Student Communications Intern Poppy Colbourne writes about her female role models in honour of International Women's Day
Not one woman has lived a conflict-free life. Women face many everyday struggles, from harassment to unequal pay, unrealistic expectations to the glass ceiling. I want to celebrate the women that have taught me what it is to be female and how to keep my head held high in the face of adversity.
Twentieth century women
Every day women are taking strides to become stronger and setting an example to all the young girls of the future.
- In 1903 Marie Curie was awarded her first Nobel Prize for Physics
- On 21 November 1918 The Qualification of Women Act was passed, enabling women to vote after the protests of the suffragists and suffragettes
- In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus.
My first female role model (that wasn’t a relative) was Darcey Bussel. As an aspiring prima ballerina, the way Darcey floated across the stage on the tips of her toes like a fairy or a princess really caught my attention. I was only two when I started ballet class but even from such a young age I aspired to be as subtle as Darcey and as I grew up I realised how strong she was and how much stamina she had in order to maintain a beautiful smile as she performed some of the hardest variations I have ever seen. But it wasn’t just her dancing abilities that aspired young Poppy. Darcey’s eloquence and passion drove me to work as hard as I could at school so I could be as articulate as this beautiful ballet dancer.
Hermione Granger (and Emma Watson)
As I grew up my love for ballet continued but my passion for science and education thrived. Having watched Harry Potter I was transfixed with the character of Hermione, the bumbling bookworm with a flair for spells and adventures. But at the age of seven, I was diagnosed with severe dyslexia and thought I would never be like this brainy brunette heroine. However, I was not going to be stopped that easily – like Hermione I read as much as I could (even if it took me longer than others in my class) and I refused to just do the easiest questions in class, begging my teacher to challenge me more.
By the time I finished my A-levels I had gone from severely to mildly dyslexic thanks to embracing my inner witch – even if my hair wasn’t even nearly as good. This is when my muse shifted from Hermione Granger to Emma Watson: a well-educated activist who fights every day for what she believes in and will not be knocked down by anyone.
These strong female influences helped mould me into the woman I have become, and they have inspired many more young women too.
Why International Women's Day?
Some people don't understand the necessity of a specific International Women’s Day – surely every day should be a women’s day? Of course I understand this, but there is something special about having a day to reflect on the factors that made you, you.
There's still a way to go in terms of equality for both men and women, but the act of thanking our female ancestors for the role they played in making our lives better is not something I will ever take lightly.
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