Another year, another reason to celebrate the passion and resilience of not only the iconic women around us, but those all around the world. It’s a day to celebrate empowerment, equality, what we’ve achieved so far, and recognise the important journey that so many still face. From defying the odds and becoming the first black female Vice President, to leading a movement into a new age, these motivational figures have changed the game, and in honour of International Women’s Day, we’re here to take you through their story and how they broke down barriers and smashed through ceilings.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
In honour of International Women’s Day, we round-up some of the most inspirational women from the past year.
Meghan Markle (Duchess of Sussex)
The is nothing more ironic than the media petitioning and advocating for a change on mental health, considering all the bulling and harassment they have dished out on the Duchess of Sussex. From the minute she stepped into the fold, the British press have scrutinised, fictionalised and relentlessly obsessed over the Duchess, and last year it reached a breaking point for the new mother.
Announcing she was stepping away from royal duties and being a frontline member of the royal family with husband Harry, the world was rocked by her sudden departure, and while media outlets overflowed with venomous remarks and stories following the announcement, Meghan handled it all with grace and poise. Relocating to LA with husband Harry and son Archie, a year later the Duchess and Duke decided to tell their story on their terms on Oprah. And we (plus all of Twitter) are here for Meghan’s honesty and integrity.
At 22 years of age, the majority of us are graduating from university, finding our dream jobs and discovering who we are as a person. For Amanda Gorman, she was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. Educated at Harvard and having released her first poetry book on oppression, feminism and race in 2015, the young educator was assigned the prestigious role of delivering the inauguration poem at President Joe Biden’s ceremony. Reading her poem “The Hill We Climb”, the poet called for unity and togetherness in a country that has been divided since the dawn of time. Emphasising what the future holds for Americans, the poem remains relevant beyond the inauguration, and to this day, hits the same.
Celebrity break ups are often subject to tabloid news splashes and heavy speculation on what was the reason behind the split. But for FKA Twigs what we thought didn’t even come close to the real story. Filing for a lawsuit in December last year, Twigs accused former boyfriend and co-star Shia LaBeouf of sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress. Sitting down in an interview with Louis Theroux, the star revealed that LaBeouf would instil fear into her and threatened to kill himself if she left. Using her voice and celebrity status, the star raised awareness to not just physical abuse but mental too after she was left with PTSD.
It’s pretty hard to scroll through social media and not come across Japanese professional tennis player Naomi Osaka. Rising to fame in 2018 after winning both the US Open and Australian Open, the star has defied the racism and pressure to become number one in the Women’s Tennis Association. Even though sporting stars are often criticised for taking a political stance during games and matches, Osaka disregarded the views of critics and showed support during matches in conjunction with the Black Lives Movement. Throughout the tournament the 22-year-old sported customised face masks, each bearing the name of a different person who was killed because they were Black. And in case you were wondering, the champion took home the trophy and claimed her second US Open Championship.
In 2008, history was made when Barack Obama took office as the first black President of the United States. A little over a decade later, Kamala Harris broke barriers and also made history as the first black female Vice President. Making herself the highest ranking female official in U.S history. If that isn’t motivtional, we don’t know what is.
Nothing hit harder than Michaela Coel’s snub from the Golden Globes for her ground-breaking drama I May Destroy You. Enthralling viewers from all around the world with its edgy film making and biographical premise, the show opened up our eyes to racism, sexual assault and mental health. With critics hailing it the show of the year, the talent went from TV comedy star to creating the most groundbreaking and unsettling show of 2020.
Liza Bilal & Naomi Smith
The summer of 2020 will not only be remembered for its hazy sunny days and glorious heat but the historical protests and the women who made them happen. In June last year, hundreds and thousands of people descended on Hyde Park to attend a Black Lives Matter rally, which sparked the blueprint for many others to follow. Behind the scenes, it was Naomi Smith and Bristol student Liza Bilal who orchestrated the anti-racism movement and protests. Motivated by racial inequalities exposed by the pandemic and the death of George Floyd, the two lead a global debate and proved how much power lies in protest.
Let’s be real, while we can all say celebrities do their best to raise awareness to social issues and problems, none of them have done it quite like Rihanna. With the star already claiming titles such as musician, designer and beauty innovator, the star added philanthropist to her ever-growing list of titles in 2020 as she donated a massive $36 million to support the fight against COVID and $2.1 million to support LA domestic violence victims. With anticipation for her ninth album at an all-time high, the artist continues to dominate every industry she enters.