INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2021

Written by Saria Eid

Women of the World Unite

As you know, our job is to change the way you see things for the better. We admire people who want to do the same. Here are just a few of the women we respect because they choose (or chose) to see and do things differently. To make their mark, many of them have scaled mountains (some literally) in their fields – and they even happen to wear glasses.

We salute them and all the other women out there working to change things for the better.

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
— Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Petite of stature, giant of intellect, legal powerhouse Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent her career fighting to get rid of gender stereotyping within laws and regulations. Until her recent death, this US Supreme Court justice (the second-ever woman to become one) was a walking role model for girls everywhere, promoting the worth of working not just for your own good but that of the wider community.

A tiny physical presence, the ‘Notorious RBG’ wore lacy or striking collars over her black legal robes, pointedly putting her feminine spin on a uniform originally tailored to show a man’s shirt and tie. (Naturally, we also appreciate her distinctive oversized glasses.) Discover her strength, insight and humour in her autobiography My Own Words and pay homage to her style in our Stylist frames.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The world of politics is a key battleground where women take up arms in the fight for equality. Trailblazing female politicos to mention include Madeleine Albright, the first-ever female US Secretary of State, who earned the devotion of feminists everywhere when she said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women”. And a fresh face on the US scene is the impressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (often known just by her initials AOC) who at 29 became the youngest-ever woman elected to Congress.

“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
— Margaret Thatcher

Politics draws strong women and demands much from them – in some cases, everything. The career of India’s own ‘Iron Lady’ Indira Gandhi [1917-1984] inspired both devotion for her transformation of India’s self-sufficiency and condemnation for her autocratic policies. Her bloody attempt to quell an attempted power grab by Sikh separatists led to her assassination by one of her own Sikh bodyguards.

Eleanor Roosevelt

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Say it how it is, Eleanor… Another American innovator, the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt used her time as the longest serving First Lady in US history (1933-45) to completely transform the role. Active in politics from youth, she hit the ground running, tirelessly campaigning and writing to push her (at the time) progressive agenda for gender equality, racial justice and other causes.

On this year’s International Women’s Day, she has the honour of (attendez...) being immortalised as a Barbie doll in Mattel’s Inspiring Women series. Um, congratulations! At bloobloom, we tip our hats to her ahead-of-their-time bi-colour glasses. If you’d like to project some of Mrs Roosevelt’s individuality, you could do worse than try our Bohemian frames.

Another female icon who’s been treated to a Barbie transformation is the estimable Rosa Parks [1913-2005]. Her simple brave stance against segregation – refusing to cede her bus seat to a white passenger in 1955 – added crucial fuel to the fight for US civil rights.

Of course, we have soft spots for women forging their way in the creative and scientific worlds too. Let’s take a moment to appreciate another small (in size) woman who grew into a giant of English literature. Charlotte Brontë was a passionately creative dreamer, determined to express her real self despite rigid expectations for Victorian-era women.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
— From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

On reading her work, poet laureate Robert Southey rudely told her to give up because ‘Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be’. Wrong! The lowly but tough governess at the centre of her famous Gothic romance Jane Eyre wins every argument with her male suitors and knows her true worth – as Charlotte did. Infuriatingly, not until a year after its 1848 publication (and instant success) under the male pseudonym Currer Bell did her own publishers find out she was a woman.

Leaping from literature to science, we applaud ground-breaking English chemist Rosalind Franklin, best known for her key experimental research into the molecular structure of DNA. The beautiful otherworldly images she created – specifically the legendary Photo 51 – lay the foundations for her colleagues James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of the DNA double helix. For this, they won the 1962 Nobel Prize (after her death) without apparently crediting her contribution to their research.

“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”
— Rosalind Franklin

The story’s complicated, but throughout her career Rosalind was determined to be treated equally and deserves to be remembered as a brilliant scientific original rather than simply a wronged heroine. Had she not died so young, she would doubtless have achieved even more.

The push for gender equality, in any field, is marked by a pure desire to be recognised for the achievements being made, beyond the fact that a woman is making them. Respected mountaineer Junko Tabei said it best when she explained she’d rather be known as the 36th person to climb Everest.

Junko Tabei Junko Tabei

I just simply climbed a mountain – but the environment around me changed so much, just because I was the first woman. I did not intend to be the first woman on Everest.
—Junko Tabei

Gloria Steinem Gloria Steinem

So many women inspire our thinking, from our own mothers to the icons above. Let’s finish with a nod to the undaunted activism of US journalist and women’s rights leader Gloria Steinem, whose story is about to be told onscreen in the film The Glorias. On a purely trivial note for this important day, we confess deep love for her fabulous, oversized aviators (unleash your inner Gloria in our Legend frames!) but, of course, also for words like these:

“Don’t think about making women fit the world – think about making the world fit women.”


Happy International Women’s Day!

Merci.
PHOTOS: Unknown
WORDS: Eileen MacCallum