Eight Women & Girls reflect on their journeys & hopes for the future, this International Women’s Day.

International Women's Day

We Celebrate International Women’s Day 2021.

The 8th March marks International Women’s Day 2021, a day to celebrate the achievements of women across history and appreciate women both globally and in wider society as well as in your family and the local community. In a year that saw national lockdowns and worldwide protests, we spoke to eight women to reflect on their journeys and visions for the future.

Linette, 50- Artist and Educator

International Women's Day

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a time of the year where we can honour, celebrate and put a spotlight on some incredible women around the world.

Which women are you inspired by in your local community, family or globally?

Apart from my mother, a woman that really inspires me is the incredible Nina Simone. She was an artist and creative that really stood up and wasn’t afraid to put herself on the line for what she believed me. She is an incredible and passionate person who has gone on to inspire so many other people.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge – what is one thing you would like to see challenged more in today’s society?

The focus on staying a certain age and the overemphasis on youth. I think we should embrace whatever stage we are at in life and tackle ageism across the board.

Emma, 13, Secondary School Student & Aspiring Doctor

International Women's Day

Which women are you inspired by in your local community, family or globally?

Layla Guscoth, she is a professional netball player as well as being a doctor and her journey inspires me so much.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge – what is one thing you would like to see challenged more in today’s society?

One thing I would like to challenge is individuals’ racist and sexist views in the world today – I would like to see that completely wiped away!

What one piece of advice would you like to tell your older self?

Even when it seems that all hope is lost, don’t let it bring you down –  you are strong enough to carry on and never give up.

Sarah, 30 – Freelance Copywriter

International Women's Day

Which women are you inspired by in your local community, family or globally?

The women that inspire me are definitely my friends. I have stayed in touch with lots of my friends from secondary school and we have seen each other grow and become women. Also, by being so close and a diverse group, we are able to check each other and call each other out. Those are the best friends – those that you can have those honest conversations with and conflict with sometimes and it just makes you a better person and woman.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge – what is one thing you would like to see challenged more in today’s society?

In 2021, one thing that I want people to make a concerted effort in is standing up for minorities, in all spaces. In the past, I have been in situations where I have been the only person speaking out on racism in my workplace for example and the difference between staying silent and speaking up is a massive one. People of colour are tired of defending themselves all the time so it’s time that white people, who are good people, stand up as well.

Malaika, 19, Fashion Promotions Student 

International Women's Day

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Showcasing my work  in the Middle East at the Jameel Arts Centre’s Youth Exhibition. The exhibition got lots of press and my piece was shown on Vice.com. 

Which women are you inspired by in your local community, family or globally?

Growing up, my Mum was a fashion designer who ran a custom made bridal wear clothing business in India so I was surrounded by colour and swatches at an early age which inspired my career. Globally, I am inspired by and admire South Asian women who are making a name for themselves such as Raveena Aurora.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge – what is one thing you would like to see challenged more in today’s society?

As an artist, I would like to see boundaries being pushed and artists not afraid to break the rules and live outside life parameters. 

Gabrielle, 17, Business Student 

International Women's Day

Which women are you inspired by in your local community, family or globally?

The main person I look up to is my Grandma as she is a Black Barbadian woman and she grew up in an era where men would think that women of colour were not smart or intelligent. However, she proved the stereotype wrong as she can speak five different languages and she was also a tour guide in many different countries.

What one piece of advice would you like to tell your older self?

Stay humble as anything can change in your life at any given moment

Illyana, 36, Freelance Stylist

International Women's Day

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s about celebrating all types of women, whether it’s the stay-at-home mother or the high-flying career woman. It’s about celebrating all the wins that we have accomplished and taking stock of our achievements and telling the young generation how much women can achieve.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

My children – seeing them blossom, seeing how tolerant they are, seeing how intelligent they are, and seeing how aware they are, even more than me when I was that age. For me, it’s about seeing their growth and enjoying how much they are going to achieve. 

The theme for this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge – what is one thing you would like to see challenged more in today’s society?

One thing I would like to see challenged is the belief that young black children are not able to achieve what they want to achieve. I would like to see all children being given the opportunity and belief that they can succeed – a more level playing field in terms of opportunities for young children of all races.

Selam, 21, Student 

International Women's Day

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

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IWD is about remembering those great females who have done so many things and also appreciating the females in your life who are just doing it bad and showing them love.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Accepting how I am and my purpose and knowing that certain people are not going to expect it from me as a female but it doesn’t matter.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge – what is one thing you would like to see challenged more in today’s society?

The way in which society expects females to fit certain stereotypes and expectations. It’s essentially putting a limitation on who we are and what we can achieve.

Zeena, 24, Aspiring TV Presenter

International Women's Day

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Celebrating different kinds of women in society, celebrating how much we have come in terms of equality, as well as recognising the steps we have left to take to push it even further.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Finishing college, packing up all of my stuff and moving to another country – embracing a whole new city and trying to put myself out there for new opportunities.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge – what is one thing you would like to see challenged more in today’s society?

More awareness for trans women as I think they are misunderstood and discriminated against in today’s society. I think everyone should be making an effort to learn more and educate themselves so that they can feel safer in their day to day lives.

What one piece of advice would you like to tell your younger self?

Just to believe in myself more and not put on such a front to try and impress people around me and to stop caring what other people think. Also to love myself more and not rely on other people’s opinions of me for reassurance and validation.

Contributing Writer: Nathan Tuft. Editor: Chelsea Mtada.

Featuring:
Emma [@emmamtada]
Linett [@linett_kamala]
Gabrielle [@gabriellesobers]
Zeena [@zeena_warrior_princess]
Malaika [@wweary]
Selam [@_tselam]
Illyanna [@thethrillsofills]
Sarah [@apricot_scarf]

Credits:
Hair: Endah Tche @endahtche
MUA: Eleanor Louise @eleanorlouise
Video: Samuel Adjaye @swrv.studios
Photographer: Shenell Kennedy @shenellkennedy
Creative director: Terna Jogo @shooter_terns

Check out the GUAP Arts & Culture section, to discover new art, film, and creative individuals. 

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