IWD: Inspiring Women Who Embody the #ChooseToChallenge Spirit
Here at Love Leggings, we love any excuse to celebrate women and International Women’s Day (8th March) is one of our favourites. IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. An important opportunity to celebrate the achievements of all women, increasing visibility for women’s issues and calling out inequality.
This year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge is a reminder that, individually, we're all responsible for our thoughts and actions - all day, every day. And a call to action: 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. And in doing so, we can all help create a more inclusive world.
As a woman, you learn to pick your battles; to stay quiet and protect yourself from physical or mental harm or from inconveniencing others. But sometimes, instead of staying quiet, brave people, people who have had enough, challenge the perpetrators head-on and incite change. This year we’ve been thinking about some of those brave women who embody the #ChooseToChallenge spirit and women that have created a tidal wave of change.
Malala was challenging authority from a young age. The daughter of an educational activist, she understood the value of education and spoke out against the Taliban who tried to deny girls an education. In 2008, she gave a speech entitled ‘How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?’ and blogged for the BBC on life under the Taliban’s threats (at just 11 years old!). As a result, she was targeted and shot by a gunman on her way home from school. Thankfully, she survived and has continued to speak out on the importance of education challenging world leaders to look at their own policies on education and women’s rights. She’s been an inspiring force for change and, in 2014, she became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
As the second women to ascend to the Supreme court in 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought tirelessly to give a voice to the voiceless and protect the marginalised.
We’ve been inspired by her courageous stand in the face of sexism, including having to explain to the dean of Harvard Law School (which she attended in 1957) why she’d enrolled in university and taken the place of a man. And, inspired by these experiences, she went on to cofound the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project.
Sadly, RBG died in 2020, however, her work as a member of the US Supreme Court speaking up for women, minorities and the LGBTQ community, has made her a pop-culture sensation. And her legacy lives on in the generations of female lawyers she inspired.
While her personal life was a weekly source of tabloid fodder, she found a way to make her public life a source for good. On top of a litany of Royal responsibilities, Princess Diana was a remarkable fundraiser, linked to over 100 charities. Her most inspiring moments were immortalised forever, not just by the press, but in the immense changes they created in their wake.
One great example of Princess Diana ability to challenge people’s perceptions was in 1987. When she became the first high-profile celebrity to shake hands with patients with AIDS. Challenging the belief that the virus could be transmitted through touch. She was used her position as Princess of Wales – the most famous woman in the world – to challenge everyone to educate themselves; to find their compassion and to reach out to those who need help instead of pushing them away.
After reading that some girls in the UK were missing school because they couldn’t afford sanitary products, then, 18 year old, Amika, began an online petition lobbying the government to provide free tampons and sanitary pans to girls from low-income families. Young women face a lot of hurdles in their fight for equality. To think that we women bleed - because of a bodily function we have no control over - and that that is an additional obstacle is so unfair! Amika believed no girl should be missing school because she can’t afford to have a period. And she challenged the government for change. In 2019, they committed to funding period products in every state school and college in England and Wales, and the scheme officially began in 2020 improving the lives of girls from low-income families and allowing them better access to education.
As a woman, you learn to pick your battles; to stay quiet and protect yourself from physical or mental harm or from inconveniencing others. But sometimes, instead of staying quiet, brave people, people who have had enough, challenge the perpetrators head-on and incite change. And this is definitely the case for Gina Martin.
In 2012, at a festival, Gina was upskirted. For those of you not ‘in the know’, upskirting is the violating act of taking a picture/ video under someone’s clothes without consent in an effort to capture their crotch area/ underwear and genitals. After being told by the police that there wasn’t much they could do, she set about to change the law by making upskirting a sexual offence under the law of England and Wales. She started a petition, took her campaign to the government and turned signatures into legislation creating additional awareness and an avenue for women to legally pursue perpetrators.
Professor Sarah Gilbert
At the start of 2020, it’s likely you hadn’t heard for Professor Sarah Gilbert, but by now chances are you’ve at least heard of her work: Professor Gilbert formed the team of lead scientists that are responsible for the Oxford Vaccine – which is instrumental in the fight against COVID19.
Studies have shown that women are discouraged from, or become less interested in, entering the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) beginning at a young age. Even Dr Sarah Gilbert, a professor at Oxford University, considered packing in science altogether. But she and her brilliant team’s research has taken us closer to a time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by COVID19.
Kamala Harris legacy is one of firsts. She was the first South Asian American to serve in the United State Senate - the second African American woman - and is now the first woman, first African American and first Asian American Vice President of the United States ever. She’s advocated for healthcare reforms and a path to citizenships for undocumented immigrants and the DREAM act.
Regardless of your political views, Kamala’s rise to power and subsequent appointment as the Vice President of the United States of America is a historic win for women and POC. And in doing so, made the world a more inclusive place – after all, when one of us succeeds, we all do!
For those of you who don’t know her by name, Whitney Wolfe-Herd is the entrepreneur responsible for the dating app Bumble… perhaps that might be a name you are familiar with. At 31, she became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire - we love a boss lady!!
After leaving Tinder, claiming a pattern of ‘threatening and abusive’ behaviour from her ex-boyfriend and boss (a matter that was settled out of court), Whitney could have given up. Instead, she turned her experience into something positive. She created a platform where women have more power and control – challenging the archaic dating norms. And with over 42 million monthly active users, she’s helped millions find love!