Shortlisted for Harper’s Bazaar Netherlands Woman of the Year 2020

A post by Peter Jordens.

Three women with Caribbean roots appear on Harper’s Bazaar Netherlands’ shortlist for Woman of the Year 2020: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Samira Rafaela, and Zadie Smith. The shortlist consists of 14 individual women and one composite candidate: the women on the front lines in the ICUs. Harper’s Bazaar Netherlands selected these 15 candidates because “they made a difference in a year in which the world was upside down” and “they showed leadership in relation to COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, sustainability, or the need to rethink the world”.

This year there will be six awards: Rising Star, Lifetime Achievement, International, Business, People’s Choice, and of course Woman of the Year. Of the 15 candidates, eleven are based in the Netherlands (including Rafaela), two in the UK (including Smith) and two in the USA (including Ocasio Cortez). Here is what Harper’s Bazaar Netherlands writes about Ocasio Cortez, Rafaela and Smith.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ― This congresswoman from New York got verbally abused by a male colleague on the steps of the Capitol Building. She did not find this shocking, she said, as it had happened to her many times, as a woman. But in one heck of a speech in Congress that quickly went viral, she made short work of the insulting congressman, women-unfriendly men in general, and men who let other men get away with it. “Having a wife and daughter doesn’t make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man,” was one of the key phrases in Ocasio Cortez’s speech.

Samira Rafaela ― This versatile, progressive, feminist Member of the European Parliament has an Islamic, Jewish, Caribbean, Dutch and West African background. She uses her influence in Parliament to ensure that European legislation takes the interests of minority groups into account. She also advocates for more women in top positions in the European Union. Rafaela wants Brussels to release money for the Dutch Caribbean islands of Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten whose tourism-based economies are suffering because of the corona crisis: “We must do all we can to stay healthy and to safeguard our economy, including that of the islands.”

Zadie Smith ― This British writer, daughter of a Jamaican mother and British father, has had a successful career since her 2000 debut novel, White Teeth. She is also a professor of Creative Writing at New York University, but like many others, she was at home during the lockdown. The result was Intimations, a collection of essays released by Penguin Random House in July, which explores “ideas and questions prompted by an unprecedented situation.” Smith: “There will be many books written about the year 2020: historical, analytic, political and comprehensive accounts. This is not any of those. What I’ve tried to do is organize some of the feelings and thoughts that events, so far, have provoked in me, in those scraps of time the year itself has allowed.”

The above text is a compilation of translated extracts from the original announcement at and the profiles at, all in Dutch. Selection, editing and translation by Peter Jordens.

The pictures are from; the credits are:

Ocasio Cortez – NurPhoto/Getty Images

Rafaela – Frank Ruiter

Smith – Brian Dowling/Getty Images

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