Prepare to be empowered. These lesser-known ladies are knocking down gender boundaries, feeding the hungry, championing body-positive movements, and helping cancer victims cope. Get ready to meet the most extraordinary women you’ve never heard of who are doing amazing things.
Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day, and I think it couldn’t be more timely to celebrate my fellow females thanks (no thanks) to the recent political climate. Don’t worry, though, I won’t be getting political with you. This post is all about celebrating the ladies who are kicking through that stupid glass ceiling superwoman-style. Because that’s what we women do. We don’t sit and watch. Not anymore. We’re a strong-ass, savvy-ass, fabulous-ass group of humans that have been underestimated for far too long. But not anymore.
Remember my post about growing up a tomboy and beating the boys at their own games? Same concept, except now that female strength is all grown up. And there are some amazing women in this world that aren’t getting the credit they deserve. Ready to meet your new role models?
AKA the woman building a big name in a male-dominated industry
Here’s what she’s doing: Indianapolis-based, Ursula has been in construction since 1983, starting the job simply because she needed to take care of her daughter and herself. She quickly learned she could express herself through this medium, but she wanted to do things her way. In 1993, she established Ursula David Homes, which incorporate her own designs and building principles. Designing greener, more sustainable homes with contemporary designs, Ursula never received too much backlash from her male counterparts either a) because they are talking behind her back or b) because they respect her. I’d like to go with the latter.
Words of Wisdom:
“It’s funny! Sometimes we don’t think we even know what our passions are or what inspires us until we just try. Who knew that worrying about my daughter would lead me to discover my passion for construction, design, and making our neighborhoods better?”
Gina L. Mulligan
AKA the best pen pal you could ask for
Here’s what she’s doing: Gina Mulligan had been researching women for her novel, Remember the Ladies, which includes a story about a powerful female lobbyist in 1887 trying to help pass an amendment for women’s suffrage. While she was researching strong, courageous women for her book, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then, she received letters. More than two-hundred of them… from people she had never met. Realizing how supported she felt with these letters, Gina decided to start the charity, Girls Love Mail. GLM collects handwritten letters of encouragement for newly diagnosed women with breast cancer, and the organization has touched the lives of over 90,000 ladies since 2009.
Words of Wisdom:
“It’s really the small acts of kindness that create amazing change. If you wait to do a big gesture all at once, you’ll never do anything.”
AKA the body-positive gladiator we all need right now
Here’s what she’s doing: Australian mother and wife Taryn Brumfitt was tired of hating her body. Especially after having her children, she felt more hatred towards her body than ever before. So she started training for a bikini competition. It was tough and required a lot of sacrifices, and even as she stood on stage in her perfect new body, she still wasn’t happy.
She wanted to know why so many people struggle with body image and how we can change that. Enter Taryn’s Body Image Movement, which she adapted into a book and her newly released film, EMBRACE, in which she goes global and speaks to women all over the world, prioritizing health over beauty and changing the way women speak about their bodies. From a body-hater to a body-lover, Taryn’s posing nude for the whole world to see.
Words of Wisdom:
“Standing there on stage, I expected to feel like I had arrived at the place that I had worked all of my life to get to. I had the perfect bikini body. It’s what so many women think about and are driven to have. And in that moment, all I could think was to have what I’ve got right now has taken too much sacrifice, too much time, too much energy, too much obsession, and it’s just not worth it… So I’m standing there in my moment to shine, in my perfect body, and I’m not happy, and some of the women around me weren’t happy either. And it got me thinking: how the heck is anyone else going to be happy with their body?”
AKA the incredible woman you wish you could have coffee with
Here’s what she’s doing: Edna was born in Kenya and was raised during a time of drought which resulted in starvation across her community. Also during this time, girls were not prioritized to attend school. But Edna’s mother knew she wanted her daughter to receive an education, and Edna side-stepped starvation thanks to the meal packages she was receiving at school. When her eyes caught the text on the side “FROM THE UNITED STATES” as a fifth-grader, she resolved that one day she would travel to the US to send food back to kids like her. Well, guess what she’s doing now?
Edna is now in Raleigh, NC, working as the Chief Impact Officer at Rise Against Hunger, a global social impact organization. She has a Masters in Social Work, and her methodologies have been put into practice and folded into the UN’s sustainability agenda to end world hunger by 2030. Also, in 2008, Edna was part of a group of that testified before Congress to promote the Feed the Future initiative. She advocated on the benefits of local food procurement as well as the importance of promoting food security in developing countries. Eight years later, this ultimately resulted in the Food Security Act.
Words of Wisdom:
“I do strongly believe that when I do my job, I am part of the drop in a big ocean, and all I am doing is to help the ocean fill up faster! Each day I wake up, there is a feeling that what I am doing is contributing to this big ocean and making the world a better place. I am turning someone’s dream into reality!”
Jill Campen and Violaine Galland
AKA the kickass negotiators you wish you were
Here’s what they’re doing: Jill Campen, a sales and negotiation strategist, and Violaine Galland, an ex-Wall Street executive, have spent hundreds of hours observing women in negotiations. As negotiation consultants with Scotwork North America, both Jill and Violaine believe that women are strong negotiators and have a knack for creating outcomes that are mutually positive. They are holding a powerful webinar today, March 8, to help women learn how they can be better negotiators.
Words of Wisdom:
“As women negotiators, it’s important to remember that we can be our authentic selves and still be bold to get what we want. It just takes a focused, intentional mindset. This means we have to allow ourselves the luxury of defining what we want.” – Jill Campen
“Women are inherently strong listeners and have high emotional intelligence. These empathetic qualities should be embraced – they can be used to bring power to the negotiating table. We must always remember this and remember those fleeting feelings of doubt are temporary – we are powerful!” – Violaine Galland
Freebie! Deets below about Jill and Violaine’s “Women in Negotiation” webinar:
Date/ Time: March 8th, 11 a.m. PST / 2 p.m. ET
Duration: 30 minutes + Live Q&A
Registration Link: Register here
What you’ll learn: Powerful, practical, and effective negotiation tactics including gender differences in negotiating, how to be bold while negotiating, how to prepare for any type of negotiation, and how to get what you want without having to say “no.”
AKA the savvy marketer who agrees that cancer freakin’ sucks
Here’s what she’s doing: St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants (they raised over $38.5 million in 2016 to fund childhood cancer research). Oh, and Kathleen Ruddy is the CEO, responsible for all this fundraising. She began working in the childhood cancer community in 2001 and, that same day, she put her 30+ years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and marketing to work and began planning the growth for what is now St. Baldrick’s. A mix between St. Patrick’s + Bald, this foundation also organizes head-shaving events for fundraising and to help support kids with cancer who are suffering from hair loss. St. Baldrick’s is holding more than 200 head-shaving events around the world this month. Kathleen has shaved her own head twice and is the daughter of two cancer survivors.
Words of Wisdom:
“Root yourself in humility – there’s always more to learn than is apparent. Ours is a service profession, and it’s rarely glamorous, but few lives offer greater rewards than the privilege of serving.”
Aren’t these women ah-mazing?
You don’t have to save the world to help change the world. As you can see above, each woman has a different story, different strength, and a different impact. No one woman is better than the other–they’re all doing what is right for each of them, and that’s what I’ve loved most about hearing and compiling these stories. Sometimes you might not feel like you’re making a difference, but just because your name isn’t plastered on a giant billboard does not mean you aren’t extremely valuable!
To close out this International Women’s Day post, I’d also like to invite you all to join in on the discussion. Some hashtag campaigns are calling for you to #BeBold, and another, #ActionWednesday, is happening too. #ActionWednesday is a global day of action for gender equality, and even more amazing women will be holding a discussion at the Civic Center in NYC today to speak about gender equality. They’re inviting you to gather with those in your community to join the dialogue.
Man, girls rock. Amiright?