This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’. IWD explains, ‘We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help to create an inclusive world. From challenges comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge’.
With that in mind, we wanted to share the stories and achievements of the women that have inspired us – because they have broken boundaries in their field, are forcing change in an industry or with a particular issue, or because they’re inspiring the next generation of young girls and women.
Each member of the Skout team has nominated a woman that inspires them and told us why:
Rob Skinner (MD) – His mum
My mum inspires me. Outwardly, you wouldn’t think of her as naturally tough, but I think she is hugely resilient. She was widowed in her 30s and brought my brother and I up on her own from a young age. When I asked her how she got through the difficult times, she just said: ‘true grit’. Determination overcomes adversity. Oh, and she used to make a wicked butterscotch flan!
Claire Lamb (Dir) – Kate Bingham
As an ex-biochemist and venture capitalist, Kate Bingham took on the role as chair (unpaid) of the UK’s vaccination task force. Within the space of two weeks, she and her team had drawn up a list of 43 possible vaccines and identified which ones were likely to save the most lives – she then set about buying them. To help with the delivery of the vaccine, she also assembled a cross functional team of private sector experts in supply chain and logistics. The reason why we’ve had such a successful roll out compared to other countries is thanks to the fantastic work of Kate and her team.
Claire James (SAD) – Jacinda Arden
Prime Ministers are rarely relatable. When I think about all the PMs we’ve had throughout my lifetime, I would not consider any of them to be ‘like me’, which is why Jacinda Arden is such a breath of fresh air. Did you know that she became prime minister of New Zealand at the age of 37? (That’s 10 years younger than I am now!) Not only can you tell she is passionate about her country in the way she speaks, but her quick reactions and unwavering belief in protecting her people during the Covid-19 pandemic prevented the high mortality rates that we’ve witnessed in many other countries. I admire her enthusiasm, single mindedness, and the commitment she has for her role and the citizens. I am confident she will continue to do amazing things for New Zealand.
Fiona Wyatt (AD) – Victoria Wood
A performer, songwriter, comedian, writer and actress, there’s no denying that Victoria Wood is uber-talented. As a female comedian she was one of the first to be taken seriously in the 80s, which opened doors for many others following in her footsteps. She even gave her fabulous friend, Julie Walters, a platform to shine upon! If that wasn’t enough, she was also a trail blazer for the North at a time when TV channels were fixated on posh English accents – as she would say, “keepin’ it real as always”.
Celine Goodier (BDM) – Michelle Obama
As lawyer and writer, Michelle Obama was the first African American first lady of the United States. During her time in office, she focused her attention on social issues such as education, poverty and healthy living, using her upbringing and experiences to inspire others. As a champion of girls’ education, she launched ‘Let Girls Learn’, an initiative that encourages girls to stay in school and has tirelessly broken-down stereotypes to remove the barriers in female education. I have learned from her philosophy never to hold back or be told that I can’t do something and instead, use it as a challenge to succeed! If you want to learn a little more about her life, the Netflix documentary ‘Becoming’ is definitely an interesting watch.
Alex Gladwin (OM) – Queen Elizabeth II
As the longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II has held a place of power on the world stage for over 65 years. Crowned on 2nd June 1953 at the age of 27, she is still the head of our country at the age of 94! From guiding us through wars and different political directions to keeping in touch with an ever-changing world, she has dedicated her whole life to serving the commonwealth and has always remained resilient despite personal and family tragedy. For me, she will always be one of the most inspirational female leaders of our time.
Lottie (SAM) – Dina Asher-Smith
Dina Asher-Smith is a British sprinter and Olympian and currently holds the title of Britain’s fastest woman in recorded history. Not only does she work and train incredibly hard on-track, but she also uses her profile and platform to speak out about important issues and encourages young girls in schools to participate in sport. What she said in a recent interview really struck a chord with me:
“There’s a big drop off in girls who do sport when they’re around 13 to 15, and everybody seems confused as to why. To me, it’s perfectly clear: I think that’s the age when girls become more aware of their surroundings and people start to look for who they are – what it means to be a woman…and often sport isn’t in that picture. They see the ideal of femininity projected to them and, as a young sportswoman, you look and think: so, am I opposite to that? You have to show that being a career sportswoman is viable, is celebrated, is positive. [That] it doesn’t come with stereotypes; it doesn’t come with boxes that you have to fit and it’s not at odds with being a woman.”
Becky McCardle (SAE) – Angela Davis
Angela Davis is a political activist, philosopher, academic and author – and has recently been included in Time’s 100 ‘Most Influential People of 2020’. I’ve recently read her book, ‘Women, Race and Class’ which is a study of women’s liberation as well as a history of the slave trade and abolitionism movements. A powerful quote that I think demonstrates her strong will and passion for racial and discriminatory justice, is: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Rebecca Brown (SAE) – Lauren Steadman
British Paralympian, Lauren Steadman, made me realise just how much you can achieve if you are determined and are always finding new ways to challenge yourself. Not letting her disability stand in her way, she reached the semi-finals of ‘Strictly Come Dancing.’ And took part in the 2020 series of ‘Celebrity: SAS Who Dares Wins’, beating her fellow competitors to be crowned joint winner. She is also co-founder of Sizu Minds – a community which supports mental health and encourages people to have a voice and be proud of who they are.
With so many inspirational women and achievements to celebrate, we thought a day simply wouldn’t be enough! That’s why we’re taking the month to mark the occasion, using our social feeds to shine the spotlight on our nominated women and share their incredible, empowering and inspiring stories.