• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

International Women’s Day: celebrating Lifestyle’s unsung heroes

ByLilli Steffens

Mar 8, 2021
Illustration of International Women's Day

In the past year, we have seen social justice movements, a global pandemic, political uprisings and creative innovations. At the front of many of those changes were incredible women, sustaining us through lockdown, saving lives, leading protests and countries, advocating for justice. With International Women’s Day coming up, here is a list of inspiring women who should be recognised for their contribution towards a better and fairer world.

Celeste Ng

To anyone who has not read a book by Celeste Ng yet, I highly recommend starting! She tackles subjects including motherhood, racism and suburban life, all set in a nostalgic sphere that builds on Ng’s own childhood. She manages to transport you to another world while firmly staying in reality, and I’m hopeful that her work will gain more appreciation over the next few years.

Photograph of author Celeste Ng at the 2018 National Book Festival.
Image is of Celeste Ng

Image: ANDREW J MATUSKO PHOTOGRAPHY via Wikimedia Commons

Özlem Türeci

While 2021 seems to be becoming another year of uncertainty, vaccines give us some hope that normal life might return soon. Özlem Türeci, co-founder of BionTech, developed the first vaccine while also working on a cure for cancer. She stands for the many women who are at the frontlines of medical innovation and are currently saving our lives.

Professional headshot of Özlem Türeci.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Mikaela Loach

Mikaela Loach, activist and fourth year medical student at the University of Edinburgh, fights for climate justice and against racism. She is one of the strongest voices advocating for social justice and shows that a pandemic cannot stop change. Mikaela is also not afraid to be open and vulnerable on social media and promote self-love.

Photograph of Mikaela Loach outdoors, in medical uniform with a stethoscope around her neck.

Image: @mikaelaloach via Twitter

Jacinda Ardern

Female leaders have been responding exceptionally well to the pandemic and one of them is Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand. Because of her effective reaction to the virus, Ardern managed to keep the country largely COVID-free with only twenty-six deaths. Additionally, her cabinet is one of the most diverse in the country’s history, including some Maori members. 

Photograph of Jacinda Ardern speaking at a conference with an Australia flag in hand.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

International Women’s Day, while being a day to celebrate women’s achievements, also shows how much work there is left to do. But even though there is a long road ahead, people are starting to criticise International Women’s Day; why highlight gender inequality on one day instead of doing it year-round?

Frankly, questioning the need for International Women’s Day is a privileged position. We should question the need for corporate sponsorship, slowly turning it away from its socialist roots and towards a form of capitalising and performative activism. Women have fought hard for this day to become a designated space for change, and recent years have shown that said space is by no means accepted. 

Over the years, the IWD has changed considerably, now including women of colour and members of the LGBTQ+ community, which is an important step in facing the inequality that especially affects marginalised groups. The spirit of revolution, however, has never left this day, and given the status or, better yet, absence of true equality, it will not leave anytime soon. When marches were held globally in 2020, protesters in Islamabad were attacked, women in the Philippines demanded an end to corruption and concert goers in Mexico mourned the victims of femicide. 

Saying that there is no need for IWD means overlooking the countries where advocating for democracy is seen as a crime; it means ignoring women of colour and the LGBTQ+ community, groups that are constantly excluded from feminist movements. International Women’s Day is not just a flashy parade celebrating achievements of prominent women. While we fight for our rights, we have to step aside for those whose voices have been silenced for the past decades. It’s called International Women’s Day for a reason.

Image: Hansuan Fabregas via Pixabay.