#WeMadeIt: International Women's Day - Everyday Women Doing Great Things
International Women's Day is a special day, a day dedicated to celebrating women who push for change, fight for equality and inspire others to take the lead in their lives and communities. Being YMI's Alumni trustees, we wanted to share our insight as two women adulting in a dominating digital world who have opted to do things differently. We no longer look to celebrities who sell the VIP only lifestyle, instead we admire those who get up every day and try to exist as their truest selves and still make time to encourage us to do the same. If there were rewards for being unapologetic everyday women, the amazing individuals that have inspired this post would surely be nominated. Join us as we look back at the everyday women who inspire us to dream big, fulfil those dreams and share the gift with others.
Growing up the youngest of five daughters, my older sisters were not just my siblings, but also my carers. They encouraged me in every way and ensured that I was always striving for the best. Through them I learnt that sisterhood meant unbound support, understanding and encouragement. Although their concern and scrutiny was occasionally overwhelming, they never skimped on creating an environment of compassion, companionship and encouragement to develop. So even when my sister furiously attempted to get me to catch up after falling behind in school from a sudden trip to Bangladesh, looking back, I recognise that she was one of my first mentors, teachers and offered a beautiful support system. My sisters taught me the virtue of sisterhood, the strength of togetherness in life and success & these values went onto be vital in my life with friends, colleagues and my fellow YMI sisters.
But the female inspiration has come from all angles, and the education system blessed me greatly with some wonderful women. I recall my citizenship teacher igniting my interest in politics as she passionately spoke about historical struggles for freedom and equality and roles of government. Looking back, I realise she really brought to my attention how interwoven politics is in our lives how we are already involved regardless of how much we choose to engage, disengage, approve or disapprove of any political practice. Then my maths teacher really promoted a sense of inclusivity, offering endless support and always emphasising independence, commitment and resilience being key in success. She taught me that nothing is beyond accomplishment as long as we keep trying. Finally, I was blessed to have an extremely supportive tutor who was an attentive listener and made time for us when we were concerned, curious, in need of advice or just needed someone to talk to. She always went the extra mile, even a times when we had no idea that she could, or would help. These Everyday Women made sure that I was never short of female inspiration in my day to day life.
"We work to generate a solid support system and space to grow and prosper. This means celebrating each other’s triumphs and being there to elevate each other when we fall.”
I've had the fortune of developing a close group of friends for over a decade now. Over the years we've served as each other’s companions, confidants and comrades. We uphold and implement the values of always appreciating each other, respecting each other, coming to fiercely defend each other and being loyal. We work to generate a solid support system and space to grow and prosper. This means celebrating each other’s triumphs and being there to elevate each other when we fall. As a teen we successfully completed the expedition for the Duke of Edinburgh award, and the sense of accomplishment we felt was staggering, I've seen that the same principles that guided us through the expedition, apply to our daily lives: we've had to take turns in pushing each other to go forward when struggling with the hike, taking turns carrying heavy bags and taking turns to navigate on our route - because not everything can be done alone. Now as adults, we find ourselves venting to each other after a long day at work and never skimping on the opportunity to go out for an evening to relieve stress and enjoy each other’s company.
Looking back at the wonderful women who have inspired me, I'm incredibly grateful to have this opportunity to appreciate their contributions and extremely proud to celebrate these women who are often taken for granted. For me, historical figures and their strife’s, bravery and victories are significant, but it is women with fierce spirit and strength doing ordinary things that have extraordinary influence, inspiring us every day.
As growing women, our family members, teachers and friends, influence how we will exist, act and develop as women in an ever-changing society. As we go off on our own paths it can take some time to discover and connect with women who truly embody sisterhood. When Anwara and I discussed the definition of Everyday Women I thought about those who have guided me since becoming a mother as well a woman discovering her career again, and again.
"Empowerment and growth doesn’t stop at a certain age and we are never too experienced or old to need that support and love from one another."
Prior to joining YMI I spent years convincing myself that I was now an adult that should just “get on” with adulting, but there were times when I needed guidance. I met Asma and Roxi as a slightly lost young woman who was eager to step into her best self but also frightened about it too. I seemed to be short-changing myself and wouldn’t put myself forward for the opportunities I wanted to explore. Neither Asma nor Roxi allowed me to make excuses for myself or play it safe or small. Truthfully, at times it was challenging but through their tough love, encouragement and patience they taught me the importance of empowering one another. It reminded me that empowerment and growth doesn’t stop at a certain age and we are never too experienced or old to need that support and love from one another.
I recently took the plunge and started a 2-year apprenticeship as a Data Analyst with Hackney Council. This experience of stepping back onto my career journey has reminded me of the importance of sisterhood. I am incredibly grateful to have met amazing everyday women who have knowingly and unknowingly inspired me to this day. Being independent and ambitious can feel like a lonely path but it doesn’t have to be, especially as I’ve had the pleasure of soaking up so much inspiration from everyday women.
Looking back, here are just a few gems that I've been given from some amazing Everyday Woman. Hazel Durrant, who was the Funding Manager at one of my first roles post pregnancy taught me to be unapologetic and embrace my past and the resilience that I inherited from it. Nelle Williams, a fellow mum and Editor of Dear Young Mum continues to teach me that there is true strength in femininity, softness and motherhood. Liz Harrison, Data and Insight Manager at Hackney and Cate McLaurin, Head of Delivery at Hackney are both the epitome of Girl Bosses, inspiring me to not limit myself, put the work in and take up space in places “that weren’t created for women”. Truthfully, I've learnt so much from other women, especially the importance of looking out for each other. I believe that the world continues to evolve as a better place for all because of the everyday women who step into who they were born to be. It’s these women who encourage us to do the same and empower generations to come.
Everyday Women: may we meet them, be them and celebrate them.
Sending love to all Everyday Women from the YMI alumni and team- we recognise and appreciate you! Happy International Women's Day.
Lovingly written by Anwara Begum and Nadine Davis. Both Anwara and Nadine are YMI Alumni who graduated in 2017 and currently sit on YMI's Trustee Board as Alumni representatives.