International Women’s Day 2022: Women who inspire us

Today (Tuesday 8 March) is International Women’s Day. It has celebrated the achievements of women and marked a call to action for accelerating women’s equality for well over a century. Ahead of the day this year, we asked Education and Training Foundation (ETF) staff members to tell us about the women who inspire them and why.

Leadership and Management Facilitator, Jacqui Howard, suggests an inspiration from the other side of the world. “I am inspired by Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, because her approach shows that empathy and compassion are an integral part of successful leadership, and that these qualities do not make someone less capable or focused.” At age 37, Jacinda became the country’s youngest prime minister in more than 150 years.

Organisational Change and Engagement Coordinator, James McCann, gives Beryl Gilroy as his inspiration. Beryl Gilroy was a teacher and author. She arrived in England in 1952 as a highly qualified teacher but was unable to secure a teaching post for many years due to racism. Her perseverance saw her go on to become one of Britain’s first black headteachers, and she authored a book about her experiences. James tells us “She was a compassionate and kind educator despite the racism that she encountered, and she persevered in writing despite the challenge she faced getting her work published.”  

James also offered another teaching inspiration – “Betty Campbell – the subject of the first statue of a non-fictional woman in Wales.” Despite being reduced to tears as a child when her teacher told her there were too many barriers for her to become a headteacher, she became Wales’ first black headteacher and remained a lifelong activist for equality, diversity and inclusion. Nelson Mandela himself sought Betty Campbell out on his only visit to Wales.

Nicola Martin, Organisational Change and Engagement Manager, suggests an inspiration closer to home. “My mum. She has been through a lot of hardship in her life but still manages to put others first, and more importantly, still manages to laugh when my dad winds her up every day! After my twin brother died, she went through a very bad time with her mental health, but she always made sure I had everything I could ever want or need. She is the most caring, resilient, strongest, and feistiest 5ft woman I know. She inspires me every day.”

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