Today, 8th March, is International Women’s Day and the theme this year is ‘breaking the bias’. We continue to strive for an equal world, free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination and where women can thrive and create healthy, strong communities through excellent leadership.
Here are some of the most inspiring and influential women in history contributing to real progress that will benefit so many in years to come:
1 Climate Activist – Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg raised the profile of the climate crisis by inspiring millions across the world to take actions and spoke to world leaders at Climate Change events.
- Nominated for Nobel peace prize
- Speaks around the world to younger generations to take action
- founded Fridays for Future
2 Amanda Gorman – National Youth Poet Laureate
Watching Amanda Gorman at the read “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration was probably one of the most incredible moments I’ve seen.
Amanda is an American poet and activist and her.
3 Politician and Activist – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
AOC is a formidable character in the nicest possibleway. Taking office at just 29 makes her the youngest person ever to serve in the United States Congress.
She supports Medicare for all, tuition free for public college, a Green New Deal and Workplace democracy.
Her questions to Mark Zukerberg of Facebook was priceless. She is an inspiration for all girls and boys wanting to make changes in the USA.
4 Malala Fund – Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai was shot on her way to School. She came to the UK for surgery and has since gone on to help thousands of girls gain an education.
Now a Nobel Peace prize laureate.
5 Former first lady – Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama
Michelle Obama was an excellent role model as first black American First Lady in the White House.
I admired her greatly for her strength of character and how she presented herself and her family to the world.
She launched a series of successful campaigns and First Lady.
- Lets move was an initiative to tackle child obesity and she planted a vegetable garden in the White House.
- Joining forces with Jill Biden was a campaign for all Americans to help and support service personnel and their families.
- Reach Higher was an initiative to urge all young people to go into higher education after leaving school.
- Let girls learn is an initiative to help young girls gain access to quality education that empowers them to achieve their potential.
In 2008 she was named woman of the year in Time Magazine.
6 UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous
Sima Bahous has 35 years of leadership experience at the grass roots championing women and girls, gender equality and youth empowerment. Advocate for quality education, poverty alleviation and inclusive governance.
She has experience in addressing discrimination and violence and promoting soci-economic development towards the achievement of sustainable development goals.
Ms. Bahous served as Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations in New York and Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the United Nations Development Programme from 2012 to 2016 and Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Development Sector at the League of Arab States, from 2008 to 2012.
She also worked for UNICEF and with a number of United Nations and civil society organizations, and taught development and communication studies at different universities in Jordan.
7 The Queen II
The Queens coronation was on 2 June 1953 in Westminster Abbey when the Princess was just 27 years old with representatives of 129 nations in attendance.
You can never under estimate the power of influence and I think The Queen Elizabeth’s legacy will be that of her profound longevity and her stoic influence on the world, even if subltly done.
She is head of the Commonwealth consisting of 54 nations. She helped to decolonize many nations in the commonwealth to become truly independent.
She is the longest serving monarch in British history.
8 Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney
Amal Clooney is a human rights lawyer who is currently working as a special adviser to the International Criminal Court prosecutor on Darfur. She quit her job as UK special envoy on media freedoms due to the Governments plans to break International Law over Brexit.
Amal claims her role is waging justice for victims of human rights abuses.
Waging Justice for Women is the flagship program designed to reform discrimination laws and increase accountability for gender based abuses.
Cases Amal has worked on:
- Worked with Greek Government to have the ancient Elgin Marbles return to Greece from the British Musuem
- She represented Mohamad Fahmy, a Canadian Al Jazeera journalist who was detained in Egypt
- She represented former President of Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and won her case against alleged exploiting of state funds. She was released due to insufficient evidence.
- Defended former Maldives President Mohamad Nasheed after being convicted of terrorism. He has since been given political asylum in the UK.
9 Chemist and Astronaut Helen Sharman
Helen was the first British woman in history in space. Project Juno was a privately funded project and Helen was tasked with taking medical and agricultural tests and her mission lasted 8 days before arriving safely back in the UK.
She broke 3 records: First British Cosmonaut, First British person in space, First Western European person in space.
10 Prime Minister of New Zealand – Jacinda Ardern
I admire this woman for her complete devotion to ‘doing the right thing’ for her country and to protect and support the citizens of New Zealand. She acts swiftly in a crisis and supports those effected i.e. the Whakaari eruption, the terrorist attack and locking down the country when covid hit.
Here are some of her achievements:
- Supporting those who suffered from the terrorist attack with so much genuine humility almost won her a Nobel peace prize.
- She want onto to make semi automatic weapons illegal in New Zealand.
- Lifting children out of poverty
- Government lifted 66,500 children out of poverty in in 2021
- As a result of income support changes made by the Government since late 2017, including Budget 2021 initiatives, around 110,000 families and whānau with children will be, on average, $175 a week better off, increasing to $207 per week during the 2022 winter period.
- Tackling the house crisis
- State house programme pledge to build 8,000 state homes
- She pushed to put Paris Climate targets into law, showing the rest of the world that their actions speak louder than words.
- Banned plastic bags
- She is also planning on banning single use plastic
- Supporting those who suffered from the terrorist attack with so much humility
- Her Covid policy kept the mortality rates down
- Tacking domestic violence – victims to receive 10 days paid leave by law.
- Made stangulation a seperate law and pledged to continue to work with agencies on domestic voilence
- Education changes
- All secondary school children will learn about climate change as and optional curriculum and introducing New Zealand history as a compulsory subject.
- Increased the quota for refugees
Women in History
There are many women that will never be forgotten, those that have left a legacy so profound that they have changed minds and changed the world forever and we are forever grateful. With the war in Ukraine foremost in our minds it is worth remembering and the heroic Women in War that helped to defeat the enemy. Their bravery is remarkable.
1 Princess Diana
We all loved Princess Diana for her humility she showed to others. Those moments she had with ordinary people.
- International campaign to ban land mines
- Helped to raise AIDS awareness
- patron of the British Deaf Association
- Listed as being amongst the list of 100 most important people belonging to the 20th century by the TIME magazine in the year 1999
2 Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter was an author, illustrator, conservationist, naturalist, socialist and reformer. Probably best known for hr book The Tales of Peter Rabbit, she was also highly regarded for her work the field of mycology.
She wrote 30 books, but was also a keen breeder of cattle and land preservation.
According to the National Trust,
“she supported the efforts of the National Trust to preserve not just the places of extraordinary beauty but also those heads of valleys and low grazing lands that would be irreparably ruined by development.”
3 Emmeline Pankhurst
The younger generation need to keep learning about Emmeline Pankhurst as she was influential in the lives women have today.
Born in Manchester, Emmeline was probably one of the early political activists, a revolutionary of her time.
She was the brains behind the suffragette movement, helping women gain the right to vote.
Time named her as one of the 100 most influential women on the 20th century quoting.
“She shook society into a new pattern for which there was no going back.”
In 1903 she formed the Womens Social and Policital Union (WSPP) but in later years she joined the Conservative Party. She died just before the legal age to vote came down from 30 to 21 years for women.
4 Florence Nightingale
The founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was a social reformer and known as “the lady with the lamp” for her work nursing soldiers during the night.
She was the pionneer of modern nursing and founded her nursing school at St Thomas Hospital
5 Jane Austen
The six main novels associated with Jane Austen are timeless. They are a critique of the British landed gentry from her eyes in 1800.
The theme of her books are often around a womans duty or expectation on finding a husband with good financial and social status.
Many of her books were made into movies such as Emma and Pride and Prejudice.
6 Marie Stopes
Little known Marie Stopes achieved a huge amount for women not least opening the first birth control clinic in the United Kingdom.
She wrote a book called Married Love published in 1918 about how she thought married love should be. The follow up was Wise Parenthood: A book for married people.
She was regarded as ahead of her times.
she also created a pamphlet for A letter to working mothers on how to have a health children and avoid weakening pregnancies it was free of charge.
7 Nancy Wake
Nurse and journalist that joined the French resistance then SOE in WW2.
“her irrepressible, infectious, high spirits were a joy to everyone who worked with her”
8 Odette Hallowes
Odette was an agent of the SOE in the Second World War. She worked as a courier for the Spindle Network.
She was trained to work with the French resistance and sent to establish a safe house for agents, but the Germans obtained a list of about 200 supporters to the network so she became a courier and attend air drops. She moved to the French Alps where she was eventually captured by a spy hunter.
Sansom testified against the prison guards charged with war crimes at the 1946 Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials, which resulted in Suhren’s execution in 1950. Roy and Odette’s marriage was dissolved in 1946 and she married Peter Churchill in 1947
9 British Operations Executive (SOE) – Violette Szabo
Recipient of the George Cross.
She enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) then trained as a field agent in the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).
Szabo was fluent in French and was commissioned as a section leader in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, often used as a cover for female agents.
On 5th April 1944, Szabo was parachuted into German occupied France. It was Szabo that was able to inform the British that a circuit of over 120 members had been exposed and her reports into local factories producing German war goods was intelligence use for allied targeted bombing.
Szabo’s second mission was in Limoges in early June 1944, immediately following D-Day. She was sent to co-ordinate the activities of the local maquis in sabotaging communication lines during German attempts to stem the Normandy landings. She was captured, interrogated and was killed.
10 Maria Krystyna Janina Skarbek
Polish secret agent Maria Skarbek was the first agent to serve for Britain in WW2 and was awarded the George Medal, the OBE and the Croix de Guerre for her wartime exploits.
Skarbek started her mission in Budapest posing as a journalist, then she skied across the Carpathian Mountains into Nazi occupied Poland. In Poland organised the supply of funds and propaganda to the resistance and helping people to escape. She was also able to pass on critical intelligence that impressed Churchill so much she became his most prominent spy.
Once captured, she was able to escape by an faking illness by biting on her own tongue.
On another mission she single handedly secured the defection of an entire German garrison and on another she was instrumental in the release of 2 agents and her SOE commander.
Women are a force for good, they are revolutionaries who make decisions that impact the many, not the few. Women should be encouraged, supported and recognised so our world can continue to be a place of inclusion and love.
There are many incredible women doing great work around the world, helping others and striving for a better world so on International Women’s Day we salute and say thank you to women inspiring future generations.