International Women's Day 2019

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To celebrate International Women's Day 2019, the team shared the women they most admire

The Queen by Emily 

There are so many inspirational women that have had an impact on me. My top two are Queen Elizabeth and Emmeline Pankhurst. The Queen for so many obvious reasons like her commitment to the vows she made at her Coronation which have never wavered. Now aged 92, she has been married for over 70 years (longer than any other British Monarch) and in 2015, she became the UK’s longest reigning monarch. During all this time she has never given an opinion in a world where everyone can’t stop giving theirs. A role model for working mothers, she has four children and always looks incredible. Growing up in a century where our reigning Monarch has been a woman has certainly made me feel empowered.  She is phenomenal and an inspiration, not only to woman but to everyone.

Michelle Obama by Claire

She is storming the stage at the moment, so I am jumping on an enormous train of awe, respect and amazement for this lady. Reading Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ recently was an inspiration to me as it has been for so many.  This lady has been totally focussed on her education, she has been true to her roots, she has shown immense kindness and compassion without patronising those she directs it at.  She has genuinely striven to use her position and high profile to make a real difference and push for the things she believes in.  Her focus on education, health, human rights, poverty and homelessness is to be admired and if you need a positive outlook on the world today from someone intelligent, compassionate and fair, this is the lady.

Penny Chenery, Owner of the Triple Crown Winner Secretariat by Hetty

When race horse Secretariat stormed home to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in 1973, he became a national hero and a Triple Crown Winner. In 1973, America was in an emotional slump, it was the time of the Vietnam War, the Watergate and Nixon Scandal and people were looking for something wholesome to admire.

Penny Chenery and her ‘Big-Red horse’ defied the odds. On the death of her father she took over his thoroughbred farm, with little knowledge and limited funds. She won Secretariat via losing a coin toss and went on to become one of the few prominent women, at the time, in sport. Penny’s belief in Secretariat and sheer determination to continue her father’s legacy saw her initially ridiculed by the press, her marriage breakdown and a heart rendering struggle to find respect in a male dominated sport.

In 1973, the big red horse running in white and blue and his inspirational owner challenged the ordinary and lifted America, giving hope to the people during a time of uncertainty.

Malala Yousafzai by Flo

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani education advocate who, at the age of 17, became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. At the age of 15, a Taliban gunman shot Malala in head when she was travelling home from school. She survived and has continued to speak out on the importance of education, becoming an icon in the battle for girls’ rights. She has since made speeches to the United Nations, published a book, and continues to advocate for equal rights.

In her UN speech she famously said: “The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women... Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”

She now studies politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University and continues to urge action against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. ‘Malala Day’ is held on July 12th (her birthday) and the day she spoke at the United Nations. The day is held in honour of the young leader’s activism to ensure education for all children.

“No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach, or children fear to learn. Together, we can change the picture.”

JK Rowling by Rebecca

JK Rowling is truly inspiring to me.  A single mum who was struggling financially she got the idea for Harry Potter when she was on a train to Manchester. Not afraid to fight for her dream, she went through a number of rejections before her books were published - testament to her drive and resilience.  As the world’s first billionaire author, I love that she still communicates with her fans and has taken up so many charitable causes, in fact she actually lost her billionaire status as she has given so much of her earnings to charity.  More recently her dry sense of humour and sharp come backs on Twitter always keeps me entertained.

Hermione Jean Granger by Flora

Hermione is epic and we should all take inspiration from her.

Overcoming the discrimination of being ‘muggle’ born, Hermione taught herself about magic before even arriving at school. Despite being teased by other pupils and one of her teachers (Snape), she continued to put her hand up in class and her thirst for knowledge is huge. Never trying to dumb herself down to fit in.

She is incredibly kind, befriending people other might find odd, (including Grawp), campaigning for the fair treatment of house elves, using her knowledge to help others.

Her resilience, standing up for what she believes in, including breaking the school rules – something she is deeply uncomfortable about - in order to ultimately do something right. She is also an incredible loyalty to her friends. Not afraid of who she is, and I think has probably inspired a whole generation of children to learn and study in school, and not worry so much about being perceived as ‘uncool’. She is flawed - insecure and terrified of failing, but really it makes her try harder.

All from JK Rowling’s excellent mind.

Emma Watson by Lizzy

Emma Watson has my vote for my Inspirational Woman. Using her fame in the spotlight to highlight key issues that our economy currently faces and pushing for gender equality worldwide. Despite discussing somewhat serious topics, she still presents herself in a warm and down to earth light which many can relate to. All this in addition to an already successful modelling and acting career – she’s already achieved so much at a young age.

Jameela Jamil by Bryony

I’ve been lucky enough to have always been surrounded by strong women who have been amazing role models for me growing up. More recently I have really respected and been inspired by the movement and work that Jameela Jamil is doing predominantly on social media. In particular, she is calling out the media and brands for setting unrealistic beauty expectations through the use of excessive photoshopping, negative advertising campaigns etc all of which contribute to creating toxic environments for women.  I think it is especially important for the younger generations to have someone pointing out to them that everything they see online, or in printed media isn’t actually real life and things that they should be striving to achieve!

Meryl Streep by Alice

Meryl Streep inspires me as she is not only one of the greatest actresses of all time but she also contributes to multiple charites worldwide. Her generous contributions to Equality Now reflect her outstanding commitment to human rights, helping to end violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world.

Meryl Streep has played some of the most iconic characters of all time including my personal favourite performance where she played Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. She holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations of any actor and she has won 3 Oscars for her outstanding performances.

Paula Radcliffe by Kath

Most people know, and are inspired by, Paula Radcliffe because of her excellence as a runner. She is the fastest female marathoner of all time and has held the Women’s World Marathon Record in a time of 2:15 since 2003. She is also a three-time winner of the London Marathon.

She has dedicated her life to running and training. To be that passionate and devoted to something is to me, hugely inspiring. Her willingness and mental strength is something which can inspire everyone, not just runners but anyone who feels they have to endure anything in life.  As well as her brilliance in running she is inspiring to women all over the world because she is prepared to stand up for what she believes in and gets involved in topical discussions and issues regarding running and women’s sport. Many athletes can shy away from political issues as they believe it doesn’t concern them. However, it is vital for us to consider sport and political issues together and as one.

Nicola Clarke by Char

My friend Nicola Clarke gets my vote, for setting up MY BLACK DOG, a mental health charity that is ‘biting back at mental illness’. It is a service that supports people suffering from enduring mental illness, run by volunteers and real people who have grappled with suicide, self-harm and paralysing mental illness, offering an honest conversation to its users through its direct messaging service.

Read our blog about My Black Dog

Baroness Trumpington by Rosie

Jean Barker, Baroness Trumpington, left school at 15, having never taken an exam but was fluent in French, Italian and German. It was her knowledge of languages that saw her, at 18 years old, become a code breaker at Bletchley Park during World War II. She transcribed messages from German submarines for Alan Turing’s codebreakers. After the war, Baroness Trumpington spent time in America. She served as an agriculture minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major and became a Tory peer in 1980. In 2011, she became something of an internet sensation when a video of her giving Lord King the v-sign after he made a quip about her age. I love the stories about her, her intelligence, her sharp wit, sense of fun and her hard work. I imagine she had some amazing stories to tell!