March 8th is International Women’s Day and it goes without saying that this is an important date on the calendar, especially because women today are still not equal to men in Britain and in other parts of the world, women are still disenfranchised or without basic human rights. I spent IWD this year at a small event where the current issues affecting women today were discussed. This event also got me thinking about who I consider to be my female role-models and why, and I thought that I would share them with you and, hopefully, start a discussion about why we consider the women we hold in high regard to be so influential and important to us.
Lucy’s Top Ten Influential Women (in no particular order):
1. Caitlin Moran – Caitlin Moran’s book How to be a Woman is one of my top ten books because it is an hilarious account of the trials and tribulations faced by women that have been socially constructed and passed on for generations. She is the writer and advocate for women that I want to be.
2. Jenni Murray – Jenni Murray is a Women’s Hour presenter and I have had a girl-crush on her since I first started listening when I was sixteen years old. She is an incredible journalist with a fierce interview style. I would die a happy lady if I ever got the chance to be interviewed by her.
3. Malala Yousafzai – Although she is younger than me, Malala is one of my role-models because her determination and strength is incredible. Her dedication to her cause almost killed her, and yet she is still fighting for girls’ rights to an education.
4. Anne Frank –I was about ten years old the first time I read Anne Frank’s Diary and her story spoke to me in a way I had never felt before; when I read it last year aged twenty two I was still moved even though I knew what was going to happen. Her bravery in the face of extreme persecution is what I find most admirable.
5. Hillary Clinton – I admire Hillary primarily because of her efforts to put women rights onto the human rights agenda during her time as First Lady. I am absolutely 100% backing her for president because I believe that she will be just the tonic that America needs right now.
6. Eleanor Roosevelt – My first contact with Eleanor Roosevelt was actually through Hillary Clinton’s Living History. This remarkable woman worked closely with her husband as First Lady, and then became an ambassador for human rights, working tirelessly to ensure that the horrors created by the Second World War would never be seen again and that everyone was protected by the Human Rights Charter.
7. Diana, Princess of Wales – Her dedication to her charitable work is the main reason why Diana, Princess of Wales features on this list. Her kindness and humility are the traits I admire most and also her quote, “carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you”, has always inspired me.
8. Olympe de Gouges – In 1791 Olympe de Gouges produced the Declaration on the Rights of Women in retaliation to the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man. She was a voice for women during the most troubling period of French history and spoke out for women to be accorded the same fundamental rights as men. She was the original trailblazer for women’s rights and yet, unfortunately, she is so often overlooked.
9. Taylor Swift – Nowadays, the influence of Taylor Swift knows no bounds. However, I fell in love with the country singing “big sister” Swift long before. Although her commitment to feminism is something I am recently deliberating over, she is on the list because without her I probably would not have got through my awkward, love-struck teenage years.
10. Lena Dunham – I love Lena Dunham because she has used her position in the public eye to champion feminism and highlight the modern dilemmas that women face. I am all about feminist biographies and handbooks, and I thought that Not That Kind of Girl was both hilarious and refreshing.