March is Women’s History Month!

This month provides an opportunity for us to learn and celebrate women’s achievements and contributions to our society. At the7dayringproject, we not only recognize the importance of investing in women’s potential through education, but we also know that it’s just as important to take time and recognize those we look up to.

So this year, we thought we’d share some of the women that inspire our team to live life fully, create change locally, and empower women globally.

From Allison: Rula Ghani, a Pioneer

  Image Credit: The Guardian

Image Credit: The Guardian

Rula Ghani holds three university degrees, speaks five languages, and is paving unprecedented pathways as Afghanistan’s First Lady since 2015.

From her current position in government, she has been boldly working to improve conditions and rights for women in Afghanistan. Rula Ghani has been championing women’s rights in many different ways. One of her positions is honorary co-chair (along with the former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush) of the US-Afghan Women's Council.

Currently in Afghanistan, there are more women in notable positions within government and business than at any other time in the nation’s history, and more than 2.5 million girls in school, according to the UN. Thanks in large part to Ghani and Bush’s work,

"You start seeing women in government organizations, you start seeing them in the private sector ... many more girls studying, so women are a little bit everywhere."

In a country where it’s not easy to be a woman, let alone a woman in a position of power, Rula Ghani’s courage to fight for the rights of women of a country that is not even her own inspires me to empower women everywhere. Regardless of whether or not I personally know them, the simple fact is that we are women, and as women, we fight for each other.

  Image credit: Paul Child/WGBH

Image credit: Paul Child/WGBH

From Janelle: Julia Child, a Trailblazer

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”

I heard this quote as a child and immediately wrote it down on a sticky note and stuck it to my bedroom wall. Even now, after almost eight years of recreationally baking and decorating fondant cakes, those words still seem to whimsically capture why I love to bake. What makes it that much sweeter is that those words were spoken by one of the most inspirational women in cooking – Julia Child.

Julia Child is famously known for bringing the art of French cooking to Americans during the 1950’s. Julia didn’t even begin to cook until she was 32 and published her first cookbook at age 49. For me, she symbolizes that it is never too late to follow your passion.

What I love about Julia Child is her view that failure is necessary for success. She noted, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” She was courageous and confident and by no means delicate. Her diligence is incredibly inspiring. (She once tried a recipe eight times in one day just to get it perfect.)

Julia Child once said, “Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” I, for one, will continue to live by those words…and also to believe that cake should be a food group all of its own.

From Peo: Rosanna Heppell, a Role Model

There was not one moment in my life when I did not look up to my sister (except now because I’m taller - holla!) Whatever she did, I wanted to do it too. If she got bangs, I got bangs. If she wanted a Britney Spears’ Hit Clips, I wanted a Backstreet Boys’ Hit Clips. If she thought Zac Efron was cute, I thought Zac Efron was cute (but, come on, he’s a babe!). Some people say that we are identical - from the way we talk to the way we present ourselves. But that is only because she has been and will always be my biggest inspiration. I always regard her as the better half of the Au sister duo, because it’s so true. You’ll never find someone more hardworking, more genuine in her intentions, or more caring than Rosanna. She has walked with me through every milestone of my life and has seen me at my worst - and yet every day she still chooses to stick by my side; she still chooses to be my best friend. That is something that inspires me every day.

From Kathleen: Sarah Mclachlan, an Artist

  Image Credit: Courtesy Artist

Image Credit: Courtesy Artist

Growing up, I was always creating and writing - writing poems, writing song lyrics, creating tunes in my head, and singing them quietly to myself in my room. I thought these songs would always be just that: something in my head, that only would be heard by the walls of my room.

It wasn’t until I heard the song Angel by Sarah Mclachlan that I discovered that these tunes in my head could be transformed into complete and dynamic songs with the help of an instrument, particularly the piano. As I’ve grown up and continued to listen to her music, my admiration for her as an artist and as a Canadian female role model have grown significantly. Her lyrics have remained truthful and raw, and she has continued to be a strong female figure in the music industry, by starting projects like the Sarah Mclachlan School of Music, intended for young people to explore themselves and utilize music as an emotional outlet.

“There’s beauty everywhere. There are amazing things happening everywhere, you just have to be able to open your eyes and witness it. Some days that’s harder than others.”

By sharing her experiences through music, she has created a point of connection for anyone who listens to her music, where people can feel as though they are not completely alone in their experiences. I respect and admire Sarah Mclachlan for her honesty and willingness to share her thoughts through her music, as it has taught me to do the same.

From Brielle: Ms. Jean Ritter, an Inspiration

Ms. Ritter has been my piano teacher for the last few years. The best words I would use to describe her are: resilient, wise, and hard-working. She has lived a life of tremendous hardship, from surviving chronic diseases to constantly being on heavy medication, but this doesn’t hold her back from living life, working 60 hours/week, and spreading her love.

She is one of those people who wholeheartedly cares about others and pushes you to fulfill your potential. It is so rare to find someone who is truly selfless in the way that she is. She pours so much into her students in a way that is unbelievable to me.

From Miley: HOLLA TO OUR LOCAL WOMEN

When I think about women’s history and celebrating women’s achievements, I often think about all the badass young women I know in my community who are making history.

Noor Fadel, an 18 year old Muslim Canadian who turned a highly publicized violent act of hate on the Skytrain into a platform for her advocacy work. Veronika Bylicki, a passionate community builder who co-founded CityHive, a social enterprise that is transforming the way young people are engaged in civic processes and urban sustainability challenges. My incredibly whacky mother, who breaks every expectation imposed upon her and has taught me everything I needed to know about being a brave, bold woman. The lovely women at the7dayringproject who, on top of their busy work/school/extracurriculars/life schedules, work tirelessly to make this little social enterprise blossom.

Those are just a few. But my point is, for me, Women’s History Month is about reflecting and celebrating those in my community. We often look outwards and upwards for inspiration but I encourage all of us to take a moment and look into our neighbourhoods, our classrooms, our workplaces for the badass women who are already making history, whether in small or big strides. Because knowing all these women are doing incredible things in such close proximity makes me realize that our future isn’t looking too shabby after all. In fact, I would even say it’s looking pretty dang good.

From Taylor: Bogaletch Gebre, a Revolutionary

  Image Credit: KMG Ethiopia

Image Credit: KMG Ethiopia

When I first posed this challenge to our 7dayring team to learn about amazing women and bring their stories to life, I knew I wanted to focus on Ethiopian women who have impacted their country as a way to continue to educate myself on those shaping the country that we are aiming to support. 

While I was doing my research, I was immediately reminded how hard it is to stand out and be considered a leader as a woman in Ethiopia. It was way harder than I expected to find news articles and credible sources about female leaders in Ethiopia. However, one lady stood out to me in her dedication to showing the power of habesha (Ethiopian) women.

Bogaletch (Boge) Gebre is a badass.  

Like far too many girls around the world, when she was 12, she was a victim of female genital mutilation (FGM), a procedure that is not only emotionally scarring and embarrassing, but incredibly dangerous. Boge almost bled to death. Her father also forbade her from going to school, but of course, she didn’t let that stop her. She snuck out of her home to attend a missionary school for a few hours every day. From there, she became a Fulbright scholar and a brilliant scientist. This woman then came back to Ethiopia to help other women achieve their dreams just as she had, but without the pain and suffering she faced. She started Kembatti Mentti-Gezimma-Tope, a phrase in the oral language of Kembatta that reflects the power women generate when working together. Heck. Frikin. Ya.

The charity works to serve women in many areas, including preventing female genital mutilation and bridal abductions, which is the practice of kidnapping and raping young women to force them into marriage. Her organization has reduced FGM from 97% to 3% in her birth-area.

The Independent called Boge “the woman who began the rebellion of Ethiopian women,” and all I can say is, let’s keep this rebellion going.

 

Much love,
the7dayringproject

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Cover photo image credit: San Francisco Women's March 2018

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