Today girl power vibes will spread across the globe as we celebrate the rapidly evolving social, cultural, political, and economic achievements of women. Since 1914, March 8th is no longer just another day, but a day marked International Women’s Day. An occasion that underlines the progress we have made whilst encouraging call for change as we continue to rally together for gender parity.
As a woman-led business, we understand the importance of today in order to raise awareness, smash stereotypes, challenge bias, and influence behaviour, because as far as we've come, we're still yet to cross the finish line.
With the 2021 theme #choosetochallenge, we want to shine the spotlight on the powerhouses and trailblazers who came before us. Those unstoppable women who chose to challenge before the hashtag, paving the way for generations, and allowing us to navigate more freely in our common pursuit of horizontal greatness.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
It would only be right to kick this off with the fiercely determined Supreme Court Justice, tenderly nicknamed Notorious R.B.G. for her pioneering work in the high court. She is the second woman to serve on the male-dominated US Supreme Court, and the late RBG with her liberal-leaning rulings fought tirelessly and courageously on behalf of women, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community championing true equality for all.
Whilst studying at Harvard Law School in 1957, she was one of just nine female undergrads in a year group of 500 men. The women suffered humiliation as they were refused access to the library, were not called upon in class, and were individually asked to explain to the dean their reasons for enrolling in the university, thus ‘taking a place from a man’.
Justice Ginsburg went on to graduate valedictorian while also juggling her roles as mother to her one-year-old daughter and caregiver to her cancer patient husband. Despite her outstanding grades, an indirect result of sexism meant no New York law firm would hire her. She went on to pursue an alternate career path which led her to the highest court in America and consequently changing the world. She is known for her progressive votes on an abundance of important issues including same-sex marriage, abortion, affirmative action, and healthcare. The intellectual giant said it best herself, “women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” (USA Today, 2009)
At just 17, courageous Malala captured the world’s attention advocating for women’s rights when the local Taliban banned girls from attending school in her hometown in Pakistan. As her following grew, the Taliban attempted (and failed) to assassinate her by shooting her in the left side of her head. It resulted in international outcry and support, not only for Malala but for all oppressed girls seeking education.
Tough and dedicated to the cause, Malala said “the terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing has changed in my life except this. Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died.”
She became the youngest ever Noble Peace Prize winner and has written two novels using her voice to fight against injustice and providing others a platform to tell their stories.
Leader of the suffragette movement and founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, Emmeline Pankhurst fought tirelessly for the right for women to vote.
She utilised militant tactics to protest women’s suffrage; she organised demonstrations, smashed windows, joined arson attacks, and went on violent hunger strikes which led to brutal force feeding. She resisted the patriarchy and was imprisoned 13 times; still not once did she give up on her mission stating, “we are not here because we are law-breakers. We are here in our efforts to become law-makers”.
Pankhurst lived to see women gain a limited license to vote but died shortly before the law was passed granting all women over the age of 21 equal right to vote.
The innovative and daring surrealist artist created works that explored gender, class and cultural identity, gaining her international recognition for spearheading social causes.
Frida went against the grain, unapologetically embellishing her ‘masculine’ features (her monobrow and moustache) in her self-portraits. She boldly explored taboo topics such as abortion and miscarriage and altered the status quo for female empowerment exposing her physical and mental suffering.
Her art triumphed and resonated with people across multiple generations. She became the first Mexican artist whose work was purchased by the renowned Louvre, and her face is now found on the 500-peso bill.
This year we witnessed the 200-year-old glass ceiling shatter as America’s first female vice president was elected. As the first Black woman and the first Asian American to be nominated for a major party’s presidential ticket, Harris brings refreshing expertise of both culture and gender to the White House. We recognise that previous first ladies have exercised significant influence, but Harris now holds that power.
On top of that, the VP comes from an impressive legal background. She graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C. and then went on to attend the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law which led her to the role of deputy district attorney. She made history as California’s attorney general, being the first woman and the first person of colour to hold that position.
Throughout her time as attorney general, she helped preserve same-sex marriage rights standing against a ballot measure banning gay marriage which was approved by Californian voters, as well as launching California’s Department of Justice’s Open Justice website to increase law enforcement transparency.
Best known for her ground-breaking research on radioactivity, Marie Curie was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize and the only person ever to have won it twice – in separate fields! The first was in recognition of physics which she won alongside her husband and the second in chemistry.
No stranger to the struggle, Marie’s native country Poland refused women the right to attend university, so after she raised adequate tuition funds, she moved to France to complete higher education. She then faced issues of insufficient lab facilities and shortage of funding as well as managing the childcare of her two daughters.
Despite this, Marie went on to become the first female scientist to gain worldwide notoriety discovering breakthroughs in medicine. She discovered two new elements – radium and polonium – one of which is used in killing cancer cells. The effective cancer treatments she developed are still in use today.
Although responsible for establishing the theory of radioactivity, she was also subject to the fatal effect it can have on your health. Ever resilient, she continued to work although becoming increasingly ill. Alas, the level of exposure to radiation in her laboratory resulted in her demise.
Women have shown time and time again that they are powerful enough to change the world. And while International Women’s Day invites us to reflect on the challenges we have overcome and recognise the struggles the modern woman continues to face; we must remember that these issues are not just female – they are social and economic necessities. And so, we must educate our peers on the power of allyship as after all, our voices are our greatest gift.
Speaking of voices, we wanted to know what International Women's Day means to the myFRP women so we whipped around our *virtual* office and asked. Here's what they had to say:
“Women are often put in boxes but we’re actually multi-faceted beings: we are mothers, sisters, daughters, friends. We are caregivers, and we are employees but most importantly we are leaders. We provide our love, support, knowledge, and hearts to those around us. Since the pandemic, these demands are even greater – meeting the demands of our professions as well as the demands of our families in a ‘stay at home’ world. This IWD it is important we continue to recognise the contribution of women, working towards equality for all to ensure a brighter future for the women coming behind us, like those we remember today did for us.” – Oceana, Project Manager
“Today is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the strength and perseverance of women, but also to remind ourselves that there is still much more work to be done to achieve gender equality. Many women are still excluded and continue to go unheard, so while we celebrate today, let's not forget the fight of tomorrow. We should be living every day like International Women’s Day.” - Agata, Sales Executive
“Today we embrace what it means to be a woman and the profound role we have in shaping the economic, political, cultural and social landscape. Today we celebrate who we are: bold, brave, strong and soft. We observe the multiple roles we juggle as a woman and appreciate the privilege we have in creating and nurturing the future generations. Being a woman is about multitasking while finding a balance, and so not just today but every day is for the dedicated mothers, the purposeful leaders, the young women of vision, and the girls rising up to fight. I'm lucky to be surrounded by inspiring women who show compassion and diligence every single day, reminding me that it's not that we don't have struggles, it is that we never give up on our struggles and we will not be defined by our struggles.” - Katie, Director
“IWD is so important as it calls for us to take time to reflect on how far we have come and appreciate the strong women who fought tirelessly to enable the lives we live today. While we honour those of the past, we also celebrate the women out there who continue pushing things forward.” - Jade, Digital Marketing Executive
Want to get involved? Check out the International Women’s Day website for a full list of events by area here.
Dr. Gul, an NHS GP writes about his uses of myFRP and how it's helped him stay organised both in business and in his personal life.
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