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'The 6 amazing women I'm telling my daughters about this International Women's Day.'

As a woman, the mother of two girls, and just simply, as a person, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day that matters significantly to me. In my opinion it should be a day that matters significantly to everyone because it is, as the IWD websites states, a “global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women” and let’s be honest – women (most women) are pretty damn amazing and undoubtedly worth celebrating.

March 8 is a date prominently marked on our calendar at home, highlighted in purple and green for extra impact (and very thematic of course). IWD is an occasion that I utilise to generate discussion with my two girls, including the history of the date, why it came to be, the issue of gender inequality and many other aspects related to it.

My girls are young, so these discussions aren’t too complex, but they are enough that they are aware of the struggle women have faced and still do face on the path for gender equality.

This is what it would look like if a man lived like a woman for a day.

Video by MMC

As well as discussion on the ‘heavier’ (yet important) side of IWD, we also utilise March 8 to celebrate the kick arse women that have been brave, strong, resilient and who have pioneered the way for others. We commemorate the brilliant, real life, role models for our kids to look up to and share their stories.

While all women will be celebrated on IWD (as they should be), here are five of the fabulous (and perhaps lesser known) women that I am sharing with my girls this IWD to showcase the unique and special ways women from around the world have impacted our lives today:

Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochran)

Nellie was an investigative journalist in the 1800’s long before women were commonplace in a news room. She launched her own career by penning a rebuttal to a male editor’s article that labelled women a “monstrosity”. She was only 18 at the time.

As well as forging a highly successful career in journalism, Nellie set out to travel the world in 80 days like the 1873 Jules Verne adventure story. Being the kick arse woman she was, it only took Nellie 72!

Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochran)
Nellie Bly also spent 10 days in a women's mental asylum which saw her uncover and expose horrific abuse from the staff. Image: Getty.
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Dr. Sandeun ‘Lek’ Chailert

Lek grew up in Thailand where she witnessed horrific abuse and neglect of many domestic Asian elephants that were used as a part of tourist camps or forced to ‘entertain’ people on the streets.

Lek created the Elephant Nature Foundation in 1995 as a way to help create awareness and better treatment for these precious animals.

 

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The Elephant Nature Park was created as a part of this and is a sanctuary and rehabilitation centre for abused, neglected and retired elephants.

The foundation also provided emergency health care for elephants across the country.

As a family of animal lovers Lek’s tireless work and determination is a woman we will definitely be celebrating this IWD!

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Nana Asma’u

Described as a princess, poet and a teacher, Nana “is considered the precursor to modern feminism in Africa.”

Nana’s poetry would serve as a method of communication to address topics related to religion and social issues, as well as women’s rights, emphasising the importance of female leaders.

 

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Nana “made an impact on Muslim women’s education by training a large network of women as educators. The group of women, called yan-taru, or as 'those who congregate together, the sisterhood', travelled throughout the Caliphate educating women, who passed on their education to others.”

Her legacy lives on today due to her work within education and in particular for women in Nigeria in the 1800s.

Nana’s belief that it is a woman’s right to pursue education and to be active in social issues has been an inspiration for many Muslim women around the world, as well as countless others.

Jacinda Arden

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda made history in 2017 when she became the youngest ever female Prime Minister at age 37.

As well as kicking arse leading an entire nation, Jacinda also became a first time parent while remaining in office (with approximately six weeks maternity leave), an incredible feat.

Jacinda is a true example of how women do not need to choose a career or parenthood, they can, and should (if they so desire) do both.

Jacinda Ardern baby
In 2018 Jacinda became the second world leader to give birth in office, and the first elected leader to take maternity leave. Here she is pictured with her partner Clarke Gayford and daughter, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford. Image: Getty.

My good friend Lauren and my Aunt Rosemary

Because inspirational women can also be those close to home, two women I will also celebrate this IWD are Lauren and Rosemary who are both currently fighting cancer and undergoing treatment.

Both women received completely unexpected diagnoses when they were informed they had cancer in both primary and secondary locations but both took on the challenge with courage, determination and an outlook that can only be marvelled at.

Their love of life, family and friends and advice to always remember what and who is important are values they have both demonstrated and reminded me of, making them the most kick arse women I know.

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International Womens Day 2019 inspirational women
(L) My friend Lauren and (R) my Aunt Rosemary with my two daughters. Image: Supplied.

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. Shona is usually busy writing and raising her children: two goats, two cats and two humans. You can follow her on Instagram @Shonamarion.

Who are you celebrating this International Women's Day? Who are the inspirational women in your life? Tell us in a comment below.

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