Celebrate International Women’s Day with these five inspiring stories
By Carolyn McMurray, SOCIATE’S Junior Copywriter & Blogstar
International Women’s Day is just a few weeks away, so we thought we’d set your flame alight with five of the most inspiring stories of women across the globe
We’ve grown up a lot since the 1800s. Women can vote. Work. Date. They can even wear jeans (shock-horror!) Jokes aside, we’ve made a lot of progress. But there are still millions of women around the world who are subject to discrimination, unfair laws, and sexism. Even those of us lucky enough to live in a democracy are still living under the shadow of sexism. It hasn’t quite escaped us yet. There’s still a big gender pay gap. Women still don’t feel safe on the streets at night. As a woman myself, I can appreciate all the progress we’ve made, but I can also see we have a long way to go.
That’s the whole purpose of International Women’s Day. To celebrate all women’s achievements, champion for greater rights, and shine a light on history’s mistakes. I thought I’d take this chance to look back at some of the most inspiring women I know. Women that have shaken things up, made bold statements, and led the way in innovation and change.
I couldn’t not start this list off without paying homage to Emmeline Pankhurst. One of the key founders of the Suffragette movement, Emmeline was a powerhouse. Rallying for women’s rights, her creation of the Women’s Franchise League was one of the first of its kind in England and helped land married women the right to vote. Her outspoken voice wasn’t welcomed by those around her, but this never phased her. She was arrested, force-fed, abused, and through it all, she stood strong. She died in 1928, just a few days before women were granted equal voting rights with men.
“You must make women count as much as men; you must have an equal standard of morals.”
A tale of adversity and resilience, Helen Keller inspired millions with her story. Born in 1880, Helen’s gender wasn’t the only thing against her. She was also deaf and blind, but she didn’t let that stop her. By 1908, she had gone on to achieve a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Radcliffe College and was the first disabled person to earn a degree. Throughout her life, she flitted from activist, politician, and author to lecturer, continuing her fight for women’s rights by taking part in the Suffragette movement.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.”
One of the first African-American women to become a pilot, Bessie Coleman’s story is just as important today as it was in 1921. Despite being rejected by aviation schools across America, she soldiered on. In 1920, she set off to Paris to take up her dream of learning how to fly. After seven months of aviation lessons, she was awarded her license. At a time when racial prejudice was rife, Bessie was a breath of fresh air. To some, she was rebellious. A troublemaker. But today, she remains an inspiring figure in the fight for gender and racial equality.
“The air is the only place free from prejudices.”
Hedy Lamarr was more than just an actress – she was an innovator. Born in Austria, she moved to America in 1953 to pursue her acting dreams. Starring in golden-oldies like Samson and Deliah and White Cargo, she soon became a Hollywood starlet. What people didn’t know was that she had spearheaded a secret wireless communication system that had been used in WWII. Working together with composer George Anhiel, she had created a system that used frequencies to guide torpedos to Nazi submarines and vessels. Though not given nearly enough recognition in her prime, today she is seen as an innovator. In fact, her and Anhiel’s wireless system is often thought of as the true precursor to modern WiFi.
“Jack Kennedy always said to me, Hedy, get involved. That’s the secret of life. Try everything. Join everything. Meet everybody.”
Sport, like many other areas, used to be solely dominated by men. And whenever a woman did try to step into the industry, she was shunned. That’s why Serena William’s achievements are so impressive. Not only was she up against racial prejudice, but she had to cut through gender inequality. Born in a poor Compton village in 1981, Serena had a rough start to life. Luckily, she had a strong father figure to guide her and give her the courage to try new things. One of the hobbies she developed just happened to be tennis, and by the age of three, she was already training like an athlete. Her ambition eventually landed her a spot on the United States Tennis Association Tour, and the rest is history. Serena has gone on to win numerous titles and continues to be one of the top tennis players of all time.
“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.”
How are you celebrating Women’s Day?
Mark your calendars – International Women’s Day is happening on the 8th of March. At #teamSOCIATE, we’ll be celebrating the day by honoring all the fabulous women we know – in and outside of SOCIATE. As a female-led agency, we’re always on the lookout to support women in the industry as much as we can.
And while we know that a few stories only go so far, we hope that they’ll give you the inspiration to chase your dreams and open your eyes to the amazing achievements of women, all across the globe.