BIDBI's list of influential women 2016

  • 3rd January 2017

As 2016 draws to an end, it's been an emotional rollercoaster of a year. We thought, let's not dwell on the negative, but have a look at the women of 2016. Those that have overcome hurdles, fought for the vulnerable, and achieved greatness. 

In no particular order: 

Michelle Obama  

Everything that Michelle Obama turns her hand too oozes confidences and intelligence. Facing massive challenges from the media and groups of people scared of her forward thinking approach she has always carried on with her vision.  

Paula Nickolds MD of John Lewis

Paula, who joined the company as a graduate trainee 22 years ago, was promoted by John Lewis making her the first female managing director in the department store group’s 152-year history. Nickolds, will take over from Andy Street in January. Heading one of the UK’s biggest and most respected retail brands, Nickolds will be one of only a handful of female bosses in an industry in which more than half of employees are women. Only Véronique Laury, head of B&Q owner Kingfisher, and Katie Bickerstaffe, head of Dixons Carphone’s UK and Irish business, hold comparable roles. 

Marnie Levine 

Marne joined Instagram from Facebook, where she served as Vice President of Global Public Policy from 2010 to 2014. In this role, Marne led the company’s global public policy strategy, working with governments and organizations to foster understanding and support for Facebook’s innovative technology. Marne also led the team responsible for developing Facebook’s global policies and programs. 


Gal-dem is a creative magazine (online and in print) comprised of over 70 women of colour. Most of the team is based in the UK. The aim of gal-dem is to open up our take on the world to a wider audience. They want people of different shapes, sizes, genders and ethnic backgrounds to engage with the work they are doing. It is no secret that the mainstream media doesn’t represent or reflect women of colour, so they decided to do it for themselves. 

Gal-dem was founded by Liv Little who, frustrated with the lack of diversity at her university, wanted to reach out to women of colour like herself; and Gal-dem was born! The team began to grow and they now have contributors who come from all walks of life.   

Malala Yousef 

In recent years, no one has given more of a voice to Girls Education than Malala Yousafzai. Her relentless fight for education has transported her to international fame. After surviving an assassination attempt, she is even more determined to bring awareness and social change to education equality. 

In the past several years Malala has worked endlessly on behalf of education. She opened up the Malala fund, which brings awareness to the social and economic impact of girls education and works to empower girls. She delivered an incredible speech at the United Nations, urging them to support the fight for education for all children. Last year she received the distinct honor of being the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.   

As she said in a speech, “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world!” Malala’s strength and perseverance have sparked an international movement.  

Karen Brady 

Karren Brady, Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge CBE, is the Vice-Chairman of West Ham FC, the Senior Non-Executive Director of the Syco and Arcadia Boards and the Small Business Ambassador for the Government. In December 2013 she was awarded a CBE for services to women in business and entrepreneurship. 

At 27 years of age, Karren became the youngest Managing Director of a PLC in the UK when she floated her business, Birmingham City FC, on the London stock market in 1997. 

She has won many awards for services to business over the years, including being named Business Woman of the Year and Most Inspirational Woman of the Year. She has also been presented with the coveted Spirit of Everywoman Award, acknowledging her outstanding achievements in changing the landscape for women in business. Karren has emerged as a powerful advocate for British business. 

Nadiya Hussain  

It was hailed as one of the most moving finales of all time (we even saw Mary Berry shed a tear or two). But Nadiya's emotional victory in the 2015 Bake Off tent was just the beginning. She has since gone on to write a cook book, a childrens cook book, landed her own TV show (The Chronicles of Nadiya), became a magazine columnist, baked for the Queen, been named one of the most influential people in Britian, and become a rold model for women everywhere. For many young muslim girls Nadiya who wears wears a hijab is one of the only muslim women they will see on the TV and in popular culture.  

Jessica Ennis-Hill 

The Sheffield-born athlete and London 2012 poster girl, Double world champion. Seven global medals – more than any heptathlete in history – plus another couple in the Commonwealth Games and European championships, too. And to return to the top after having her son, Reggie, in 2014, when so many experts believed the stresses of the heptathlon would make it impossible, all these achievements says a lot about how talented and tenacious she is. 

Nicola Adams 

Nicola has dominated her sport since London 2012 and in May secured the last major title to elude her, when she was crowned world flyweight champion. She went to Rio as the reigning Olympic, world, Commonwealth and European Games champion, having also won European and EU golds. Nicola was awarded an MBE in 2013, while The Independent named her as the most influential LGBTI person in Britain in 2012.

There are many more women out there who help their communities, provide supoort for vulnerable people and act as role models for the individuals around them and we know 2017 will bring out the best in many more insprational people.