International Women’s Day
For International Women’s Day the Sunny Side Up team have written about women who they look up to and it’s fair to say that these are some pretty cool and inspiring women…
A woman I have always admired is Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born astronaut and aerospace engineer who was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. At a time when women were still finding it hard to break away from cultural limitations, Kalpana didn’t let this hold her back. She set new records, and not only broke the glass ceiling that could have held her back, but she went out of this world…literally, to achieve her dreams. She continues to inspire women even to this day.
“The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it.” – Dr. Kalpana Chawla
Despite improvements to gender inequality in politics in the past few decades, the highest position of executive power has been held by a woman in just 59 countries since 1960. With women still hugely underrepresented in many political systems around the world, female leaders are still very much in the minority.
A woman to celebrate for IWD is undoubtedly Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Icelandic Prime Minister. She has been in the role since 2013 and with the ‘male and stale’ reputation for politics, was a refreshing face coming into the role at the youthful age of 41. She was Iceland’s Minister of education, science, and culture in her early 30s; the average world leader is a 59-year-old man, looking at speakers at last year’s United Nations General Assembly.
Katrín, who has invested in social housing, extended parental leave, and reduced gender pay inequality, remains popular with the country having had one of the best health records during the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as this, she’s mother to three children and published a crime novel in 2022.
Most recently, she highlighted a commitment to multilateral cooperation in response to the war in Ukraine at the Parliamentary Assembly, calling for justice for the victims of the war in Ukraine and a comprehensive system of accountability for human rights violations and international crimes, to avoid impunity and to prevent further violations: “We will use this platform to champion the rights of women and girls, the environment, and children and youth”
Given this year’s IWD theme is Embrace Equality, let’s give a huge round of applause to lawyer and political rights activist, Dr Shola Mos-shogbamimu. A women’s right activist, Mos-Shogbamimu teaches intersectional feminism to female refugees and asylum seekers, as well as campaigning for greater gender and racial inclusion across the board.
Her voice has been heard everywhere from Vogue and Sky News, to CNN and Stylist, along with some infamous clashes with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain.
Dr Shola is also founder and editor of Women in Leadership, set up She@LawTalks to promote female and BAME leadership in the legal profession through universities and secondary schools and an author. Smart, inspiring and unstoppable and a formidable voice in the fight for social justice.
Next up in our series of amazing women is Jo Tutchener Sharp – founder and CEO, Scamp & Dude.
If ever there was someone that embodies a ray of sunshine in my books, it’s Jo Tutchener Sharp – founder and CEO, Scamp & Dude. The more I read about her as a person, watch her company and brand evolve, the words that spring to mind are hope, empowerment, genuine and an everything is possible attitude – all things I’m drawn to both in people and life at large.
If you’re not familiar with either Jo or her company, she launched Scamp & Dude in 2016 after being separated from her children during a lengthy stay in hospital undergoing brain surgery. It was this brush with death, and missing her children, that made Jo determined to give back, and create a brand that helps children feel more secure when apart from their loved ones. The Superhero Sleep Buddy was born and as each one is sold, another is donated to a child who has lost a parent or is seriously ill themselves. Likewise, for its current campaign the Super Scarves, for every scarf sold, another is donated to a woman with cancer or a mother of a child with cancer.
This British purpose led brand embodies all that is great when women support other women, professionally and personally. Infused with kindness and superpowers, Jo hats off to you and what you’re doing this IWD.
I’m shouting out Natacha Oceane as somebody I look up to.
She’s an absolute MACHINE, always attempting crazy challenges from training with Olympic champions to trying to run for 24 hours straight, showing all the amazing things our bodies are capable of, which is always far more than we think!
Even better than that, having graduated from UCL as a Biophysicist with a keen interest in science, her YouTube videos are science-based and she’s all for eating lots of food and fuelling your body correctly which I LOVE, because it’s so important.
Embrace Equality stands for embracing fairness and justice in all areas of life, something I feel Selena Gomez is a great role model for. At the age of 30, Selena has not only set-up her own Rare Impact Fund, an organisation which calls for better access for mental health support, an area she is personally impacted by, she has also played an active role in advocating for the world’s most vulnerable children through a number of campaigns and initiatives on behalf of the UNICEF.
Whilst for many of us, including myself, social media is just another means of seeing what friends are up to and keeping on top of the latest trends, Selena has used her huge Instagram following to speak out about her struggles both with lupus, as well as more recently, bipolar disorder and to teach people that it’s OK to not be OK – we all have our individual hurdles.
For me, anyone who is willing to use their influential status to help others overcome the ever growing issues of mental health and to rail against the ills of social media, especially given the strong links it has with anxiety and depression, deserves a huge amount of respect, especially given the vulnerability she has shown in an industry where the ‘perfect image’ is constantly expected.
I have chosen to talk about why I am inspired by Jenna Ortega’s portrayal of Wednesday Addams.
I realise this may be controversial, as I’m not speaking about an iconic woman in history/current day but I think you can just as much be inspired and influenced by fictional characters as you can real people, especially when a character is created to empower young girls.
Wednesday Addams in the new Tim Burton spin of series of the Addams Family is, in my opinion, iconic! This goth-glam badass ain’t taking sh*t from anyone! Being an already independent woman at the age of 16, Wednesday challenges life and always stands her ground. Although Wednesday gives off a menacing demeanour and seems as though she lacks empathy, it is soon revealed that she cares deeply for the people she loves and fiercely protects them at all costs.
“If he breaks your heart, I’ll nail gun his…” – this is the kind of friend anyone wants!