Cookies on oxfam

We use cookies to ensure that you have the best experience on our website. If you continue browsing, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all our cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Accept

Jessica Ennis and The Queen tie for poll position when inspiring the nation's women

Posted by Georgia Best Senior PR Manager

15th Feb 2013

Jessica Ennis and The Queen find themselves in a dead heat for first place in a survey of high profile British females that women find inspiring.  More than two fifths of British women (42%) chose Olympic gold medallist Ennis and The Queen as inspirational figures when asked to choose from a list as part of a poll for Oxfam's Get Together fundraising campaign - the UK's biggest celebration of International Women's Day (8th March).  

It is the second time in one week that The Queen has topped a list of influential women, having been voted in first place by a panel of judges in the BBC Woman's Hour Power List.  In contrast, Jessica Ennis did not feature in the top 100 Power List, but has instead received a vote of confidence from the British public through the Oxfam survey.  The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who was also missing from the Power List, takes a prominent seventh place in the Oxfam survey with 25% women identifying her as inspiring.

The YouGov survey reveals British women are inspired by a broad range of talents in their fellow females, as joint third place is shared by Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren and bestselling author J.K. Rowling (both 39%), followed by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley (35%). 

Following on from last year's Olympic successes, sport was a strong source of inspiration for women with Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds (31%) and BBC sports presenter Clare Balding (23%) featuring in the top ten results alongside Jessica Ennis. 

When asked about the groups of women they find most inspiring, British women tend to look closer to home, with more than a fifth of women (21%) saying female friends and family are their biggest source of inspiration.

Samantha Scott, Get Together fundraising manager for Oxfam said: "Following on from the Woman's Hour Power List, it is interesting to see that British women are inspired by more than just influence.  Although there are some parallels with the individuals that the Woman's Hour panel voted for, it is hugely positive to see other women such as Jessica Ennis so highly rated, showing how strongly women value personal dedication and achievement. This is further reinforced by women also placing an emphasis on drawing inspiration from real women they know closer to home.  

Oxfam's Get Together is all about celebrating inspiring women from all walks of life around International Women's Day by doing something you enjoy with friends or family to raise money for Oxfam's work with women living in poverty worldwide.  Whether it's an Ennis-inspired sports quiz in the local pub or right Royal knees up at home, we hope the UK will be marking the occasion in style."

Last year, thousands of people took part in Get Together events across the UK, with many more expected this year.  To find out more about and register to hold an Oxfam Get Together visit


For further press information contact Georgia Best in the Oxfam press office: / 01865 472375

Notes to editors:

The top ten results of the high profile British women that British women consider to be inspiring are:

1= Jessica Ennis (42%) and The Queen (42%)

3= Dame Helen Mirren (39%) and J.K Rowling (39%)  

4 Joanna Lumley (35%)

5 Ellie Simmonds (31%)

6 Kate Middleton (25%)

8= Clare Balding (23%) and Adele (23%)

10= Karren Brady (20%) and Annie Lennox (20%)

Statistics about women globally:

  • Every day, 800 women die from pregnancy-related causes.  Over 99% of these deaths are in developing countries - and most are avoidable.1
  • In Northern Africa, more than three-quarters (79%) of the children not in school are girls.2
  • Globally, women occupy only 25% of senior management positions.2
  • Violence against women is responsible for more deaths and disability of women aged 15-44 globally than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.3
  1. World Bank, World Development Indicators and Global Development Finance, 2012
  2. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012
  3. UN Women Violence Against Women Prevalence Data, 2011


About Oxfam:

Oxfam is a global humanitarian, development and campaigning organisation working with others to overcome poverty and suffering.  Oxfam is now working in 55 countries on a diverse range of projects, from providing emergency water sources to supporting community health projects.  Women are at the heart of all Oxfam's work.  Oxfam has more than 700 high street shops across the UK selling donated fashion, books, music, homewares and new ethical products.  It is supported by a workforce of 22,000 volunteers.  Oxfam GB is affiliated to Oxfam International, a global confederation of 17 independent Oxfams which share the same purpose. To find out more visit

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1478 British women. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 4th February 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


Blog post written by Georgia Best

Senior PR Manager

More by Georgia Best