As a mother, I see it as my and our responsibility to educate our sons and daughters about how unique women are and how powerful a voice we can all have. This is also the responsibility of the International Women’s Day theme 2021 and our job to make others realize the significance of the day.
As sisters, daughter’s and mother’s, do we realize the importance of being a woman?
Women’s Day 2021 is on the 8th March, so lets salute strong women everywhere. I have compiled a list of ten top inspirational women who have lived in the last 100 years. To compliment this list we then have books about amazing women that our children can be inspired by. Family reading for all!
In the past 100 years, there have been many inspirational women who have altered the course of our history and opened many doors for the women coming after them. Choosing ten is both difficult and amazing. Difficult as I wanted more in the list and amazing as I got to read the stories of so many inspiring women. I have chosen a selection of women who have stood up for both gender and racial inequality and have uplifting messages for women, which comply with the theme for International Women’s Day 2021. They are of all ages and include female youth motivational speakers. I hope they incentivize you in your journey as much as they do me and provide inspiration for your children.
Top ten Inspirational themed women on International Women’s Day
“Tremendous amounts of talent are being lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt”
Now this lady is inspirational. Not only did she fight against stereotypes about her gender but she also had to fight against prejudice about her race. Born in 1924 in America, she rose to be a politician and author. The first black woman to be elected to Congress and serve there for seven years, she was the first African American woman to be a nominated candidate for president in a major party.
“Trust in God – she will provide”
Born to politically active parents in 1858, Emmeline Pankhurst was a political activist. Joining the Suffragette movement when she was 14, Emmeline formed the Women’s Franchise League which advocated the right to vote for both married and unmarried women. Criticized by some for using violence to promote the cause, she was a major factor in women achieving the vote when they did. She tried to join the Labour party but was denied because of her gender. She was instrumental in the Act that granted the vote to all women over the age of 21 in 1928, a monumental step on the journey to equality.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. As a political figure in her own right and an activist, she reshaped the role of the First Lady as she was outspoken on several issues and would regularly hold press conferences instead of her husband. She wrote a newspaper and magazine column and spoke at a national convention. When disagreeing with her husband’s policies, she was not shy in speaking out. She was vocal in areas such as women’s rights and the civil rights of African and Asian Americans. One of her most widely known successes was overseeing the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What a lady! I can imagine her sitting down and talking about setting up an International day for women and discussing themes!
Billie Jean King
“I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s [tennis] tour and affect all women’s self-esteem. To beat a 55-year-old guy was no thrill for me. The thrill was exposing a lot of new people to tennis.”
In 1973, Billie Jean King, US 20 times Wimbledon champion played Bobby Riggs, after he publicly stated that men were superior athletes, that the women’s game was inferior and that someone as old as him (55) could beat the best female players. 90 million people watched the match. This match had significant importance in developing respect for professional female athletes.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”
Born in 1954, into a poor single parent family, Oprah Winfrey is an American talk show host, tv producer, actress, author and philanrhopist. She is famous for her show, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, which ran for 25 years. The richest African American of the 20th century, she sometimes ranked as the most influential woman in the world. The sheer determination of her to beat her upbringing has always made her one of my most admired women when I was growing up. She anchored the news at 19 and had her own production company which produced her talk show. Endorsing Obama certainly gave his popularity a boost and earnt him about another one million votes and she certainly fits the ‘Choose to Challenge’ theme for this International Women’s Day.
“The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything.”
A name most of us have heard a lot of in the past few years is Greta Thunberg. Recently nominated for a Nobel Prize for a third year in a row, she started campaigning outside the Swedish Parliament with signs that read ‘School strike for Climate’. Since then, she has addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference and organized international strikes. Not bad for a teenager!
“I was raised to be an independent woman, not the victim of anything.”
Born in 1964, Kamala Harris is the newly elected Vice President and the first female, first African and first Asian Vice President. Before becoming Vice President, she was in the Senate and also Attorney-General of California. She has said that she attributes her strong sense of justice and activism to her parents: “My mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.’” Kamala is tough on crime but has committed to not ever using the death penalty. She is a advocate for social justice reform and same-sex marriage and has definitely earnt the place she now has in government.
“The same thing that’s true in gymnastics is also true in life: you can’t go back. The best you can do is forgive yourself, take a deep breath, and get to work on the next challenge.”
Simone Biles, born in 1997 is the most decorated American gymnast and the third most decorated in the world. A shaky start in life, having been fostered in several different homes and then adopted by her grandparents, Simone started gymnastics at the age of 6 and was encouraged to continue. Ten years later, aged 16, she became the first African American to win the world all-around title. With a steady climb, with a mixture of medals, mistakes and injuries, she was named part of the squad going to the 2016 Olympics and has since won four Olympic golds.
“Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.”
Born in 1870, this lady is an inspiration to me. An Italian, she pursued a medical career, disapproved of by her father and faced strong criticism from the University she attended. Finishing her studies and winning awards, she then worked with children with learning difficulties. Publicly, she urged for the creation of classes and schools for mentally disabled children that would have specially trained teachers. After studying philosophy, she adapted her teaching methods to also fit mainstream schools. She concluded her career and schooling method believing that when children work independently, they can become self-motivated and that acknowleging them as individuals encourages them to fulfil their potential.
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
Lastly, we have Malala Yousafzai. Born in 1997, she defied the expectations of her religion and community. She is a Pakistani activist for female education and was denied the same by the Taliban in her native town. After a documentary on her life, the Taliban responded with an attempted assassination. She survived a bullet in the head and the incident only served to highlight her cause and bring support. She co-founded ‘The Malala Fund’, a non-profit and has written a book. Due to her inspiring work and activism, she won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Living in England, she has been able to both continue with her work and also complete her own education. Malala is now named one of the most influential people in the world three times.
Equality for women (the message of International Women’s Day)
Throughout the ages, the fortunes of women have changed. Altered, again and again. Women are now powerful, have contributed so much to society, smashed inequality and are still on the rise. I would love to come back in a couple of hundred years and see what women have accomplished then. How would International Women’s Day look then? Who would be on this list and how would they categorize the themes?
If you, reader, are a woman, how do you feel in your role? Have your experienes made you feel equal? What are you contributing to society to increase equality for women?
Equally, if you are a man, what are your thoughts on equality for men and women?
It can be easy to dismiss and be scornful of the past and concentrate on our own present. We have to remember however how different our present would be if these women had not pushed boundaries and stood up for themselves and all future women, including you and I and our children.
International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women over time. The theme of IWD 2021 is ‘choose to challenge’. Wherever we see inequality, we should choose to challenge it. It is far to easy to walk away from a confrontational situation, the difficult road to take is to stand up for our beliefs.
In order to pass the #Choosetochallenge down to our children, we need to be telling them about these awesome women. Below we have motivational books for girls of different ages to read, so they can be inspired by career choices and the battle they faced.
Inspirational books for girls
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
What if the princess didn’t marry Prince Charming but instead went on to be an astronaut? What if the jealous step sisters were supportive and kind? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom? – I find this lovely book well illustrated, sturdy and truly motivating. Why, indeed would we want our girls to wait for a man to do it when they can do it themselves?
50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World (Stories That Shook Up the World) Similar to the above book, this is the story of 50 women and tells us about the challenges they faced to become the inspiring women they did.
The little girl or boy who dared to dream
“You really are remarkable – more than you’ll ever know!” The Little Girl or Boy Who Dared to Dream is a dazzling personalised story based on the letters of your child’s name. Send a child on a magical journey to discover nothing’s impossible, if they dare to dream. This personalized book is aimed at younger children but still opens their mind to the myriad of options that await.
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
This book is an Amazon Best Seller written by teens, for teens. It works hard to use humor, personal anecdotes, and practical examples to really reach teens in a way that will resonate. Self esteem is often a big issue for teens and is often an area they can do with extra help. This book, for older children shows children how they can bring about both personal and social change.
Women are powerful
International Women’s Day, March 8th 2021 is one of the most important days for us to:
- celebrate women’s achievements
- raise awareness about women’s equality
- lobby for accelerated gender parity
- fundraise for female-focused charities
Use the hashtag #choosetochallenge to promote the theme of International Women’s Day. Let us know how you celebrate women, whether you are one or not. I am a mother, a sister and a daughter. Proud of all three, I try to raise my son knowing how strong and amazing women are. I would not necessarily call him a feminist, but he has respect and awe.
Let us know how you get on in your journey! Happy International Women’s Day