Monday the 8th of March marks International Women’s Day 2021 – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the globe. In honour of this, we want to recognise 10 of our own formidable women. These pioneering women have pushed boundaries, fought for freedom, and blazed trails; all making a notable difference to the world we live in.
2021 Australian of the Year – Grace Tame
At just 26, Grace Tame was recently crowned Australian of the Year for her “extraordinary courage” and unrelenting use of her voice to raise awareness around sexual violence and institutional abuse. With the help of anti-sexual assault advocate and journalist, Nina Funnell, the #LetHerSpeak campaign went viral. As a result, Tame became the first woman in Tasmania to win the right to publicly speak about the abuse she went through as a 15-year-old. Tame’s persistence has given a voice to survivors and driven legal reforms that make a real difference in others’ lives.
Source: The Advocate
Aussie friends that paved the way for female swimmers – Wilhelmina Wylie and Sarah Durack
Until these two came along, women were strictly forbidden to take part in swimming competitions where men were competing. This meant all major sporting events (including the Olympics) were completely out of bounds. Luckily, Wilhelmina (Mina) had a champion swimmer Dad, who in 1907 built Wylie’s Baths in Coogee. The two friends’ swimming prowess became so well recognised that the public pushed back against the regulations at the time and demanded change. As a result, both women went on to compete at the 1912 Olympics (as Australia’s first two female swimming representatives) and won the first gold and silver swimming medals for a women’s event in the history of the Olympics.
The 29-year-old Australian entrepreneur making us sweat – Kayla Itsines
Prior to launching what is now one of the world’s most successful fitness apps Sweat, Kayla Itsines spent her days as a humble personal trainer at a gym in Adelaide. Recognising the power of social media, Kayla and her partner used it to promote and sell e-books in early 2014. Soon after, they took a leap of faith and created an app to reach more people than ever – over 30 million downloads later, it looks like the leap has well and truly paid off!
Forbes “Top under 30 founders of the decade” – Melanie Perkins of Canva
What started out as a tool for creating high school yearbooks, developed into a billion-dollar Australian tech start up. Melanie Perkins co-founded Canva with the aim of making professional looking design accessible to all – an idea that won over Silicon Valley investors in 2010. Canva has today helped to create over 2 billion designs in 190 countries and has over 1.5 million subscribers to its paid ‘pro’ platform. Canva was recently valued at $8.6 billion, making her not only one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in Australia, but also one of the most successful Australian entrepreneurs regardless of gender.
As seen on our $50 note – Edith Cowan
Born in 1861, orphaned at age 15 and married by 18, Edith Dircksey Cowan came into her own in her 30’s when she began to make waves in Australian politics. In 1894, Edith famously co-founded the Karrakatta Club – a women’s group that successfully campaigned for women to have the right to vote. She didn’t rest on her laurels there, at the age of 59, she was the first woman elected to Australian Parliament.
Source: Women’s Agenda
Australia’s first beauty queen – Beryl Mills
At the tender age of 19, Beryl Mills (born on a sheep station in Western Australia) became the first Miss Australia in 1926. Proving that she was more than just a pretty face, Beryl studied at the University of Western Australia – at a time where women attending university was far from the norm – and left her hometown to undertake a promotional tour of America. There, she was presented as the ideal Australian girl; educated, athletic and poised. Rather than coasting by on her famous face, Beryl was a go-getter. She went on to establish a successful advertising agency – the Beryl Mills Advertising Service – before her 21st birthday.
The rockstar doctor – Nikki Stamp
Doctor Nikki Stamp is a heart and lung surgeon, a passionate advocate for all things gender equality in the surgical world, a presenter, an author and a promoter of women’s heart disease and healthy lifestyles. Named one of Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year and featuring in TimeOut Sydney’s 40 under 40, Nikki is also a regular contributor to Huffington Post and The Washington Post where she discusses working in a traditionally male-dominated domain and advocates the importance of self-care and work-life balance. Dr Nikki is a fab one to follow on Instagram, with a feed full of health tips, hacks, and myth debunking – her approach is all about being less #fitspo and more accessible, informative, and inspiring.
Bringing juice to the masses – Janine Allis
You’re now more likely to stumble across a Boost Juice bar than a kangaroo in Australia, but it hasn’t always been that way. What started in 2000 as a one-off juice bar created by a woman with no business experience but oodles of determination, has, 20 years later, turned into a franchise with over 580 stores across 13 countries. As well as taking juice to the people, Janine has written The Accidental Entrepreneur, which is aimed to inspire and guide others on their entrepreneurial journey. Janine has also become a judge on Shark Tank, a competitor on Australian Survivor, and most recently, an ambassador for Australia in the UNHCR Leading Women Fund.
Proving that women can soar to great heights – Maude Bonney
This female aviator set an unprecedented number of records in her time. Flying for a solid 1,600 kilometres back in 1931, this was the longest distance a woman had flown in a single flight. Bonney didn’t stop there – she holds the title of the first female to circumnavigate Australia by air in 1932, the first woman to fly from Australia to England in 1933, and the first woman to fly from Australia to South Africa in 1937. Sadly, the outbreak of the Second World War and failing eyesight ended her flying career, but she went on to advocate for women in aviation as the president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association in the 1950’s.
Source: Byron Shire News
Our very own superstars – the women of First National Real Estate
Last year we celebrated the multitude of marvellous women in our network (although we couldn’t mention them all, as we have so many!) While of course they are property professionals, many of our fleet of fierce females take things further and inspire passion for the community in our people.
While our Australian women have blazed trails (and continue to do so) at home and on the world stage, in the spirit of International Women’s Day, there are a few fearless female leaders around the globe that deserve some time in the spotlight…
New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in over 150 years, Jacinda Ardern is one of them. The second elected head of government to give birth in office, Jacinda has been recognised globally for her strong leadership and aggressive response in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Over on the other side of the world, the first female vice president, the first African American and first Asian American in US history – Kamala Harris – has just been sworn into the White House. That’s a lot of firsts! Finally, continuing on the political theme, known for challenging politicians to drive change is Greta Thunberg. The 18-year-old Swedish environmental activist tirelessly campaigns against climate change and urges world leaders to take notice now.
So, whether you’re a self-proclaimed woman of influence, an aspiring one or a supporter of one, don’t forget to join forces on the 8th of March and celebrate International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge.