Three of my Favourite Women

To the women who continue to inspire, to make good.


Although only three drops in a vast ocean of female greatness, the stories of these extraordinary women never fail to inspire me. Each one unique, each one equally as powerful.


If these women are to be the role models for our daughters, and our sons, the world is positioned to be truly wonderful.

 

Malala Yousafzai


In October 2014, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person (not just female) in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize at 17 years old. Two years previous, this extraordinary woman survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban when a masked gunman boarded a bus she was travelling on, shooting her point blank in the head.


Why? Because Malala was, and is, a pioneer for girls education. In 2009, under the pseudonym ‘Gul Makai’, Malala began blogging for the BBC about living under the Taliban and their desire to deny her and many others an education. Her true identity was revealed in December of that year and the Taliban issued the death threat against her and the rest, as they say, is history.

“If one man can destroy everything, why can't one girl change it?”

― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban


In March of 2013, less than six months since the deadly shooting, Malala was back and attending school in Birmingham, England, where she had received ongoing treatment for her injuries.


Malala continues to inspire and awe the globe with her activism in the education space. In August 2017, she was accepted into Oxford University where she will study Philosophy, Politics and Economics.


Two words; Power. House.

“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

 

Rosa Parks


Rosa Parks, although celebrated, is somewhat of an unsung hero in the world of fashion. At the time of her arrest, Rosa was working as a seamstress in a department store in Montgomery. The promise of education taken away in the 11th grade, when Rosa left school to return home to begin work in a shirt factory and to care for her sick grandmother and mother. A story not dissimilar to that of many young girls today.


For those who don’t know her story, at a time where racism was arife in America and segregation between black and white people the social norm, Rosa Parks shone a light on the inequality and lack of humanity on display.


On December 1st 1955, Rosa was travelling home on a public bus after an ordinary, albeit long, day at the department store. As the tale is told, the bus began to fill up with more white people than there were ‘white seats’ available. To fix the nonexistent problem, the bus driver decided to stop, move the segregation line one row back so that four black people had to give up their seats and stand so as the white people could sit.


Rosa Parks was one of the four.


She refused to stand, the driver called the police and Rosa was subsequently arrested.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

- Rosa Parks

 

The incident sparked fury among the black community and led the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People to organise a boycott of the Montgomery’s city buses on the day of Rosa’s trial. The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for an incredible 381 days leaving the public transport system - empty.


You can read more about Rosa Parks and the events that followed her brave actions here.

“Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.”

- Rosa Parks


Lizzie Velasquez


We are all aware of the power of social media, the ability to share life’s great moments with friends and family across the globe. The opportunity to speak our minds without consequence. We are all aware of the reach attainable by a single meme.


Imagine, at 17 years old, being labelled the Ugliest Women in the World on a viral Youtube video viewed over four million times. Imagine how you would feel reading strangers cruel comments, asking ‘Why did your parents keep you?’, or declaring ‘Kill it with fire!’.


It’s a feeling that Lizzie Velasquez knows all too well and what this fierce beauty did next is why she is featured on our list of exceptional women.


Born in Texas, Lizzie was born with an incredibly rare genetic syndrome that affects her heart, eyes, bones and prevents her from gaining weight. She is one of only three people in the world living with neonatal progeroid syndrome.


Upon her discovery of the vulgar Youtube video, Lizzie chose to stand up for victims everywhere and started an anti-bullying campaign that has gone global. Her TEDxAustinWomen talk: How do YOU Define Yourself has been viewed over 11 million times, she is the author of four books (well worth a read!) and has given motivational speeches all over the world.


Lizzie, if you are reading this: You ROCK!

“It is fine to be who you are. It is a good thing not to be just like everybody else. What makes you unique is what makes you beautiful, because it’s what makes you you. And the world needs you, exactly as you are. That’s the truth, plain and simple.”

― Lizzie Velásquez, Dare to Be Kind: How Extraordinary Compassion Can Transform Our World




Abby Parkin