08 Mar 2024

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

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It’s International Women’s Day!

With this year’s theme being #InspireInclusivity, we reflect on what our seven trailblazers says about what the day personally means to them.


Remembering the not to great history

Vivean Pomell, the trailblazing woman of education, an ex-Ofsted inspector and the founder of Learn with Lolonyo and Brynels Millinery does not want to forget the past that’s being built on trailblazers who have shaped the narrative today.

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                               Vivean Pomell

“It's about remembering the incredible achievements and contributions of women throughout history. We cannot forget those who have gone on before and who have paved the way for us,” she says.

“We honour the remarkable women that have paved the way for where we are today and connect with other women to keep the legacy going.

“We also need to celebrate the progress we have made in advancing gender equality as well. I do recognize that some things have changed, but I'm still saying we have a long way to go.

“Individuals and organisations must continue to inspire gender equality and diversity by taking actions to challenge stereotypes and promote diversity.”

Kavita Mehey, trainee solicitor at Lawrence Kurt Solicitors and our youngest trailblazer, echoes the same sentiments. 

“International Women's Day holds personal significance for me as a celebration of the strength and resilience embodied by women.

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                                     Kavita Mehey

“This year, I am marking the occasion by organising an International Women's Day event at my local Gurdwara—a unique initiative that hasn't been undertaken before. It provides an opportunity to honour and celebrate the impactful women who have served as role models in my life.

“Additionally, I observe the day by indulging in self-appreciation, acknowledging the milestones and personal growth I've achieved. Taking a moment to reflect on my journey serves as a comprehensive and empowering experience in celebrating International Women's Day.”


International Women’s Day in an ideal world?

To Shani Dhanda, our trailblazing activist and the UK’s most influential disabled person, IWD is all about keeping the focus on societal issues that hold women back.

“IWD is a day to help keep the focus on the issues that are holding women back, not because of something that we are doing, but because of how society is and because of how decisions are made.

“It's not because there's something lacking in women. It's because it helps us to highlight the barriers that exist to hinder women from progressing and pursuing the things that they want to do or being seen as equal members of the workforce.

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                                  Shani Dhanda

“In a way I wish we didn't have to have it, but if it helps to have the conversation and it helps to highlight the challenge and the solution, then I think it's a good thing.”

Shani doesn’t stand alone in thinking the need for an International Women’s Day ultimately beats it’s own purpose.

“I have come to the realisation that the need for International Women's Day itself indicates that we're not yet at the point we aspire to reach. I eagerly await a time when celebrating such a day won't be necessary because equality will prevail consistently,” remarks our STEM trailblazer and CEO of Millennium Point Abbie Vlahakis.

CEO of Entec Si and trailblazer of entrepreneurship Eman-Al-Hillawi echoes similar sentiments: “In an ideal world, we shouldn't have an International Women's Day. But we're not in an ideal world.



“To me, it's about celebrating women in business and in the workplace. It’s important that we recognise women only because we know that they've had to work a little bit harder in order to reach similar levels to their male counterparts. And that’s a fact.

“It is about speaking out and challenging the status quo. It's about educating the wider community about some of the challenges women experience.”


Women helping women

Abbie Vlahakis continues: “IWD reminds me of all the great things that women have achieved. It’s a day of inspiration and a reminder to have more role models. During my career, I saw myself moving up through the grades, but I'd never imagined myself being a CEO until we got our first female CEO. So, this day is a great way of bringing those stories out and inspiring one another.”

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                           Abbie Vlahakis

While Abbie stresses the need for relatable role models, the trailblazer of health Dr Sarb Clare focuses on the misogyny to women, from women.

“Women need to support other women.

“There is internal misogyny from females to females. Female doctors constantly need to prove themselves to their counterparts as opposed to men. The jealousy that’s been going on is very rife and women are placed in a situation that’s detrimental by women.

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                                  Dr Sarb Clare

"The solution to this problem, is again women themselves. Be more open and don’t hide your vulnerabilities.”


Words of inspiration

Trailblazer for culture Caroline Miller, while sharing her journey from box office assistant to CEO of Birmingham Royal Ballet, shares her inspiring mantra.

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                              Caroline Miller

“Embrace the journey, learn on the job, and trust that the skills you bring are enough to propel you to the next level.

In her words: “If you want to do it, go for it!”

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