ON February 26th, BBC Radio 4 programme Woman’s Hour launched the Woman’s Hour Power List 2014, which this year will identify the top 10 female ‘game changers’ operating in the United Kingdom today. Women resident in the UK who are “changing the rules in culture, society and business” in our country.
The Power List will be drawn up by a panel of 5, from candidates suggested by expert witnesses and Radio 4 listeners. In the programme, Emma Barnett (panel chair) and Rachel Johnson (panel member) were interviewed live as to their criteria for choosing the 10 (we also heard from other panel members via taped interviews).
It became clear that though they expected to be considering high profile whistle-blowers and twitter campaigners, they were not looking for women already household names but those who within their sphere had “game-changed”. Women who were not close to traditional sources of power i.e. with easy access to parliament, but who were influencing lives to make them better.
Age was not to be a limitation, for teenage girls have game-changed on the world stage, such as Malala Yousafzai who has influenced education of girls in the Arab world and in Pakistan.
Last year’s Woman’s Hour Power List had 100 names, an average age over 50, and many well-known. They want this 2014 list to be younger and have unexpected names: a list to make people sit up and think “wow I never knew about her!”
The interviewer suggested a name, which they all agreed was exactly the kind of person for the list, and this name caused my ears to perk up! It was Fahma Mohamed, the teenage female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner who, supported by the Guardian newspaper, recently ran a petition to lobby the government to address FGM in the UK. Here in the UK, schoolgirls are sent away for "summer cutting".