Happy International Women’s Day! Proven time and time again, there is truly no feat that women can’t accomplish, no naysayer that can get in our way, and no boundaries that we can’t cross. Today is all about celebrating the power, strength and success of womankind, and finding empowerment from one another. As Serena Williams put it, “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.” In honour of this, we want to showcase some extraordinary and trailblazing women that have inspired us and reminded us just how fierce and resilient we are.
Michelle Phan is an uber-successful entrepreneur, insanely talented beauty guru and a pioneer of modern beauty platforms (we’re almost positive you’ve seen one of her makeup-up tutorials on Youtube). With more than 6 million subscribers and 1 billion views, she took Youtube by storm and used her success to branch out further into the beauty industry. In 2011, Phan co-founded Ipsy, a monthly beauty product subscription service which we are so lucky to work with. In 2013, she launched her own cosmetic line called EM Cosmetics by Michelle Phan and in 2018, she founded Thematic, a company specializing in licensing music. Her entrepreneurial success landed her features in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list and Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business. In addition to her tremendous success in the world of business, she’s an unapologetic advocate for gender equality and fiercely defends her belief that men and women should be equals in every context.
Neema Kaseje is a social justice and women’s rights activist, an innovator in third-world health services distribution, and medical surgeon from Siaya, Kenya. She founded UBS Global Visionaries as well as Surgical Systems Research Groups, leveraging youth, technology and community engagement to expand access to health services in under-serviced communities. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaseje trained 1,300 healthcare providers to support Covid patients in her region. While the pandemic was unfolding, she found that with the closure of schools, teen pregnancies were becoming more prevalent, which led her to build a network of leadership and mentorship groups reaching 800 young girls to realize their potential, facilitate their return to schools once re-opened, and provide them with essential sanitary products. Due to her efforts, 99% of the young girls her network mentored are back in school and pregnancy rates among them have dramatically decreased.
Megan Rapinoe is a professional soccer player, an activist for gender, racial, and sexual equality, and an entrepreneur. She led the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team to become World Cup Champions in 2019. Using her platform, she led the fight for equality in sports in terms of race, gender, and sexuality. Her advocacy influenced a lawsuit filed against the United States Soccer Federation for gender discrimination, claiming that their male counterparts on the Men’s National Soccer team earned far more than they do, despite the women’s team ranking first in the world, and the men’s team ranking 21st. This lawsuit brought to light the very prevalent gender wage gap within the professional sporting industry and represented a very impactful call to action. Megan later co-founded Re-inc, a lifestyle clothing brand launched to fill a void in the market for well-fitting, genderless clothes.
Cynt (Cynthia) Marshall is the CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, making her the first Black woman to serve this position in the NBA, which is only one of her many accomplishments in her life’s pursuit to progress racial and gender equality. In the late 70s, she was the first Black cheerleader at the University of California. In 2007, she became the president of AT&T and transformed the company into an inclusive and diverse workforce. Throughout her position as the CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, Cynthia made changes to greatly diversify the top ranks of the organization which proved to be incredibly effective as today, 50% of the Maverick’s leadership team are women and 47% are people of colour. In addition, Cynthia has been vocal about being a victim of domestic abuse throughout her childhood and fiercely advocates for it’s prevention.
Raashi Saxena is a social innovation practitioner, an avid activist for women's rights and a leader in the world of sustainable fashion. She is on the board of directors of Threading Change, an international youth-led organization working on sustainable and ethical fashion practices. In addition, she is a member of Shaping Fashion and the M.A.S.K project, both led by the Global Shapers Community in scaling sustainable transformations in the fashion industry. During the pandemic, garment and textile factories in India were forced to close which caused a steep rise in unemployment and vast financial hardship. Raashi recruited garment workers that lost their jobs due to the pandemic and employed them in a factory creating sustainable cotton masks. As a result, more than 9000 masks were produced and over 100 garment workers were employed. In addition, Raashi has championed the TEDxWomen conference in her local community for the last 3 years, enabling the empowerment of local people by giving them a platform to share their ideas to a global network, pushing them towards amplifying radical change.
Each of these women have made incredible strides for both present and future generations. They've continuously shown they're unapologetic determination to create change and maintained their transformative visions despite many burdens that have come in their way. Today is International Women's Day but every day is an opportunity to learn from inspiring women from each corner of the world and find empowerment through their successes.
Here's to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.
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Starting this February and every month after, our Neon Souls monthly edition will be highlighting creators that we truly love. The people we choose will be highly curated and inspiring in unique ways - be it through their inspiring energy, the way they interact with their audience or their creativity and visual aesthetic. These are creators who inspire us deeply and lead in their own unique ways.
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