In this post-Covid world, strong female leaders are who we should be looking to, to inspire us to create change and strive towards equality. Join us in celebrating 5 female trailblazers during this year’s Women’s History Month. But keep them in the forefront of your mind every day. Not just once a year.
Olena Zelenska – Ukraine’s First Lady
Current world events have thrust this powerful woman on to the global stage. An architecture graduate and professional screenwriter, Zelenska adeptly juggles her career, family life and political role. Since becoming First Lady, she’s reformed nutrition in Ukraine’s schools, campaigned against domestic violence, and made landmark, policy-changing speeches on gender equality.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Zelenska has upped her social media presence in solidarity with her fellow Ukrainians. The president has elected to stay in Ukraine, despite being Moscow’s “target number 1,” and the First Lady has chosen to remain by his side, which she announced in a moving Instagram post on the 24th of February.
“I will not have panic and tears. I will be calm and confident. My children are looking at me. I will be next to them. And next to my husband. And with you.” – Olena Zelenska
Phyllis Akua Opoku-Gyimah (Lady Phyll) – Co-founder of Black Pride
Self-identified “warrior woman,” Lady Phyll is a formidable voice in the fight for equality for queer people of colour. She regularly tops Britain’s annual Pride Power List of influential LGBTQI people. She’s a trade unionist, co-editor of the anthology Sista! and CEO of the Kaleidoscope Trust (a charity that campaigns for the human rights of LGBTQI people globally). She’s won numerous awards for her activism and turned some down (including an MBE in 2016, because of its “toxic legacy of empire”). However, her landmark achievement is surely as the co-founder and director of Black Pride, the first event in Europe of its kind.
“When we rise together, we are mighty.” – Lady Phyll
Greta Thunberg – Environmental Activist
One of the world’s best known climate campaigners, Thunberg came to prominence aged 15, after she protested outside the Swedish parliament in 2018, holding a sign saying, “School Strike for Climate.” Her campaign inspired thousands of young people across the globe to organise their own strikes. At 17 years old, Thunberg was nominated for a Nobel Prize and won the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity in its first ever award. Her speeches continue to vocalise the anger of her generation in the face of climate change. She has managed to bring more attention to the issue than many other lifelong activists, and inspires us to realise that
“You are never too small to make a difference.”- Greta Thunberg
Shani Dhanda – Disability Rights Advocate
Dhanda is an award-winning disability specialist and entrepreneur. Listed as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people and on BBC’s 100 Women 2020 List, she’s an inspiring keynote speaker and practitioner for inclusion across business, government, non-profit and wider society. She has founded numerous organisations to improve representation and challenge social inequality globally, including Diversability, Asian Woman Festival, and Asian Disability Network. She’s a shining example of what can be achieved in the face of adversity.
“My work is driven by the undeniable impulse to challenge perceptions and change attitudes through my own experiences of feeling excluded and underrepresented in society.” – Shani Dhanda
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – American Politician and Activist
In 2018, Ocasio-Cortez was the youngest woman ever to be elected to the US Congress (she was 29 when she took office). She continually challenges the political status quo, defying long-standing expectations about how young women of colour behave in the corridors of power. Fiercely working class, she was born and raised in the neglected community of the South Bronx, and is living proof that women can achieve anything, no matter where they come from. Since winning the election, she has brought to the spotlight serious issues relating to human rights, immigration, the environment and gender equality, leveraging the power of social media to greater effect than almost any politician before her. The world is a better place thanks to women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
If you missed it last week, you can check out our International Women’s Day blog here: International Women’s Day 2022 #BreakTheBias – Glassmoon