10 Incredible Women I’m Celebrating this International Women’s Day
I love women. Maybe not in the same way as a red-blooded twenty-two year old male, but I really do.
Growing up I guess I didn’t really fully appreciate being a girl. After all, I was born a Pakistani, Muslim female in twentieth century Britain into a working class family of immigrants – the odds really were stacked against me right from the very beginning. Torn between two cultures and two very different ways of thinking, in a society where from what I could see, only white, middle-class men were ‘successful’, I really didn’t know my power and I didn’t really have any role models around me showing me that there was much more to life for a woman than just growing up to be married off and becoming someone’s wife.
Well, all I can say is thank the Lord for growing up and discovering the world for myself. Now a 29-year-old writer, artist, journalist and budding entrepreneur as well as a mother of two children (which is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do!), I can truly appreciate the strength and power of a woman in a way that I never could in my time before entering adulthood. I am constantly inspired by women from all around the world, of different colours and cultures and upbringings, who are absolutely owning their lives in their own ways and striving to achieve positive change in the world for us all – and I know if we as women support each other, we could achieve SO much more. So, this International Women’s Day 2018, here are 10 women who are inspiring me and making me believe that I too can do, be and achieve anything I want to and I hope after reading this, you will be just as inspired as I am…
I only discovered Marie at the start of this year through Tim Ferriss’ Instagram and there was something about her that captivated me instantly (aside from her BEAUUUUUTIFUL hair). She had such a strong presence that came through even through my iPhone screen, which led me to find out more about her. I was over the moon to discover her business, B-School, as well as her YouTube channel dedicated to helping people around the world to build a life and a business that they love. Now I find myself regularly referring to her online wealth of content gold to help me on my journey of building successful businesses and building a life that I truly love.
Ah, sweet Sabbiyah. I know she might be surprised to see herself on here, but I want this wonderful woman to know that she inspires me so much as a journalist who wants to bring positive change to the world. Sabbiyah is a Bradford-born local BBC reporter and journalist, and as a devoted wife and mother of three young children I find it absolutely amazing at how she manages to balance her demanding work life while still being a great mother. She shows that you can still build a fulfilling and rewarding career around motherhood and I absolutely commend her for that and the important content she is bringing to the world.
You can follow her on Twitter, here.
Now this girls hustle is just something else altogether! A successful blogger, YouTuber and published author, I just love waiting to see what her next achievement will be. She is constantly working with amazing brands and breaking down barriers (such as being an official representative of Nike Women as a plus size woman) and I have to take this opportunity to congratulate her on all she has achieved so far. She promotes self-love, body positivity and healing and honestly, you need to follow her on social media. You can read what I took from her debut book, No Filter, here.
Suhaiymah Manzoor Khan / The Brown Hijabi
I first came across Suhaiymah when scrolling through Facebook and coming across her incredible spoken word performance at The Last Word Festival’s poetry slam final called ‘This is Not a Humanising Poem’ – and just, wow. I was completely and utterly blown away. She has such a way with words; putting them together so intelligently and eloquently, while still managing to slam dunk an audience with a message so powerful it will render them speechless. I’ve just come across her blog too and I’m so happy to see a young Muslim woman describing the plight that Muslim women face in today’s society in such a powerful yet non-victimising way. She is definitely one to watch.
DJ Harpz/ Harpreet Kaur
Yooooo, Harpz is living LIFE! I swear, I have so much in common with this new yet very successful BBC Asian Network presenter, so much so, that if marriage and children hadn’t entered my life when they did, I would probably be doing exactly what she does right now. Harpz used to present on a local radio station up North with an old friend of mine and I am literally so happy to have seen her graft and move up the ladder to the BBC. She spends her days DJ-ing, radio presenting and dancing (brrrruah!) as well as hosting live events and her energy is just contagious. I can’t wait to see how much further she will take her career.
Emily is one of those people that you just want to pick up and pop into your pocket as your own personal little dose of happiness, to access whenever you feel like. Okay, that description wasn’t really the greatest, so I guess the best way to describe this vibrant 25-year-old is ‘sunshine in human form’. Emily is a designer, illustrator and happy thing maker, spreading positive vibes into the atmosphere through everything that she does. She is also creator of ‘The Happy News’ – a newspaper which, shock horror, covers ONLY HAPPY NEWS. I think that’s quite possibly one of the best gifts given to humankind in the 21st century. Her recent achievements include releasing a creative kindness journal called ‘Make Someone Happy’ which you can buy here. (I’ve just got to add that I literally NEED her entire wardrobe in my life, too. Just sayin’.)
This woman’s words just blow me away time and time and time again. Nayyirah shot to fame via Instagram and has been described as “perhaps the most famous poet on Instagram” – but it is not her fame or success that really inspires me. What inspires me most about this word artist is the themes on which she writes so beautifully: love, identity, race and feminism. I find myself hidden within every single one of her poems and she gives me goose bumps every single time I find my eyes undressing her words on Twitter, where I favourite literally everything she tweets. I’m in complete awe of her artistry. Add her books Salt and Nejma to your collection and I promise you, you will not be the same after reading them.
Lizzie Snow / fortyonehundred
Mandalas make up a big part of my art because of everything that they encapsulate and signify, and one of my biggest mandala artist inspirations is Lizzie Snow, or fortyonehundred as she is known by her artist’s name. She is still so young, aged just 22, but her art is completely out of this world and she is quickly establishing herself as a leader in the field of mandala art. She recently did her first ever solo exhibition and although I don’t know her personally, I feel so goddam proud of her! Watching her via her Instagram stories spending long days and nights grafting, drawing, planning and creating to pull of this spectacular exhibition and then actually doing it, was just incredible. I just know that with her work ethic, mind blowing talent and passion, her art will soon be known all around the world.
Taz Alam / ClickforTaz
Now, let’s talk YouTube. It’s a vast, vast Universe unto its own filled to the brim with content – but let’s be honest, there’s not really much meaningful content out there. ClickforTaz changes that. I really don’t follow many YouTubers because I find there to be a serious lack of content with meaning and for that reason Taz is amongst my favourites. Her energy is just gold, honestly, and I feel that everyone who watches her sees that and feels it too (she so rarely gets dislikes on her videos). Taz creates spoken word poetry videos as well as so much more and spreads happiness, joy and positivity through her work. I’ve watched her grow from a few thousands subscribers to now well over 200,000 in a short space of time and I am so proud! I feel so happy reading the comments from her young fans that aspire to be like her; it gives me hope that we’re not just raising a generation of brain dead children who would rather watch someone trying ‘chinese snacks for the first time’ over discovering their own immense potential. She also recently did a TED talk that I absolutely loved (see below!) and I’m looking forward to seeing how far she will shine her light in this world.
I’m not gonna lie, I only just discovered Nikita Gill on Instagram through a poem of hers posted by Megan Crabbe (another inspiration haha!) but her words have impacted me so much, that I had to share her here on this list today. Nikita is around my own age and is a London based poet and visual artist who took the Internet by storm a few years ago, and continues to do so today (I’m honestly surprised that I only just came across her work). What I love about her writing is that it focuses on the inner being and spirituality amongst other things, and has such depths and dimension without being overly complicated. I think it is this that makes it appeal to so many people and I look forward to purchasing her books, Your Soul is a River and Wild Embers, and getting to know her through her work a whole lot more.
Maya Angelou once said, “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass” and these amazing women are doing just that and I am so inspired in my own journey, by them.
Which women do you admire most in the world right now and why? I’d love for you to share and pass on the inspiration.