To celebrate International Women’s Day this year we have compiled a list of six influential women who are leaving their mark on the world.
Celebrating women across the world
Every year on 8th March, International Women’s Day is celebrated across the globe. In 2019, the theme is #BalanceforBetter and focuses on building a gender-balanced world. Better the balance, better the world. These are all remarkable female figures in their own way, some you may have heard of, others you won’t have. They are all influential women, and they have all achieved great things…
Barbara Burton - CEO of BehindBras
Earlier in her life, Barbara Burton found herself on the wrong side of the law. After leaving prison she knew it would be tough finding a job but was eager to make a fresh start. Barbara chose bras to be at the centre of her business initiative because when a woman goes to prison, she loses her femininity and is deprived of anything beautiful.
The main motivation Barbara had for setting up BehindBras was to address a lack of opportunity for women who’ve been in prison - she wanted to improve women’s working, and life, chances after leaving prison.
"Forgetting women behind bars doesn’t make the problem go away. Doing something positive and practical will help. I’m delighted that making elegant, well-designed lingerie can benefit women, who with care, help and belief can fulfil their potential."
Fabiola Gianotti - Particle physicist, Italy
On January 1st 2016, Fabiola Gianotti became the first female Director-General of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). Fabiola is a well-decorated particle physicist whose leadership was recognised as a key factor in the discovery of the Higgs boson - otherwise known as the “God particle”. In 2018, she was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, and has also received honorary doctoral degrees from nine universities across the world.
“We have to do a lot not only for gender diversity, but for diversity in general. Diversity is an asset of humanity, it’s our richness, and we have to use it in the best possible way.”
Brenda Hale - President of the Supreme Court, UK
Otherwise known as Baroness Hale of Richmond or ‘the Beyoncé of the legal world’. Baroness Hale is well-known for being the first woman to assume the role of Supreme Court President, the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court and the first and only woman to be appointed a Law Lord within the House of Lords.
She has tirelessly drawn attention to the lack of diversity at the top of the judiciary – using her own experience as an example. Baroness Hale has been outspoken for the duration of her career to ensure she is not the last woman to reach the professional level she has achieved.
Julia Gillard - Former Australian prime minister
The Honourable Julia Gillard was the first, and to date the only, woman to be the leader of a major party in Australia, Deputy Prime Minister, and in June 2010 she became the 27th Prime Minister of Australia. During her time in this position she sought to address gender issues in Australia and notably gave a misogyny speech which gained worldwide recognition from leaders including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the president of France and the Prime Minister of Denmark.
Since retiring from politics in August 2013, she has received a number of honours including the degree of Doctor of Victoria University, honoris causa, for her accomplishments surrounding education and disability reform as a political leader and an honorary doctorate from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel "for her achievements as a woman committed to education and to social inclusion, and for the impact of her commitment on the situation of children, youngsters and women worldwide".
Yuki Okoda - Astronomer, Japan
It is rare for a student to make headlines for the subject which they are studying - especially in astronomy. Yuki Okoda did just that and rose to recognition as a physics graduate student whilst in her 2nd year of Masters at the University of Tokyo’s School of Science. She discovered a dense disk of material around a young star, which can be a precursor of a planetary system, and could shed light on the origins of our solar system.
Helen Taylor Thompson, OBE - Former spy and charity founder
During World War Two, Helen Taylor Thompson was responsible for sending coded messages to the Special Operations Executive. Whilst this was a secretive part of her life, what she accomplished later on was well publicised - she co-founded Europe’s first AIDS hospital and became the chairperson.
She was also responsible for establishing the Community Action Network (CAN) in 1998, and still today it provides support for other charities.