It’s officially December.
And to make it that much easier for you to get your inspiration-on as the year draws to a close, we have rounded up 7 INCREDIBLE female change-makers that you need to know about.
These women are making a big difference in Australia and around the world. They are ALL intelligent, tenacious and game-changing. They embody words like shero and #WCW, and they make the world a better place generally.
And just knowing they exist + hearing what they stand for can’t help but make your world (and you) a bit better too.
Here at #shethechange, we are committed to two things:
Championing other women. There is nothing more powerful or radical or effective than girls supporting girls. The future is female. And knowing this changes everything. We are so proud and thankful and inspired by these women- and hope you are too!
Equipping you with knowledge. Knowledge about amazing people + necessary causes. Because we know that this knowledge is going to spur you on into stepping into your 2018 and embracing your inner shero. Hey- I cannot wait to write about YOU and the things that YOU do on next year’s list.
And so, let’s just jump straight in!
1. Maryann Talia Pau
Image via @maryanntaliapau Instagram
Maryann is the founder of the One Million Stars to End Violence Project. She started this heart-endeavour in 2012 following the violent and horrific murder of Jill Meagher (which took place in her local community). This murder sent shock waves around the country, and fuelled responses of anger, outrage, division and distrust. Radically, Maryann decided that “light and courage and solidarity” was a better way forward.
Thus she started a “global weaving project that encourages people to be the light and kindness they want to see in the world”. This quickly transformed into the collation of one million stars for an art installation at next year's Commonwealth Games as a global symbol for "working together and creating peaceful communities".
This cause is SO necessary. And it is SO necessary to have anti-violence movements here too.
Why? Let’s remember the study released by Monash University approximately 5 weeks ago confirming that “every week, a woman in Australia is killed by her (ex) partner”. At the beginning of November this number rose to two.
Surely responding to such violence with “light and courage and solidarity” is only going to bring about good things. Let’s get behind Maryann and champion her in the lead-up to March.
Location: King George Square, Brisbane 29 March to 15 April 2018
2. Steph Gabriel
Image via @stephyygabriel Instagram
Steph is the founder of OceanZen bikini, a sustainable swimwear line that is saving our oceans one bikini at a time. A marine conservationist, environmental scientist, entrepreneur, globetrotter and all-round sustainability creative, Steph is one to watch.
OceanZen is a lifestyle swimwear label, using sustainable fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing net fibres from the ocean. This is groundbreaking.
Did you know?
That every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic;
plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals; and
between 5,000 and 15,000 sea turtles are entangled each year by derelict fishing gear washing ashore in northern Australia alone.
What better way to be a social justice warrior than to invest in a new bikini and soak up some sun at the beach, all whilst educating others about ocean waste and how we can help?
Get onto it girls.
Instagram: @oceanzen_bikini, @stephyygabriel
3. Alexandra Shehadie
What hasn’t Alex done? From her previous role as team leader at the Australian Human Rights Commission examining the treatment of women in the ADF (which was the catalyst for MAJOR internal policy reforms) to working with NATO on a multinational project on women, peace and security to her most recent work, a review of the culture at Sydney University’s Residential Colleges; it is no wonder that she was named one of the Australian Financial Review’s ‘100 Women of Influence’ a few years back.
As an aside, I have had the absolute honour of meeting Alex and listening to the truth and wisdom bombs that make up her everyday vocab. And she really is the embodiment of tenacity- fierce and determined and strong.
But it’s in her authenticity and generosity and kindness that her real power is most evident. Her ability to be unyielding in her fight against injustice + call out wrong when and where she sees (despite the big players involved) and yet remain a consistent champion of people is incredible. Remember this girls as you become famed world-changers.
For all those interested in social policy/the law/using your writing and investigatory and feather-ruffling skills for GOOD- be sure to add Alex’s pages to your favourites.
4. Alex van Os
Image via @op_shop_to_runway Instagram
Eco-stylist, Australian Red Cross Op Shop Ambassador and all-round beauty Queen Alex van Os is one to follow for all the fashion-loving babes.
This powerhouse is all about living a “fashionable” lifestyle but doing so sustainably, ethically and with local produce at the forefront. Or, as Alex puts it, showing people that there “IS a way to remain stylish and on-trend while saving the earth”.
Here, we see the way that the fight against textile waste and slavery, as well as the stigma against thrifted goods generally, looks like flowy dresses and killer shoes.
Be sure to follow her for all your mood-board-#outfitgoals-#ootd-kinda-dreaming.
5. Manal Al-Sharif
Image via @manal.livefreeordie/ facebook
This September something AMAZING happened. For the first time in the three decades since its founding, Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving. This saw the end of a longstanding policy of oppression in an ultraconservative “kingdom of men” (a term used by Al-Sharif), and was a move that saw international coverage on every mainstream news source.
Manal Al-Sharif (computer scientist, women’s rights activist, author and all-round superwoman) kickstarted the Women2Drive movement after being famously imprisoned and harassed for defying Saudi's driving ban in 2011.“The rain begins with a single drop,” she said. “Never give up”.
Despite this, Al-Sharif is not content and sees this policy change (which doesn't take effect until June 2018) as “just the start”. Her next battle: abolishing the male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain permission from a male relative for the most basic decisions and activities. Or, as she puts it, “You cannot empower women to become anything in your country if she still needs a man’s permission”. #IAmMyOwnGuardian
This woman is brave and bold and unshakable. And her book, Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening, is a must-read. Her book is on our book club list for 2018, plus we are planning to hear from the lady herself at one of upcoming events.
And so is her twitter feed.
6. Tara Winkler
She’s an author, TEDx Speaker and anti-orphanage campaigner and founder & Managing Director of Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT ).
After rescuing fourteen children from a corrupt and abusive orphanage in Cambodia in 2007, Tara later learned that most of the children in her care were not orphans. The orphanages in the country were in fact a ruse to attract warm-hearted foreigners and their tourist dollars. Donations were finding their way into the pockets of management and not children.
The revelations led Tara to shake up her exiting model of care in favour of a family-based model of programs and services.
Her organisation now works to empower Cambodian families to rise from the cycle of poverty, assist institutionalised children to return to families, and help residential care institutions transform to a family-based care model.
Her book How (Not) to Start an Orphanage delves into this journey in great detail. Tara has also spoken about her story on Australian Story and 60 Minutes. And we are thrilled to have Tara on our She-The-Change directory.
@Tarawinkler on Instagram
7. Holley Somerville-Knott
Holley, 12, is the founder of the global social enterprise Tell Someone Who Cares. She’s a passionate advocate against the palm oil industry and campaigns to bring solutions to the destruction brought about by its use.
With over 4000 Instagram followers, Holley educates her social community about the other environmental causes near and dear to her heart like; The Great Barrier Reef, climate change and sustainability.
Holley has been making waves most of her life, starting her first charity at just 8 years old. Her most recent campaign was sparked after watching the movie- Rise of The Eco Warriors.
This girl is on the rise and is one to watch. You can follow her on Instagram @Holleysomervilleknott
And there you have it. 7. 7 extraordinary women to follow, glean from and support.
Extraordinary women who saw a need and did something radical: responded.
We hope that just hearing these stories has spurred you on to respond too.
All of us at #shethechange wish you a phenomenal last few weeks of 2017.
We love you + believe in you + are thankful to do life alongside you.
BIG love always,
The #shethechange team
P.S. Make sure to keep your hand + heart firmly on the pulse of female change-makers. It is SO necessary to just know.
We love hearing about she-the-change makers. Please tell us about who inspires you in the comments below.