Five icons you should know from Time’s 100 most influential people of 2024 list

Who are the 100 most influential people in the world? Every year, TIME Magazine has an answer.

TIME released its list of the 100 Most Influential People for 2024 on Wednesday. The annual list, which asks cultural and political icons to highlight the changemakers of the past year, features dozens of athletes, entertainers, artists and politicians.

Some names are not surprising. Former baseball star Alex Rodriguez wrote about quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Comedian Amy Poehler wrote about Maya Rudolph. Transgender activist Raquel Willis wrote about actor Elliot Page. Beninese music legend Angélique Kidjo wrote about Nigerian artist Burna Boy, who in turn wrote about rapper 21 Savage. Dua Lipa, Taraji P. Henson, and Coleman Domingo also all have a spot on the list.

But some names might be less familiar. Here’s a look at some of the people you may not know.

Shawn Fain, UAW President

During last fall’s auto workers strike, Shawn Fain, who had been sworn in as president of the United Auto Workers union less than six months prior, told his fellow auto workers something that stuck with President Joe Biden for months.

“In this union, the members are the highest authority,” Fain said, according to Biden. “In this country, the people are the highest authority.”

Fain, and all the work he did in winning historic wage increases for the UAW, represent the “hard-won success” that unions had in 2023, Biden states.

With the UAW’s lead, change has been made throughout the auto-maker industry. After the UAW’s win, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai — non-union companies — also raised wages. But even with the strike over, the UAW and Fain are still fighting, aiming for a four-day, 32-hour workweek.

“They remind us that when unions win, all workers benefit,” Biden says.

Motaz Azaiza, Palestinian photgrapher

At just 25 years of age, Motaz Azaiza is the youngest person on this year’s TIME list. For four months, the Palestinian photographer was “the world’s eyes and ears in his native Gaza,” posting pictures and chronicling the war to millions of followers on Instagram, writes TIME staff writer Yasmeen Serhan.

“Families displaced from homes, women mourning loved ones, a man trapped beneath the rubble. His images offered a glimpse into Gaza that few in the international press—which has been all but barred from accessing the Strip—could rival,” Serhan writes.

Jenni Hermoso, Spanish soccer player

When Jenni Hermoso and the Spanish Women’s National Team won the FIFA World Cup last summer, the last thing the forward expected was a kiss from her boss.

And yet, that’s what happened. As the world watched, Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish soccer federation, grabbed Hermoso’s face and kissed her — sparking a worldwide conversation about sexual harassment and consent. Rubiales was banned by FIFA for three years, and in January, Hermoso testified in a sexual assault probe against the former president.

Writing for TIME, American soccer player Mana Shim praised Hermoso’s bravery.

“Hermoso courageously told her truth, over and over again, despite efforts to silence her,” Shim said.

Sakshi Malik, Indian wrestler

Sakshi Malik is India’s first and only female wrestler to win an Olympic medal — taking home the bronze at 2016’s Olympics in Rio. But late last year, she quit the sport.

Malik was part of an outspoken group demanding the arrest and resignation of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, an important member of parliament and former chief of India’s wrestling federation who had been accused of sexually harassing women athletes, explains Nisha Pahuja, a documentary filmmaker.

The women’s fight lasted throughout 2023, eliciting attention from around the world. Finally, Singh was charged by Delhi police with assault, stalking and sexual harassment, all of which he denied. Though he was removed as the chief of the wrestling foundation, Singh was replaced by his close ally and business partner late last year, only reigniting the controversy.

“Upcoming female wrestlers will also face exploitation,” Malik said, in a press conference in December, following the replacement announcement. “If (Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s) business partner and a close aide is elected as the new president, I quit wrestling.”

The moment was an “emotional, public, and very brave act of defiance,” writes Pahuja.

“She did not, however, quit the battle,” she wrote. “Her light, and the light of all those standing against harassment, continues to shine.”

Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Russia’s opposition leader

The widow of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who died in February, Yulia Navalnaya has quickly picked up where her husband left off.

Just three days after his death, she posted an eight-minute long video to her husband’s social media, saying: “I don’t have the right to surrender. I ask you to share with me in rage.”

Navalny’s death sparked protests across Europe, particularly in capital cities such as Berlin and Paris, where gatherers stood outside Russian embassies with signs reading “Putin is a killer” and “Putin to the Hague.”

Through it all, Navalnaya has stood firm, calling her husband’s death a “murder” and acting as a unifying figure among Russian opposition forces.

Vice President Kamala Harris, writing for TIME, called Navalnaya “a courageous fighter” for “democratic values.”

“Navalnaya has vowed to continue her husband’s fight for justice and the rule of law, giving renewed hope to those working against corruption and for a free, democratic Russia,” Harris wrote. “And in so doing, she demonstrates exceptional selflessness and strength.”

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