We often hear the amazing stories of the heroic, inspiring women of the past but the women of our decades can be somewhat under-reported. As it is International Women’s Day, we wanted to share the successes of the ladies within our era.
Known for her wild and crazy ways, Jade Goody had a tough ride. In 2002, she appeared on Big Brother, a show that threw her into the forefront of media attention – and not for a positive reason. She was disliked – an opinion pushed towards the public, brainwashed through the short sequences of footage and the headlines that popped up everywhere. Aged only 20 at the time, she was portrayed as mouthy, ignorant and shameless. Goody was scorned not only by the tabloids but also by named celebrities, such as: Graham Norton dressing in a fat suit to impersonate her, or Jonathan Ross saying that men would want to ‘shag her brains in’. The reputation that she acquired was harsh, and with nowhere to really escape to. The extent of the hatred had not been felt until she entered Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, alongside her mother and boyfriend. A complete division in the class system was on full show, with Goody at the bottom of the pile. Many arguments were had within this season, perfect for the show’s ratings but unbeknown to Jade, having an almighty effect on the outside. There was a real low moment when she made a low-blow comment at Bollywood star, Shilpa Shetty. We do not condone racism and the comment was un-defendable. Goody had to understand her own reasonings and make an apology. To make these amends, she entered the Big Brother house in India, wanting to show Shilpa that she was horrified by her actions. Two days into the experience, she received a phone call. The heartbreaking footage of this phone call is something that has stuck with a lot of people – the footage in which it revealed that she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. This boisterous, bubbly character, slipped away in front of our eyes. In response to the news, she said “There’s a cancer cell and there is me. I will always be stronger than the cancer cell – cos I need to live.” Jade Goody had two young boys at home, dependant on their mum. She allowed people to share a lot of this traumatic experience with her, encouraging ladies around the world to get their smear tests. The effects were triumphant and the number of women that went to get checked following her story dramatically increased, it became known as ‘the Jade Goody effect’. She passed away on the 22nd March 2009, her story and legacy lives on.
Swedish teen, Greta, became famous when she began skipping school and inspiring people globally around the issue of climate change. It all began in 2018, when she won a climate change essay in her local newspaper. That was only the beginning for this head-strong, young lady. In the August of that year, she began protesting outside the Swedish parliament building, striving for them to meet the carbon emissions target that was previously agreed in 2015. This became a weekly protest, skipping her Friday lessons to raise her sign ‘School strike for climate,’ Greta also urged others to join her around the world. By December 2018, her protests had gained viral media attention, encouraging over 20,000 students worldwide to join the cause. In 2019, she missed a whole year of schooling, deciding to instead use her voice whilst she was being heard. In this year, she attended an array of climate change conferences and protests. One of her most well-known events was the attendance at the UN Climate Conference in New York. Sticking to her ideals about being environmentally friendly, Greta made a two-week journey across the oceans in a racing yacht rather than flying. She inspired millions with this bold decision and people all around the world took part in a climate strike. When she arrived at the conference, she had a lot of questions and statements for those in power, making sure that her voice was heard. One of the biggest statements that was pulled from the conference was “How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” This was so poignant and stuck in the minds of many as it left the question, why is it that politicians rely on young people to provide the change and the answers on this issue. Following her huge achievements, she was awarded Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
2021 has seen this lady claim a number of ‘firsts’. She is the first vice president in the history of the United States, the highest-ranking female official and the first African American to hold the post. She prides herself on ‘fighting for the people’. Kamala gained a huge population of followers due to her support of LGBTQ+ groups, minority groups and general support for those who are in need. Her caring nature has taken her through the rankings and led her to the position that she holds today. One of the main drives for Kamala is something that her mother said to her whilst growing up; “Don’t sit around and complain about things, do something”. During her political career so far, she has defended immigrants and refugees, helped to increase the minimum wage, campaigned for climate change laws and prosecuted transnational gangs that were at the centre-fold of human trafficking cases and drug rings. They are only a handful of the great things that she has fought for, and they were implemented whilst she didn’t hold the role of vice-president. Vast numbers of American’s are hopeful for the positive changes that will come during the years of this presidency. Biden-Harris pride themselves on their motto; ‘Battle for the soul of the nation’ and have many plans for what the future will hold.
Her rise to fame came on the 2016 season of Love Island. Fans fell in love with her bubbly, happy and straight-talking nature. After a roller-coaster journey, Malin was eliminated from the villa half-way through the series. She maintained her place in the spotlight over the following years, with social media largely keeping her in the loop. In June 2018, she then announced that she was pregnant with her former boyfriend, Tom Kemp. On New Year’s Day, it was then revealed that Malin had given birth to a daughter, Consy, seven weeks prematurely. Around a month later, after a tough battle, the heartbreaking news was reported in that Consy had unfortunately passed away. Following her death, Malin released a picture to Instagram with the caption ‘Completely in love with you.. and my Mum just wanted you to be with her’. Throughout the pregnancy, it was later revealed that she suffered a considerable amount of physical and mental abuse from her former partner, Tom. This was something that she believed contributed to the passing of her four-week-old daughter. Fans applauded her bravery for speaking out and telling her story. Her story of child-loss, of mental heath, of domestic abuse, has helped thousands. She told her story with the hopes that it could help someone else that was suffering similarly, I believe that she has done just that.
Biles is an American artistic gymnast, known globally for her fantastic efforts within the field. She has inspired youngsters globally and achieved 30 Olympic and World Championship medals within her career so far. She is well and truly a champion within the sport. Her early life saw her and her younger sister, Adria, raised by grandparents Ron and Nellie, after their mother, unfortunately, faced her own battles with substance abuse. The sisters were later adopted by their elder family members, with the gymnast now referring to Nellie as ‘mom’. The pair influenced the girls’ hugely and encouraged them to always be the best versions of themselves. In the midst of Simone’s successes, in the conversation of her grandmother Nellie, the gymnast told CNN “She encourages me and never lets me feel down about something for too long.”
She began her gymnastics career in 2007, competing in small competitions. Over the following years, she trained hard and cemented her place within the industry. One of the first historic events within her career came in 2013 when she delivered an impeccable performance at the World Championships, becoming the first African-American to win gold in the all-around. In response to her win, she explained to the Hollywood Reporter “I think it inspires a lot of the little girls out there to go in the gym and train harder.”
In 2018, Simone revealed heartbreaking news to the world in the midst of the #metoo movement in that she alongside many other young girls had been molested by former USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. When she finally spoke out about her ordeal, she said “For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? Was it my fault?’ I now know the answers to those questions. No. No, it was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others.” She was applauded for her bravery of speaking out, encouraging many others to do the same.
Throughout the rest of her career so far, she has continued to break records and collect the rewards, soaring throughout the gymnastic field and making herself a household name.
Globally known and loved, Oprah is an inspiration to so many. She is multi-talented, having worked as a talk-show host, author, actress and philanthropist. Many know Oprah as this famous hostess with the mostess but are blind-sighted as to where her story began. She was born in Mississippi into poverty, raised solely by her mother in inner-city Milwaukee. She then faced a very traumatic childhood, stating that she was molested throughout most of her childhood and early teenage years, something that no child should ever have to experience. The trauma only grew for Oprah as she became pregnant at the age of 14, later losing her son in his infancy due to him being born prematurely. After some troubling years, naturally resulting in bad-behaviour, she was sent to live with her father in Nashville. Oprah said that her father saved her life, he was strict but kept her on the right path, and after the previous years that she had endured. Due to her father’s encouragement, Oprah became a star student, participating in extra-curricular classes as well as her set modules. After competing in a speaking contest, she was awarded a scholarship to Tennessee State University. She worked incredibly hard once again and by the age of only 19, she was invited to work with Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). It was then that she worked as a co-anchor on the evening news – Nashville’s first African-American female of such a role, all whilst remaining as a sophomore in college. After graduating, she started climbing the rankings, starting with local news updates and developing to taking over as anchor on A.M Chicago. As the story tells, this was then renamed ‘The Oprah Winfrey show’ in 1985, an hour-long show that remodelled the issues of previous shows, discussing subjects that were risky, un-spoken and controversial. She has gone down in history as one of the biggest inspirations to so many. Her show grew in popularity year-on-year and she became known as a global sweetheart. Many American’s were routing for her to run for presidency in 2020. I think her story shines so brightly due to her arising from poverty and creating this incredible future for herself. Oprah is the first female black billionaire in the world and it is well and truly deserved. She has inspired so many of us around the world.
Serena is an American tennis player, notorious for her participation in the revolution of women’s tennis. During the ‘open era’ she won more Grand Slam titles than any other man or woman, she won this on 23 occasions. Due to her powerful play and unique style, her and sister Venus shot into the eyes of the world. Not only did the sisters play superbly individually but also as doubles partners, winning 14 Grand Slam titles together. During the years between 2000-2003, Serena managed to secure a gold medal in the Sydney Olympics and wins at the French Open, the U.S Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Over the next 14 years, Serena flourished, becoming one, if not the, biggest name in tennis. Whilst competing in such a large variety of competitions, behind-the-scenes she was also facing her own personal battles. In 2011, Serena developed a pulmonary embolism, a condition that required serious medication, as well as requiring treatment for another issue, a hematoma. Aside from this issue, she also suffered regular migraine attacks, often playing through her matches whilst suffering. Following her successes, she then went on to grow her own family, winning the 2017 Australian Open singles whilst 9-weeks pregnant with her daughter, Olympia. Serena is a huge inspiration for women globally.
At the incredibly young age of 21, Jasmine became the youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic, an incredible achievement. Whilst swimming in the Caribbean in 2018, she had seen a similar race taking place, she felt this was the moment that her mind was altered and she knew that she wanted to embark on her own journey. In 2020, it was her turn to make a go of it. Her, alongside 21 other boats from around the world entered the challenge, described by the organisers as “The World’s toughest row” challenge.
She began her journey in the Spanish Canary Islands on the 12th December 2020 and finished on February 20th 2021 in Antigua in the Caribbean. The journey took her 70 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes, according to organisers ‘Atlantic Campaigns’. She faced many obstacles along the way, trolling through masses of seaweed, finely balancing a schedule of sleeping and rowing, and perhaps the biggest – a capsized boat. On the Thursday before she completed the race, Jasmine’s boat capsized, with around only 100 miles to go. She was injured and suffering pain in her elbow but after a quick phone call with the race doctor, she decided that she had to push on. 2 days later, she achieved just that, she arrived onshore holding smoke signals in either hand, ready to be swaddled in the British flag. Not only was this challenge a fantastic achievement for her and younger aspirants, but also for the charity that she fundraised for. The disaster relief charity ‘Shelterbox’ were gifted $14,000 following Jasmine’s hard work.
Katie is an English writer, model, television presenter and activist. After leaving school, she trained to be a beautician but shortly after, began modelling, featuring in a variety of newspapers and competing in pageants. Following this, she eventually decide to move away from Hampshire to central London, to pursue her dreams and work as a presenter on several digital TV programmes. Her life was then turned upside down in 2008 when she was the victim to a vicious attack. In March 2008, Katie was attacked with acid by her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice, leaving her with major damage facially and blindness in one eye.
In the February of 2008, Katie had started a relationship with a man after the pair had connected online. Within weeks, she felt that something wasn’t right and later that night he attacked her in a hotel room. She then returned to her flat, considerably shaken up. Only days later, the man, Daniel Lynch, demanded that she visit a nearby internet cafe. Katie could have never anticipated what would come next as Lynch had arranged for an accomplice to throw sulphuric acid at her face whilst she was leaving her premises. After being rushed to hospital, Katie then spent twelve days in an induced coma, undergoing multiple skin grafts.
Her honestly and bravery has set her right at the heart of the nation. She has given hope, courage and love to people that have faced similar situations whilst inspiring millions more at the same time. Katie is now married to Richard James Sutton and has two daughters, Belle Elizabeth and Penelope. She plans to explain the attack when her daughters are old enough to understand.
Malala is an inspiration to females everywhere. She defied the Taliban in Pakistan at a young age and made a desperate plea to push for the education of girls. This plea was something she was so passionate about but it was dangerous, resulting in her being issued a death threat from the Taliban. On the 9th October 2012, Malala was shot in the head by an unknown gunman, as she was travelling home from school. The shooting left her in a critical condition and meant that she had to be flown to a military hospital in Peshawar. At this stage, she had a portion of her skull removed, to allow for the swelling of her brain. Extra urgent care was needed and from there, she was then transferred to Birmingham, England. She still required a number of surgeries but doctor’s had managed to stabilise her enough to take her out of the medical coma. Following multiple surgeries, Malala became well in enough to leave the hospital. Somehow, she had managed to suffer no brain damage despite the shooting. In March 2013, she began attending school in Birmingham, with millions sharing their support for her globally. On her sixteenth birthday, nine months after the shooting, Malala made a speech at the United Nations, she re-embedded her focus for women’s rights to education, encouraging political leaders to assess their policies. Her effects were majorly recognised in 2014, when she was awarded the Nobel peace prize. She has written books and been the star of a documentary but has never lost her main motivation.
Malala continues to strive for a better world and slowly but surely the world is listening.