International Women’s Day 2022: celebrating female heroes, helpers and loved ones

Hap­py Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day. And hap­py Women’s His­to­ry Month.

There’s so much injus­tice going on in the world right now. So much pain. So much divi­sion. In the face of all this, inter­na­tion­al cel­e­bra­tions such as this offer a chance for us all to keep push­ing for a more equal world.

This year, we thought we’d ask friends, fol­low­ers and folks from the cre­ative com­mu­ni­ty to cel­e­brate a woman or girl who has helped or inspired them. In the com­ing days and weeks, we’ll be fill­ing this post up with more trib­utes to women and girls. So, check back later.

We encour­age you to cel­e­brate #IWD2022 by shar­ing a woman or girl who has inspired or helped you in your own life. And, in the words of singer and activist Janelle Monáe: con­tin­ue to love who you are, even if it makes oth­ers uncomfortable.

Kahlia Bakosi on Candice Brathwaite

“As a woman who con­tin­ues to prove that we as black women can dare to dream and dream big, Can­dice Brath­waite inspires so many women around the world. Under­pinned by a rare sense of hon­esty, her voice as an author res­onates so much with me. She is unapolo­getic about the pas­sion she inserts into con­ver­sa­tions around moth­er­hood and the black expe­ri­ence, which makes her such a valu­able asset and nec­es­sary addi­tion to the list of for­mi­da­ble writ­ers who have come before her.”

Kahlia Bakosi is a writer and play­wright from Lon­don, UK.

Young Old Soul on Ms Lauryn Hill

Ms Lau­ryn Hill reigns supreme. Some­where between that ‘Eye is on the Spar­row’ solo in Sis­ter Act II, the bars on ‘Fu-Gee-La’ and the raw­ness of her MTV Unplugged 2.0 per­for­mance – life changed. How can you be that beau­ti­ful and such a phe­nom­e­nal actress!? How can one’s voice simul­ta­ne­ous­ly make angels weep and bul­ly grown men into rap retire­ment? How do you pick up a pen and con­vey so bril­liant­ly the spir­i­tu­al? How many light years ahead of the game (and plan­et) are you? Yeah… She’s allowed to be late, MIA, or nev­er gift us anoth­er breath. You can do that when you’re L. Boo­gie: ‘I’m savin’ souls and y’all com­plain­in’ ’bout my lateness..’ ♡”

Young Old Soul is a singer-song­writer from Col­orado, USA.

Katrina Hicks on her grandmother, Margaret ‘Jean’ Hicks

“My true inspi­ra­tion in life is my late grand­moth­er, Mar­garet ‘Jean’ Hicks. She was the glue which held our fam­i­ly togeth­er dur­ing the rough rides and was always the one to make us laugh the most dur­ing the hap­pi­est of days. My grand­moth­er was the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of fierce yet sweet. Los­ing her, in 2021, still feels too fresh and too raw.

“How­ev­er, I tru­ly believe that the rea­son behind me tap­ping back into my cre­ative abil­i­ties recent­ly has been her – I have felt her dri­ving force with­in me, which push­es me to con­tin­ue and reach the suc­cess I’ve always sought. She always believed in me, and now I tru­ly feel that she has made me believe in me. I have also recent­ly start­ed co-man­ag­ing a com­mu­ni­ty cafè and, in homage to my grandmother’s infa­mous shepherd’s pie, I too will be serv­ing this up for my local com­mu­ni­ty to enjoy in her mem­o­ry for Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day!”

Kat­ri­na Hicks is a free­lance writer from Lon­don, UK.

Annabel Ashalley-Anthony on Nicole Crentsil

“I real­ly admire Nicole Crentsil. Like me, she is from Ghana. So I am a lit­tle biased in that respect. What she has done for black women is noth­ing short of amaz­ing. Cre­at­ing Black Girl Fest and unit­ing so many phe­nom­e­nal black women is won­drous. Being seen and heard are such basic con­cepts, but they have excep­tion­al­ly pro­found con­se­quences. The sim­ple act of being rep­re­sent­ed – see­ing some­one that looks like you in a posi­tion that you are aim­ing for – is a pow­er­ful, moti­vat­ing tool. There is mag­ic in such moments.”

Annabel Ashal­ley-Antho­ny is founder of Melanin Gamers.

Nicole Dame on Harriet Tubman

Har­ri­et Tub­man is a woman I’d like to hon­our. Born into slav­ery in Mary­land, USA, she fled north to free­dom. She would return to the south numer­ous times to free oth­ers using the Under­ground Rail­road. When the Civ­il War broke out, she became a spy, a scout, and lat­er a nurse for the Union Army. She was the first woman to lead an armed assault dur­ing the war. After the war, she cham­pi­oned edu­ca­tion and health­care. Then, in her lat­er years, she worked as part of the women’s suf­frage move­ment. I’ve always been amazed not only by her accom­plish­ments but by how many caus­es she cham­pi­oned. Sad­ly, she is not a fig­ure that is includ­ed in most his­to­ry books in the US. Here’s a short Ted Ed video about her.”

Nicole Dame from Wash­ing­ton, USA.

Sita Kanji on her friend Pav

“A woman that has inspired me is my friend, Pav. We met at uni, 16 years ago, and have remained close ever since. I have wit­nessed her growth from a young lady to the incred­i­ble woman she is today. She has taught me a lot about how to be fear­less, to always strive for what you want, and to be authen­ti­cal­ly and apolo­get­i­cal­ly your­self. I am super-blessed to have such an impor­tant and lov­ing influ­ence in my life, who always push­es me to do bet­ter. She will always be my inspiration!”

Sita Kan­ji from Lon­don, UK.

Kate Mattison on Lady Wray

“I’ve played a few shows open­ing up for Nicole [Wray] now. Since 2016, the only things that I can say ring true to this day, she told me after a show in Indus­try City in 2019. She said: ‘Kate, my dad­dy told me to keep singing, and that’s what we got­ta do.’ She didn’t know it at the time, but those words helped me more than she may ever know. I keep singing because of the advice she gave me after our show. She lift­ed me from a dark place. Thank you, Nicole.”

Kate Mat­ti­son is band leader of 79.5.

Mai on Brittney Perry

Brit­tney Per­ry is an inspi­ra­tional woman not only because she start­ed her own shoe com­pa­ny – Per­ry Co Shoes, but because she is a mas­ter man­i­fester. Every­thing that she has want­ed in life, she has made hap­pen. I’m con­stant­ly in awe of my best friend, because she turns her dreams into reality.”

Mai is a singer-song­writer based in Cal­i­for­nia, USA.


Lydia Rose on Janet Jackson

“I am not one to stan celebri­ties. How­ev­er, one woman that I will stan until the end of time is Janet Jack­son. When it comes to black women in music, she is absolute­ly the blue­print. Janet Jackson’s sto­ry is a beau­ti­ful one of longevi­ty. Through her music and style, she has taught me there is no one way to fem­i­nin­i­ty. It’s about carv­ing out your own lane and always stay­ing true to yourself.”

Lydia Rose is an edu­ca­tor, writer and pod­cast­er from Lon­don, UK.

Hana Zari on her mother

“My moth­er is the con­stant anchor in my life. She always holds me down. Always has an answer for every­thing. She is the true def­i­n­i­tion of a hero. I am inspired by her on a dai­ly basis, from her gen­eros­i­ty to her fear­less­ness. The life I have lived is all thanks to her and she has sup­port­ed me all the way. I’m lucky to have a moth­er who believes in my dreams and has nev­er told me to do some­thing else. One day, when I have the right words, I’ll write the per­fect song for her.”

Hana Zari is a singer-song­writer from Lon­don, UK.

Damon Xavier on Lorraine Hansberry

Lor­raine Hans­ber­ry is per­haps the artist who inspires me the most. She helped me realise that you must: tell the truth about what the world is, tell the truth about what the world ought to be, and be com­fort­able with being lone­ly; often­times, that is what makes some­one exceptional.”

Damon Xavier is a rap­per from New York, USA.


Kate Mattison on Jennifer Charles of Elysian Fields / Lovage

“She and I have been friends for many years, since my ear­ly years in NYC. But what Jen­nifer doesn’t know is that she’s helped me every step of the way. Every step. She’s been a men­tor, a guide, a hilar­i­ous friend, and her musi­cian­ship and guid­ance have made me who I am today. She’ll like­ly be blind­sided, because she’s so love­ly and hum­ble. Also, she knows more about music than any­one I’ve ever met.”

Kate Mat­ti­son is band leader of 79.5.

Images: Col­lage by Fringe Fre­quen­cy (main); Col­lage images all roy­al­ty-free (main); All oth­er images belong to respec­tive pho­tog­ra­phers or pro­vid­ed cour­tesy of the interviewees