This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating all of the incredible women who support our work; from contributors to volunteers, team members to trustees, our organisation could not make the impact we do, without them.
This year’s IWD campaign focus is #BreakTheBias. “Imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”
What does International Women’s Day mean to you, and how are you celebrating?
Charmaine: IWD is a chance to celebrate women who often take the emotional load and do so much, in terms of soft skills and empathy, to bring the world together. It’s an opportunity to celebrate all women, particularly great women.
Georgina: Although women should be acknowledged all year round, for me, IWD is a moment to stop and acknowledge the fantastic achievements of all women, both in my life and globally. It’s not always the ‘big things’ as the world would define achievements but the unseen moments of tears, joys, and finding the courage to just keep things going. It is a moment to appreciate all that connects us, regardless of where we find ourselves in the world; recognising the beauty of our diversity and fighting collectively against any form of discrimination.
Kerry: For me, International Women’s Day is about celebrating the achievements of those women who have helped us to grow and flourish. It’s about celebrating those who inspire us. I think it’s also about celebrating our own achievements as women, so we should definitely try and take some time to do that. I’ll be being extra kind to those women in my life who support me, and I’ll be doing all I can to show them my appreciation. I’ll also be continuing to be the best person I can be.
Khafsa: For me, International Women’s Day recognises the achievements of women from those who are famous to your every day person… No matter how big or small, every achievement and every woman matters! I’m celebrating by being the best version of myself like I do every day.
Susanette: A day to celebrate the influence women bring to our world, all year round. Some of the greatest life changing leaders have been women; Mother Teresa, Althea Gibson and many more. I salute women around the world, you’ve made a difference in my life and are making a difference in many lives. As per the theme for 2022, let’s continue to #BreakTheBias, knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Action is needed to level the playing field.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Charmaine: As the mother of two young daughters I feel very deeply that they, and all of us, should celebrate and understand the strengths of women. And how important it is for women to have a voice in the world right now.
Georgina: Being a woman for me is completely aligned to this year’s IWD theme, and that means not being confined by stereotypes or other people’s expectations or limitations in every aspect of our lives. Having a daughter has forced me to challenge the barriers the world places, especially if you are a woman of colour, of a certain age or with a disability, and the importance of being champions for each other.
Kerry: I think being a woman means being strong and courageous, and being determined to push limits. For me, it’s also about looking forwards, and not being suppressed by any stereotypes or outdated ideas. It’s about being myself, whatever that may be, and always doing my best. It’s about remembering that we can have strong voices as women.
Khafsa: For me, being a woman means I can multitask, just joking! For me, being a woman is about playing my part in demonstrating that everyone has a part to play in society no matter who they are and empowering others through my actions.
Susanette: Beautiful, a connector, an agent to transform lives for good. Women have the ability to positively influence their home and community at large – there’s great power in that and a responsibility to impact lives.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Charmaine: This all comes with life experience but I would tell my younger self to have more of a voice, and to be more confident in their abilities. Be kind, compassionate and assertive. Call out bad behaviour in the right way and don’t be afraid to do that. Remember and use the mantra: “There are reasons, but not excuses”
Georgina: Just breathe!
Kerry: If I were talking to my younger self, I would say: don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and don’t worry if you don’t always have a clear path to follow. Deciding what you want to do, or who you want to be, too early can be limiting. You will grow and learn from your mistakes, and don’t be afraid to ask others for advice. Don’t get caught up in stereotypes, and just be yourself!
Khafsa: Know your worth no matter what you choose to do in life!
Susanette: Explore and find your life purpose, you were designed to make a difference. Create timeless principles and make them your habits of brilliance daily. As you journey in life; balance confidence and humility as you lead, don’t curse the darkness when it comes, simply turn on your light and remember, the majority of success comes from our deepest pain so fail forward.
Is there a visually impaired woman that inspires you? Who are they and why?
Charmaine: Dr Alexandra Adams who talks about her white cane being her superpower! Michelle Rivers Senior Rehab Officer at Brent Council who gave me my superpower when she taught me how to use my white cane.
Georgina: My Aunt inspires me. She started losing her sight in her 60s and I am amazed by her fortitude in adapting to a new way of living. I have been especially inspired by her resilience and her vulnerability during lockdown, and her complete honesty about her sight loss journey.
Kerry: I find the influencer, Lucy Edwards incredibly inspiring. Not only has she overcome so much, but she has a highly positive outcome. She helps to normalise disability and visual impairment, and she’s brought so much into the mainstream. Her determination to succeed is contagious and uplifting.
Khafsa: One of my closest friends, I met her at a training day and I was very early on in my journey of having lost my remaining vision. I felt pretty clueless about what lay ahead but she just inspired me; the way that she lives her life and does everything that she wants to sort of made me see that there was a future for me too! The best thing is that she breaks the typical norms surrounding our culture when it comes to women doing things outside the home and living an independent life.
Susanette: My colleague Odette Battarel, Croydon Vision‘s ‘Community Dynamo’. She’s got a ‘can do’ attitude and her personae is infectious. I admire her resilience and value the contribution she brings to our team and members of Croydon Vision. She’s a great ambassador, demonstrating daily; there is life after sight loss.