It is international woman’s day and with this in mind, I thought I would take time to mention some of the women who I find fascinating, strong and some who have changed the course of my life forever.
Woman’s day is an opportunity to talk about issues facing woman in this modern world. Although, when you list all the challenges that woman have to face in this modern society, it doesn’t feel very modern at all. It almost seems surreal that we should still have to deal with issues such as the gender pay gap, harassment and the more sinister forced marriage, abuse, female genital mutilation and other horrors. But the world is full of amazing, inspirational stories of strength, resilience and breaking all barriers. It is these woman who lead by example and make me feel so positive and full of hope for our future.
Of course, there are so many inspirational women that it would take me an eternity to mention all of them. However, these women have made a difference to MY life.
1 – Anne Frank
Anne Frank’s journal made her famous and highlighted her short time in hiding from the Nazi’s during WWII. Her entire family hid in a secret annex that was situated behind a bookcase, above the Opekta offices (one of the businesses Anne’s father owned) in Amsterdam. Her entries are terrifying and sad while some of them sweet and humorous. She talks about life with her older sister and all the typical sibling rivalry as well as a love interest when another family joins them in hiding. She also talks about living in terrible conditions, desperately afraid everyday of being caught. I first heard of her as a little girl when South Africa was going though tremendous change. I had no understanding of what was happening around me but through her diary, I realised that a spirit of inclusion for ALL people was vital for a good future. She provides a message of love and not hatred and she challenges our internal prejudices… “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank
2- Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, poet and author. She worked with Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X during the civil rights movement, was a journalist in Africa during the decolonisation and wrote a number of books and autobiographies. She is an inspiration to me because of her will to fight in the face of injustice. I love her outlook on life and some of her poems are simply beautiful. She stood up and had a voice when no one wanted to listen, especially if your voice was female African American. That takes guts and courage, guts I wish I had sometimes! Her words have brought me comfort and strength at times when I needed them most. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
3- Natalie du Toit
When Natalie was 17, she was riding her scooter home after swimming practice. She was hit by a car and due to her injuries, lost her left leg. She was back in the pool before she had learnt to walk again with the aid of a prosthetic. She inspires me because she never allowed anything to get in the way of her dreams. Despite the tragedy she faced, she was determined to reach her goals. She has won countless medals and in 2008 qualified for the Olympics and competed against able bodied swimmers. She is an inspiration to me because… well, do I even need to explain? She is just amazing! What a superstar! “I have always had a dream to take part in an Olympic Games, and losing my leg didn’t change anything.” Natalie du Toit
4- My Aunt Betty
Where do I even start. This woman literally saved my life! My mom passed away when I was 14 and my sister was 12. My gran then died shortly after that and I wasn’t sure how we were going to cope. She saw the living conditions we were left in with our stepfather and decided she couldn’t turn a blind eye. She took us in, loved us, looked after us, guided us and without her, I do not think we would have survived. To me, she is the ultimate inspirational woman. She never ceases to amaze me. Constantly giving without any expectation of receiving anything in return. This is the woman I most want to be like. The everyday superwoman. I love her more than words could ever imagine and I try to live my life in such a way that makes the sacrifices she made and risks she took to bring us up, worth it! Thank you Aunty B for being my ultimate inspirational woman!
There are so many more inspirational woman and I surely do not have the space on this blog or the time to write about all of them. So as we celebrate all the wonderful, amazing woman today, let’s spend some time looking inwards… What are YOU doing today to inspire someone? Are you making a difference? Are you standing up and making your voice heard? Be the change you want to see in this world… be the solution. Happy woman’s Day!
Some other inspirational woman:
–Oprah Winfrey (Came from nothing to become a global phenomenon)
–Thuli Madonsela (Girls got guts to publicaly stand up against our corrupt SA president)
–Mother Teresa (She had an overflowing capacity to love and make a difference)
–Aung Sang Suu Kyi (Spent 15 years in house arrest for standing up for democracy in Burma)