By Kate Ryan NEW YORK, May 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Political prisoners, rights advocates and business leaders topped a list of the year's most influential people in the realm of gender equality, led by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Among the highest ranked on the Gender Equality Top 100 list was Louijain al-Hathlou, a Saudi Arabian woman jailed and tortured for fighting the now-lifted ban on female drivers, and Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who treats women sexually assaulted in conflict. The global ranking of influential people in public policies affecting women and LGBT+ rights was released by Apolitical, a global learning platform for governments and civil servants to share policy innovation ideas.
"It's time to showcase the inspirational people who are pioneering change and shaping gender policy around the globe," said Lisa Witter, head of Apolitical, in a statement. "We hope that this list will highlight the people who are committed to making the world a better place for everyone."
Ginsburg fought as a lawyer against gender discrimination in the United States and is seen as a champion for women's rights on the nation's highest court. Former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, whose book "Becoming" has sold more than 10 million copies, was in the top 20, as was Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's minister for foreign affairs.
"Proud to be in the top of 2019s most influential people in gender policy," Wallstrom wrote on Twitter. "Women's rights, resources and representation constitutes the core of our feminist foreign policy."
Apolitical highlighted the work of young leaders including Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman and Nobel Peace Prize winner who escaped captivity by ISIS Muslim extremists and has brought international attention to women and girls held as sex slaves. Also listed as a young leader was Sarah McBride, a transgender rights activist who works at the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT+ advocacy group in the United States.
Reproductive rights advocates on the list included Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and an advocate for access to contraception and Lena Wen, the head of Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization providing reproductive healthcare in the United States. Other gender policy leaders included Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, which raised awareness around the pervasiveness of sexual assault and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women.
Katja Iversen, chief executive and president of Women Deliver, an advocacy organization for women and girls' health, shared her excitement about being included on Twitter. "Wow! Happy+humbled," Iversen wrote.
(With inputs from agencies.)