5th March 2020
At SafeLives we celebrate women every day, among our colleagues, in the public eye, and among the survivors we interact with.
This International Women's Day, we asked SafeLives staff "Who is inspiring to you?"
"Monroe Bergdorf. Although she rose to prominence as a model she has consistently used her platform to challenge systematic oppression on racial grounds and fight for trans rights and an end to gender based violence. She has been the constant target of our right wing mainstream media in attempts to discredit her and remove her from influential positions and campaigns at a national and international level. Despite this she continues to raise awareness of these issues and champion the rights of all women to live free from violence and abuse."
- Sarah West, Research Analyst
"Gloria Steinem: an icon of the feminist movement in the USA. As well as founding Ms magazine in 1972, Steinem has spent decades doing the hard, grassroots activist work that is needed to drive change. She has been relentless in her work to protect and extend reproductive rights, and get more women elected to office. She was also a vocal ally of black and Native American women during the 60s and 70s, when many white feminists excluded women of colour or simply didn’t consider them part of the movement. She has led an inspiring life in many ways, but what personally inspires me about her is her willingness to listen, find common ground and build movements that speak to real people’s lives. At 85 she is still going strong, and her book My Life on the Road is a great reminder of the power of meaningful conversations and genuine community engagement in these frustrating political times. I’ve also seen her live sharing a stage with Beyoncé!"
- Ruth Davies, Senior Communications Officer
"My inspiration comes from Ali Littlewood who was an Idva at Changing Lives.
Currently, Ali is battling terminal cancer, she is inspiring because of her positive attitude and selfless nature of continuing to do random acts kindness for others, she helped so many women as an Idva and deserves to be recognised for the difference she has made to so many lives."
- Viv Bickham, Drive Expert Advisor
"Rose McGowan is inspiring; not just for the bravery of speaking out about her experiences, which must have taken a huge personal effort, but for helping create a whole new social era thanks to #metoo; for continuing to challenge inherent sexism in the entertainment industry and beyond; and also for standing up (and being seemingly immune!) to trolling and huge negative backlash for many years."
- David Evans, Project Support Officer
"My inspirational woman is my Auntie Suzanne. Auntie Suzanne inspires me by always being brave, resilient, hardworking and kind."
- Nanya Coles, Research Manager
"I’ve followed Adwoa Aboah since hearing her speak about her journey and treatment for depression, addictions and bipolar disorder. She’s an activist and model who set up an organisation to celebrate women and diversity and break the taboo on topics including sexuality, disability, identity, mental health, education & relationships. It’s great to see a model who insists on having a voice and who uses her platform to elevate these issues."
- Louisa Comber, Communications Officer
"Tessa Jowell was a huge friend and mentor to so many women in her long political career. She was also instrumental in achieving change for women and girls. Tessa fought for the first gender equal Olympics and held countries to account when they tried to slip back from that commitment. She gave so many new mothers and fathers a place to go for help and friendship when she launched SureStart, and she wasn’t afraid to call out sexist advertising on the tube when she targeted the Beach Body Ready ads, and prior to that size zero models in London Fashion week. She used to say “It’s amazing what you can achieve when you don’t care about who takes the credit” and built cohesive coalitions of people, often cross-party and of no party, to achieve real, practical change. I miss her every day but she will inspire me for the rest of my life."
- Jess Asato, Head of Public Affairs and Policy
"Janet Mantle, Granny Nita, is the most positive, inspirational woman I know, whose stories never fail to leave me in awe. In 1938, aged just 17 she left Glasgow to train as a nurse in London. Aged 22, she moved to India to work as a nurse during WW2. She returned to Birmingham, before moving back to Glasgow to bring up her two amazing sons herself. Aged 40 she started midwifery training and went on to gain her diploma as a Midwifery Teacher aged 47. Aged 56, while still working, she achieved a certificate in Field Archaeology. This led her to work (after retirement!) in the Conservation Department at Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum; as a researcher for the Family History Association; and as a transcriber for the Census Roll – work she done until her second retirement, aged 78. To this day, she has better knowledge of Mail Merge than anyone I know and is a tech whiz – using her Alexa every day and getting an Amazon voucher most Christmas’s. Next month she’ll be 99. A true hero!"
- Natalie Mantle, Head of Communications and Marketing
"The woman who inspired me was called Eglantyne Jebb. I’ve got a print of this photograph above my desk at home. She looks terribly genteel, fountain pen in hand, as if she’s writing a thank you note for a gift of hyacinth bulbs or something. But actually, she’ll have been writing to the Prime Minister or the Minister for War or something.
When the First World War was ending, Eglantyne became aware of all the hundreds of thousands of children in Germany and Eastern Europe who no one was looking after. Orphaned, injured, homeless, malnourished, traumatised as war swept backwards and forwards across their homelands for four years. The public and media considered them ‘enemy children’ and not worth bothering about. Eglantyne said no war should be a war against a child and set up Save the Children to start an international effort to protect them. She did all sorts of modern charity things for the first time – the first media appeal, filling the Royal Albert Hall for a fundraising event. I worked for Save the Children for six years and thought them an amazing charity. HRH The Princess Royal, Save the Children’s President, called her dog Eglantyne.
This is my favourite quote of hers: “Save the Children is often told that its aims are impossible - that there has always been child suffering and there always will be. We know. It's impossible only if we make it so. It's impossible only if we refuse to attempt it.”