetic that is unapologetically feminine, Collins is upending an industry that has long been dominated by male photographers. The Canadian’s portfolio includes shooting campaigns for adidas and a short ﬁlm for Tate Modern. She also went in front of the lens as one of the faces of Gucci’s new fragrance.
POP STAR, 22
She may not have the edge of rapper CL, or the chic stature of model Soo Joo Park, but what Bae possesses is an irresistible charm that has endeared her to millions both at home and abroad. Affectionately known in South Korea as “the Nation’s ﬁrst love,” the 22-year-old got her start as one-fourth of the K-pop act Miss A before she branched out into hosting and acting. Proof of Bae’s popularity? It’s impossible to walk down the streets of Seoul without seeing an advertisement of Bae endorsing a product, leading to the nickname “10 Billion Korean Won Girl” for the many commercial deals she has under her belt.
Graham made waves last year when she became the ﬁrst size-16 model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue. Not only did the body activist do it all over again this year, she also authored a book, A New Model, charting her journey, and walked Michael Kors’ fall/winter 2017 runway as well.
Instead of complaining about the lack of roles for women in Hollywood, Witherspoon co-founded a production company, and started buying ﬁlm and TV rights devoted to a particular niche: Books authored by women, starring strong female characters. The results? Gone Girl, Wild, Big Little Lies… all of which have cemented her Hollywood power-broker status and allowed actresses to inhabit the rich, complex roles they deserve.
PRESIDENT OF NORTH ASIA, AIR ASIA, 60
As AirAsia’s newly minted President of North Asia, Tan is responsible for growing the award-winning low-cost airline’s presence in markets such as Japan and Korea. A savvy businesswoman, Tan’s time at AirAsia has shown that the sky’s no longer the limit. She turned the loss-making AirAsiaExpedia joint-venture into a proﬁt-generating machine that reported gains of $20 million within eight months. Tan’s a pioneer of a different sort at AirAsia too: She was instrumental in developing AirAsia into the social media-friendly airline it is today.
Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir
Mahathir certainly lives up to the expectations that come with her famous last name—her father, Tun Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad was Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister. The younger Mahathir wears many hats (among them writer and television producer) and is an outspoken social activist for women’s rights and HIV/AIDS issues.
Having been recognised with awards at the Sundance Film Festival and the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Tan’s debut feature ﬁlm Pop Aye, about a Thai man and his elephant, has established her as a voice to look out for: Her stories go beyond Singapore’s shores, touching on our shared humanity and the things that bind us all.
LAWYER AND WRITER, 53
She may no longer be the FLOTUS, but that hasn’t stopped Obama from being, well, her usual awesome self. Obama recently attended the Partnership for a Healthier America summit, looking refreshed after retiring from her role as the most powerful woman in the White House. She has stated that she’ll continue with her advocacy work, speaking up for causes such as childhood obesity, poverty and education. And whether she pushes through with a memoir or parlays her inﬂuence to become a respected TV personality, her options are limitless. As she told Jimmy Fallon when she was a guest on his late-night show: “I’m not done. I’m too young; I’m too young to stop.”
Gigi Hadid & Bella Hadid
SUPERMODELS, 22 AND 20 RESPECTIVELY
Not only do the Hadid sisters have a combined following of 47 million on Instagram to date, the pair has gone on to dominate the fashion world with countless lucrative ad campaigns and runway shows between the two of them. Besides strutting down the Victoria’s Secret catwalk in 2016 and appearing on the Moschino and Fendi spring/summer 2017 campaigns together, Bella has released a collaboration with Chrome Hearts while Gigi is slated to collaborate with Tommy Hilﬁger again for two more seasons.
ACTIVIST AND NOBEL PRIZE WINNER, 19
The survivor of an attempted murder is now a respected speaker actively championing for women’s rights to education. In the years since the horriﬁc attempt on her life, Yousafzai has gone on to clinch Pakistan’s Youth Peace Prize in 2012, the Sakharov Prize in 2013, and most notably, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Now 19, the Pakistani activist is pursuing her studies in Birmingham while continuing her activist work for the Malala Fund.
Dr. Sri Mulyani Indrawati
When it comes to crunching numbers, no one does it better than Indrawati. Described as “tough” and “fearless”, the Indonesian took up the position of Managing Director of the World Bank in 2010 and worked tirelessly with the organisation to achieve its goals of “ending extreme poverty” and “boosting shared prosperity.” In July last year, she was re-appointed as Indonesia’s Finance Minister, a role she held before becoming the World Bank’s “most senior woman,” and will be tasked to spearhead the country’s economic reform agenda.
Fresh off the news that she had landed the lead role in the upcoming ﬁlm adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, Wu made TIME magazine’s list of “100 Most Inﬂuential People” for 2017. The actress has been vocal about calling out issues in Hollywood, using social media as a platform to speak out about topics from whitewashing to sexual harassment.
POP STAR, 24
We’ve watched Selena Gomez grow from a budding starlet with Disney to a successful pop star in recent years. At only 24 years old, the cherubic singer-actress holds nine Guinness World Records to date, and has gone on to become the Executive Producer for the highly raved-about Netﬂix series 13 Reasons Why this year. All this while charming her reach of 120.5 million Instagram followers—a number second only to Instagram’s itself.
FOUNDER, SKIN INC, 43
In 2007, Tan founded the skincare brand Skin Inc with a selection of customisable serums for every skin type. Ten years on, Tan’s bestselling My Daily Dose serums have not only burst beyond local shores and conquered the vanity tables of women worldwide, her brand has also claimed 97 different beauty awards to date ever since.
If you meet Tan at a glitzy gala, there are three things you can talk about: Fashion, ﬁlm, and corporate law. The stylish Managing Partner of Colin Ng & Partners is one of the leading lawyers in Asia, specialising in capital markets, mergers and acquisitions. She recently added Executive Producer to her résumé at Singapore-based multi-platform entertainment ﬁrm, Xeitgeist Entertainment Group. She’s been jet-setting to ﬁlm festivals ever since, where the company’s movies, like The Man Who Knew Inﬁnity starring award-winning actors Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, receive standing ovations.
Rebecca, Joanne & Vanessa Paranjothy
FOUNDERS, FREEDOM CUPS, 20, 25 AND 28 RESPECTIVELY
On track to transform the future of women’s healthcare, the Paranjothy sisters are the founders of Freedom Cups, a social enterprise in Singapore that produces menstrual cups in medical-grade silicone—a more comfortable, economical and environmentally-friendly alternative to tampons and sanitary pads. The Forbes-listed start-up works on a buy-one, give-one scheme, allowing them to deliver Freedom Cups to underprivileged women in Asia, educating them about female health while at it.
FASHION STYLIST, 32
Part of Demna Gvasalia’s inner circle of conﬁdantes, the Russian stylist is in a powerful position of inﬂuence. She is widely regarded as one of the key forces shaping the gritty, underground aesthetic that Gvasalia is championing at Balenciaga and Vetements, and a disruptor who’s altering the meaning of luxury in fashion and how the world dresses.
CEO, YOUTUBE, 48
As the commander of YouTube, Wojcicki has the power to impact how and what kind of information reaches anyone from Zimbabwe to Zurich. And as one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley, she has been using her status to effect change in an industry that is quick to evolve in every way but one: Gender diversity. Since Wojcicki joined YouTube in 2014, the percentage of women in the company has risen from 24 to 30 percent.
TEXT ANNABELLE FERNANDEZ, DANA KOH, GERALD TAN AND SYED ZULFADHLI.
PHOTOGRAPHY: ALAMY/CLICK PHOTOS, SHOWBIT, TPGVIP/CLICK PHOTOS, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, TWITTER AND COURTESY OF HILARY BRONWYN GAYLE/HBO.