International Women’s Day!

In honour of International Women’s Day, I thought I’d take a minute to give a shout out to a few of the many, many women I find inspiring or just pretty awesome. In no particular order…

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Chantal Akerman
A Belgian filmmaker, best known for her 1975 film Jeanne Dielman. Her work isn’t always easy viewing, but I fell in love with it after studying it at uni – challenging, bold, experimental, sometimes downright weird, and probably relatively overlooked in Anglophone countries. Akerman sadly died last year, a huge loss to film world.

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Shirley Chisholm
I’d never heard of Shirley Chisholm until a few weeks ago, when I spotted an article about her on twitter during Black History Month. I’m not American, but even so, I was shocked I’d never com across her: she was the first black woman elected to the US Congress (in 1968), was the first major-party black candidate for US president and the first woman to ever run for the Democratic nomination.

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Malala Yousafzai
Goes without saying, really, and needs no introduction! Malala has achieved more in her 18 years than most people would in three lifetimes.

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Teresa Forcades
Forcades is a nun and a physician who has become very well-known in Catalonia, not only for her support of the independence movement, but also for her liberal views: she’s a feminist, supports a women’s right to birth control and abortion and has been outspoken about the Catholic Church’s misogyny and patriarchal structure.

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Hyeonseo Lee
Author of the memoir The Girl With Seven Names, which describes her escape from North to South Korea via China. I saw her speak at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year; it was a humbling experience, hearing someone talk about a life so vastly different from anything we experience in the West, and her bravery and optimism for her country’s future were very inspiring.

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Mhairi Black
Mhairi Black is one of the few things about British politics that doesn’t want to make me repeatedly punch myself in the face. She’s passionate, dedicated, down to earth, in touch with the people she represents and their needs… Regardless of whether or not you agree with her views, those qualities make her a real asset to Scotland.

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Brit Marling
There are tons of female actors, screenwriter and directors I admire, but Brit Marling is one of my favourites as she’s done such a great job of creating intelligent, complex female roles that defies stereotypes: Another Earth is so beautiful, and The East is brilliant. She has a Netflix series coming out this year, The OA, which I’m super excited to see.

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Many, many, many writers…
I couldn’t possibly list every female writer who has inspired me, but here are a few: Margaret Atwood, Ruth Ozeki, Isabel Allende, Ali Smith, A L Kennedy, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Louise O’Neill, Carme Riera, Empar Moliner, Miranda July, and of course, J K Rowling. (Plus the Baileys longlist was announced yesterday, so I’m planning on reading some of the selected titles to discover some more.)

There are hundreds more, of course, but it’s past 9pm and I want to watch Jane the Virgin before bed. I realise, too, that I’m missing women working in STEM. Science and tech is really not my forte, but I could probably still name quite a few men in those fields. I’ll make it my aim for this week to read up their female peers, preferably whilst listening to Beyoncé. Happy International Women’s Day!

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