My Heroines: Happy International Women’s day

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!  As this post goes live I will be running around Southbank Centre managing 1000 girls aged 11 – 18 in a day of talks, workshops and music celebrating heroines.  I’ve also agreed to tweet about my day for my university so follow along #UoBWomen too to see a whole range of IWD celebrations!

As part of this exciting event I asked 10 different amazing women to share who their heroines are.  Some will be speaking about their heroines, and some have written a few lines that the girls taking part can take away with them, and later look into if they want.  I couldn’t believe the range of women that came back.  From NASA scientists, to sportswomen, to dancers, each story inspired me, and reminded me how many amazing women’s tales are never really told.  It got me thinking about my own heroines – which women inspire  and drive me forward.  It’s a big question and I had to really settle that there is no single person, but in fact many women, that I look up to and admire. I really love this article from Stylist magazine on their 50 feminist icons.  I’ve tried to pull them together – and please remember this is not a definitive list (I could probably update this daily to be honest).  Hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear who your heroines are!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Not only is Chimamanda the writer of one of my favourite books; Americanah, but she’s also an incredible speaker, activist on equality and feminism.  Her TED Talk, We Should All Be Feminists blew my mind with it’s on point wit, intellect and passion.  Every 16 year old in Sweden has just been given a copy of the TED talk as a book and you should probably watch it now.

Emma Watson –  I love how Emma is pushing her feminist agenda through everything she’s doing – she has an amazing platform to be heard and she’s really using it.  She speaks really thoughtfully and intelligently whether she’d promoting the He For She Campaign or starting a fantastic new feminist book club on twitter (called #oursharedshelf – look it up!)

Hilary Clinton – I am such a fan of Hilary Clinton!  Driven, ambitious, literally kicking down the glass ceiling every chance she gets. She doesn’t seem to shy away from calling out inequality and she doesn’t shy away from using the F word (go feminism!).

Amy Schumer – THIS WOMAN.  Super hilarious, talented, says what she thinks, unapologetic, she slams body shaming again and again and again.  My spirit animal is Amy Schumer and I salute her!

Plus she say’s things like this:

I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.

So Happy International Women’s Day everyone – love yourself, love your friends, love your mum, your sister, your daughter, your aunts, your nieces – be strong, be fiery, be opinionated, be clever, wear what you want, be who your are, and do it as much as you possibly can, all of the time!

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite poems by Maya Angelou:

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
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