Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Who are the 15 women on the cover of Meghan Markle's guest-edited 'Vogue' issue?

The Duchess of Sussex handpicked a selection of individuals who are driving change across the world, from a Muslim boxer to a teen activist

It's been two years since she closed down her blog, The Tig, but Meghan Markle is back to flexing her writing muscle in a just-revealed new project.

The Duchess of Sussex has guest-edited the prestigious September issue of British Vogue, the fashion publication that has featured both the Duchess of Cambridge and Diana, Princess of Wales on its cover during its 103-year history.

However, Markle isn't making an appearance on the magazine's glossy front; instead, she handpicked 15 women to grace the cover who personified the issue's "forces for change" theme.

"The selection of women was a highly personal process for the Duchess and for [Vogue editor Edward] Enninful, and the result of a collaboration that began in January of this year," British Vogue revealed on its website.

Scroll through the gallery above to see which women are on the cover.

The Duchess of Sussex, Patron of Smart Works, in the workroom of the Smart Works London office. (Photo by @SussexRoyal/Kensington Palace via Getty Images) 
The Duchess of Sussex, Patron of Smart Works, in the workroom of the Smart Works London office. Photo: SussexRoyal

The cover also features a blank space in silver reflective print to represent the change that the reader themselves can impart on the world.

"For the cover, the Duchess chose a diverse selection of women from all walks of life, each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open mindedness," revealed the Sussexes Instagram account.

The magazine marks the first time a September issue of British Vogue has been co-edited, and also features an interview between Markle and Michelle Obama, as well as a "candid" conversation between the Duke of Sussex and anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall.

Below, we profile the 15 women selected to appear on the cover.

1. Jacinda Ardern

The prime minister of New Zealand, elected in 2017, is the world's youngest female head of government, having taken office at age 37. In 2018, she also became the world's second elected head of government to give birth while in office.

Arden has won widespread acclaim and praise for her actions since becoming prime minister, such as her compassionate reaction to the terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques in March. Known for her progressive politics, she's focused on tightening gun laws and addressing child poverty and social inequality since taking office. In a first for the magazine and photographer Peter Lindbergh, who shot all the cover stars, Ardern was photographed in New Zealand via video link, Vogue revealed.

2. Greta Thunberg

The 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl is a prominent climate activist, and was photographed in Sweden by Lindbergh, as she doesn't fly overseas due to the carbon footprint.

Thunberg gained international attention after striking outside the Swedish Parliament in August last year, spurring other school pupils around the world to follow in her footsteps and protest. She has subsequently been invited to speak at events such as the COP24 United Nations climate change summit and a conference of the European Economic and Social Committee.

3. Jane Fonda

The 81-year-old actress is the oldest cover star in British Vogue's history, the magazine revealed. The Grace and Frankie star, who is also a writer, producer and fitness guru, is known for her advocacy for causes such as women's rights, environmentalism and education.

Fonda, who has founded several charitable foundations, is also an ardent political activist, campaigning against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and against Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

4. Adwoa Aboah

The 27-year-old British model is no stranger to the pages of Vogue. Aboah is also a committed campaigner for mental health, having previously been open about her struggles with depression. In 2017, she established Gurls Talk, an online "platform where girls can openly share their experiences and feelings in a safe and trusting environment".

5. Sinead Burke

The 29-year-old Irish writer, lecturer and broadcaster is renowned for her work as a diversity advocate, petitioning for greater representation in the fashion industry. Burke, who is currently working towards a PhD at Dublin's Trinity College on human rights education, was born with achondroplasia, and campaigns for more inclusive design in fashion.

6. Gemma Chan

The Crazy Rich Asians actress, 36, who studied law at the University of Oxford, has been outspoken about more diverse casting in Hollywood. After being criticised for playing an English woman in Mary Queen of Scots, the star, of Chinese heritage, said: “If John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, I can play Bess of Hardwick.”

Chan also works with several charitable causes, such as Unicef and Save The Children, and in 2017 visited young refugees in Lebanon.

7. Laverne Cox

The American actress, who rose to fame in Netflix prison drama Orange Is the New Black, is the first transgender woman to feature on the cover of British Vogue. "Being on the cover of Vogue magazine has been a dream of mine since I was a child," Cox wrote in an Instagram post, announcing the news. "To get to share this cover with this group of women who inspire me, who are truly forces for change is deeply humbling."

8. Adut Akech

The 19-year-old model, who made her fashion week debut for Saint Laurent in 2017, was born in South Sudan and moved to Australia as a refugee when she was seven. In 2018, Akech became the second black model to close Chanel's haute couture show, 14 years after Alek Wek became the first.

9. Francesca Hayward

The Kenyan-born British ballerina, 27, is a principal dancer in the UK's Royal Ballet. Hayward will also appear as an actress and dancer alongside Taylor Swift and Judi Dench in the film adaptation of the musical Cats.

The ballerina, of English and Kenyan ancestry, has previously spoken about being a minority in the dance industry, revealing she never felt like it held me back. "It's only when people ask me what it's like to be a mixed-race dancer that I realise that I am," she told Pointe magazine. "I've never been made to feel different, or like I shouldn't be doing it."

10. Salma Hayek

The Mexican actress and producer, who scored an Oscar nomination for her portrayal as painter Frida Kahlo in a 2002 film biopic, has used her fame to shine a light on many causes, such as raising awareness on violence against women and discrimination against immigrants. As part of her campaigning, 52-year-old Hayek donated $25,000 (Dh91,820) to a Mexican shelter for abused women in 2006, and notably breastfed a newborn whose mother couldn't produce milk on a Unicef trip to Sierra Leone in 2009.

11. Ramla Ali

The Somali boxer, who is based in London, is the current African Zone Featherweight Champion. Ali, who moved to the UK as a refugee, is the first boxer in history to have represented Somalia in the Women's World Championships, held in 2018, and has since helped launch the African nation's boxing federation. In 2016, she became the first Muslim woman to win a boxing title for England.

12. Jameela Jamil

The British TV presenter and The Good Place actress turned activist, 33, has won acclaim for her I Weight movement. The Instagram account encourages women to "look past the flesh on our bones", posting submitted, un-edited selfies of women describing the things they are grateful for or proud of. Jamil regularly protests for body positivity, criticising celebrities and influencers for promoting diet products and appetite suppressants.

13. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The 41-year-old Nigerian novelist is behind the books Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun and We Should All Be Feminists. Adichie, who studied in the US, has been lauded for her insightful writing on issues such as racism, feminism and equality.

14. Yara Shahidi

The 19-year-old actress, model and activist, who stars in sitcom Black-ish, made her film debut in 2009. Shahidi regularly speaks out about the need for greater representation in the film and modelling industries, telling US Vogue in 2016: "If I can add one more voice to the conversation, one more face to the spectrum, then I’ve accomplished something.” In 2018, the teen teamed up with social-news publisher NowThis to create Eighteen x 18, a platform that encouraged young people to vote in the midterm elections.

15. Christy Turlington Burns

The 50-year-old American model, one of the '90s original 'supers', is also the founder of Every Mother Counts, a non-profit that supports maternal health programmes around the world. Turlington Burns was inspired to launch the charitable initiative after directing 2010's No Woman No Cry, a documentary about pregnant women in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the US.

Updated: July 29, 2019 12:30 PM

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