It's International Women’s Day! Let’s Celebrate Women
It’s International Women’s Day! A day to honour the amazing women in our lives, show gratitude for the battles fought to get us where we are today but, most importantly, a day to ensure progress towards true equality continues for women across the globe.
I’m so incredibly inspired by the women around me ‒ in my life, on our screens, in our Instagram feeds. But today I wanted to focus on five public figures who have really inspired me ‒ get ready to have the pants inspired off you.
1. Ita Buttrose AO OBE
Ita Buttrose AO OBE is the woman. (Not the man, the woman.)
As many of you would know, Buttrose was the founding Editor of Cleo. She went on to become the youngest ever appointed Editor of Australian Women’s Weekly. At the time, AWW was one of the largest-selling magazines, per capita, in the world. In 1981, she became the first ever female editor of a major Australian metropolitan newspaper, when she took on the role of Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, Buttrose is currently 76 years old and a daily host on TV show, Studio 10. She has written nine books, is an ambassador for Alzheimer's Australia, oh and in the midst of all that, she managed to have two children. Talk about doing-it-all.
I met her when I was 22 years old. I embarrassingly stuttered my way through an awkward conversation ‒ awkward on my part, not hers. I walked away dazzled, as she's just as amazing as she seems.
(She walked away thinking she’d met the slow work experience kid.)
2. Michelle Obama
It’s crucial to include Michelle Obama on this list. Firstly, because I have the biggest girl crush on her. (I will literally pre-order her biography the second it becomes available). Secondly, because, well she's amazing. Her grace, her poise, her passion for education, her humble beginnings, her intelligence, her passion for a better world, her killer arms ‒ need I go on?
She was the first African American First Lady. She was criticised, racially slandered and labelled. But yet she rose above it all. She's shown the world that you should never let anyone stereotype you into a corner.
What I love most about her is that she treats people fairly and equally. As the First Lady, she launched education programs to support disadvantaged kids, particularly girls - who, might I add, got to hang out with her at the White House (so jelly). She started 'Reach Higher'. She pioneered for marriage equality is the US. Michelle Obama believes in empowering people, empowering women and treating people equally. But not just equally, but with respect, grace and love ‒ and a few hugs, it seems.
3. Cathy Freeman
I can still remember it ‒ 2000 Sydney Olympics. Cathy Freeman winning gold. She became the second Australian Aboriginal Olympic champion, and the first ever on the athletics track. I remember her interview after the race - they asked how she felt, and she said ‘relieved.’ Always keeping it real.
But the best moment of all: her victory lap, proudly displaying the Australian and Aboriginal flag. An act of rebellion as the Aboriginal flag was banned because it was not a national flag. Since her retirement, she's devoted her time to helping Indigenous children in remote communities gain access to education, through the Cathy Freeman Foundation. A program that is having lasting and significant change.
Cathy Freeman has shown the world what an Aussie girl from Mackay can do.
4. Ellen DeGeneres
I love Ellen DeGeneres. She's funny, she's kind, she's Dori. I’m awed by her bravery; coming out as a gay woman in the 90s.
We forget that she was shunned from Hollywood as a result ‒ she lost her TV show, her job, her network. But Ellen DeGeneres went on to become bigger and better. She now creates a show that brings laughter, happiness and honesty to screens worldwide.
She was so brave and I admit I cried when I saw Obama honour her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She put herself, her livelihood and her career on the line so she could stand up for what she believed in. Who could say they’d do that?
Talk about strong women.
5. Miles Franklin
As a writer, Miles Franklin is an inspiration to me. She was a feminist, an Australian, and from what I gather, never took no for an answer.
Born Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin on a farm in rural New South Wales. When she was a teenager she wrote My Brilliant Career, her iconic novel that Henry Lawson helped her publish. She didn’t have a pleasant upbringing. Her family’s farm suffered from a drought, her father became an alcoholic and she went to live with her Grandmother. She never married, she was asked, but declined becasue she wanted only to be a writer.
And a writer she became. She published over 10 novels, under a number of different names. She also wrote for The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald. She was passionate about developing Australian literature and she supported a number of writers, literary journals and writers’ organisations. Her endowment lead to the Miles Franklin Literary Award being created ‒ her legacy.