International Women's Day

#Happy International Women’s Day – #IWD2016

Happy International Women’s Day – Celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

In support of the International Women’s Day 2016, we are joining the rest of the world in celebrating the achievements of women and highlighting their support:


Gerry So – Director at Okappy

International Women's Day
Gerry So

Okappy is a B2B market network, which allows companies to connect to each other, send and receive jobs and share the status of those jobs in real-time. It also assist companies in retrieving historical information much more easily and from one location.

“I’m very proud of what I have achieved so far, being a director of a new start up, having previously worked in Investment Banking for 10 years.

All of these achievements haven’t come easy though. Looking back 10 months ago, the transition in particular has been difficult. Investment Banking has traditionally been known as a very male dominated environment.  

Consequently, some have been trying to make changes which has resulted in a lot of support for women. Morgan Stanley, for example, introduced networks such as the Womens Business Network which I was involved in.  

They held events and talks, and provided a platform for other women to provide inspiration to others. The networks they created were particularly important as it demonstrated that you are often not alone in the problems you face and it provided links and contacts with people you could turn to.”

Samina Courtin – Founder of Mon Dessert

International Women's Day
Samina Courtin

“I started Mon Dessert, a fine Pâtisserie business, back in 2012 as a little sideline when my second child Noah was born.  

The time came for me to make a decision to go back to work – Things were not easy as there was a major economic crisis at the time and my childcare for two would not make sense.  

So I decided to stay at home and look after both the children. This was tough at first as I’ve always been a working girl.  But the kids, my husband  and my business ideas kept me more than busy.  

Three and a half years later, the business is going from strength to strength. What first started off as making a few cakes, for local friends and family, has now propelled me into Fortnum & Masons with my baking kits.

The reality is that I make a fraction of what I was earning, stress levels are high and I do at least 5 peoples jobs – But its my third little baby.  

I love the fact now I can get involved with all aspects of the company as its mine. I am not just another spoke in the wheel, it suits me. I wouldn’t change my experiences for the world and encourage all women to follow their dreams and wholeheartedly.” 

Laura Pearman – Founder Pearman Photography

International Women's Day
Laura Pearman

“I’m inspired by all of the powerful women throughout history.

The ones who achieved incredible feats for womankind, as well as the women who knuckled down and tolerated oppression to get the best they could out of life.

If it wasn’t for women like this, I wouldn’t have the strength and inspiration to have been the first woman in my family to go to uni, travel around the world figuring out who I actually am, and what I wanted to make out of my life.

Here I am now, daily smashing the task of being a solo entrepreneur with my own Photography business.

I don’t think this is harder or more inspiring than my Grandmother’s life. She had 6 children to care for, with a husband she never really loved, and struggled to make pennies from gutting fish on the banks of the River Tyne.

I see progression for women when I meet fellow inspiring Female Entrepreneurs and I’m giddy with excitement to see what the future generations of women will achieve.

This is part of the beauty of what it really is to be a woman. When you realise you are part of the female story, and not all alone, conquering a dream, it some how helps you to stop sweating the small stuff.”

Accelerating Gender Parity

Simone Fattouche – Founder of BillHive

International Women's Day
Simone Fattouche speaking to students at a recent Careers and Enterprise event.

BillHive provides paperless receipts and will be launching on Shopify in the next couple of weeks.

“I have a keen interest in advocating for young female founders because I think we’re so under-represented in the tech industry. I’m currently working alongside 4 senior male software developers.

I started BillHive while completing my law degree at Queen Mary – I participated in 3 Day Startup which is a 3 day program to launch entrepreneurial ideas, which is how the idea took off.

Since then, I’ve tried to support other young females through leading by example: speaking at various events, organizing another 3 Day startup after the one that I participated in and offering career advice to friends of friends/ family.  

I think a big part about being a young female in the tech industry is actually just diving in and doing it and showing other young females that it’s possible.

I try to do that and encourage other young females along the way because, again, we’re so under-represented in the industry but we have the potential to be great leaders and innovators.”  

Yvonne Anarfi – CEO of C-SAF (Child Safeguarding Affairs Foundation)

International Women's Day
Yvonne Anarfi

Children Safeguarding Affairs Foundation (C-SAF) is a Not For Profit Organisation (NGO) with its main office in Ghana.

It is dedicated to charity work with the ultimate beneficiaries being Unborn, Children, Young People and Families.

“I work full time in Child Protection, child death reviews and carry out safeguarding training for different professionals and practitioners under Basildon council, Essex.

At the same time, I also a NGO charity called C-SAF and our mission is to make children and young people in Ghana aware of abuse that they may be experiencing and empower them to fight it.

We educate through the use of training methods for parents, institutions and organisations in the hopes of challenging cultural norms, misconceptions and encouraging good parenting.

My heart is for children and I believe it is essential to invest in them – I sometimes run a Sunday School programme at my local church with the support of my husband and daughter.”

Tricia Woolfrey – Founder of PW Consulting

International Women's Day
Tricia Woolfrey

Tricia is a coach, trainer, consultant, wellness practitioner, author and former Global HR Director. She set up her own consultancy in 1998.

PW Consulting helps a wide range of organisations to achieve good positive change through methods such as mentoring, coaching, change management and recruitment.

“Although a generalisation, women bring a heart-centred approach to business which people really engage with.

When you blend that with a strong product or service and a good business mindset, there is no stopping us.”

Gemma Whates – All By Mama

International Women's Day
Gemma Whates

Gemma founded ‘All By Mama’ just over a year ago after the birth of her first son.

It is a new online marketplace and community featuring gifts all made by mums working flexibly around family life.

I had the idea for All By Mama while on maternity leave with my son, Leonardo, now 3.

It really came from me spending a lot of time on social media like many first time mums during night feeds.

I found many mums on these networks that were making really cool things from home and selling them via social media, instead of returning to full time jobs.

I was actively looking for ways to work flexibly and thinking about how I could apply my experience and skills to something I felt passionate about.

After about a year of development and as my son turned two, I launched All By Mama and I handed my notice in to focus on it full time, working flexibly around my son.

I work almost every evening once my son is asleep and I do have childcare, some days of the week, to make sure I have enough time in the week to work.

But if my son needs me, I can be there 99% of the time and that’s what really mattered to me personally – Not having to choose between a career or being around for my son during the day.

I’ve never been happier being able to be around for my son and follow my dreams at the same time.”

Allysa Rochelle – Kinatural

International Women's DayAllysa is the only female and the lead singer of a four piece Electronic Future Soul collective called ‘Kinatural‘ – Also includes Jermainesoul (composer/keys/sampling), Cedric Monzali (drummer) and Sam Lloyd (Bass). 

Brought together by their love of music and a creative desire to experiment beyond the norm, the group produces a unique sound that blends a variety of genres to create something that surpasses conformity and invigorates the ears.

Allysa is currently balancing her love of music with working with young people to inspire them to be the best that they can be.

“I currently work at a school where I create programmes and projects to help inspire young people to be the best they can be.

This particularly feels amazing when after talking to young girls about things like body image and the negative impact of social media validation, they give feedback on how it encouraged them to revisit their relationship with how they view themselves.”

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the UKBJJA (UK Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association), launched a major campaign called Unstoppable Girl to get more women involved in the martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

International Women's Day

Unstoppable Girl involves national women only training events, social media, an education and fundraising campaign to get girls and women involved in the sport.

The event is taking place at Carlson Gracie, Hammersmith – London.

The launch also coincides with the release of UKBJJA short film – Jiu Jitsu Woman.

Lola Akisanya – Psychology Student / Charity Volunteer

International Women's Day
Lola Akisanya – www.linkedin.com/in/lola-akisanya-8a4007108

“I’m Lola Akisanya, 22 years old and a final year psychology undergraduate student at the university of Kent.

In the past, I’ve organised and taken part in two London 10k runs and raised money for Whitechapel Mission charity through fundraising.

Also, whilst at uni I was part of a Charity organisation called Divine Light Production and some of the events we did were concerts, conferences and workshops to raise awareness and money for different charities such as: PorchLight homeless charity and Compassion UK.

I have also worked as a senior mentor on the National Citizen Programme working with two groups of 12 young people, between 15-17 years old, for three weeks each.

I led them on different outdoor activities, local community charity work and helped them come up with an action campaign to bring change to their community and I also acted as a pastoral support for them during this time.

As a student ambassador at university, I go into sixth form schools and colleges to talk about life at university, encourage and help students understand university life, making course choices and their UCAS application.

I believe it is important to celebrate women’s international day because we have come a very long way in breaking barriers into male traditional roles in the job sector.

There is still a long way to go but I believe celebrating a day like this and educating young girls to achieve higher, dream without barriers and give them practical ways on how they can get into and make a different to such sectors is key to seeing more equality in male dominated sectors.”

Anna Kennedy – Founder of Anna Kennedy Online Autism Charity 

International Women's Day
Anna Kennedy

Leading autism charity Anna Kennedy Online has released a video in conjunction with International Women’s Day, showcasing the lives of five mums living with autism.

Titled ‘Inspiring Women, Inspiring Change’, the video showcases emotional and inspiring interviews with the women discussing their experiences.

The video celebrates women who have daily family struggles and focus on them as individuals and what they’ve achieved – Anna Kennedy, Samantha Tomlin (Founder of Classic Models), Dawn Avery (Financial Director to 6 companies), Joanne Wiggins (Single mum of two and Active Charity Champion) and Mala Thapar (Active charity champion and Event Organiser).

Jo Ashbridge – Founder of AzuKo (Architecture Charity)

“I founded the architecture charity AzuKo in 2014 using design as a tool to improve lives.

AzuKo means ‘all of humanity’ in an endangered language of the DR Congo – It is symbolic of our intent to achieve a fairer world.

We work with disadvantaged communities to improve living conditions, from housing and sanitation to infrastructure projects. We have a number of projects on the go, including working with Jogen Babu Maath slum to provide an urban drainage system.

Like many informal settlements, there is limited access to public services, it’s extremely densely crowded and living conditions are unsanitary.

International Women's Day
Jo Ashbridge in Bangladesh

Adequate drainage is a basic human right, which we take for granted. The impact on health and well-being will be significant.

I’m also running the Paris Marathon in April, to support our fundraising for this particular project – I’m in week 13 of training and the legs are really starting to feel it.”

Prowess, the online hub for women-friendly business support, inspiration and information, has released a new report today highlighting women’s self-employment in a post-austerity era in the UK.

International Women's Day
A recovery built on female self-employment

May Hamid – Founder of Argan Liquid Gold

International Women's Day
May Hamid

May Hamid is the founder of Argan Liquid Gold oil, which is sourced directly from suppliers in Morocco, with its production carefully traced to ensure that it is uncorrupted and absolutely pure when it reaches the consumer.

“International Women’s day is all about celebrating and inspiring each other to do more and learn more as young girls of today will be tomorrow’s future. Hope we can inspire many more women and for us to lead by example.”  

Joanna Beeko – Spoken Poet (Youtube Channel)

International Women's Day
Joanna Beeko

Joanna is a spoken poet who has been performing at various events in and around London since August 2010.

She released her first project “Speaking What You’re Thinking” on August 13th 2011.

She is sharing a previously written poem in celebration of International Women’s Day:

International Women's Day

Samantha Clarke – Director of Moat House Eyewear

International Women's Day
Samantha Clarke

I set up my business in 2013, making hand-crafted wooden sunglasses from sustainable wood sources. It has now evolved further and we have the facility to be able to re-cycle wood into sunglasses.

“I am very proud to be able to celebrate International Women’s Day today.

At Moat House Eyewear’s small manufacturing unit, half of our workforce are women.

Having been a victim of sexual discrimination myself, I feel it is essential to offer women equal rights in the workplace.

Attitude is far more important than gender. We are lucky to have a highly motivated and talented team.” 

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