Tunisian Tennis player Ons Jabeur, Rwandan referee Salima Rhadia Mukansanga and Nigerian Law professional Joy Ngozi Ezeilo have been included in the BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2022.

BBC 100 Women celebrates the achievements of women internationally, from grassroots volunteers to global leaders.

The announcement of the list kicks off BBC’s 100 Women 2022 season – focusing on women’s experiences around the world with a week of special interviews, documentaries, features and digital content across the BBC’s UK and international TV and radio services, BBC iPlayer and online.

Ons Jabeur, became the first Arab or African woman to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open era – months later she reached the final of the US Open. She also made it to number two in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ranking – the highest position ever held by an African or Arab person. Jabeur has won three career singles titles.

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, is a leading authority in the field of international human rights and emeritus dean of law at the University of Nigeria and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons. As founding director of the Women Aid Collective (WACOL), she has provided free legal aid and shelter to 60,000 vulnerable women in Nigeria within the last 25 years. She also founded the Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Centre, to provide a rapid response to victims and survivors of abuse.

Salima Rhadia Mukansanga, was picked by Fifa as one of the first three women referees to officiate at a men’s World Cup in Qatar 2022 – the first time the tournament had women in the role in its 92 years. Last January, she became the first woman to referee a match at the men’s Africa Cup of Nations, and she also officiated at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Before working in sport, she trained as a midwife.

Other women from Africa on the list include: Asonele Kotu, Tech entrepreneur (South Africa), Judy Kihumba, Sign language interpreter (Kenya),Wegahta Gebreyohannes Abera, Humanitarian aid worker (Tigray, Ethiopia),Sarah Chan, NBA scouter (South Sudan),Ibijoke Faborode, Co-founder of ElectHER (Nigeria),Samrawit Fikru, Tech entrepreneur (Ethiopia),Gehad Hamdy, Dentist and humanitarian (Egypt),Marie Christina Kolo, Climate entrepreneur (Madagascar),Hadizatou Mani, Anti-slavery campaigner (Niger),Monica Musonda, Businesswoman (Zambia),Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Author (Ghana),Kisanet Tedros, Educational entrepreneur (Eritrea),Esraa Warda, Dancer (Algeria/US)

Notable names on the BBC 100 Women list include global music phenomenon Billie Eilish, actress and producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas, actress and disability activist Selma Blair and ‘West Side Story’ Hollywood icon Rita Moreno.

From sport, Iranian climber Elnaz Rekab who recently made waves in her home country for competing in South Korea without wearing a headscarf, is also on the list.

From the world of politics, Ursula von der Leyen – the first female President of the European Commission, Mia Mottley – the first female prime minister of Barbados and Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, also make the list.

For the first time this year, the BBC has asked some of the previous 100 Women to nominate women they feel deserve a place on the 2022 list.

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo was nominated by 2021 100 Women laureate, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who said: “Professor Ezeilo has impacted many lives through the provision of free legal aid to the poor, especially to women and girls whose human rights have been violated.”

It’s a special year for BBC 100 Women as it celebrates its tenth season, as well as the 90th anniversary of the BBC World Service and the centenary of the BBC. As such, the theme for 100 Women 2022 is progress – and the season will take the opportunity to look back at what’s changed over the past decade, as well as highlighting the inspiring women who have made a difference.

Women have been at the heart of conflict around the world in 2022 which will be reflected in this year’s nominees – from those bravely demanding change in Iran, to the female face of resistance in Ukraine and Russia.

Tim Davie, BBC Director-General of the BBC, said: “It’s wonderful to see this year’s list of 100 Women, and to be celebrating its tenth season. The women on this year’s list are all remarkable in what they have achieved and contributed to their communities and society, and I am proud that the BBC continues to do vital work by shining a spotlight on them and sharing their stories around the world through our first-class journalism and storytelling.”

Liliane Landor, Senior Controller of BBC News International Services and Director of BBC World Service, said: “In the tenth year of 100 Women, it is brilliant to see how the annual season has gone from strength to strength. I remember our launch and very first intake of 100 Women – little did we know how much the project would grow.

“I’m delighted to see the women featured on this year’s list. They, like all the women before them, have contributed to our world in incredible ways, and we celebrate this. This is about increasing visibility and giving recognition where it’s due.”

“With this year also being the 90th anniversary of BBC World Service, I am glad that 100 Women continues our commitment to reporting and telling the stories of people’s lives from all over the world.”

The BBC 100 women season sees several high profile names in conversation for a special series of programmes across the BBC.

At the age of 20, Billie Eilish is the first singer born in the 21st century to hit number 1 in the Billboard charts and win an Oscar. She has more than 200 million followers across her social media. We exclusively join her for the last night of her world tour to talk fame, imposter syndrome and identity for BBC 100 women.

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has spoken with BBC 100 Women about feminism, the impact of the current war on mental health, and what victory looks like. She also shared deeply personal insights in terms of how she feels finding herself in the role of first lady.

BBC 100 Women have also exclusively spoken with actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, actress and disability activist Selma Blair and Hollywood icon Rita Moreno.


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