International Women’s Day has been a celebration of all things feminine for over a century but it’s never felt more vital. To celebrate this year’s event, we’ve asked five of PLATF9RM’s gal members to tell us about the most inspirational women in their lives. They’ve came back with some beautiful, impassioned words that demonstrate how inspiration can come in many forms.
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Michelle Taylor - Invona
During the time of apartheid in South Africa a widowed single mum, Mabel Fielding, stood in opposition to the cruelty of the times by fighting for, and protecting, Evelyn her black African housekeeper.
Mabel was kind, gentle, strong and determined. She welcomed Evelyn as a part of the family. Evelyn had many battles to fight but she no longer fought them alone. Mabel fought to give Evie a better life. Yes she was the housekeeper but, more importantly, she became part of the family. Evie’s children and Mabel’s children would play together every day. They were raised together. Mabel helped protect Evie from her abusive husband. She helped her to escape and set up a safe place for her in her own house.
She made sure Evie and her children would have a better future by helping put Evie’s children through school and devoted a good portion of her income to a retirement policy for Evelyn. This later enabled Evie to retire comfortably. And once apartheid was over, Evie was even able to buy and build her own house with this money. This is something she never thought possible.
Sadly Mabel never got to see it because she passed away at 61 due to a stroke. By then her daughter had grown up, gotten married and had two children and those children played with Evie’s grandchildren.
Mabel Fielding was my gran. I lost her when I was six years old. But I cherish her legacy of love and fighting for what was right even when the trend of the time says otherwise. Evie became my gran. She played a huge role in raising me to be the person I am today. We love spending time together sharing stories of my gran and her friend, Mabel.
On a warm August evening in 2015, I was absent-mindedly scrolling through Twitter when a retweet grabbed my attention. A lone in-house digital marketer, Rachel Finch, was calling out for local women to meet up and get geeky about all things digital. I’d never met Rachel but a quick online stalk got me sufficiently intrigued. A week later, I showed up at the North Laine Brewhouse to meet her and the other women who’d answered her call. This was the start of Brighton Digital Women. Fast forward two and a half years and we’re a thriving event-led not-for-profit that’s helping make the digital industry more inclusive. We’re women-led but our events welcome all genders. Rachel inspired me to take action to increase diversity in our industry and enrich my own career along the way.
I've always been inspired by women who take a leap into the unknown, and take on immensely adventurous challenges while also learning about the world and the people who live in it. I'm currently reading Rosie Swale Pope's book, Just a little Run around the World, which details her five year journey running the world in which she camped out in minus 45 degree temperatures in Siberia. I was also lucky enough to interview the adventurer, Anna McNuff for a GRTW podcast who ran the length of New Zealand. They follow in a long line of women who've long inspired me to be courageous and follow my own path, from journalist Kate Adie to travel writer Dervla Murphy, who cycled to India in 1965 and continues to write about unexplored parts of the world in her 70s.
Alice Roberts – Head of content and activation – The Drop Digital
My mum is the kindest, strongest and most selfless woman I know. She wasn’t given the fairest deal in life, but has managed to absolutely smash everything and anything she’s ever done. When I was little my mum retrained as a nurse. I remember her spending hours studying, whilst juggling taking care of me and my sister and working on top of that. She’s now the highest ranking nurse in her area and still studying at every opportunity she gets. She’s a massive inspiration to me; pretty much every good quality I possess I have her to thank for.
Dame Ellen MacArthur recounts how her epic, record breaking planet-circumnavigating sailing venture changed her life and shifted its commitments. She tells us how that isolated experience on a sailboat brought her a vivid realisation and understanding to the brutal meaning of ‘finite’ to define earth’s resources. Subsequently, she set up The Ellen MacArthur Foundation to encourage and support the exchange of linear consumer economies for truly sustainable circular ones. Ellen's inspiration and learnings serve me with purpose for my own venture; working for the good of the environment is a spiritually lifting, empowering feeling of determination and resilience.