International Women’s Day

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For International Women’s Day we thought we’d ask you guys which women inspired you. Your responses are eclectic, inspirational and emotional and we expected nothing less.
doreenlawrenceSo many women to choose! I’ve settled on Doreen Lawrence. I was a few months pregnant with my daughter when Stephen was murdered in April 1993 and I have thought about Doreen every day since. She held herself with dignity and grace in the worst of times. We never saw her cry though – I learned not to expect people to tell you they were suffering and to offer a kind word when your soul tells you to. I love Doreen Lawrence and how she has powered her tragedy into creating opportunities for others.
@denise_rawls_london

assataAssata Shakur
In my early 20s I read her autobiography and I understood, as much as you can from a book, revolution from a women’s perspective. The fight, the reasons for sacrifice, knowing your history and not accepting your 2nd class status as a woman within the patriarchal state, your political affiliations ie; Black Panthers or friendship groups. She was proud of her hair, who she chose to be and the skin she was in. To me she was proud, intelligent, unapologetic and trying to affect change for all.
@srosegregory

beyWhen I think about who I’m most inspired by, not just a single name comes to mind. I could start with Mariah Carey, because as a child I idolised her, connected with her story of being mixed race and poor, and felt moved by the positive affirmations in her song lyrics, and who I still turn to now when I need a boost. In my early twenties, it was my late Mum whose lessons lingered long after her death, teaching me how to be a woman by not making the same mistakes as her. Then it became Beyoncé, who showed me what it meant to embrace femininity and be unapologetically fabulous, despite being urged by society to be a humble mother and wife. And now? Now I remain inspired by inspirational superstars, by the women I’m surrounded by and in contact with, the real everyday women, without photoshop, with flaws and failures, with nothing but love to give, dreams to build, a purpose to fill and children to raise. The women who get up each day and fulfil the expectations of their roles, even though they don’t feel like it. Who encourage others, who help those who need them the most with no expectations, who battle mental health daily so that they can be the women they were always destined to be. The women who wanted to give up so many times, but didn’t. These sisters inspire me the most.
@annikaspalding


As a mother, she inspires me, as a daughter and friend, she inspires me, but most of all for the sheer capacity, beauty and strength of womanhood which she embodies, she is a true inspiration.
We bonded fifteen years ago when our babies were at nursery together. My friend is one hell of a woman. Raising three children alone, I’ve watched her call out her fears and take a machete to them one by one, over the course of the last decade – all while managing to apply for the director role in a public sector job where black women at the top are near invisible. And she is reminded.
I’ve seen her break her own heart by making the right, and not the easy choice in love. I’ve witnessed her face her shortcomings with the courage of a lion and own them, seek support, improve. Our conversations though maybe only quarterly, are fuel. We feed each other, honestly, directly and I cherish them.
@JessicaHuieMBE
iyanlaIyanla Vanzant. I discovered her when I was in my mid twenties, I was going through a break up and the guy suggested that I read her book “In The Meantime”.  It took me a while to fully understand that book as I had problems adjusting to the stories. When I went through major depression I read another book of hers which was called “Yesterday I Cried” this book was her bio and it really helped me to understand that it wasn’t only me that had a troubled life and I could come through it. After reading that book I purchased many more and they became my remedy to help rebuild parts of my life.
@denisebrownstylist
 
erykahErykah Badu is a constant inspiration. Artist, musician mother, doula, healer, she refuses to be defined by any label or contained in any box anyone tries to squeeze her in – musically or otherwise. She is continuously evolving and expressing her bold unique creativity and isn’t afraid of people not ‘getting’ it. What I respect about her the most is her ability to embody opposing identities and images at the same time, such as being spiritual and ratchet, with ease and she looking good doing it!
@nehandasoul
 
skinThe woman that has inspired me the most is ‘Skin’ from the band Skunk Anansie.  As a young black teenage girl heavily into rock music I was caught between two worlds. I loved rock music but there was nothing in that genre that reflected my culture. Then I discovered her. At the time her style was unconventional, her stage presence was powerful, almost scary and her voice was incredibly beautiful. I was inspired by her voice, her confidence and how she demonstrated her angst. Off stage she sounded so awkward and quirky something I could relate to well. After many years of being a fan, I was in San Francisco waiting to board a plane to the UK and Skin was right behind me waiting to board the plane too. I wanted to tell her how amazing I thought she was. However she looked tired and fed up, so I gave her space and marvelled in silence that I was standing next to the woman that had inspired me so much.
@afrosandhightea
 
It would have to be both My Grandmothers for their strength and resilience.
They both fought in the war against the French occupation. They stayed true to their roots and carried the Berber traditions forward. If I were to liken them to a known figure it would be Mariem Hassan.
@purelivity
michelle+obama_+danceI’m going to go with Michelle Obama because I feel she’s a real champion of women and children. She’s classy and funny, strong and loyal. MOST women have to face oppression in some form so in reality being successful in whatever we do means we are Queens.
@kellydoza
 

Miriam MakebaI remember experiencing the late, great Miriam Makeba for the first time. It was during the screening of Paul Simon’s Graceland Concert, back in 1987, before the release of Nelson Mandela and when I was…very, very young. The whole family was sat around the television – mum, dad, one of my brothers (the other one hadn’t yet been conceived – gross), my sister and I, transfixed on this celebration of the music of a South Africa that was still very much divided under apartheid, unfolding before our very eyes. Miriam came on and sang Jikele Maweni (The Retreat Song), Soweto Blues and Under African Skies and I was instantly obsessed. Kai! Her voice! Her emotion! That headwrap! Those clicks!  I had a soft spot for South African music anyway (my parents had a few records from back in the day that they would play on repeat), but seeing it performed live blew my mind. A few years later, I heard her version of Mas Que Nada and fell in love with her all over again. It still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it…

Back then, I had no idea that this phenomenal woman had already been instrumental, not only in the anti-apartheid movement, but also in the US Civil Rights movement, performing for the Pope and for President Kennedy in Madison Square Gardens, becoming the first black woman to achieve a Top Ten worldwide hit record and winning a casual Grammy along the way. The power of music is strong. If only more of the artists of today recognised and respected that power… *sigh*  Miriam was seminal in popularising the wonderful music of South Africa across the world. Miriam demonstrated, against all odds, the strength of a woman.  Thank you, Miriam. Thank you, Mama Africa.
@heyisthatme

Who would you add to this list? Which women are in your inspirational Hall of Fame? Who do you think of when you need the motivation to keep going?

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