International Women's Day 2022

We shine a spotlight on eight incredible women from our community.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re giving up our platforms to shout out inspiring individuals who are doing incredible things for women in their communities and/or in the world at large. Here’s to the movers, the shakers and the changemakers. 

 

Tamara Cincik is Founder and CEO at Fashion Roundtable FRSA – the only think tank dedicated to reimagining a creative and responsible fashion industry.Tamara and her team are arbiters of positive change around representation, inclusion and sustainability in fashion, working directly with policy makers, as well as delivering powerful campaigns and groundbreaking reports. 

The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias - how do you personally and professionally celebrate women’s achievements?
The whole team at Fashion Roundtable is currently female. Across the four years since I launched FR it has been a heavily female and intersectional group of talented people. Breaking bias is central to our work as a team - for example, our groundbreaking Representation and Inclusion in the Fashion Industry report; as well as our identities as individuals. My aim is always to amplify voices, give space and indeed give way to people who need to be heard. We do not need to always hear more from the same old small group of people, we need to ensure that not only do we amplify those who all too often are silenced, or diminished but also value their achievements. 

It is far harder for someone from a council estate, like me, to reach a leadership role than many in the fashion industry. That insight has never left me, from when I went to university - the first in my family - and realised many smart people back where I grew up did not have those opportunities, which others took for granted. This is why I see FR's role as light givers to place those with less privilege. I think that normative bias not only holds people back, it is proven to lower income generation to any business which does not have a diverse team, but more than that, it is limiting and it is not who we are, or what we aspire to be. 

Why do you think it's so important to champion IWD?
As an intersectional feminist we need to know our worth. One day versus the rest of the year is not enough time for us to truly champion female empowerment, but it is a start. Girls are now achieving  better grades at school and university. They are also earning more in their entry level roles, but once they have children they are still losing work and career opportunities FOR THE REST OF THEIR WORKING LIVES. This is the next hurdle women in the UK need to overcome. It is utterly illogical that childcare in this country is so under-resourced when there is evidence that funding it is cost neutral for the taxable income women then make if they can work - of course not all choose to when their children are little. But a lack of support for childcare which is so expensive, the rise of in work poverty and then the lack of progression of womens' careers who do step away from their jobs precisely because childcare costs so much, is impacting women's financial freedom, emotional well-being and their pension pots. This day allows space for those and many other interesting and necessary conversations that impact women's lives. 

Can you share one piece of career advice (or a brilliant resource) that you have found truly helpful? Something that you hold on to and revisit.
The Fabian Women's Network mentoring scheme, which I did and was then offered a role in the parliamentary office of my mentor, was life changing. A fantastic network of bright, kind and empowered women supporting future and current leaders with the skills and tools to achieve their ambitions. I would highly recommend it.

 

Isabelle Landicho

London-based and Philippine-born Isabelle Landicho is a seasoned stylist and art director who is passionate about the environment and diversity. She is Fashion Director of The Earth Issue – the creative agency and educational platform dedicated to using art and image culture as a driving force for intersectional environmental activism.

Landicho's new initiative One for you & One for me is a scheme borne from a desire to use her platform meaningfully by giving back to her community and support brands she truly believes in. With every item Landicho is gifted, the brand will match it with 100% of the proceeds going to Solace Womens Aid - a refuge centre based in Haringey providing specialist and safe temporary accommodation for women and their children who are in crisis/risk of harm and have low to medium support needs.

Is there a particular individual who has influenced and/or inspired the work you do?
My family consists mostly of women. Growing up I was surrounded by strong Filipino female figures which has definitely shaped my work ethic. Both my grandmas in particular have inspired me with their selflessness and drive. Otherwise, Michelle Obama (a fellow Capricorn) has influenced me with her intelligence and wit - I highly recommend reading her autobiography. 

Why do you think it's so important to champion IWD?
I feel like I celebrate International Women’s Day everyday, to quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.” As a WOC I’ve been overlooked at every facet and now as I get older I’m really coming into my own and putting myself first with the knowledge that I am worthy and I am powerful. This day more than any other is when to remind yourself of that!

What challenges have you faced in your career to date and how did you manage to overcome them?
Firstly, it’s important to clarify that one's career is a journey and you never know where it could take you. The main challenges I’ve faced are navigating the fashion industry as a WOC and traversing work through my set of values. The landscape of the industry has improved in recent years but still isn’t as inclusive behind the lense as it should be. In regards to my second “challenge”, I worked full-time within fast fashion for years, in order to save my spirit I made the decision to go freelance to pursue conscious fashion and the things that bring me joy freely as well as to distance myself from what can be a toxic environment. Fortunately, this leap of faith worked out and I’ve been thriving personally and professionally- I’m really grateful for my journey so far. 

 

Stephanie Okoye 

Stephanie Okoye is a DJ, basketball player, model, casting director and activist born and bred in East London. 

Alongside her own DJing, Stephanie also co-founded Girls Love Soul, a music platform championing female and non-binary DJs and is the founder of youth organisation, Girls Like Us, a programme delivering workshops to young women of black and mixed heritage, focusing on topics around social issues, wellbeing and power/privilege dynamics. The workshops aim to support the girls by increasing their self-awareness, consciousness and emotional intelligence, skills that will aid in navigating their experiences in and around school.

Stephanie also works in real talent casting, and runs the social media account Real Faces Real Places, highlighting inner-city talent through portraiture.

Is there a particular individual who has influenced and/or inspired the work you do?
If I had to pick one person, off the top of my head I think about Grace LaDoja. I love the way she has incorporated her influences from her environment in her work, her purpose and her mission. It ensures everything she creates and her outputs are so authentic to her, which is how I operate with the work I currently do.

Why do you think it's so important to champion IWD?
It's important to recognise the nuanced experiences women have, it's a good time to shed light on intersectionality and what that means. 

Can you share one piece of career advice (or a brilliant resource) that you have found truly helpful? Something that you hold on to and revisit.
Study, study, study, study. Study the industry you want to get into, study that career role model you look up to, study that subject which may give you wider knowledge and start a strong foundation in upskilling yourself. And most importantly, study yourself – if you know yourself to the highest degree, you naturally become so powerful. 

 

Lauren Mahon

One-woman powerhouse Lauren Mahon turned a devastating cancer diagnosis and turned it into GIRLvsCANCER – a game-changing online platform, collective and fundraising community that raises funds to help fellow cancer survivors. She is also one third of the trio behind BBC 5Live’s number one iTunes podcast You Me & The Big C. Donate to GIRLvsCANCER’s latest initiative, Are You With Us.

 The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias - how do you personally and professionally celebrate women’s achievements?
I scream and shout about the women I surround myself with on the daily. I'm my network’s biggest hype girl. Whether it’s shouting about women's health issues, confronting misogynistic systems or telling my best mate that she needs to straighten her crown - we need to support each other.
But that doesn't mean "oh your dress looks nice" (which can go a long way, sure) it’s speaking the names of women you admire in rooms full of opportunity, it's making introductions and being authentic in your relationships. 

Is there a particular individual who has influenced and/or inspired the work you do?
I want to shout out Kris Hallenga, the founder of CoppaFeel! here because she approached me at my first ever fundraiser and told me that I should keep doing this work because I'm good at it, and here we are! My Mum and my sister are instrumental in me being the woman I am - they see me for who I am and believe in me wholeheartedly. They teach me about what it is to be an informed, empowered and empathetic woman. They also tell me when I'm being a dick. 
I also adore Sharmdean Reid, Katie Piper, Grace Victory, LaLaLa Let Me Explain and Gina Martin to name a few. 

Can you share one piece of career advice (or a brilliant resource) that you have found truly helpful? Something that you hold on to and revisit.
The power - and I cannot say this loudly enough - of NO. Or can I think about that and come back to you. Or I'm at capacity, let's pick this up in XXX. In this day and age we really struggle with this lack mentality where we have to grapple with every opportunity even if it doesn't align. We're so scared someone is there ready to snatch it from us if we say no and we'll have lost our chance. That's a mindset issue not fact.   
It's okay to not say yes to everything. In fact it’s a very powerful tool. It shows you have purpose and clarity of intent and will 99% be respected.

 

Daniela Bragato

Daniela Bragato is an East London-based, Milan-born hypnotherapist, writer and mindfulness teacher. Inspired by Virginia Woolf's book A Room of One’s Own, she created Women MAKE Stories (WMS) to offer women a room of their own to focus on their wellbeing and writing without any external pressure or judgement. 

 The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias - how do you personally and professionally celebrate women’s achievements?
Individually and collectively we can all do our part to #BreakTheBias and support other women. The reason why I set up Women MAKE Stories, my business, was because I wanted to give women a friendly and non-judgemental space to write their stories, discover more about themselves and celebrate their achievements through a combination of mindfulness and journaling. Personally, I try to lift other women up wherever they are on their journey. There's already a lot of competition out there and as women I think we should cheer each other on. When we see another woman winning, it's also a win for us because we realise that we can make it happen too, whatever it is that we want to make it happen. It's about women feeling represented and seeing more women like them getting the recognition they deserve. 

Why do you think it's so important to champion IWD?
I think it's important to champion IWD because women’s stories, and in particular women of colour's stories, have often been neglected, misrepresented, played down and in many cases not believed. But these stories matter. Stories are such a powerful tool that can help us become more empathetic as when we’re actively listening to other women’s stories we step out of our own world, put ourselves in their shoes and understand where they are coming from. Even though in many cases, we’ll never know how hard it is to carry certain weights, the least we can do is listen to them, share their stories, support them and lift them up. Stories broaden our horizons, allow us to connect to women from all walks of life and help us to take action and do better.  

Can you share one piece of career advice (or a brilliant resource) that you have found truly helpful? Something that you hold on to and revisit.
Something that I hold on to and revisit is this powerful quote by Virginia Woolf: "Arrange whatever pieces come your way." Life isn't a puzzle where all the pieces fit perfectly all the time. But I like to think we're all rearrangers in life and when we do rearrange things there's no right or wrong really. It's important to take your time and do what you feel is best for you at that moment in time. I'm sure that if you were to write about a few moments in your life where the unexpected came, you'll realise that you were able to rearrange things. Even when it felt like you were barely surviving. 

 

Daisy Buchanan

Daisy Buchanan is an award-winning journalist and author. Daisy’s ​​book Insatiable – a funny take on modern womanhood – is now out in paperback and her new book Careering will be published on the 10th March. Daisy has also authored acclaimed non-fiction titles How To Be A Grown Up and The Sisterhood, writes for a number of major magazines and newspapers and hosts the chart-topping literary interview podcast You're Booked. She appears regularly on TV and radio speaking about everything from pop culture to feminism.  

The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias - how do you personally and professionally celebrate women’s achievements?
I think it’s so important to amplify women and celebrate the creative work they make. I’ve always been drawn to it - especially as a reader. I want to listen to the stories women tell about their lives, and share those stories, on my podcast, on social media and directly with friends or people I meet in the street! At the moment I’ve been shouting about the latest books by Shahroo Izadi and Ayisha Malik to anyone who will listen! 

What challenges have you faced in your career to date and how did you manage to overcome them?
I’ve always struggled with my self-esteem. I am not naturally very confident. I have looked to work for validation, which obviously never works out in the long term! But embracing my vulnerability, being open about it and finding strength within it, makes me a better storyteller. 

Can you share one piece of career advice (or a brilliant resource) that you have found truly helpful? Something that you hold on to and revisit.
Anne Lamott’s books Bird By Bird and Almost Everything are full of the wisest, kindest writing and life advice. I pick them up whenever I’m feeling scratchy and inadequate and full of self-doubt and in a real compare and despair pit. She always reminds me that ‘Being enough was going to have to be an inside job.’ No achievement will fix me. There is not one thing that I can earn or win that will make me feel OK forever. I have to find that feeling on my own. 


Elizabeth Sankey

Elizabeth Sankey is a filmmaker, musician and writer from London. Her debut film ROMANTIC COMEDY – an in-depth look at the genre and its effects on culture – was selected for over 30 festivals including SXSW, IFFR, Sheffield DocFest, AFI Fest, and CPH:DOX. It was distributed in the UK by MUBI and is currently available on Amazon Prime. 
With her band Summer Camp she has released four studio albums and toured the world. In February this year she released her second film BOOBS on Channel 4, a feminist dive into the wonderful world of breasts which covered everything from 'free the nipple', to bras, to Baywatch. 
She is currently developing her third feature documentary, WITCHES. 

The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias - how do you personally and professionally celebrate women’s achievements?
I try as much as possible to talk about the work of brilliant people who are doing wonderful things. In that vein here are some things I have been enjoying recently: The podcast Boobshare hosted by presenter, writer and all round beauty Jackie Adedeji. The work of Arts Emergency, a charity that works with young people in London, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. They offer 16-25 year olds who are passionate about the arts and humanities a year of free mentoring. Gender Euphoria by Laura Kate Dale is a brilliant read. I think on IWD it is so important we don't forget our trans sisters. And finally I love the BBC sketch show Lazy Susan, it is SO GOOD.  

Is there a particular individual who has influenced and/or inspired the work you do?
So many! But if I had to single one out I think it would be the director Penelope Spheeris. I love her approach to filmmaking and the way she engages with her subjects when she is making documentaries. I always return to her work when I am thinking about films and how I want them to look and feel. Oh and I also love the art of Sophie Calle - in general I am a big fan of any women who put themselves into their work and seem to make things purely through the female gaze. With no interest whatsoever for what men will think about it. *cackles like a witch* 

Can you share one piece of career advice (or a brilliant resource) that you have found truly helpful? Something that you hold on to and revisit.
Google docs. Not even joking. I think the main thing I have learned is that collaboration is always helpful, and advice and feedback enriches every project. But also, the only thing you really need to worry about is if you've made something that you like. Have you fulfilled the brief you set yourself? My best friend Eleanor McDowall (who is a brilliant, award winning radio producer) once said to me that you should only make things that you want to exist in the world. It is something I think about every time I am considering what project I want to work on next. 


Palma Black

Palma Black is the founder and director of Soul Purpose 360 CIC, a social enterprise she established to motivate, inspire and imbue confidence in Black women to enable them to contribute positively to their communities through their own personal growth – using coaching, mentoring, training, networking and events. Palma and her team also host the Black Women’s Networking & Empowerment Circle as a safe space for their members to connect, share, empower and celebrate their achievements.

Is there a particular individual who has influenced and/or inspired the work you do?
I have been inspired and influenced by Black women the world over and throughout history who have overcome great challenges to uplift other women. Individuals such as Harriet Tubman who delivered others out of enslavement, Maya Angelou who led by example, opening doors for others and Winnie Mandela who kept her husband's plight alive in the eyes of the world; suffering great pain and humiliation so that the world could one day know the brilliance of Nelson Mandela.

What challenges have you faced in your career to date and how did you manage to overcome them?
As a Black girl growing up in England, I experienced racism in the education system, sexism on the football pitch, ageism, sexism, sexual harassment, misogyny and bullying in the workplace and in my political activity.  Through all my experiences I have grown in strength and determination, yet I continue to experience these challenges. I am resilient and I am committed to improve the life chances of Black women by empowering them to overcome their personal challenges by Cultivating Black Women for Social Change.

Can you share one piece of career advice (or a brilliant resource) that you have found truly helpful? Something that you hold on to and revisit.
Mindset is everything – what you think about you bring about. The law of attraction is the law of creation.  No one controls your mind, but you; seize the opportunity to nurture your mind so that you can create the life of your dreams by bringing them into reality!


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