Vogue cover: Who are the Duchess of Sussex's handpicked female trailblazers?

The Duchess of Sussex has handpicked 15 trailblazing women to grace Vogue's cover [Photo: Getty Copyright: @SussexRoyal]
The Duchess of Sussex has handpicked 15 trailblazing women to grace Vogue's cover [Photo: Getty Copyright: @SussexRoyal]

ICYMI the Duchess of Sussex has guest edited the September issue of British Vogue - choosing 15 'women she admires' to feature on the cover.

The duchess becomes the first royal to guest-edit the fashion bible, bringing together 15 'trailblazers' and 'changemakers' for a special 'Forces for Change' issue.

According to the magazine's editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, Meghan decided against putting herself in the mix of inspiring women as she felt it would be a "boastful thing to do".

The duchess said she hoped people would be as inspired and empowered by the women featured in the magazine as she was.

"Through this lens I hope you'll feel the strength of the collective in the diverse selection of women chosen for the cover as well as the team of support I called upon within the issue to help bring this to light," she said.

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The line-up of trailblazing women includes celebrities, politicians and activists known for throwing light on issues such as body positivity, transgender rights, diversity and climate change.

The new mum, who welcomed a son, Archie, in May, also opted to leave one space empty with only a mirror - to illustrate to readers that they too can make a difference to the world.

The Vogue cover [Photo: Getty Copyright: @SussexRoyal]
The Vogue cover [Photo: Getty Copyright: @SussexRoyal]

So why did these particular women get the royal stamp of approval?

The 15 women of British Vogue’s September issue:

Adwoa Aboah

Born and raised in Britain to an English mother and Ghanian-born father, the 27-year-old model has graced many a magazine cover, but there’s a lot more to her, than just her day job.

An active mental health campaigner, Aboah has spoken openly about her battle with addiction and depression and created a Gurls Talk project to give young women a safe platform to discuss feminist issues.

She also teamed up with the makers of Barbie to highlight the importance of embracing diversity and leading to a doll being created of her to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Aboah also joined the campaign calling for sanitary products like tampons and pads to be provided free in schools for children on free school meals.

Adut Akech

The 19-year-old South Sudanese model was a child refugee who went on to emigrate to Australia with her family.

After signing with a model agency at the tender age of 15, Akech also caused a buzz when she walked the Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2017 show in Paris, and later went on to sign a three-season exclusive deal with the fashion house.

She’s since rocked the catwalks of Versace, Prada and Chanel and this certainly isn’t the first Vogue cover she has graced, but it is her campaigning for more diversity in the industry that the model is also known for.

She is also now working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide support to refugees across the globe.

Adut Akech walks the runway at the Versace fashion in Milan this year [Photo: Getty]
Adut Akech walks the runway at the Versace fashion in Milan this year [Photo: Getty]

Ramla Ali

Born in Mogadishu some time in the early 1990s, according to the Guardian, the Somali boxer does not know exactly how old she is.

Not only is the London-based boxer training to represent Somalia at the 2020 Olympics, she also finds the time to teach self-defence to a group of Muslim women.

Jacinda Ardern

We’re totally with the duchess in giving a nod to New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Since making history on 26 October 2017 when she became the youngest female head of state in the world, the female trailblazer has given us plenty of reasons to appreciate her greatness.

Most recently she was praised internationally for her compassionate handling of the March 15 terror attack in Christchurch, where a gunman killed 51 worshippers at two mosques.

It seems the feeling of admiration is mutual as the Duchess was also singled out for praise by Ms Ardern.

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Sinead Burke

The 29-year-old Irish diversity activist, was born with the bone growth disorder achondroplasia and now campaigns for more inclusivity in fashion.

Having previously graced the cover of the May edition of Business of Fashion last year, she was also named as part of The Vogue 25 - the first Vogue guide to Britain's 25 most influential and aspirational figures in 2018.

Sinead Burke was chosen by Meghan to appear on the Vogue cover [Photo: Getty Images]
Sinead Burke was chosen by Meghan to appear on the Vogue cover [Photo: Getty Images]

Gemma Chan

The 36-year-old actor and campaigner saw her fame spike after starring in box office hit ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, but she’s also known for her role in Channel 4 drama Humans.

Off screen, the Oxford law graduate was heavily involved in the Time's Up campaign and uses her platform to encourage diversity in the film and TV industry.

Sidebar: She’s also pole-danced with Celine Dion, which merely adds to the #lifegoals.

Laverne Cox

The 47-year-old ‘Orange Is the New Black’ actress and LGBT+ activist often uses her platform to speak out about violence against the transgender community.

“It's insanely painful to keep reading reports of trans folks being murdered. My entire life, I feel like I have had to live with the reality of violence against trans people as if it's just something we have to accept but it's unacceptable,” she once wrote.

She also became one of the faces of Beyonce's clothing line Ivy Park.

Jane Fonda

At 81-years-young, the actress, writer, political activist and all round fashion icon grows more inspiring by the day.

The Oscar-winning star is an outspoken supporter of the #MeToo movement, which fights against sexual harassment in Hollywood, and co-founded Women’s Center, an organisation providing advocacy for women in the media.

"If ever there's a time to open our eyes, it's now," Fonda once said about what she described as an urgent need for gender equality, inclusiveness, and diversity in all industries.

Salma Hayek Pinault

Not only is she one of Hollywood’s top actresses, having leading roles in films including ‘Frida’, the 52-year-old star also campaigns to raise awareness of violence against women and discrimination against immigrants.

Jameela Jamil

The 33-year-old who saw her fame rise after a presenting stint on Channel 4 and BBC Radio 1 is now an actress who regularly uses her platform to shout about body positivity, via her ‘I Weigh’ campaign.

The ‘The Good Place’ actress has also gone online to call out body-shaming and airbrushing in the media industry, and famously criticised Kim Kardashian West for promoting a diet product online.

The outspoken star also recently spoke out following on Alabama’s near-total ban on abortion, calling it “so very cruel.”

Author Chimamanda Adichie attends Paris Fashion Week earlier this month [Photo: Getty]
Author Chimamanda Adichie attends Paris Fashion Week earlier this month [Photo: Getty]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

41-year-old author ,Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has beec described as one of the most important and respected feminist icons of our time.

Born in Nigeria, she is the author of Purple Hibiscus, Half Of A Yellow Sun, and Americanah and was recently chosen to be the spokesperson of Boots No.7 in a campaign celebrating beauty and feminism.

Even Beyoncé recognised her influence, opting to sample her TED talk, “We Should All Be Feminists” on her song “Flawless.”

And if their recent meeting was anything to go by, we know that the duchess is a big fan of Beyoncé, so will likely trust her judgement.

Francesca Hayward

Born near Nairobi to a Kenyan mother and British father, Hayward moved to England at the age of 2.

In 216 she was named principal dancer in 2016 to the British Royal Ballet and is among the cast of the new Cats film.

Yara Shahidi

Best known for her starring role as the oldest daughter Zoey Johnson on the sitcom ‘Black-ish’ and its spin-off series ‘Grown-ish,’ the 19-year-old actress also founded Eighteen x 18, a creative platform to engage youngsters to "speak our truth, get active and vote!"

The actress also once described comments made by Donald Trump as “laughable” after he branded the title of ‘Black-ish’ racist at the “highest level”.

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg forced the world to sit up and listen thanks to her outspoken views about climate change.

The 16-year-old Swedish school girl rose to almost overnight fame in April after delivering a speech to MPs at the the Houses of Parliament where she said her future had been “stolen”.

Her stand inspired school walkouts around the world, with thousands of young people joining the Global Climate Strike in March.

No wonder she received Nobel Peace Prize nominations from three members of the Norwegian parliament in March this year.

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Christy Turlington Burns

The 50-year-old model is the founder of Every Mother Counts, which is a charity dedicated to making childbirth safer around the world.

Having recently given birth herself, no doubt this is a cause close to the duchess’ heart.

Though she quit the fashion world 25 years ago, the former supermodel made a triumphant return to the catwalk this year as she closed Marc Jacobs show.