To honour the upcoming International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating people who inspire us. Trailblazers and role-models – these women remind us that there’s no limit to what we can become, and if our list could be endless it would include every phenomenal female-identifying person in each of our lives. We picked just five of our current favourite heroines in headlines, and a quote from each to get you inspired.
THE OLYMPIAN: Erin Jackson
“Just trying to do the best I can”
Four months between beginning training and making the USA Olympic long-track speed skating team is superhuman. It follows that Erin Jackson, the first African-American woman on her team, is Wonder Woman. With a background in roller derby and inline skating, Erin quickly found her way around a rink, but nobody could have anticipated the jaw-dropping alacrity she exhibited in making Olympic qualification look absolutely effortless. Truth is, it’s not, and her grit and dedication is what has earned her that place. To watch Erin skate is to be inspired; to know her story is to remember that we never fully know what we are capable of.
THE CHANGE MAKER: Emma Gonzalez
“WE CALL BS!”
Emma Gonzalez survived the Florida High School shooting in February, and shook the media days after as a voice in the new resistance against ineffective gun control. School shootings happen frequently in America, and every time opportunities for gun reform are missed. The #MarchForOurLives protest created by Emma and her schoolmates indicates that her generation will be doing things differently. As a high school student and a girl facing down an internet full of trolls, when Emma delivered a speech before the media she proved that courage has nothing to do with age, nor does backbone or sense of justice. In the name of her murdered classmates she called out POTUS, the NRA, and congress, armed with statistics and determination. We look up to Emma for daring to cause a scene, and refusing to be hushed.
THE AMBASSADOR: Emma Watson
“Being a feminist… is an interrogation of self”
After her speech at the United Nations meeting in 2014, Emma Watson received backlash for not acknowledging the specific struggles of women different to her, such as WOC or members of the LGBTQ+ community. Emma was criticised as a “white feminist” – a woman, often white, straight, and conventionally attractive, who essentially benefits from every privilege available and speaks about inequality… when it affects her. Years later, this January Emma delivered a graceful demonstration of her commitment to inclusive feminism, and (we really admire her for this), the importance of an open mind and the responsibility we all have to self-educate. In a book club recommendation, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Emma typed a self-reflection on what she has learned, and encouraged others to examine their own thinking and commit to doing better when called out.
THE ACTIVIST: Amika George
“No girl should be missing school because she can’t afford to have a period”
Fighting sexist laws by moonlight, studying in school by daylight, Amika George is rallying troops. Why? Amika created the #FreePeriods movement when she discovered that schoolgirls across the UK who were already registered for free school lunches were without access to free sanitary products. #FreePeriods calls for Theresa May to make period products free to girls in low-income families, because the only alternatives are for young women to tape socks into their underwear, or to stay home and miss entire weeks of education – starting life disadvantaged. Supporters of her movement are Adwoa Aboah, Tanya Burr, and Labour MP Paula Sherrif. Thank you Amika, for breaking the silence on Period Poverty!
THE SELF-STARTER: Dounia
“I’m so glad that I’m unconventional”
Dounia is a success story all on her own. Gifted with the voice of an actual angel and the brain of a wordsmith, raised between Queens and Morocco and still a teenager, Dounia turned her phone into a handheld tool for world domination. Longtime followers of her twitter will remember the first sultry freestyles the musician posted over R&B tracks and hip-hop samples. Dounia is a lesson in being your own best friend and cheerleader; her fearless authenticity and unapologetic confidence brought her into her own limelight, and now she’s gracing TIME and DAZED. Since her freestyles gained momentum, the rest was history. Dounia is not only a huge advocate for #BodyPositivity and girl power, but she’s a perfect example of how you can take the reins of fate into your own beautifully manicured hands.
These are just a few of our role models, but we’re so proud to watch a new era of educated, outspoken women arrive, and the future keeps getting brighter.
Words by Esmeralda Voegele-Downing