Heroes don’t always wear capes. Here, on International Woman’s Day, we celebrate 25 women whose energy, determination and strength enrich, change and save lives.
Let take a look at who they are and why they are so important.
Get ready to feel inspired on such a significant day of the year.
1. Kerrie Jones
Eating disorder specialist
Psychotherapist Kerrie Jones, founder of specialist eating disorder clinic Orri, realised that isolation in lockdown sent anxiety levels soaring. She launched a private Zoom therapy channel and arranged for clients to share mealtimes over Zoom, to reduce stress.
2. Nataliya Mykolska
Former lawyer Nataliya fled Kyiv with her sons aged eight and 14. Her husband remained. She created Dattalion, a ‘data battalion’ collating evidence of Russian atrocities, sharing more than 28,000 photos and videos.
3. Ruby Raut
Ruby, 32, grew up in rural Nepal and experienced Chapaudi – a now-illegal practice that involves being sent away from home while on your period. She founded Wake Up Kick Ass (WUKA), which makes reusable, eco-friendly period products.
4. Laura Pike
After suffering a stroke when 38 weeks pregnant, Jane had to relearn how to walk alongside her toddler. She’s now a financial adviser at St James’s Place partner practice, Alan Rutherford Wealth Management and helps young couples prepare for the unexpected.
5. Amanda Parker
Mental health charity founder
Amanda lost her eldest child to suicide in December 2021. She launched HarveyParkerTrust.org to help the mental health and wellbeing of other young creative people who are marginalised.
6. Eva Prendergast
Even as a schoolgirl Eva, 27, was obsessed with dolphins. The marine mammal specialist heads to Antarctica this year, as Intrepid expedition guide on the Ocean Endeavour in a partnership with WWF.
7. Dr Amna Khan
British champion powerlifter
After a car accident Amna, 41, took up strength sport – breaking cultural stereotypes as a Muslim woman. She was crowned British champion in June last year.
8. Dr Shobha Srivastava MBE
Dr Shobha overcame sexism and racism to become one of the UK’s first female anesthetists. Now 88, Dr Shobha lives at McCarthy Stone’s Seymour Court development in South Shields, where she dedicates her time to empowering unprivileged women from ethnic minorities.
9. Nikki Ross
Supports victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse
Former assistant police constable, single working mum and CEO of charity Thames Valley Partnership, Nikki, 55, helps victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
10. Tania Adib
After qualifying, consultant Tania was appalled at the lack of options offered to women who were forced to accept debilitating conditions such as vaginal atrophy, laxity and incontinence and having to beg for HRT. She set out to educate women on non-surgical options.
11. Stephanie Monty
Third-year industrial design student Stephanie was moved by having two brothers with Crohn’s disease. Realising patients delay surgery because of poor quality of stoma bags, as well as the stigma, Stephanie, 33, launched Ostique. Its new range of ostomy bags, due to be released in June, are set to transform lives.
12. Brigette Bard
This former Blind Date TV show contestant helped develop a self test for HIV in 2015, and is CEO of BioSURE8. Brigette, 50, lectures globally on HIV prevention and female empowerment.
13. Dr Kiran Rahim
Cleft palate charity ambassador
Every year, around one in 700 babies in the UK are born with a cleft lip and/or palate. They include Dr Kiran, 36, who experienced severe bullying during her teenage years as a result. Dr Kiran is an ambassador for the children’s cleft charity, Smile Train.
14. Sultana Tafadar KC
Human rights and criminal barrister
Sultana became the first hijab-wearing King’s Counsel last March, joining No5 Barristers Chambers.
15. Lucy Townsend
Restauranteur Lucy, 49, runs The Greyhound on the Test, with husband Alex. After he lost all four limbs to Strep A they launched the Alex Lewis Trust to fund hundreds of kids with revolutionary prosthetic limbs.
16. Dr Uchenna Okoye
A regular on TV’s 10 Years Younger In10 Days, Uchenna is on a mission to transform the male-dominated world of dentistry and to mentor and educate young women.
17. Clare Lydon
Author and publisher
As a new author in 2010, Clare was irked by barriers in publishing and the lack of queer fiction – so published through Kindle Direct Publishing. Clare’s work has helped the fight for sapphic and queer representation in publishing.
18. Dorothy Latham
Mentor and tutor
At the age of 88, this former headteacher just can’t be stopped from teaching others. The resident of ACI’s The Old Rectory care home is helping its manager Kelly Parker study for a history degree with the Open University.
19. Sophie Chardon
Deaf ski instructor
Born deaf, Sophie started skiing aged eight. Now 52, she’s a ski instructor in Courchevel, giving lessons in sign language to deaf pupils.
20. Ellen Maden
Diagnosed at 46, Ellen contacted the Overcoming MS charity and joined her local circle, using diet, exercise and medication to help control her condition. Now 48 and regularly tackling 10k runs, she’s an ambassador for the OMS charity.
21. Sophie Hughes
Plus Size advocate
Sophie, 32, began modelling as a size eight teenager. At 25, she donated part of her liver to save her nephew – but gained four dress sizes. Horrified by fashion’s attitude to mid-size models, she promotes all-size representation and uses Instagram to help women understand their own bodies.
22. Dani Gilbert
Dani went bald as a teenager. Now 24, she uses TikTok to share her make-up designs and advice for other people living with hair loss.
23. Zoe James
The fact that she has Down’s Syndrome has never deterred 28-year-old Zoe. She began volunteering at Sanctuary Care’s The Beeches Residential Care Home in Birmingham five years ago and even gives up her Christmas Day to cheer residents.
24. Jane Kenyon
Mentors teenage girls
Once a troubled teen herself, Jane, 58, founded NPO Girls Out Loud, whose mentoring programme has empowered and helped thousands of teenage girls across the North East of England.
25. Dr Caroline Harper
Head of science, UK Space Agency
When the European Space Agency’s mission to Jupiter blasts off in April, it will be carrying equipment that Caroline and her team were integral in developing.
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