10 Women Who Inspire Me

Thanks to the efforts of our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, women are continuing to make a powerful impact in the world of politics, business, sport, and the arts. It was a little challenging narrowing it down to just ten, but I’ve selected a group of fantastic women, who continue to inspire me and I cannot wait to watch what they continue to achieve.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is the current Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the USA. She advises the government on foreign policy within the Middle East, and devotes the rest of her time to lobbying and promoting the plight of the Kurdish people. Bayan, despite marginalisation because of both her identity and gender, is making waves within US politics, highlighting, for example, the importance of the Kurdish fighters in the ongoing struggle against IS.

If you have a little time on your hands (its educational procrastination I promise) – give this TedTalk a watch. It’s simply fantastic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wiqhu3Q5NpE

Despite your personal politics, and wherever you may place yourself on the political spectrum, it is undeniable that Theresa May is a force to be reckoned with within Westminster. She’s been left with an incredibly unique state of affairs to deal with: Brexit, and a particularly controversial American President spring to mind! She’s also proved that it is quite simply OKAY to be a woman, and not have children, despite opponents trying to use it as leverage against her. Her tenacity and diligence is commendable, and she’s setting a fantastic example to young, female, aspiring politicians (which are still in the minority; only 195 out of 650 British MPs are female).

I love Jess Ennis-Hill. Not purely because we share a name, but because she’s such an impressive (and genuinely lovely) individual. She achieved Olympic Gold in 2012 and Olympic Silver in 2016, with other achievements in Commonwealth Games and World Championships throughout her career. A heptathlete, so very competent in no less than SEVEN sports, she’s also a mum of one, a patron of several charities, and has recently been honoured with a damehood. Jess retired from professional athletics in October 2016, but continues to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, most recently through her role as an ambassador for ‘Vitality Move’ – check it out: http://www.vitalitymove.co.uk/

Model, designer, and body activist Ashley Graham is trying to change the way women are perceived within the media, and the way in which women think and feel about their own bodies. She champions body positivity, and refuses the use of Photoshop within any of her shoots, regularly posting refreshing photos in which her cellulite is clearly visible – normalising something the media have tried to hide for centuries. Her Instagram is full of self-love and body positivity, seriously – give her a follow: theashleygraham

British journalist, and recently appointed political editor of BBC news, Laura Kuenssberg is the first female individual to hold this prestigious title. Currently based in Westminster, she produces the content for BBC News at 10, and Today on Radio 4, whilst updating the BBC website and keeping a close eye on the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Her writing is easy to read, concise, clear, and her knowledge is evidently vast. Her twitter feed offers a sharp and slightly sassy view of the current British political situation – well worth a follow: @bbclaurak

Recent BAFTA award winner, Viola Davis is an incredible actress, starring in the iconic film ‘The Help’, as housemaid Aibeleen Clark. She’s recently won a Golden Globe, SAG Award, BAFTA and Critics Choice Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for her role as Rose within the film adaptation of Fences (which I have yet to watch – although the trailer looks fantastic!). This has made her the first African-American actress to win five SAG Awards and the first black woman in history to be nominated for three Academy Awards (Viola won the award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ in Fences at the award ceremony on 26th February!). If you have yet to see ‘The Help’ please, PLEASE watch it – it’s a personal favourite of mine. ‘You is smart, you is kind, you is important’.

Having spent 15 years under house arrest, November 2015 was a particularly special month for Aung San Suu Kyi, as her party (the National League for Democracy) convincingly won the first democratic elections in Myanmar in 25 years. Originally interned for her controversial calls for democracy within the military-ruled state, she is now the ‘state counsellor’ of Myanmar (effectively president, but not officially – as she is unable to hold the role because her children are foreign nationals). Whilst under house arrest, she was kept from her husband and children – and although she was offered to visit her husband in the UK when he was very ill, she refused for fear of not being allowed to re-enter the country. Her husband later died of cancer in March 1999. Such an astoundingly peaceful response to a very difficult situation, is commendable to say the least and the NLD are continuing their quest for true democracy, and are currently trying to reform the difficult legacy that the military-state has left behind.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11685977

Dame Carol Ann Duffy is the current Poet Laureate, and is the first openly gay, Scottish, and female holder of the prestigious position. Her poems are widely studied at GCSE, A-Level and degree level, primarily for the way in which they address contemporary issues such as oppression, gender and relationships. Poems like ‘Quickdraw’ and ‘Hour’ are very poignant pieces of writing, and I’d encourage you to take a look and form your own opinions about what she’s trying to say. I love the way in which she contrasts modernity and antiquity within her writing, and yet (somehow) make the two complement each other.

Businesswoman Karren Brady shot to fame on the BBC show ‘The Apprentice’ as the severe and sharp sidekick of Alan Sugar. Karren made her money within football, starting out as a director of Birmingham City F.C., which led to her current position as Vice-Chairman of West Ham United. She is a champion of women in business, and was awarded a CBE in 2014 for ‘services to entrepreneurship and women in business’. When writing this article, I stumbled across this gem of a story which made me love her even more:

‘Early in her career at Birmingham City, the first time she got on the team bus, a player quipped: “I can see your tits from here.” Brady replied: “When I sell you to Crewe, you won’t be able to see them from there will you?” And she sold him.’

Amazing.

Ready the full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-business/11216668/Karren-Brady-thats-what-a-real-feminist-looks-like.html

All of these women are incredibly inspiring in different ways, and yet none of them quite equate to Pippa Lord. Not heard of her? She’s a teacher, baker, comedian, carer, chef, photographer, diplomat, designer, and most importantly, a mother. My mother. She’s relentlessly positive, fiercely passionate, and without her support I would not be where I am today. She’s my total inspiration.

Who is the most inspiring woman in your life?