Happy International Women’s Day!
International Women’s Day is a chance to acknowledge the kick-arse women who inspire, protect and support us. The ones who light a fire under us, and encourage us to ahead to the possibilities of the future.
Salma Hayek said this week: “I am a feminist because a lot of amazing women have made me the woman I am today. I am inspired by women every day, as friends and as colleagues.”
So this week, we asked the Mamamia office: “Who inspires you? Who do you want to thank for making you the woman you are today?”
Many of us have been inspired by our mothers. For their bravery, their tirelessness and their kindness. For the fact that sometimes they had to make difficult choices, and for the fact that they made them with our best interests at heart.
My mum is truly the most amazing woman I know: she had a successful career in which she lead and mentored a large team, she was a supportive and tireless mother, and I always knew she would love me no matter what. She is never cruel, and always kind and open to every single person she meets – I think this is a real skill. She didn’t take my dad’s name at a time when that wasn’t the ‘done’ thing and she has never been anything but true to herself. I’m biased but I truly think she pretty bloody amazing. She makes me want to be a harder worker, a kinder person and a stronger woman.
When my parents separated my mum moved us to a new town, 5 hours away, where she new no one and had no job. It was the bravest thing she’s ever done and I am so grateful to her because it gave me opportunities I never would have had if I stayed where I was. She managed to start a new life from scratch and I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without her making that decision
Read more: Top 10 inspirational people
Others also found their inspiration in their own home – but this time from their sisters. We’ve been inspired by our sisters for their feminism, and the way they’ve opened our eyes to sexism and inequality.
My oldest sister. She’s always been a feminist, and when I was very young, in the 1970s, she opened my eyes up to a lot of subtle sexism. I was a “Ms” from the time I was a little girl, thanks to her
I’m inspired by my two incredible sisters – one older, one younger. They’re the kind of women who don’t judge and instead do everything in their power to lift me, and anyone they meet, up. They’ve both worked in the medical industry caring for patients and are the true meaning of selfless. But try and f*ck with them – and you’ll regret it; they’re fair but they won’t be walked over. Growing up having two incredible women by my side at every step of the way has made me the person I am today.
Some women inspire us for their ability to exhibit strength and empathy when they have every right not to. Avi recalls the incredible kindness of her childhood nanny in South Africa.
In South Africa, it was (and still is) very normal to have someone who cooks, cleans and looks after the kids. It is also very common for them to be from poor communities and predominately black South Africans.
She didn’t go to school, because it was too dangerous for a black child to go to school during Apartheid. She was (probably still is) in a violent relationship with her husband. She worked long hours for shit pay, all so she could give her children an education and get them out of where they lived. Even through everything she saw and everything she experienced, not once did she tell me about it, or complain…
Instead, she was the person who was there when I got home from school. She was the one who would let me sit in her room and tell her endless stories about my day. She was the one who taught me how to be a strong independent woman, even from something tiny like showing me how to open a stuck jar “so you never have to rely on a man to do it.
She didn’t just teach me one thing, she taught me everything.”
Some of us have been inspired by our colleagues, and other women we have encountered in our professional lives. When women support women, the possibilities are limitless.
I’ve been lucky enough to have two amazing female bosses who have been generous with their knowledge, experience, time and kindness. Their behaviour towards me has proven every misguided stereotype about women treading on each other’s fingers to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, false. It has made me absolutely determined to pay it forward and make sure that the women (and men!) who work for me get the same opportunities , guidance and personal attention that I’ve been lucky enough to receive.
Others have found inspiration in by women in public life, artists and entertainers.
I have always been mesmerised by Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac. I remember her talking about music and how she needed it, that expressing her creativity was like breathing and it is the first time I felt like I was allowed to be expressive for me, not anyone else. She said it so matter-of-factly.
Holly has been inspired by the incredible life and career of poet Maya Angelou:
This is a very strange one for a woman who grew up white in a grey city in the north of England, but I was massively influenced by my mum taking me to see Maya Angelou talk at Manchester Town Hall. I had just read “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, which is incredible, and she read. She read Still I Rise. I can still hear it in my head. It was inspiring on many levels – that she was a woman who had risen from nothing, overcome so much, who had lived her own life on her own terms, was bold, and creative and refused to be pigeon-holed. She made me want to live a bold, creative, interesting life. I manage it with varying levels of success day to day, year to year. What a woman.
For Shelly, it’s the one woman known across the globe.
Oprah is where it’s at for me. From an early age she inspired me. I love her interviewing style. I would analyse how she constructed her shows. And I love how her show evolved with her. I even love that her OWN Network is failing but she hasn’t given up. I love that she was fat and skinny and fat and fabulous. She made me feel normal which is strange considering I was relating to a billionaire. I was lucky enough to go to both of her Australian shows at the Opera House and still count it as one of the best days of my life. A true bucket list moment. Bring on the Shelly Show!
Whether they are near or far, close or unknown to us, these women deserve recognition for the impact they have had on our lives.
We salute them every day. Especially today.
Who are the inspirational women in your life and why are you thankful for them today?