Inspiring Inclusion this International Women’s Day


Today, 8th of March, marks International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is Inspire Inclusion, aiming to inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion which leads to “a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.”

On the theme of Inspire Inclusion, the Atticus team have written about women from around the world who inspire them, whether they are political figures, have ran successful campaigns, or are pioneers in sectors typically dominated by men.

Gloria Steinem, Sarah Hodes

Gloria Steinem is a prominent American feminist, journalist and social-political activist. Renowned for her tireless advocacy of women's rights, Steinem played a pivotal role in the women's liberation movement during the 1960s and 1970s. As a co-founder of Ms. Magazine, she provided a platform for feminist discourse, challenging societal norms and shedding light on issues such as reproductive rights and gender equality.

Steinem's impact extends beyond her writing; she has been a dynamic speaker and organiser, inspiring countless individuals to engage in activism. Her commitment to dismantling gender-based barriers has earned her accolades and recognition, solidifying her status as an enduring icon in the fight for women's rights and social justice. Additionally, Steinem was and still is instrumental in advocating for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the US, tirelessly campaigning for constitutional equality to eliminate gender-based discrimination, further cementing her legacy as a driving force behind transformative social change.

Margaret Thatcher, Patrick Adams 

Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female Prime Minister, served from 1979 to 1990 and remains one of the most influential figures in British politics. Known as the ‘Iron Lady’ for her strong will and steadfast policies, Thatcher reshaped Britain's economic landscape through her unwavering commitment to free-market principles and her decisive approach to reducing the influence of trade unions.

Her leadership during the Falklands War in 1982 bolstered national pride and demonstrated her resolve in foreign policy. Thatcher's legacy is marked by her ability to break through the glass ceiling in a male-dominated political arena, inspiring women worldwide to pursue leadership roles. Her contributions to politics and her role as a trailblazer for women in leadership continue to inspire many.

Dalia Grybauskaitė, Amélie Bamford

Dubbed the Baltic ‘Iron Lady’, Dalia Grybauskaité demonstrates fearlessness, both as a vocal opponent to Putin’s war in Ukraine, criticising Putin in ways which few other European leaders dare. Meanwhile, also representing continued strength and resilience in her advocacy for global policies related to energy security and transparency, women’s rights and for worldwide gender equality.

Grybauskaité served as the first female President of the Baltic-nation of Lithuania from 2009 to 2019, being the only President to be elected for a second term. While serving as President, she oversaw Lithuania’s democratic and economic transformation – facilitating the country’s ability to enter the European Union free trade agreements.

Since the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Grybauskaité has publicly supported a direct NATO military confrontation, stating that diplomatic negotiations and sanctions have failed to deter Russia. For many Lithuanians and Eastern Europeans alike, she serves as a role model for her efforts to advocate for European unity and to build a strong and independent nation that was once under the grips of Soviet Russia.

Hannah Schmitz, Carver Oakley

Achieving greater gender diversity in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) remains a core challenge for both education and workforce settings. A key solution to the underrepresentation of women is to celebrate those role models who are excelling in STEM based jobs, one such woman is Hannah Schmitz, Red Bull Racing’s Principal Strategy Engineer. In this role Hannah is at the heart of Red Bull’s crushing Formula 1 success whereby she dictates race strategy to Max Verstappen and Checo Perez, helping them to maximise track performance.

Hannah does this by synchronising thousands of data to make split second decisions to inform strategy. Using this skill, Hannah has been credited with orchestrating Red Bull’s astonishing wins at the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix, 2022 Monaco Grand Prix and 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hannah has spoken about the challenges of being a woman in a leadership position in a male dominated environment. In an interview in 2022 she said, “As a strategist you have to tell a lot of people what to do and they’ve got to listen to you, so it’s building up that trust and I think as a woman unfortunately that was harder, but now I have that respect and I hope other young women who want to get into the sport will see that you can do it, can embrace it, and we’ll see more diversity.”

Mala Tribich MBE, Ella Rose

Mala was born in 1930 in Poland. After the Nazi invasion, her family fled East, eventually being imprisoned in the ghetto established in her hometown. She was briefly hidden as a child before returning to the ghetto, shortly after which her mother and sister were murdered. Mala, along with her young cousin was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp.

After about 10 weeks they were transported in cattle trucks to Bergen-Belsen where conditions were appalling, Mala contracted typhus. After liberation, Mala was surprised to receive a letter from her brother Ben in England, the only other member of her close family to have survived the Holocaust.

In March 1947, Mala came to England. It is not just because she is a Holocaust survivor that she is an inspiration. Now in her 90s, Mala shares her testimony week in, week out with schools, young people and communities across the country, determined to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are learnt. She is a truly remarkable woman.

Harriet Harman, Sasha Batchelor

Harriet Harman is a veteran Labour MP who has held a plethora of roles including former acting Labour Leader and Deputy Leader. She has been Mother of the House of Commons since 2017.

A political trailblazer and an inspiration to many, Harman has tirelessly championed women’s rights and helped to improve female representation throughout her more than four decades in Parliament. During this time the number of female MPs has risen from 3.5% from 1983 to over 30% today.

At our recent #AskAtticus event, Jess Phillips MP credited Harman and the other women of the 1997 election for building “ladders until their hands bled” and transforming her life. Harman’s many achievements include bringing forward the National Childcare Strategy and the Equality Act (2010) which will both form a huge part of her legacy.

Her absence will be greatly felt when she steps down at the next election. While there is much more work to be done, future advocates will be standing on the shoulders of pioneers such as Harriet Harman.

Sara and Yusra Mardini, Elena Campbell

In 2015, sisters and competitive swimmers Sara and Yusra Mardini fled Syria due to the civil war. When their boat’s engine failed during the sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, the sisters pulled the boat towards the coast of Greece, saving themselves and everyone on board. After seeking asylum in Germany, Sara returned to Greece to volunteer with an NGO. She was one of 24 aid workers arrested and accused by Greek authorities of espionage and aiding illegal immigration. These charges have since been dropped on procedural grounds and refuted by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International.

Yusra pursued her swimming again and was selected for the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team. She is now a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and continues to share her experiences to demonstrate the determination and shared experiences of refugees around the world.

Whilst Sara and Yusra are undoubtedly inspiring women, it is their continued commitment to fiercely advocate for everyone’s right to seek safety that I find particularly inspiring. The Swimmers, a 2022 film inspired by this powerful story, elegantly portrays the human reality of what it means to be displaced, a woman and the powerful bond of sisterhood. 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II , Alex Rogers

When Her Majesty The Queen passed away in 2022, the outpouring of emotion (and 17 hour queues) for Britain’s longest sovereign cemented her legacy as one of the ‘Greatest Britons’. During the Queen’s life the lessons of devotion, duty and fortitude carried a nation from the troubles of World War II to the Covid Pandemic. During her reign the country went through a swathe of technological, lifestyle and geopolitical changes. Her guidance for the nation united the country, and her patience and charisma showed resilience in the face of steep challenges. As many will have gathered from series like ‘The Crown’ her weekly audience with British Prime Ministers of all sides, ensured her government remembered their own duty to the country, much like she did throughout her reign.

Soma Sara, Suzi Whyte

I have been inspired by so many women whose voices and actions have created positive change for mine and future generations. But someone who has been particularly inspirational and impactful in the last few years is Soma Sara. Sara created Everyone’s Invited in 2020 as an Instagram account where young women could share their personal experiences (often from schools) of sexual harassment and abuse. With empathy and compassion, she created a space where young women could support each other.

Following the murder of Sarah Everard in 2021, Everyone’s Invited blew up to such an extent that Sara had to create a dedicated website to accommodate the flood of testimonies she was receiving – exposing just how prevalent the issue was.  The media furore which followed, forced schools to urgently address the issues raised.  In turn, the Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP (then Chair of the Education Select Committee) demanded an enquiry, which triggered an OFSTED independent review. That review concluded that sexual harassment was being normalised in British schools and there was an urgent need to tackle abuse and prioritise the safety of girls on campus.

Soma Sara’s activism shone a light on a hugely concerning misogynistic culture within schools and she started a conversation that has created real change. For me, she represents something truly inspirational – a powerful female voice whose determinism and bravery has brought young women together to challenge deeply entrenched cycles of abuse against women and girls.   

Kylie Minogue, Alex Tiley

Kylie is the highest-selling Australian female artist of all time and has sold over 80 million records worldwide. While this in itself is extremely impressive, it is Kylie’s commitment to activism and advocacy: using her platform and influence to support diversity and communities that makes her even more of an inspiration.

Almost certainly linked to an adoring fan-base within the LGBTQ+ community, Kylie has been an advocate for LGBT people from the early 80s and the beginning of her career, famously announcing that she had put her own wedding on hold until marriage equality was introduced in Australia in 2016. Speaking of her closeness to the LGBTQ+ community, Kylie has spoken about how she it is a reciprocal relationship that supports each other. While part of this has been inherently political, Kylie has also been sure not use her pop-culture influence to dominate authentic LGBTQ+ voices; saying that her work is about promoting acceptance and allowing people the space to be heard and understood.

While different from some more overtly political choices, Kylie represents how women within any public-facing industry can use their influence to change narratives in the public and the political, as cultural leaders. 

Caroline Flint, Ellie Anderson

Caroline Flint was elected to Parliament in 1997, becoming the first and only woman to represent the Yorkshire constituency of Don Valley. A Labour-held seat until the point, Flint became Don Valley’s fifth Labour MP, which she would represent until the 2019.

Holding various positions within the Shadow Cabinet between 2010 and 2015, Flint took 2015 as an opportunity to run for Deputy Leader of the Party. Although coming 3rd, she used the position to promote the need to champion policies that protect women and girls. Using her own experience, having experienced her mother’s alcoholism growing up, Flint has long campaigned for better provisions for women and girls who are placed at the forefront of alcohol and substance abuse – campaigning to raise awareness for an issue rarely spoken about.

Having witnessed an all too similar reality growing up, there is little more powerful than seeing figures across politics who not only share similar experiences but are brave enough to speak out about it and campaigning to change the reality for so many others.

With estimates pointing to over 3 million children living with parental alcohol problems, it’s often very easy to feel powerless and lonely in a situation. With figures like Caroline Flint so bravely speaking up on the issue, her voice continues to represent women and girls across Britain today.

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