We’ve all been challenged and pulled in several different directions during the pandemic, and women have been no exception. Several studies have shown that many women have suffered at home, with their health and work, and more so, compared to their male counterparts. And a lot of this comes down to women carrying more of the burden in terms of domestic responsibilities. Despite this added pressure, many women have thrived and inspired others throughout the pandemic – acting as a pillar of hope during such a difficult period. International Women’s Day on the 8th of March (with a fitting theme of #BreakTheBias) is an excellent opportunity to recognise and highlight some of these successful and inspirational women.
International Women’s Day this year is committed to highlighting gender equality and building on the considerable progress towards a non-discriminatory world made in the last 200 years. While the Forbes annual list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women is promising – featuring the most CEO’s since 2015 and 19 heads of state, unfortunately, like much in 2021, the state of female power globally has taken a hit in the last two years. This is why it’s perhaps more important than ever to #BreakTheBias and continue to highlight issues of gender inequality and celebrate women’s achievements.
Not even a global pandemic can slow these women down! In no particular order, here are the women we believe are worthy of our applause this International Women’s Day.
Source: The Independent
1. SHEMARA WIKRAMANAYAKE
Taking out a spot on both the Fortune Most Powerful Women of 2021 and Forbes 2021 Power Women list, Shemara is the first Asian woman to head an ASX200 listed company as CEO and Managing Director of one of the world’s foremost infrastructure management firms, Macquarie Group. Since taking the helm at Macquarie Group, she’s proven to be a vocal and engaged leader on climate change – working with The Global Commission on Adaption to provide insights and recommendations to inspire action among global leaders.
2. GRACE TAME
Australian of the Year Awards 2021 recipient Grace Tame is an unwavering activist and advocate for survivors of sexual assault. She’s used her voice to push for legal reform and raise public awareness around the impacts of sexual violence. As a result, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins went public with rape allegations linked to Parliament House – Grace Tame stood with Brittany Higgins, protesting against the Australian Parliament’s ongoing abuse and discrimination of women in Australia.
3. JACINDA ARDERN
Proving that gender isn’t a barrier, Jacinda Ardern rose to power as the youngest female leader in the world. She’s set new norms, becoming a mum while in power and sharing that her partner would be a stay-at-home dad. Jacinda has received global praise throughout the pandemic for her uniquely empathetic and open communication style, even being labelled a ‘masterclass COVID response’ and a ‘masterclass in crisis leadership’. Under her leadership, New Zealand has had a united COVID response, with high vaccination rates and low hospital and mortality rates.
4. JULIA GILLARD
Former Prime Minister (and the first female Prime Minister in Australia) Julia Gillard was in 2021 awarded a Doctor of Law honoris causa in recognition of her ongoing and tireless commitment to education, gender equality, and inclusion. Stemming from a fierce determination, Julia has delivered nation-changing policies and cast a spotlight on inequalities and misogyny in Parliament that many women have silently endured.
5. GINA RINEHART
While she may be Australia’s richest citizen with an estimated $21.7 billion empire built on iron-ore, Gina also takes out a spot in Australia’s Top 25 Philanthropists, donating an estimated $10 million in 2020. In 2021, she was awarded an Order of Australia for the significant impact Hancock Prospecting has had both directly and indirectly on millions of Australians. From job creation, revenue to build schools, roads and hospitals, and economic opportunities through international trade, the vast and varied influences Gina Rinehart has had on Australia are undeniably dramatic.
6. ROBYN FENTY, AKA RIHANNA
Surprisingly, the wealthiest female musician on the planet has not built her wealth on music alone. In 2017, Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty – a cosmetic company founded on the principle of making “people everywhere [feel] included”. In 2021, Barbados officially declared Rihanna as a national hero, for above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth. Born in Barbados, Rihanna has never let go of her Bajan accent and has remained connected to her Caribbean heritage through her music. She is proving that diversity is a powerful thing!
7. ASH BARTY
Young Australian of the Year Awards recipient Ash Barty is ranked the world’s number one singles tennis player by the Women’s Tennis Association but is perhaps the most down-to-earth pro-athlete out there. While the glitz and glam of a high-profile tennis champ lifestyle beckon, Ash has been applauded for being an athlete that simply wants to play like a superstar but not live like one. As a First Nations woman, Ash also serves as the National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador for Tennis Australia.
8. ALL WOMEN IN MEDICINE
Not just one individual, but all women in medicine deserve some serious praise this International Women’s Day. We need to celebrate our many nurses, doctors, scientists, and specialists who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic. Globally, women make up much of the health workforce (almost 60%). However, female health workers have traditionally been significantly underrepresented in senior positions. Interestingly, there has been a shift during the pandemic. The number of female presidents-elect and presidents leading medical colleges across Australia and New Zealand jumped significantly in 2021, which is inspiring for future graduates.
With challenge comes opportunity
Whether it’s a global pandemic or other adversity, these women all have one thing in common – they’ve risen to the challenges and in doing so, thrived and inspired others.
For a look at some of our own inspirational young women (and men), keep an eye on the 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards. First National Real Estate is proud to sponsor the Leadership Award (in Tas, Vic, NSW/ACT and QLD), which acknowledges young people who set an example through their leadership and drive, paving the way for others to follow, as well as the Innovation Award (in WA and SA), which recognises young people that have demonstrated creative and innovative thinking.
Everyone has their own path and forging this during a global pandemic can be incredibly challenging. If you’re struggling and need some support, reach out to friends or family, or contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. In New Zealand, call Lifeline on 0800 LIFELINE or simply text HELP to 4357.