Women to be Inspired by this International Women’s Day

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka- UN Women

UN Women is “the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women”. UN Women is a part of an extensive amount of programs that improve the lives of women throughout the world. This includes working on political leadership and participation among women, ending violence against women, sustainable development, humanitarian action, and ending HIV and AIDS. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is the Executive Director of UN Women. She and the rest of UN Women are looking for gender equality by 2030 in a campaign called “Planet 50-50 by 2030”. They are calling governments to “step it up” and close the gender gap- so far over 90 governments have responded. In a message released for International Women’s Day, she said “The participation of women at all levels and the strengthening of the women’s movement has never been so critical, working together with boys and men, to empower nations, build stronger economies and healthier societies.”

Emma Watson- HeForShe

You probably know her as Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter series. But did you know that she is also the founder of a campaign that strives for gender equality? Emma Watson founded HeForShe in 2014, a campaign which aims at getting men and boys involved in the conversation about equality for women. She wants to remove negative connotations that feminism means “man-hating”, and remind the world that women’s rights are human rights. She reminds us that men are also negatively impacted by gender roles and stereotypes. Emma says that she is no longer afraid to stick up for herself and other women, saying “there’s a willingness now to be like, ‘Fine. Call me a ‘diva’, call me a ‘feminazi’, call me ‘difficult’, call me a ‘First World feminist’, call me whatever you want, it’s not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens.’ Because it doesn’t just affect me.” At the age of 23, Emma Watson became a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Basically, she has become a woman that Hermione Granger would be proud of.

Lady Gaga

At the 2016 Oscars, Lady Gaga gave an emotional performance of her song “Til it Happens To You”, which is about surviving sexual assault. She was joined onstage by a group of sexual assault survivors with words such as “not your fault” and “not alone” written on their arms. The song was used in the documentary film “The Hunting Ground”, which focuses on sexual assault on college campuses. The night before the performance, Lady Gaga and about two dozen of her fellow survivors got matching tattoos as a show of strength and solidarity. Lady Gaga has also publicly supported Kesha in regards to her lawsuit against alleged rapist Dr. Luke. Since sexual assault is a crime that affects one in five college women, we thank Lady Gaga for taking a stand on this prevalent issue. You can watch her Oscar performance below: 

Kesha

Kesha’s lawsuit against her producer Dr. Luke has been all over the news lately. The details: Kesha has accused Dr. Luke of sexually abusing her since 2005. She filed her first lawsuit against him in October, 2014 saying that any contact with him would be life threatening. Sexual abuse in the music industry has been a longstanding problem that very few are brave enough to report. Kesha is now trying to get out of her recording contract with Dr. Luke, which has proved quite difficult. She is a valuable asset to Sony, and they are not keen on letting her go. The lawsuit is ongoing, and is receiving much public support. The hashtag #FreeKesha has shown that Kesha is not alone, and in a way offers support to all victims of sexual assault. Kesha is standing up for herself and, in the words of The Atlantic, “going against a powerful man and powerful company in an industry where powerful men and companies have routinely exploited young woman.” Her fight has been difficult, but also sheds light on this problem and shows how truly strong she is.    

Jaspen Boothe- Ms. Veteran America

Ms. Veteran America is a pageant for women who have served in the military. The event serves as a fundraiser for The Final Salute, a nonprofit that benefits homeless female veterans in the United States. The winner is given $15,000 to be used for “education, student loans, home purchase or repairs, or starting a business. She also becomes the official face of the contest and Final Salute, attending dozens of public speaking events, parades, morning talk shows, and next year’s pageant.” The pageant highlights the women’s accomplishments, and also celebrate their femininity, which can be forgotten about in female veterans. Jaspen Boothe, the founder of Ms. Veteran America, wants to remind female veterans that there is nothing wrong with being a woman. Participants in the pageant have become advocates on military sexual assault, homelessness, and PTSD.   

Ellen DeGeneres

Not only is Ellen DeGeneres hilarious and lovable, but she is also extremely charitable. She supports over 40 charities and foundations, fighting against everything from abuse, to bullying, to slavery and human trafficking. She won a People’s Choice Award this year for ‘Favorite Humanitarian”. While on The Ellen DeGeneres Show In February of 2016, POTUS Barack Obama said that Ellen had been an influential part of the LGBTQ movement. He said that while he had the power to pass laws, she had the power to impact acceptance among the public, saying “Changing hearts and minds, I don’t think anyone has been as influential as you on that. I really mean it. That’s true.” Obama also said that she was courageous, and empowered others to be true to themselves and their sexual identity. She was one of the first major celebrities to publically announce being gay. Ellen is an incredible humanitarian, and inspiration to LGBTQ individuals everywhere.

These women and countless others have inspired us, and deserved to be recognized on this International Women's Day. Remember to thank the influential women in your life today!