Zahara Africa Now


The BBC has revealed that singer/songwriter Bulelwa Mkutukana from South Africa, better known by her stage name Zahara is among the trailblazing women on this year’s 100 Women List, celebrating inspirational and influential women across the globe – from high profile names to unsung heroes.

In a year of unprecedented turbulence, this year’s theme is ‘How Women Led Change in 2020’ and celebrates some of the scientists, public health experts, and healthcare workers who have helped us weather the storm of the global pandemic, as well as women from other industries who have all been leaders of change in their own way – from politicians, lawyers and architects to actors, writers, athletes, singers and those who have sought to improve the lives of others in their community.

Bulelwa came from humble beginnings in South Africa, and found her love of singing in the school choir. She started her singing career busking on the streets, but in 2011 her debut album went double-platinum in less than three weeks.

The singer-songwriter has been showered with awards and is enjoying a successful career in the music industry – but she has also used her platform to speak out about violence against women in South Africa, something she revealed has happened to her.

Some of the other recognisable names on this year’s list include US actor Jane Fonda, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Malaysian actor Michelle Yeoh, Belarusian Politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pakistani actor Mahira Khan.

Other names on the list include:

  • Syrian film-maker Waad Al-Kateab (29) – Activist, journalist and award-winning film-maker who has received numerous accolades for her news reports in Aleppo and was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2020 her first feature, For Sama.
  • Dr Jeong Eun-kyeong (55) – Current commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency who has led South Korea’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and been described as a “virus-hunter”.
  • Campaigner Christina Adane (17) – Behind the UK petition for free school meals over the summer holidays, which footballer Marcus Rashford supported.
  • UK Scientist Sarah Gilbert (58) – Trained in microbiology, biochemistry, molecular virology and vaccinology, Sarah has been working to develop vaccines against emerging diseases since 2014.
  • Brazilian transgender model Lea T (39) – A pop-culture icon of transgender advocacy, speaking up about discrimination against LGBT people and calling for society to tackle it.
  • US astronaut Kathy Sullivan (69) – Holds the distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space and dive to the deepest point in the ocean making her the most vertical person in the world.
  • UK Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu(73) – Groundbreaking sickle cell and thalassemia nurse who campaigned for a statue of British-Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole and is a key figure in highlighting the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities.
  • Agnes Chow (23) – Pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong and a key figure during the 2014 Umbrella Movement. This year she was one of a handful of activists arrested under a controversial new security law imposed by Beijing.
  • Fang Fang (65) – Award-winning Chinese author who has produced more than 100 works. This year, she began documenting events in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged.

The full BBC 100 Women List 2020 is here:

For the first time, this year’s List will see the 100th spot left blank to honour all the women who made an impact and a sacrifice in this extraordinary year and allow our audiences to fill it with someone meaningful to them.

BBC 100 Women Masterclasses

Also announced today is the schedule for the BBC 100 Women Masterclasses taking place on 30th November – a day of inspirational talks, mind-expanding workshops and ‘how to sessions’ streamed on the BBC website and BBC 100 Women Facebook pages from 13:00GMT to 17:30GMT. Guided by expert speakers including those featured on the 100 Women List, sessions will tackle topics such as money management, public speaking, sustainable living, mental health self-care, and practical tools and tips for our everyday lives.


The programme for the day includes:

BBC 100 Women in conversation: with Black Lives Matter founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi
Protests against racism have made headlines in 2020, but how does real cultural change actually come about? The three women behind BLM discuss how their initial posts on social media turned into a global phenomenon and what they envisage for the future.

Tips and tools for your everyday life, by BBC 100 Women

 – Rewriting the script – Making kids’ bedtime stories more diverse… and less sexist
Equality starts at home, and most of the story books and fairy tales we tell our children are sexist and don’t represent the diverse world we live in. Get tips from storytellers and artists on how to choose wisely from the bookshops’ shelves and how to create your own non-sexist, more inclusive stories.

– Make yourself heard – How to find your voice and beat the ‘gender say gap’
Do you feel you need to speak up and find a voice that is true to you? Hear the experiences of women overcoming hostility on the work Zoom, learning to command a room, and cleverly putting down micro-aggressions. And not just at work – in their personal lives and the online world too.

– Money, money, money – How to make your cash work for you
How can women build up their financial resilience?  Our financial experts will show ways to plan and make ends meet, set yourself saving goals, and make the most of what you earn. Ensure your financial independence with some neat tricks.

– Turn up the volume, girl! – How to create (and listen to) tunes that empower you
Africa’s music queen and three-time Grammy Award-winner Angélique Kidjo, Grammy-winning solo rapper Ana Tijoux, and fierce drummer and ‘electrofeminist’ Madame Gandhi will curate a list of “must-listen” anthems to play out loud and dance to. They’ll get the party started with Radio 1Xtra’s Jamz Supernova and share their advice on how to make it in a male-dominated industry.

Learn something new… fast!
A series of six-minute masterclasses from some of the women on this year’s list.

1. Get your mental health fix in 5 mins…for free – a lesson in better self-care
By Dr Etheldreda Nakimuli-Mpungu, psychiatrist and developer of a group therapy programme to tackle depression symptoms.

2. Five top tips to live a greener life
By landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom, who works on projects that promote urban resilience to climate change, including Asia´s largest urban rooftop garden and a new green space in an unused elevated rail line that opened in Bangkok during the Covid-19 pandemic.

3. Want to help build a more inclusive world? Stop being a friend and become an ally
By Shani Dhanda, founder and leader of Diversability + Asian Disability Network, and award-winning disability specialist listed as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people.

4.  How to stay social and beat ‘lockdown loneliness’
By Karen Dolva, CEO of the start-up No Isolation, who has made it her mission to help others, from young children to seniors, to cope with feelings of loneliness.


You can join in the conversation on the BBC 100 Women social channels: @bbc100women on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and share your experiences using the hashtag#BBC100WMasterclass.

The announcement of the list kicks off BBC’s 100 Women 2020 – Shininga spotlight on women’s experiences around the world with a week of special interviews, inspirational masterclasses, documentaries, features and digital content across the BBC’s UK and international TV and radio services and online. More info HERE