Tuesday was International Women’s Day, a day which has been observed since the 1900s but in reality has only grown in popularity and awareness in recent years. Wherever you looked on Tuesday there were stories of inspirational women, quotes to suit the day, events and activities celebrating the achievements of women, and continued campaigning for gender equality.
More often than not, talk of inspirational female figures defaults to celebrities and well-known figures, the Karren Brady and Michelle Obama type of role models. Strong and independent figures such as these two are definitely inspirational and achieving great things in male-dominated industries or surroundings, but in reality we just have to look at people around us for inspiration: our family, friends, colleagues and the local community.
As part of my day job, I have been involved in social media for promoting a Women in Leadership MBA Scholarship competition with the Financial Times and 30% Club (shameless plug, no apologies, take a look, it is a great opportunity). Brainstorming ideas and looking for related content started me thinking about who it is that inspires me, and I found myself with a longer list of people in my everyday life than well-known people. This included, to name but a few:
- My Mum: Firstly for putting up with our sarcastic and stubborn family. I admire her for going back to work when I was in my teens, after at least 13 years (don’t quote me on that) of being a stay-at-home Mum. She has volunteered for as long as I can remember, helping out at a school library, in the community, for charity and at the local church, and still continues to support numerous causes in her retirement.
- Carla: Also known for Inkdrops Boxes, Run Away Days, and her love of everything to do with kittens, unicorns and mermaids. She is a friend of many talents who embraces her passions, oozes confidence, and someone I look to for that sparkle of happiness and inspiration.
- Linda: My mother-in-law-to-be is a cardiac nurse who visits patients in the community and volunteers for related causes in her spare time, including volunteering in a British Heart Foundation shop on Mother’s Day! I She is a great cake-maker, sewer and gardener, and seeing her support her Mum over the last few years shows just how caring a person she is.
- Jeni: An old work colleague, her wit and sarcasm always makes me chuckle. Despite dealing with the challenges of Fibromyalgia, she has a positive outlook on life and puts everyone else before herself. She has adopted several animals (mostly bunnies!) and her passion for animals and stopping animal cruelty is great to see.
- Lizzie: My friend of 25 years (yikes!) and a cardiac nurse, she spends hours caring for patients (two days off in two weeks is a hard slog), and I admire that she has dedicated her career to this. Definitely not something I could do!
- Kez: A friend who took the brave decision to move abroad to teach for 2 years, she took a fantastic opportunity at a challenging time and made the most of it.
- Dannii: One of the bubbliest people I know (alongside Carla), her passion for her work and charity is clear and she has a definite get-up-and-go attitude – I’ve lost count of the numerous exciting places she’s travelled to since we met just a few years ago.
All of my female friends, family and colleagues, are inspirational in their own ways and collectively encourage me to be a better me, but the above list is just a few of them who I think deserve to know they are inspirational.
Did you do anything to mark International Women’s Day? What female figures in your life inspire you?