International Women's Day 2018


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Opinion Team

International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and marks a call to accelerating gender parity, not just today, but every day.

The theme for this year's International Women's Day (#IWD2018) is #PressforProgress, providing a call to action that motivates and unites friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

With the push for collective action to power equality worldwide, we asked some of our JUMPers to let us know who and what is inspiring them today. From writers to actresses to activists and brands, this post is all about the people and things that have had and are having a positive effect on the push for progress.

A photo of a person reading The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

Malala Yousafzai

Next up on our list is Malala Yousafzai, who has been through and achieved so much in her young life at 20 years old.

After publically campaigning for girls’ rights to an education in Pakistan, the Taliban attempted to silence her by shooting her in the head. What they did not anticipate however, is that after recovering from critical injuries in a UK hospital, she would start campaigning even more passionately - not just for girls’ education in Pakistan, but around the world.

In 2014, she went on to be awarded as the youngest-ever person to win the Nobel Peace Prize and has continued to be an inspirational speaker for girls all over the world.

“I raise up my voice – not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” - Malala Yousafzai

We also recognise Malala's father Ziauddin Yousafzai on this day, who has fought hard against the grain of the region's deeply-male oriented traditions to give his daughter equal opportunity. He has since gone on to set up educational schools for girls all over Pakistan.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress during the golden age of Hollywood and famous for her title role in Samson and Delilah amongst many others.

In between her Silver Screen exploits and red-carpet appearances however, Hedy Lamarr showed that glamour was not all that she wanted to be known for. She was an exceptionally talented inventor and went on to pave the way for women in technology by pioneering the field of wireless communications. 

During World War II, her and her co-inventor George Anthiel developed a "Secret Communications System", developed to combat the Nazis. By manipulating radio frequencies, the invention managed to form an unbreakable code which prevented messages being intercepted by the enemies.

Not only this, but the "spread spectrum" technology that Lamarr invented has spurred on the digital communications boom, helping form the making of mobile phones, Wi-Fi and other wireless operations today!

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan was a writer and activist and is one of the most widely-recognised feminists in American history.

She is the writer of The Feminist Mystique, a brilliant book which famously chronicled the lives of several 1950s housewives. Friedan was the first person to broach the unspoken subject of women's dissatisfaction with the domesticity of their lives at that time and is often attributed as responsible for the second-wave movement of feminism.

She went on to co-found the National Organisation for Women, bringing women into the mainstream of American society as well as organising the nationwide Women's Strike for Equality in 1970. She died at age 85 in 2006, but achieved much in her lifetime for the rights of women.

Kate Adie

Of course we had to include one local hero, who is author and broadcaster Kate Adie from Whitley Bay. She is renowned for her long service as the BBC’s Chief News Correspondent.

She began her career at the BBC as a station assistant, but her big break came with the London Iranian Embassy siege in 1980. As that evening’s reporter, she was the first on the scene and reported live and unscripted to one of the largest news audiences ever whilst crouched behind a car.

Bold, brave and showing that gender should never constrict our capabilities, she became a regular for reporting on disasters and conflicts throughout the 1980s from war zones all over the world. Most famously, she was assigned to report the Tiananmen Square protests of ’89 and ran through gunfire to deliver tapes back to the UK.

She has since dedicated a great deal of time to examining the work of women in World War I, including her book Fighting on the Home Front: The Legacy of Women in World War I.

'100 Years and Counting'

And lastly, a piece of work that truly shone through for us this year was Channel 4’s ‘100 Years and Counting’ by 4Creative. Directed by Alex Bouttel, the emotive and powerful montage celebrates 100 years since women could vote.

The witty and poetic voiceover forthrightly lists everything that women have been told can’t be done against the opposing backdrop of women marching on towards liberation in various different ways.  It recognizes the likes of #ThisGirlCan, #HeForShe, #EqualPay and #MeToo showing how far we’ve come in our efforts, but also serving as a stark reminder of how important it is to keep going.


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