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.

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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.

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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