International Women’s Day

Today is the 104th International Women’s Day.  The first ever Women’s Day was held in New York in 1909 and was organised by the Socialist Party of America.  Over the decades, more and more countries have decided to observe the holiday.  In some parts of the world, the holiday is a celebration of women’s economic, political, and social achievements.  In other parts, it is simply a general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women.

Votes for Women! From Mary Poppins

Votes for Women! Mrs Banks sings “Sister Suffragette” in the film Mary Poppins

For me, every day is International Women’s Day. I spend at least a few hours a day researching and writing about the amazing royal women in the Castles and Countesses book series, speaking with my great female friends and colleagues, and generally reflecting on my purpose as a woman on this planet.  For me, International Women’s Day is imbedded in my DNA and part of my every day.  And I hope that in my lifetime, the majority of men and women in the world will feel the same way.

For me personally, today I am reflecting on all of the amazing women, both fictional and real, who have inspired me and helped shape the woman that I am today.  It is these women who also inspire me to be a better woman (and overall human being) in the future.

International Womans Day 2015

From left to right starting in the upper left hand corner they are:

Debora Spar – President of Barnard College at Columbia University (my alma mater) and author of Wonder Women Sex Power and the Quest for Perfection.

Oprah Winfrey – First African-American female billionaire and one of the most influential women in the world

Nancy Drew – Daring, courageous, kind, intelligent, female detective from the legendary book series for girls

Emma Watson – UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and advocate for #HeForShe campaign

Thelma and Louise (and Geena Davis) – Two strong female leads who created their own rules, rather than allow themselves to become victims of a male-dominated system.  Actress Geena Davis now chairs the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Queen Elizabeth II – Most influential monarch in the world, soon to be the longest reigning British monarch of all times

My Nana – ran a large farm, raised two boys, and was the most loving and generous person I’ve ever known

Queen Elizabeth Woodville – an example of a woman “having it all” more than 500 years before the phrase was even coined

Queen Anne Boleyn – Brave, determined, intelligent, and the mother of one of the greatest British monarchs of all times (Elizabeth I)

Queen Elizabeth I – Only the second ever queen regnant of England, she was the first successful one.  Her 45 year reign became known as “The Golden Age” of England

Lady Jane Grey – Displayed incredible courage and dignity beyond her 16 years of age when she was thrust by her scheming family onto the throne of England, and subsequently lost her life because of it

Barbara Novak (played by Renee Zellweger) – country girl writes international feminist bestseller and takes on the 1960s New York publishing world

Princess Diana – rocked one important family and the rest of the world with her vulnerability, kindness, and quiet courage

Scarlett O’Hara (played by Vivian Leigh) – feisty southern belle doesn’t let anything stand in her way to both survive and thrive in post-Civil War America

Queen Katherine Parr – the last (and possibly most inspiring) of Henry VIII’s wives, she was a published author and the epitome of the feminine ideal in the European courts of her day

This list is just a snapshot of the women who come to my mind today to celebrate, but there are so many others.  How are you celebrating International Women’s Day today?  Who are the women in your life who inspire you?

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