International Women's Day is celebrated on Monday, 8 March 2021 and is an important opportunity to celebrate women's achievements while calling for greater equality.
This year's theme is #ChooseToChallenge and over the next few weeks, we will be sharing a selection of incredible women who embody this theme.
First up we have curated a list of 10 women who have challenged circumstance, adversity and society to become champions and the best versions of themselves.
7-time world champion Layne Beachley is widely regarded as the most successful surfer in history. The only surfer to claim 6 consecutive world titles, Layne’s story is a testimony to the power of self-belief.
A traumatic childhood, which ignited a flame of desperation to prove she was worthy of love, combined with Layne’s affinity for the ocean and competition created the perfect storm to achieve her dream of becoming the best of the best.
Layne lives a life of unapologetic honesty, sharing her experiences with humour and humility, standing firm in her values with a clear vision for the future. Her sights are firmly set on cultivating connection, growth and happiness in humanity.
Michelle Payne's historic win in the 2015 Melbourne Cup with Prince of Penzance turned the race that stops a nation into a race that inspired one. But it is the story behind this remarkable woman that cemented her place as a beloved national icon and inspired the biopic, Ride Like a Girl, directed by Rachel Griffiths and starring Teresa Palmer and Sam Neill. Released in late September 2019 to audience acclaim and the number one position at the box office, it has become the highest-grossing Australian film of the year. Her grace in the face of untold tragedy and triumph is now a beacon for many. Michelle Payne is that rare kind of icon: one who lives with gratitude and humility.
Michelle is available for In Conversation style events with a facilitator.
Gill Hicks is one of the most thought-provoking, powerful and life-affirming speakers in Australia. She is globally known as an advocate for sustainable peace and a valuable resource in countering violent extremism. Her devotion to building peace was realised when she was permanently injured in the London terrorist bombings on July 7th, 2005. But Gill is much more than a survivor, and her presentations focus on topics such as confidence and trust within ourselves, how having both allows us to make transformative choices. Gill has moved audiences at events around the world and in 2018 she reached everyday Australians by sharing her story with Anh Do on an incredible episode of Anh's Brush with Fame.
Nadine Champion lives to empower people to find their courage and resilience during challenging times. She is a Gold medal winner at the World Cup of martial arts, an undefeated champion kickboxer, and a cancer survivor.
Nadine is the rare type of Speaker who makes such a profound impression that your audience will be talking about her long after the event. Her life-changing concept, 10 Seconds of Courage, is a powerful call to action that challenges people to change their thinking to create their own success. Having overcome life-threatening challenges, Nadine's story of resilience is genuinely unforgettable and filled with instantly useable mindset tools.
Nadine's mission is to leave your audience feeling uplifted, focused and incredibly motivated to succeed. She is a highly sought after thought leader on courage, inner strength and resilience with a delivery style that is hilarious, educational and touching in equal measure. Check out Nadine's recent appearance in our Fireside Chat series.
Get in touch about Nadine
Manal al-Sharif has been listed as one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people, as one of Forbes Top 50 Women in Tech and by Newsweek as one of the 10 tech-revolutionaries in the world. She is a prominent voice advocating for women's rights and empowerment and was one of the first Saudi women to specialize in Information Security, starting her career in 2002 with Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world.
Manal is a leading expert in Cybersecurity and is currently the Chief Information Security Officer and the University of New South Wales.
Brooke Boney is a proud Gamilaroi Gomeroi Woman, Indigenous Affairs advocate and the entertainment reporter for the TODAY show. Brooke masterfully balances her trademark relaxed outward glow with an inward fierceness that was borne from a childhood of disadvantage. It’s that perfectly-pitched belly-fire which has shaped her poise and readiness in high-pressure live media environments. It’s not often you meet a journalist who can cover a political campaign trail as comfortably as they can cover the showbiz beat.
Brooke is passionate about igniting discussion around indigenous affairs and sharing her message with sensitivity to the slow and subtle pace of progress. Best of all, she’s doing it under the hopeful gaze of thousands of Indigenous youths across the country, who have someone to help them imagine themselves doing it too.
Jana Pittman is one of the most recognisable faces in Australian athletics. She is also the first woman to represent Australia in both Summer and Winter Olympics, having joined the Australian bobsleigh team after injury forced an end to her athletic career. In 2019 she also completed a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Western Sydney and is currently practising in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of the Blacktown hospital, all while being the devoted mum to four kids.
Nyadol Nyuon was born in a refugee camp in Itang, Ethiopia, and raised in Kakuma Refugee camp, Kenya. In 2005, at the age of eighteen, she moved to Australia as a refugee.
Since then, Nyadol has completed a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Melbourne. She now works as a commercial litigator with Arnold Bloch Leibler.
Nyadol is a vocal advocate for human rights, multiculturalism, the settlement of people with refugee experiences and those seeking asylum. She has worked and volunteered extensively in these areas with a range of organisations.
Samantha Gash was an accomplished lawyer working for the largest international law firm in the world when she traded in her heels for running shoes and went out to change the world through highly collaborative social impact campaigns. With true grit, unrelenting focus and the willingness to create the next best plan in the face of chaos and change, she has created lasting impact.
Samantha was the first woman and the youngest person at the time, to complete the Four Deserts Grand Slam - one of the world’s toughest endurance competitions that spans 1000kms across the hottest, coldest, driest and windiest deserts on earth. She started the decade by launching a virtual 5 and 21.1km running event as a fundraiser for the Australian Red Cross bushfire relief efforts. In 13 days the digital campaign raised over $1,100,000 with 19,000 participants in over 60 countries on every continent on the planet.
Samantha has now raised $1.4 million dollars for charities through running & social impact campaigns.
A powerhouse of Women's Football, Moana Hope is one of the AFLW's most recognizable figures.
A star junior, Moana competed against the older women from a very young age, honing her craft to become one of the VFLW's most damaging forwards, including a 100 goal season for the St Kilda Sharks before the launch of the AFLW. Moana's focus has shifted from the field to starting her own family with her wife, Isabella Carlstrom, and continuing to care for her sister, Vinny, who lives with the rare neurological condition Moebius syndrome, as well as running a highly successful Traffic Management Company.
Moana has a unique profile that resonates beyond the sports fields, with appeal across all demographics. As a result, Moana has worked with many local and international brands for campaigns including NIKE, Myer, Tommy Hilfiger, Special K, Remedy Kombucha, NAB, McDonald's, and the Melbourne Racing Club. She is also a highly sort after Speaker and shares her incredible journey through facilitated conversations and Q&A sessions.