Twitterati 2015: The Women in Foreign Policy Edition

By: /
December 23, 2015

This year, OpenCanada celebrates the contributions of women in foreign policy. 

From top-notch journalists covering international affairs to policymakers addressing the world’s most urgent crises to organizations furthering gender equality, here are the top 75 social media influencers you should be following. 

Get to know each one with our interactive list below. 

  • advocacy

    Adrienne Clarkson

    Adrienne Clarkson is a former Governor General of Canada, as well as a former CBC journalist, and a co-founder of the Institute of Canadian Citizenship. She was also the 2014 Massey Lecturer, with her talk “Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship.” She is a very frequent tweeter and commentator on #cdnfp.
  • advocacy

    Anne-Marie Slaughter

    Anne-Marie Slaughter is the president and CEO of New America and was a former Princeton professor and a former director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department. She actively tweets about gender parity and international development.
  • advocacy

    Avril Benoît

    Avril Benoît is a former CBC broadcaster and currently the director of communications and fundraising with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders). She regularly tweets about international humanitarian aid efforts and, more recently, updates on the recent airstrike on an MSF hospital in Kunduz.
  • advocacy

    Bessma Momani

    Bessma Momani is an analyst and commentator on the Middle East and professor of international affairs at the Balsillie School at the University of Waterloo. She is also a CIGI senior fellow and regularly tweets about news coming out of the Middle East.
  • advocacy

    Carolyn Miles

    Carolyn Miles is the president and CEO of Save the Children, an organization dedicated to creating a better life for children. Miles is a champion of kids’ rights to survive and thrive. She is a frequent tweeter and shares stories about children around the world who are struggling with everything from child marriage to education.
  • advocacy

    Christine Cheng

    Christine Cheng is a lecturer of war studies at King’s College London. She focuses on conflict, development, politics and gender equality in her work and in her tweets. She regularly engages with colleagues and her followers in political debate.
  • advocacy

    Christine Lagarde

    Christine Lagarde is the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She frequently tweets to her followers about economics and the way it impacts inequality.
  • advocacy

    Hadeel Al-Shalchi

    Hadeel Al-Shalchi is an Iraqi-Canadian journalist and a researcher on Syria for Human Rights Watch. She has previously worked with CBC Radio and was a former Middle East correspondent with the Associated Press and Reuters.
  • advocacy

    Juliette Kayyem

    Juliette Kayyem was a former Boston Globe columnist who wrote about national security and foreign affairs. She is a lecturer at Harvard and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy. She tweets everyday and usually extends a conversation beyond 140 characters, discussing a topic in various, numbered tweets.
  • advocacy

    Lisa Curtis

    Based out of Washington, Lisa Curtis uses Twitter to share news coming out of South Asian countries. She is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and focuses on American security relationships with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • advocacy

    Manal al-Sharif

    In one of the most dangerous places to be an activist, Manal al-Sharif is up to the task when it comes to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. She started the “Women2Drive” campaign that challenged the Saudi government to let women drive. She tweets in Arabic.
  • advocacy

    Melinda Gates

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is known around the world as an organization dedicated to philanthropy and helping people from across the world live better lives. Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the foundation, is an active Twitter user.
  • advocacy

    Melissa Fleming

    Melissa Fleming is the head of communications for the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees. She describes her tweets as “highlights [of] the stories of human suffering and resilience I witness everyday.”
  • advocacy

    Naomi Klein

    Naomi Klein is a Canadian author, social activist and filmmaker. Among her accomplishments are The Take, a documentary about Argentina’s occupied factories, and books No Logo, The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything.
  • advocacy

    Samantha Nutt

    Samantha Nutt is a humanitarian, founder of War Child and author of Damned Nations. She describes herself as obsessive about foreign affairs in her Twitter bio.
  • advocacy

    Saskia Sassen

    Saskia Sassen is a sociologist well known for her analysis of globalization and international human migration. She is the author of Expulsions and tweets almost every day to her followers in English or Spanish about international justice, economics and globalization.
  • advocacy

    Shiza Shahid

    Shiza Shahid is the co-founder of The Malala Fund and advocates for women’s rights and education for women. She describes herself as a believer of “empowering women and girls through business, philanthropy and innovation.” Shahid backs that up with her daily tweets about conferences and events she attends, speaking about enabling women and girls around the world.
  • advocacy

    Valerie Belair-Gagnon

    Valerie Belair-Gagnon is the executive director and research scholar at the Yale Information Society Project. She tweets multiple times a day and regularly speaks about digital media, Internet governance and journalism.
  • advocacy

    Zainab Salbi

    Zainab Salbi is an author, women’s rights activist and founder and former CEO of Women for Women International. She has written and spoken about violence against women, especially during wartime, and tweets multiple times a day about the struggles that women around the world face.
  • advocacy

    Zainab al-Khawaja

    Zainab al-Khawaja is a Bahraini human-rights activist. She is anti-oppressive governments and pro-peaceful resistance. She tweets under the name “Angry Arabiya.”
  • media

    Adrienne Arsenault

    Adrienne Arsenault is a senior correspondent for CBC based out of Toronto. She recently won the News and Documentary Emmy Award for her coverage the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.
  • media

    Angilee Shah

    Angilee Shah is a freelance journalist and blogger on foreign politics, culture, global health and women’s rights. She is the social media manager at Public Radio International (PRI) and has used Periscope, pictures and video to engage with her audience.
  • media

    Celeste Hicks

    Celeste Hicks is a freelance journalist and former correspondent with the BBC, focusing on politics in Africa. She is the author of Africa’s New Oil and is now based in Casablanca. Despite her base in Morocco, her tweets focus primarily on Africa and China’s connection with its oil industry.
  • media

    Christiane Amanpour

    Christiane Amanpour is the chief international correspondent for CNN, host of CNN’s international interview program Amanpour and the former global affairs anchor of ABC News. Amanpour’s feed is filled with interviews, tweets, and articles about topics from around the world.
  • media

    Elmira Bayrasli

    Elmira Bayrasli is an author and co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted. On her feed, she challenges gender inequality in both foreign policy and the media. She is a visiting fellow at the New America Foundation and is a lecturer at New York University.
  • media

    Iona Craig

    Iona Craig is an independent journalist who has in the past worked for BBC Newsnight and Bloomberg News. She has been based in Yemen since 2010 and is a great source of onsite tweets and coverage of the country. She is frequently interviewed for her expertise of the region.
  • media

    Janine di Giovanni

    Janine di Giovanni is the Middle East editor of Newsweek and contributing editor of Vanity Fair. She also recently became an Ochberg fellow at Columbia University and is an associate fellow at the Geneva Centre for Policy Studies. Most of her tweets are about events in the Middle East.
  • media

    Jina Moore

    Jina Moore is a global women’s rights reporter for Buzzfeed and is currently based in Nairobi. She frequently tweets about gender issues and drives discussion with her followers.
  • media

    Katharine Viner

    Katharine Viner is the first female and current editor-in-chief of The Guardian. She first joined the paper in 1997 as a writer and has worn many hats since then. Her Twitter feed is filled with posts and links to various Guardian articles.
  • media

    Laura Rozen

    Laura Rozen is a journalist who reports on the Middle East and Washington for Al-Monitor’s Back Channel. She has written for Yahoo! News, Politico and Foreign Policy. She retweets more than tweets but fills her timeline with compelling international news stories.
  • media

    Lauren Bohn

    Lauren Bohn is the Middle East correspondent for Ground Truth and the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted and SchoolCycle. Her feed is filled with tweets and articles about equality, issues facing refugees and female empowerment.
  • media

    Lisa Goldman

    Lisa Goldman is the contributing editor/co-founder of 972mag. She has been writing about the Middle East, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for more than a decade. Debate on the subject sparks a lot of heated tweets and replies on her feed from both sides of the argument. She now lives in Brooklyn after moving from Jaffa and is also the Director of the Israel-Palestine Initiative for New America Foundation.
  • media

    Lydia Polgreen

    Lydia Polgreen is the New York Times reporter for South Africa, and former West Africa bureau chief. Her tweets challenge racial stereotypes and dissect American foreign policy, with the occasional humorous Drake reference thrown in.
  • media

    Lyse Doucet

    Heavily entrenched in what is happening in the Middle East, Canadian Lyse Doucet uses her international intelligence to inform and engage her followers. Doucet is the chief international correspondent for BBC News and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2014 for her contributions to British broadcast journalism.
  • media

    Michelle Shephard

    Toronto Star national security reporter Michelle Shephard uses her expansive reach to inform her followers about conflict in the Middle East and Canadian foreign policy. She is also the author of Decade of Fear, a book that discusses the world of national security since 9/11.
  • media

    Nahlah Ayed

    Nahlah Ayed is a CBC foreign correspondent. She curates a rich and insightful feed focusing on the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. She is the author of A Thousand Farewells, a novel based on her own experiences growing up in the Middle East and covering the complicated region.
  • media

    Orla Guerin

    Orla Guerin is an Irish foreign correspondent for BBC News and is based in Cairo. Guerin’s timeline is a great resource for on the ground information, pictures and tweets. She covers the Middle East, recently focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • media

    Sonia Paul

    Based out of India and the U.S., Sonia Paul has written for VICE, Al Jazeera, The New York Times and Foreign Policy. She is a journalist and editorial assistant at MediaShift, and tweets about issues facing India and the U.S.
  • media

    Stephanie Nolen

    Award-winning journalist Stephanie Nolen is the Latin America correspondent for The Globe and Mail and author of 28 Stories of Aids in Africa. She was the Globe’s former correspondent for South Asia and Africa, and drives conversation and debate on her Twitter feed about foreign policy and gender parity.
  • media

    Zanny Minton Beddoes

    Zanny Minton Beddoes is the first female and current editor-in-chief for The Economist. Her feed is filled with interesting articles, videos and mentions of The Economist. Beddoes is considered one of the most influential voices in financial and economic journalism.
  • organizations

    Association for Women’s Rights in Development

    With a special focus on sustainable development — combining human and environmental rights — the self-professed “only international feminist membership organization in the world” is great at highlighting stories of communities and individuals from across cultures.
  • organizations

    Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program

    With CFR’s new Women Around the World forum launched earlier in 2015, this account is gaining momentum. It mirrors the increasing recognition that women’s participation in all areas of society — politics and economy included — is vital for development. Though based in Washington, the group’s online focus is definitely international.
  • organizations

    European Women’s Lobby

    Based in Brussels, this group was created to promote and defend women’s interests at a European level. It now focuses on women’s economic independence, women in decision-making and immigration issues, among others.
  • organizations

    Foreign Policy Interrupted

    Foreign Policy Interrupted is an organization started by two women on this list, Elmira Bayrasli and Lauren Bohn, who are advocating for more media outlets to turn to women as sources of expertise and voices on foreign policy issues. FPI’s Twitter feed is a great source for finding women who understand international relations and can speak on global news.
  • organizations

    Global Fund for Women

    With an international board of directors, representing women from Senegal to Brazil to the Fiji Islands, this is one of the largest NGOs working on women’s rights. Much of its feed focuses on its own programming, including its fundraising needs, but it also shares many inspiring stories from its work on the ground.
  • organizations

    International Women’s Health Coalition

    The International Women’s Health Coalition is an organization that focuses on the sexual and reproductive rights of women around the world. Their Twitter account is rich with articles, interviews and video about their campaign and the ongoing struggle for women to own their own bodies.
  • organizations

    International Women’s Media Foundation

    While this group is based in the U.S., it advocates for more female voices in the media around the world, providing support, training and opportunities for female journalists far beyond the United States. Its Twitter feed is a great source to access those opportunities and to learn about the incredible work of women journalists globally.
  • organizations

    Make Every Woman Count

    The social media property of a blog dedicated to African women in development and political discourse, this is a must-follow for issues related to gender on the continent.
  • organizations

    Nobel Women’s Initiative

    Nearly 10 years old, the group was founded by six female Nobel Peace Laureates (there are 15 in the history of the prize). They use the recognition to shine a spotlight on the power of women around the world and those who work toward establishing more peaceful communities. The online feed highlights articles on women’s rights, statistics and individuals to be celebrated.
  • organizations

    PRO Mujeres

    A network based in Argentina and directly linked to new President Mauricio Macri but a great source for news on women’s rights in Latin America and widely followed.
  • organizations

    She Should Run

    As you might suspect, this group encourages women to run for political office. Its Twitter feed, though U.S. centric, specifically focuses on female leaders, quotes on leadership and analysis on the subject.
  • organizations

    Tech Women

    Run by the U.S. government, this group connects and supports women around the world in the STEM sector — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Its feed is populated with info on the program and deadlines not to miss for women interested in mentorship.
  • organizations

    UN Women

    Only five years old, this is the United Nations’ entity dedicated to the empowerment of women. Currently led by director Phumzile Mlambo (who tweets @phumzileunwomen), follow this feed for all things gender equality and to keep tabs on how the world’s leading governance body frames the issues.
  • organizations

    Women in Foreign Policy

    Women in Foreign Policy is a London-based online community/website which inspires young women to pursue a career in foreign policy. They feature women at any stage in their career on their website to help inspire girls and women everywhere to enter into foreign policy. They regularly tweet and retweet news about women in foreign policy and international news.
  • organizations

    Women in TO Politics

    A local group for women in the Toronto area, but a great example of how local women can support and inspire other local women, with a feed that keeps a close eye on municipal issues.
  • politics

    Atifete Jahjaga

    Atifete Jahjaga is the first female President of Kosovo and formerly the Deputy Director of the Kosovo Police, with the official rank of Major General. She tweets in Albanian, Serbian and English.
  • politics

    Catherine McKenna

    After unseating three-term NDP incumbent Paul Dewar in her Ottawa riding, Catherine McKenna was made Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in Canada's new Liberal cabinet. She is very active and tweets multiple times a day about Canadian public policy and her daily activities and trips around Canada.
  • politics

    Chrystia Freeland

    Chrystia Freeland is Canada’s Minister of International Trade and tweets about international politics from a Canadian perspective. She tweets almost every day and frequently posts photos from events and people of Toronto.
  • politics

    Dilma Rousseff

    Dilma Rousseff is the first female and current President of Brazil (despite calls for her impeachment). She mainly tweets in Portuguese to her 4.18 million followers. She has been called Brazil’s “Iron Lady.”
  • politics

    Eva Joly

    Eva Joly’s Twitter followers will see a tweet from the Norwegian-born French magistrate every few days. Joly represented her political party, Europe Écologie (“The Greens” in English), as its presidential candidate in the French 2012 elections. She tweets primarily in French.
  • politics

    Helen Clark

    Helen Clark is a former Prime Minister of New Zealand and current Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. She is incredibly active on Twitter and tweets multiple times a day about human development and foreign policy.
  • politics

    Hillary Clinton

    One of the most recognizable figures in government, it is no surprise that Hillary Clinton’s Twitter account boasts more than 4.5 million followers. She is the former U.S. Secretary of State, former First Lady and a 2016 presidential hopeful. She signs her own tweets with an “H” to differentiate her words from those tweeted by others who manage her active account.
  • politics

    Isobel Coleman

    Isobel Coleman is the U.S. Ambassador to the UN for Management and Reform. In her Twitter bio, she describes herself as a “champion of women and girls in the world,” and this comes through in her tweets about women’s role in foreign policy and peacekeeping.
  • politics

    Julia Gillard

    Julia Gillard was the former Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Australian Labor Party. She was the first woman to hold either position. Gillard has a team to help manage her account, however all tweets from her are signed with a “JG.”
  • politics

    Madeleine Albright

    Madeleine Albright was the first female Secretary of State, serving from 1997-2001. She wears many hats and is an author, businesswoman and currently a professor of international relations at Georgetown University. She is a frequent tweeter and shares photos on a regular basis.
  • politics

    Margot Wallström

    Increasingly known for advocating for a “feminist foreign policy,” Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs is an avid user of social media, not only on women’s rights — though she does bring the perspective into her comments often — but on international affairs in general.
  • politics

    Marriet Schuurman

    Marriet Schuurman is the NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. She was the former Netherlands representative to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. She speaks French, German and Russian, but she tweets to her followers primarily in English.
  • politics

    Michaëlle Jean

    The former Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean tweets regularly. She is the first female Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie, and tweets about foreign policy on topics as varied as presidential elections in Africa, culture in Tunis and the francophone community in Canada. The majority of her messages are in French.
  • politics

    Michelle Bachelet

    Michelle Bachelet is the President of Chile and was the first executive director of UN Women. She tweets multiple times a day in Spanish.
  • politics

    Nadia Sakkaf

    Nadia Sakkaf is the first female information minister in Yemen. Prior to this position, she was the first female editor-in-chief of the Yemen Times, Yemen’s leading English-language newspaper. Her Twitter feed is rich with information on Yemen and gave the world a play-by-play when Houthi rebels stormed the presidential palace in January.
  • politics

    Ngozi Okonji-Iweala

    Considered to be one of the most powerful women in the world, Ngozi Okonji-Iweala is the Minister of Finance of Nigeria. She focuses on women in economics in Africa, and frequently tweets about economic issues facing the continent.
  • politics

    Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

    Formerly South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is now the chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, the first woman to lead it. She tweets on events, crises and opportunities across Africa, from the issue of inequality to the importance of the Economic Community of West African States.
  • politics

    Pia Ahrenkilde

    Pia Ahrenkilde is the Director of the European Union Commission and former spokeswoman of the EU. She tweets about the state of Europe, European development and the current refugee crisis.
  • politics

    Samantha Power

    The former journalist and director of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy is now the U.S. Ambassador to the UN and one of the most engaged voices on all things global.
  • politics

    Susan Rice

    Susan Rice is the current National Security Advisor and former United States Ambassador to the UN. She is active on Twitter and posts about about American foreign and public policy.