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International Women’s Day: Being Inspired and Feeling Empowered

8 March 2023

“I believe there are so many positive indications of change for this generation of girls”, Cheryl Giovannoni, CEO, Girls’ Day School Trust

At Change Makers we don’t just wish for a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination – we promote, learn and most importantly draw inspiration from women that are striving towards equity, full steam ahead. 

International Women’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate women as leading lights in our society. Women are making change happen every second of every day, impacting all four corners of the world. With too many guests to celebrate, in too few words, we aim to empower all women through relaying some“positive indications of change” that have been shared through the stories and work of our guests: Charlotte Keenan, Taban Shoresh, Cheryl Giovanonni and Jude Kelly.

The story of entrepreneurs: Charlotte Keenan 

Charlotte Keenan believes in the power of small businesses, and in the power of women. Recognising that when the two are combined together, their impact is formidable, Charlotte has built an incredible platform from which she can globally champion female entrepreneurs. Charlotte is the Global Head of 10,000 Women, the Goldman Sachs initiative that provides women with business and management education, mentoring and networking and access to capital. Believing “the essence of entrepreneurship is taking a risk” Charlotte helps emerging women in business to walk, so that later, they can run. 

“Each small business is a story of the individual”, says Charlotte. Empowering and motivating herself by drawing her inspiration and motivation from female individuality, Charlotte has unwavering positivity that enables her to see the light in these gloomier times for businesses. 

Whilst simultaneously being inspired by women, Charlotte also inspires. Abiding by her own rules, she challenges herself and wants to take risks, setting her sights on her own goals, with the same passion she has for others. Charlotte is tangled in a wonderful cycle, where empowering others, empowers her, leading her to believe she resides in her “best decade yet”. 

Listen to Charlotte’s episode here 

The Story of resilience: Taban Shoresh 

“My whole life I have faced many struggles, obstacles and hurdles… dodging bombs and bullets”. No stranger to serious hardship, Taban Shoresh chose to utilise the horrific ordeal of her past as a source of empowerment to make change. 

Her story began in Kurdistan, where her family were amongst the many persecuted by Saddam Hussein’s regime in the Kurdish genocide. Although she was flown to safety in the UK, it was not in Taban’s nature to turn her back on her past. Returning home in 2014, she turned her attention to humanitarian aid and peace-building, supporting survivors of genocide, and women and girls displaced by conflict.

“Everything has a solution”, she says. Taban founded The Lotus Flower, a non-profit that empowers vulnerable women and girls affected by conflict and humanitarian crises, thinking “well, I can’t fix all the problems in the world, but I can start with one”. The organisation has provided 60,000 women and girls impacted by conflict, the opportunity to learn, grow and rebuild a future.  

Whilst Taban says she draws her inspiration from her mother, there are thousands of women who draw their inspiration from her, with her dedication to improving the lives of other women, in a similar position to the one she was once in. 

Listen to Taban’s episode here

The story of education: Cheryl Giovannoni

“There should be no limits on what girls can achieve”. No girl is too young to feel empowered, and no-one knows this better than Cheryl Giovannoni. Cheryl is an inspiring woman who wholeheartedly believes “there should be no limits on what girls can achieve. 

It was never Cheryl’s desire to learn how to lay a table and arrange flowers, yet she was sent to finishing school, rather than university. Not wishing for future generations of girls to be subscribed to a similarly limiting future, Cheryl was led by serendipity and directed her passion towards revolutionising girls’ education. 

She is the CEO of The Girls Day School Trust (GDST), a cohort of 25 independent schools that was founded in 1872 by four pioneering women and Suffragettes, Mrs Maria Grey, her sister Miss Emily Shirreff, Lady Stanley of Alderley and Miss Mary Gurney, all of whom longed for “the same education as their brothers”. Building their future on this soil of rich and inspiring history is now 19,000 students all benefiting from the Trust’s commitment to work with future generations of women who will change the world for good by developing character beyond the curriculum and broadening their horizons.

Listen to Cheryl’s episode here

The story of courage and speaking out: Jude Kelly 

Jude Kelly has been described by the Financial Times as someone who has never changed down a gear in life. An accurate description, considering she is an award winning theatre director, producer and founder of Women of the World Foundation (WOW), the non-binary, global movement that says a gender equal world is desirable, possible and urgently required. 

As one of four daughters, to a father who championed each and everyone of them, Jude feels she has a “duty to be courageous” and “call out inequality” in order to create a better world, not just for herself but for other women in society. 

She founded and designed WOW’s flagship festivals to ensure a high-profile cultural space existed for women’s stories to be shared, inspiring millions. With an “incredibly unusual mix of people” from doctors, lawyers, grannies and weavers, WOW brings women together of all backgrounds with the common desire to both feel and empower others. Listen to Jude’s episode here.

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