The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has made her mark in history as the first ever royal to guest edit for British Vogue. The highly anticipated September issue, Forces for Change, was a collaborative effort and Meghan’s involvement in this project has been highlighted.
The front cover of the September issue will feature 15 inspirational women who have worked to break barriers and encourage change for women, handpicked by Meghan herself. Using her platform and privilege to empower women, especially women of colour, the Duchess decided against featuring on the cover to direct all focus onto the women she admires.
Meghan was originally the potential 16th person to feature on the front cover but felt that it would be ‘boastful’ in some ways, especially for this particular project, which has been designed to appreciate other women who are generating change.. This led to the seemingly blank 16th spot on the cover becoming a mirror, which aims to include the reader and encourage them to use their own platforms to bring about change.
Meghan said in a statement:
``These last seven months have been a rewarding process, curating and collaborating with Edward Enninful, British Vogue's Editor-in-Chief, to take the year's most-read fashion issue and steer its focus to the values, causes and people making impact in the world today. 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. I hope readers feel as inspired as I do, by the 'Forces for Change' they'll find within these pages.``
15 of Meghan’s favourite trailblazing women all have individual potentials to generate change for women. From mental health campaigning, diversity advocacy, body positivity advocacy to women in power, here are the September cover girls.
Adwoa Aboah is a mental health campaigner and model. Adwoa has created ‘Gurls Talk’, an online platform created to encourage girls to talk and share their experiences in a safe, judgement free environment.
Adut Akech was born in war-torn Sudan, raised in Kenya as a refugee with her family until they emigrated and moved to Austrailia. Now a model, Adut wants to help people understand the nature of being a refugee and is also one of the youngest to feature on the cover.
Ramla Ali is a Somali-born boxer and is now a national champion. After winning the Great British Elite Championships, Ramla aims to break the perception that boxing is a male-dominated sport.
Jacinda Ardern is the world’s youngest female head of government and the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. In wake of the Christchurch shooting, she is passionate about tackling human rights abuses and stricture gun laws.
To Vogue, she said: “I’m proud we’re now a nation where girls don’t consider politics or political leadership extraordinary.”
Sinead Burke, a writer, academic, influencer, activist and broadcaster. Sinead is a diversity advocate after highlighting how exclusive fashion was. As the first person with achondroplasia (drawfism) to be invited to the Met Gala this year, Sinead aims to raise consciousness on what voices are not being heard and which perspectives are not being considered.
Laverne Cox is most known for her role in Orange Is The New Black and has used her power and platform to advocate LGBTQIA+ rights, particularly trans. ‘To get to share this cover with this group of women who inspire me, who are truly forces for change is deeply humbling.”
Jane Fonda has been a political Campaigner since the 1960’s and continues to campaign more a variety of issues and has a number of established charity organisations.
Salma Hayek Pinault is a women’s rights advocate, actor and producer. She became one of the key voices against Harvey Weinstein and the harassment, abuse and violence he showed towards women in the industry. Salma dedicates much of her charitable work to support anti-domestic violence charities and speaks about the rise in female activism.
Francesca Hayward was born in Nairobi before moving to England when she was 2. Since then, Francesca has become a Royal Ballet principal dancer and stars in the upcoming film, Cats. When asked about how she feels being in this position as a woman of colour, she said to Vogue: “I’m very proud of the colour of my skin and that I’m inspiring people from all backgrounds, but I think it will be great for the next mixed-race or black female Principal dancer that she doesn’t have to be asked about that.”
Jameela Jamil is an actress and body positivity advocate and actor. Her ‘I Weigh’ campaign aims to promote body positivity and tackle diet culture, helping people to recognise their worth.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer who is also known for giving TED Talks on subjects that focus on under-representation of different cultures and feminism. “I long for more stories of women who are strong without being superheroes, who do not need to be extraordinary to be admirable.”
Yara Shahidi has established herself as a political activist, alongside her acting career. At the tender age of 19, Shahidi founded ‘Eighteen x 18’ a platform aiming to encourage young people to vote.
Greta Thunberg is the youngest of the women on the September cover. At 15 three members of the Norwegian parliament nominated Greta a Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign against climate change. She said to Vogue ”I’m here to change the way we look at the climate and ecological crisis, so that together we can put pressure on people in power to change things.”
Christy Turlington Burns isn’t just a world famous supermodel, but a passionate humanitarian. In 2005, Christy became an advocate for maternal health, launching ‘Every Mother Counts’, a charity dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safer for women globally.
Gemma Chan is an actor and active campaigner for greater diversity in the industry, as well as being a part of the ‘Time’s Up’ movement. “I would like to see a real increase in the diversity of people who are in a position to make decisions in the industry.”