March is a significant month in the calendar for women across the globe, as it’s the month that celebrates and honors the achievements of women in multiple ways.
When I think about what International Women’s Day means to me, I automatically think of empowerment, strength, unity and celebration. The movement can be traced back to March 8th 1908 when 15’000 women marched through the streets of New York, protesting for shorter hours, equal pay and voting rights. The following year, on February 28th, the first national women’s day (NWD) was announced making the last Sunday of every February the official day of celebration until 1913.
Since then, the initiative has strengthened globally. As a firm placeholder in the calendar, it’s a day that brings recognition to our achievements across platforms such as social, politics, economics and culture. It’s also a day that celebrates reflection, advocacy and action and holds stance to our continued journey towards gender equality, which is something women are still striving for to this day.
This years theme is; #BeBoldForChange which is a collective call for a better working world where there is equality. Events will be taking place globally, ranging from social gatherings, speaking events, corporate events, exhibitions, women’s networks and beyond, creating an opportunity for all women to get involved in one way or another.
So with March 8th being the day when we celebrate all that it is to be a woman in today’s world, here are the women I’d like to give mention too who are defying the odds and have inspired me….
Since appearing on ANTM in 2014, Winnie has carved out a high profile career in the fashion industry that has turned her into a globally recognised figure. In her role as model and activist, she has featured on Ted X Teen where she presented her speech ‘My story is painted on my body’ and also spoke at the 2015 women of the world summit about not letting people label her. She has walked numerous fashion runways, recently closing the show for Julian MacDonald at the 2017 London Fashion week. She is heavily photographed and often seen in the press being praised for her fashion awareness, confidence and for being the face changer of fashion that has inspired some many women and young girls to love and feel confident in the skin they’re in. She has accomplished so much in so little time; it’s easy to forget she is still only 22 years of age.
Whilst model Adwoa does not have Vitiligo what she does have is passion and boldness. In 2015 she launched Girls Talk (after a brief stint in rehab) a movement created through her passion for helping girls share their experiences and feelings in an environment where they feel safe and can trust. In 2016 she opened up her world and shared her own personal story, which highlighted her battle with depression, drugs and self-hate. In a brave video clip, you watch as Adwoa removes her clothes whilst speaking about her experiences, giving the powerful message that style isn’t about what you wear its about being comfortable in your own skin, something that us Vitiligo girls have battled with at some stage in life. In addition to modeling and numerous magazine features, Adwoa will continue to visit schools, in an attempt to inspire and empower the next generation of women.
Coincidently, 12-year-old April has a rather fitting surname, as she really is a little star in the making. She is currently one of the faces of the Gap campaign that promotes fearless beauty and has gained global praise, as finally there is movement towards recognising that beauty and confidence comes in many forms. April developed Vitiligo at the age of 6 and rather than retreat she pursued her dreams of modeling and focused on changing the perception of beauty.
In a survey conducted by the Girlguiding Girls Attitudes Survey, where 1,500 girls were questioned, it was revealed that 40% of girls within the group didn’t feel pretty enough and 25% felt that they needed to be perfect. One in six feel ashamed or embarrassed with how they look. These results are not only shocking, but also worrying.
As a little girl growing and developing in a world that is heavily image conscious, it’s refreshing to see she is confident in her own skin. She is an example of someone, I hope, other young girls can learn from.
Diandra Forrest is incredibly striking. Beautiful in fact. When I goggled her name and her images appeared, I found myself mesmerized by her looks. For those who don’t know, Diandra is a model and actress from the USA, who also happens to be the first female model with albinism to sign to a major modeling agency. Like others who suffer with skin conditions, Diandra was subject to taunts, name-calling and ridicule in her younger years because she was in fact, different. Years later she moved to New York, where it was there she found people were stopping her because of her unique look. She was then spotted by photographer Shameer Khan who told her she should model and so her journey began.
Aside from walking the catwalk, Diandra is passionate about spreading awareness around albinism and is involved in efforts to empower women. She has also partnered with Assisting Children in Need (AZN), a Tanzanian not for profit organization that aids and supports children in relation to education, medical care and independent living.
I should of course, mention us! The Vitiligo models, Bloggers, TV Personalities and all the other things we are doing and aspiring to do, as we learn not to let our skin define us. Visibility in the media continues to grow and create awareness, as our ability to open up has excelled, proving that we too, love our skin. We are embracing our skin and we are redefining the face of beauty.
How will you be celebrating International Women’s Day?
If you would like to get involved in events in your local area, check out the link below for more information: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Events