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International Women’s Day – The women who inspire us…

CI team
Consumer Industries
international women's day

International Women’s Day can be a great chance to celebrate the achievements of women in today’s society.  While there’s still a long way to go, this year as we #InspireInclusion, the SEC Newgate Consumer Industries team take a moment to reflect and celebrate some of the women who have inspired them to take strides in a professional capacity as well as in their personal lives. 

Joanna Kent on Dame Deborah James 

My mum would obviously be my first choice – but beyond my legendary Mother Mary, I’d have to say Dame Deborah James (aka ‘bowelbabe’). Despite being diagnosed with bowel cancer, she put all her strength and efforts into raising awareness of the issue through her blog and media appearances right up to her death in 2022. Today, the Bowelbabe Fund that she setup in aid of Cancer Research UK has raised over £10m to fund essential clinical trials, research and raise further awareness. An incredible achievement by an incredible woman that rightfully received a damehood, personally delivered to her by Prince William at her family home.  

Ciara McCrory on Hillary Clinton 

When I was 10, Hillary Clinton visited my hometown in Northern Ireland as part of the peace process. I was lucky enough to meet the then-First Lady, shake her hand and was totally awe-inspired by how one of the most powerful women in the world had taken an interest in our home. Intelligent, driven, extremely hardworking and steadfast – I’ve been inspired by Hillary ever since. Her resilience in the face of criticism, defeat and abject sexism has shown me that women don’t need to hide in the background, as she said in her concession speech: “to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” 

Harry Membrey on Greta Gerwig  

In such an historically male-dominated industry like Hollywood, how refreshing was it to see director Greta Gerwig make almighty waves – and arguably save cinema itself - with a $1.4bn movie like Barbie? Controversially not even nominated for an award at the Oscars this coming Sunday, no one can ignore the spectacular changes that Gerwig has made to both mainstream filmmaking and film promotion over the last decade. 

Paul McCaffrey on Madonna 

I have always admired Madonna. The artist who, before social media, grew a huge global following. She was uncompromising and tackled subjects that people had previously shied away from such as sexuality, the role of women and the AIDS crisis. 

Despite facing incessant criticism for being risqué she carried on. Ironically Prince was wearing far racier clothes, but as a man, he didn’t face the same criticism.  

Madonna’s recent near-death experience would have made most artists take a step back, but instead she embarked on an 80-date world tour. She is ever evolving and an exemplar of female empowerment. Long may she carry on. 

Fi Todd on Meredith Grey 

I might be way over a decade late, but I recently jumped on the Grey’s Anatomy bandwagon and while Meredith Grey may only be a fictional character, she’s a true inspiration. With extreme self-determination, courage, and perseverance seen throughout the whole 19 seasons(!), Grey is, in my eyes, a perfect role model for not just women, but for anyone out there who has big dreams.   

Simon Neville on Coleen Rooney 

Rarely does a childhood sweetheart of a global superstar footballer manage to stick around whilst also carving out her own impressive image and career. The Wagatha Christie trial of 2022 showed that Coleen is not someone to be messed with. After decades of sneering from the media over her working-class roots meaning she simply must be thick, Coleen showed the world she is smart, careful and calculating. Subsequent documentaries and interviews showed a businesswoman who still feels out of place when walking into a room of rich people, despite having her own considerable wealth, and showed a vulnerability and tenacity that most can only dream of. 

Laura Leggetter on Eleanor Roosevelt 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, former U.S. First Lady and U.S. Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly 

Bloomberg ran a piece last week on anxious overachievers - often women who are talented, hardworking, yet struggle with fears of inadequacy, needing wins and affirmation. I’ve been there but my goodness its exhausting in a way that rest won’t fix.  

Take a breath. Embrace yourself and what you see, and others don’t. If your empathetic side is singled out stay true to the fact that it’s entirely possible to foster a culture that’s both positive and high achieving. Big goals can sit side by side with guidance and encouragement. 

I might not be a good enough man. But I know I can be a great woman. 

Clotilde Gros on Taylor Swift 

To be clear, I am definitely not a Swiftie – but I find Taylor Swift really inspiring. She is well recognised as an artist and has driven the evolution of music distribution, perception, and consumption over the last 20 years. But what I love about her is that she is not afraid to address issues and challenges heads on and has criticised corporate greed, sexism, and racism. 

Rebecca Togher on Raye 

From being assaulted at aged 17 by a record producer and dealing with drug and alcohol addictions to deal with her trauma, Raye has become a chart dominator, releasing some of the world’s biggest hits as an independent artist. She recently broke records by being the most-nominated artist at the BRITS, winning six out of seven awards and becoming the first woman to ever win songwriter of the year. 

Cat Ommanney on Caitlin Moran 

Caitlin showcases that feminism isn’t about burning bras and shouting down men, but actually, striving for equality; for addressing really difficult issues with a sense of humour and accessibility; and for basically demonstrating that not following the mould and not being perfect isn’t just ok, it’s actually kind of brilliant.