“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish”

For well over a century International Women’s Day has celebrated the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and accelerated the call for women’s equality.

Today, the fight continues. Thanks to the progress of technology, we’re now exposed to more stories of women’s courage, ingenuity, and dedication than ever before. As a result, inspiration is everywhere.

Jennie Myring, Director of
Professional Services

I’m constantly inspired by stories of women who refuse to take no for an answer and never second guess themselves.

I
love to see light being shed on exceptional women throughout history, who have
had the courage to do what’s right and be themselves. Such as the remarkable
mathematicians in Hidden Figures who made a significant impact on the early
years of the NASA Space Program. They were strong, intelligent women who built each
other up and succeeded in the face of racism and sexism. Or, Erin Brockovich,
who never gave up and fought to get justice for everyone effected by the
Hinkley drinking water contamination.

And,
anyone who knows me would also be aware of my guilty pleasure for Call the Midwife.
Based on memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show about the nuns of Poplar working
as midwives in the 1950s demonstrates the importance of female friendship and
support. Plus, I do love watching babies being born!

Considering
the importance of film and TV as a medium for information, it’s important that
these stories are told to empower and inspire generations to come.

Amie Lane, Head of Events

Amie Lane

Michelle Obama has always
inspired me and after reading ‘becoming’ I’m even more captivated by her. From her iconic fashion looks to her contagious positivity, her messages are profound and bold. I love how
she pushes forward the idea that we should always prioritize self-care, use our
own voices for change, and be ourselves — unapologetically.

The fact that she
is refreshing candid about how she grew up, the pressures she faced
in the White House, and her family-first priorities – it helps to show that
life is hard, but we can all seek out the best balance possible for ourselves.

It’s
hard to summarize why Michelle Obama is such an inspiration to me so maybe it
would help to use some of her own words:

  1. “One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so, when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”
  2. “Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.”
  3. “Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own “to do” list.”
  4. “Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.”
  5. “Like I tell my daughters, women and girls can do whatever they want…..there’s no limit to what we, as women can, accomplish.”

Michelle Obama is extraordinarily relatable and down to
earth – making her more real to all of us. She has continuously demonstrated
the capacity to lead by example, to balance conflicting roles, to raise two
strong daughters, and to still be in a loving marriage despite a lot of
external pressure. To me she will always remain
an inspiration for women and girls everywhere.

Don’t you want to be her friend? I do.

Julia
Neuhold, Product Marketing Executive

While some may
still find the term ‘feminism’ difficult to grasp – Feminist Fight Club brings
it home. Every woman will recognize at least one situation described in the
book. From being interrupted in a meeting you’re chairing and asked to get
coffee, to being excluded from team building exercises because it’s assumed
that “fantasy football just isn’t for women”. Sexism in the workplace is very
much active, but it’s often so subtle that it goes unnoticed. In the Feminist
Fight Club, Jessica Bennett manages to not only pinpoint the issue, she also
provides ‘battle tactics’ on how to turn sexist situations around. Or as
Bennett puts it; how to “carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white
man”. The Feminist Fight Club is relatable, and it’s absolutely hilarious.

But the main reason
why I recommend this book to every young woman kick-starting her career is the
underlying essence of the book: Women supporting women. It highlights the
importance of making an active effort to mentor and empower female colleagues.
Making space for them to present their ideas, acknowledge their achievements, to
listen and to promote them in whatever way possible. After all, we’re all part
of the fight club. If we like it or not.

Adele Boesinger, Internal Trainer

 “If you really prepare for something, you’re more likely to have success … but when you fail, you do get stronger.”

Adele Boesinger

The term ‘legend’ is bandied around an awful lot. So much in fact, that when it comes to describing athletes like Paula Radcliffe, it kind of feels inadequate. The quote above is one of main from her that have inspired me, personally, professionally, and in pursuit of my running goals.

To me, she is an icon – and not just in the running
community. Not only does she still hold the women’s marathon world record – an incredible
2:15:25 – she has also won both the London and New York Marathons three times over,
won major international championships, and competed in four Olympic Games. In
the process, she has inspired millions of female runners around the world to
unleash their potential. And I’m proud to include myself among them.

Watching her battle through injuries and adversities
has taught me to never to give up, and not be afraid to push my boundaries.
Though she hung up her competitive racing shoes in 2015, her legend and love of
running is as strong as ever. I recently heard at speak at the National Running
Show in Birmingham where she shared stories of overcoming training battles. Something
that really resounded with me was her advice to “tak[e] it steadily, day by
day. Set baby targets. And bring the same dedication to your rehabilitation as
you would bring to your training.”

Whether it’s a tough run, or a difficult day,
Paula’s attitude toward her sport and training really resonates with the outlook
I try to have on life in general. Her career, words and perspective on life
will continue to be an inspiration to me.

Sanam Arshad, Online Marketing Executive

Sanam Arshad

On a day like
today, I want to celebrate my inspirational sister, Saima Thompson. 

She’s a force to be
reckoned with. She’s a restaurateur, blogger, inspirational speaker, and doing
all this whilst living with stage 4 lung cancer at 29 years old.

Since being given
the bombshell diagnosis, Saima hasn’t let cancer stop her, it’s made her
thrive. During her own personal journey that is cancer, she still wants to help
others. We come from a south Asian family, and she found there was a big issue
in our community around an unwillingness to discuss health issues. So, Saima
has made it her mission to demystify cancer and get south Asians talking open
about the disease.

Saima has always
put others first. As the oldest of four sisters, she has always protected the
family and supported us, no matter what. She’s always fought for what she
believes, and her efforts have been recognized publicly! With the help of her
blog, Curry and Cancer, Saima has been
raising awareness and encouraging conversations on BBC London and in the Houses
of Parliament.

Each day, Saima
never fails to inspire me. She’s made me see that life is what you make it and
the small things that you’d normally worry about, just don’t matter. She’s
showed me that no matter what obstacles you come across, there should always be
a drive to make things better. Listen to your body, take time out for yourself
and love the ones closest to you.

Jenna Paton, Content Executive

Jenna Paton

My first exposure
to gender bias (that I can remember) came while watching Legally Blonde.

Yes. I do mean the
brilliant rom-com starring Reese Witherspoon.

Stereotyped as a dumb blonde, no one expected much from Elle Woods. She was objectified and demeaned by those around her, by men and women alike. She didn’t fit in. She wore pink, liked getting manicures, and carried her tiny dog around in her purse. She didn’t belong among the scholars at Harvard Law School. But, Elle refused to change to fit in.

She smashed down the walls that said she wouldn’t make it as a lawyer. In the process, she demonstrated the importance of staying true to yourself and supporting those around you. Whether it was the woman who did her nails, her socially awkward classmate, or her ex-boyfriend’s fiancé, Elle was there to help people when they needed it, simply because she could. She refused to change who she was. Yes, she liked shopping, popular culture and pampering herself, but why would that mean she wouldn’t be a good lawyer?

This movie came out when I was 8 years-old. It was a couple of years before I watched it for the first time, and a couple more before I properly understood it, but when I did, I was changed for the better. Elle Woods taught me to be that it’s always okay to be myself, and to accept others for the same, to never let gender or stereotyping hold me back. If I want something, I can achieve it, as long as I put my mind to it.


International Women’s
Day belongs to all groups, collectively, everywhere. The pursuit of gender equality
is simply a pursuit of basic human rights. Make everyday International Women’s
Day and embrace #balanceforbetter for good.  

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