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Just how do women on powerlist wield their influence?

By Harriet Williamson

Published 04/07/2015

Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair
Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair

The 2015 Women's Hour Power List is subtly different from the previous year's incarnation. This year, instead of selecting women for their personal power, we are celebrating 10 female figures who have the most "influence" over the lives of women in the UK.

Most of the women named on the 2015 list were inspiring.

I was particularly pleased that two women with opposing political ideals were chosen for their enormous power of influence and impressive careers, namely Camilla Cavendish, director of the Downing Street Policy Unit, and Katharine Viner, Editor of the Guardian.

However, some of the names on the 2015 Power List left me baffled.

The inclusion of Caitlyn Jenner as the first transgender woman to be named on the power list is particularly interesting, as her reason for nomination seems be the famous Vanity Fair cover.

It is undoubted that Jenner has raised the profile of trans people and her cover transformation demonstrates that our society is slowly and painfully becoming more tolerant and enlightened.

Nevertheless, it may have been more in keeping with the theme of 'influence' to choose a trans woman like Laverne Cox, who has been honoured for her activism work.

The singer, songwriter Sia was No. 6 on the list, due to her backroom songwriting credits and her refusal to court fame by, as judge Gemma Cairney states, "remaining faceless in an industry so much based on, well, face".

Her contributions to popular music are impressive, but I'm not sure that this is enough to make her one of the primary influencers of women in the UK. Why not choose someone more visible, who influences through her generosity to fans, like Taylor Swift, or her money-making abilities, like Katy Perry? Why not choose Beyonce?

Anna Wintour is praised for her networking and her influence over what we wear and how we look. At the beginning of the programme, it was established that the influencers chosen didn't necessarily have to wield their influence in a positive manner - and this is surely the case when it comes to Wintour.

Although she's admirable as a woman and has risen to the absolute peak of her field without needing to be liked by others, Wintour unfortunately presides over a rotten empire.

Publications like Vogue and the fashion industry as a whole have much to answer for in terms of promoting an unrealistic body image for both men and women.

Belfast Telegraph

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