Women that Inspire the World
08 de March de 2022
08 de March de 2022
One day, in 1955, a 42-year-old African American woman by the name Rosa Louise Parks was coming home from her work as a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama. As usual, she took the bus home. But, on that day, she would do something different that would change the world. Rosa Louise refused to give up her seat for a white person to sit, thus challenging the racial segregation that existed in the United States at the time. This gesture inspired many other black women of the time and gave birth to the civil rights movement.
The influence Rosa Louise had on other women changed the world and their lives. Today, on International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to take a walk around EAE and see which women have inspired ours.
As it couldn’t be any other way, I came to know about her work in a quite discreet way and almost by chance, while I was studying. Thanks to her, I was able to understand the power and capacity that introverts have and how to establish a good relationship with them in different situations. It was really inspiring for me to see her Ted Talk, The Power of Introverts, where she talks in front of hundreds of people about different episodes in her life and explains how, in a cultural setting where being sociable and extroverted is valued above everything else, it’s hard to be an introvert. This also implies, as Susan puts it, “to have courage to speak softly”. Celebrating diversity and handling ourselves with our own —and much needed— distinctive features and idiosyncrasy is of great inspiration for those of us who are in contact with people on a daily basis. Seeing Susan Cain passing forward this message, standing there in front of massive audiences when that’s not her natural setting, seemed to me as something to admire and a great example of how to overcome your fears.
A woman that inspired me during my career was the writer Caitlin Moran. In her book, How to be a Woman, she uses smart humour in order to tell stories —some fun ones, some others more tough— about what it means to be a woman in a still sexist, chauvinistic society. There had been many works of humour focused on women, but none of them were as socially committed as Moran’s. Most of the times, feminism is approached with an academic or political focus and it’s mostly done in a serious manner, which puts off readers. This best seller has played a key role in taking the bad connotation out of the word feminist.
I don’t have many big leaders or figures I follow or want to look like; at least I don’t usually look at women who don’t live within a context similar to mine.
I get inspired by normal women; the lady from the bazaar in the corner that works all day long to make it in a setting that works opposite to how her mind works; a friend of mine that lost a son to suicide and still believes gratitude to be the way; all of the women that after making a mistake, they learn, make it right and reinvent themselves.
I try to stay alert and aware. I try to recognise the women around me and their greatness and I make an effort to learn from them.
A woman that has inspired me is Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s Head of Operations and writer of the book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead). Someone recommended her book and I read it. It inspired me to keep on working on my professional development, searching and taking advantage of the necessary opportunities in order to get there. Having a family and wanting to balance life and family with work didn’t have to be an impediment to keep on progressing and occupying higher positions; and of course, it didn’t have to be something to feel guilty about.
It helped me reflect on the importance of not setting limits for myself —many of which come from the inside— and of constantly challenging myself to pursue my dreams. It also helped me become more aware of how women can turn small gestures into great changes; of how we can work together to create a more equal world; and of how, no matter our position, we can be generous and help others make it. There are few women in leadership positions and I’m convinced that the world needs more of us.
It’s one of those women that has had an influence on me thanks to her story, what she’s been through, her fight for equality, her art… Not only at a cultural level, but also how she faced life.
I found out about her through a postcard in Mexico. Her image struck me as odd — always colourful; unlike her life story, which was in shades of grey. At the time, I was going through a hard emotional moment and I immediately saw myself in her. Frida, in spite of the multiple physical and emotional problems she was going through, was a resilient woman that lived a life full of passion and intensity. It was admirable!
The fact that, as it’s the case for many strong human beings, love was one of her weaknesses, called my attention. For it was love, as well, her greatest source of inspiration she used to create, to represent herself and to connect with herself.
Every word written or spoken by Frida Kahlo has always been of great help for me; always with those shades of pain and overcoming adversity. Something from which we all have something to learn.
One of the women that has been an inspiration for me during my career as a designer is Janine Benyus — American scientist that specialises in natural sciences, innovation consultant and writer.
She popularised the term “Biomimetism”, which states that we should consciously emulate nature in our designs in order to keep the natural balance of the world in which we live, through the coexistence of humans and the environment. This concept tells us that we must watch and learn from nature, its models, systems, processes and elements and emulate or inspire ourselves in them in order to solve problems and create our designs.
I found out about Alexandra David-Néel when I started travelling in Nepal, many years ago, and started delving into their culture and Buddhist philosophy. The first western person to enter Tibet — and she went well beyond. She was threatened by different Lamas and masters until, in the end, she was named Lama herself. She was called “The Lamp of Wisdom”.
She started travelling at a very young age, at a time when a woman travelling by herself was outrageous. She was travelling and at the same time studying and writing. Nowadays, her books are “rara avis” — very hard to find. She died when she was 100 years old, after renewing her passport and travelling across China for over 10 years. In order to enter Lhasa, she walked 2 thousand kilometres, disguised as a beggar, with her skin dyed with coconut ashes and accompanied by an apprentice that became her adoptive son.
For me, Alexandra is a continuous source of inspiration; inspiration for the free and cultured soul; inspiration for delving into self-discovery and the discovery of the laws that rule the universe; inspiration for travelling; inspiration for keep on trying and not giving up. Her free and full spirit, for me, is something I hope one day I will achieve.