‘Powerful’, now what’s the first thing that strikes your mind when you hear that word? Authority? Money? Fame? Simplicity? Guts? Dreamers? Doers? Believers? What?! In a world where power can hold different meanings for different people, women across the globe are contributing tenaciously towards strengthening the pillar of their presence and significance in the society, making them the perfect symbol for ‘powerful.’ Each era has seen a hero in a woman, and each day is a reason to celebrate her; her valour, her thoughts, her persistence, her dreams, and her will to make it happen.

This International Women’s Day, let’s talk about some women who have broken the shackles of the ugliness of the society and paved the way forward for several others. Their ferocity, their pain, and immense courage to construct a better and more compassionate world, is what is taking us all a step ahead in the combat against racism, patriarchy, politics, and hollow ideologies. Let’s meet them…

Amanda Gorman
American Poet

A proud poet and activist, whose work reflects issues revolving around oppression, racism, feminism, African diaspora; moved the world with her empowering poem – The Hill We Climb at the inaugural ceremony of the U.S. president – Joe Biden. Amanda was drawn to reading and writing right from the early days of her life. The first person to be named as the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda never allowed her speech impediment to hold her back. She forged ahead and has now emerged as the shining beacon of hope. Her desire to create purpose through art and bind people, excites her and gives her the relentless strength to make a difference in this world. Here are the words of the young poet from The Hill We Climb.

Hannah Gadsby
A Lesbian Australian Comedian

Did someone say challenge the norm? Did someone say be real? Did someone say highlighting the pain behind comedy? Did someone say disrupt the rusted thinking? Nanette’s hero, Hannah Absolutely-Mind-blowing-Gadsby, struck the viewers like a bolt of lightning, when she unmasked the horrors of her life on stage, with her enormously gut wrenching stand up act. Hannah, who identifies herself as a lesbian and has been diagnosed with autism, tried to piece together her courage and create Nanette after the heated public debate that took place in Australia against same sex marriage. Her sharp commentary on homophobia, sexual violence, anger, shame and so much more, not only won the hearts of the commoners, but even propelled A-list celebrities to speak up about these matters. She shares with The Guardian “I broke the contract and that’s what made this work, I betrayed people’s trust, and I did that really seriously, not just for effect.” Here’s a piece of her from Nanette.

Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm
The Citizen Scientists, The Polar Ambassadors

“The stark beauty of our surroundings belies the fact that we are witnessing the devastating effects of the rapidly accelerating global climate crisis on almost a daily basis. This is a time to fully engage, not dis-engage,” say Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm.

This duo created history as they became the first women to overwinter in the Arctic sans men. How empowering does that sound? Very! Beating the odds, sustaining themselves in the toughest climatic conditions, surviving to collect data and accumulating stories, these two have made it crystal clear what an indomitable spirit is capable of doing. Sorby and Storm did their very best to keep people connected to the natural world by providing meaningful content and educating them on a plethora of topics while being isolated in the Arctic. Let’s raise a toast to their stellar teamwork, and of course, Etta!

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Acacia Johnson
Photographer – Capturing ‘Women in Antartica’ Through Her Lens

A decade ago when Acacia Johnson made a visit to Antarctica, she knew she had found a story she wanted to share. Antarctica had never been embracing towards women in the past. In the 1960s, Rear Admiral James Reedy, the Commander of the United States Naval Support Force in Antarctica, referred to the place as “the womanless white continent of peace.” Walter Sullivan, a journalist at New York Times, wrote of the first all-women scientific expedition to the South Pole, where he described the undertaking as “an incursion of females” into “the largest male sanctuary remaining on this planet.” But Johnson wanted the world to remove their blinkers, she wanted to tell the story of the women who were forging ahead in a land where the climatic conditions were unforgiving and life was starkly different from other continents. A brave army of women, changing the course of history, is where Johnson’s lens found a heart. Be it a data scientist, a researcher, a translator, or a woman donning any other role in Antarctica, Johnson believes they all have insane resilience to be able to do what they are doing and her work is a way of saluting their courage.

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Berna Reale
A Fearless, Contemporary Brazlian Artist

Having several awards to her credit and exhibiting widely across various international art scenes, Berna is a name to reckon with when it comes to a fierce performance artist from Brazil, whose contemporary works have grabbed attention at major art festivals. In her works, Berna and other willing participants, highlight issues revolving around the socio-political movement. The pressing matters pertaining to violence are reflected in Berna’s eccentric ways, making her fearless and unique. Her artwork that majorly consists of performances, photographs, videos and installations, also deals with the processes of silencing present in the most diverse segments of society. Her imagery strongly represents freedom of thought and combats the shadow of censorship creatively.

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Agnes Varda
The Pioneer Of The French Nouvelle Vague

A stellar lady. A wisdomous, witty director and screenwriter, who was and will always be an institution of French cinema. Agnes gave the world a befitting goodbye with her last masterpiece, that walked the young aspirants through her thoughtful works and provided insight into her unorthodox oeuvre. Looking at her own life through the lens, Agnes was a woman of many ideas and unfearing in her approach to the craft. A vital figure for personal cinema, essay cinema and documentaries, Agnes was the first ever woman director to be honoured with an Academy Honorary Award. A feminist way of looking at things and making a thematic representation of it through her work, made Agnes inconquerable. Here’s the great lady sharing a few glimpses of her cinematic journey.

NoViolet Bulawayo
A Feisty Novelist From Zimbabwe

NoViolet Bulawayo’s very first novel – We Need New Names, won her accolades. Her work drew attention as her writing resonated with many and talked about stories based on displacement and arrival, that are astonishingly real. Blending laughter and pain, NoViolet’s powerful and authentic work brings to light the narratives of the women at the margins. Seeing her writing as a way of activism and starting conversations, Bulawayo is all charged up to never keep the pen down and keep scripting stories that need to be told and heard.

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Faye D’Souza
A Fierce, Independent Indian Journalist

When the Indian landscape pertaining to journalism kept growing dicy, Faye D’Souza walked away from her lucrative career on a major news channel and decided to take the reins of the matter in her own hands. In a time when people feared losing their jobs, Faye had the immense courage to stand up for what she truly believed in and embark on a journey to address the most pressing issues in the society. Recipient of the RedInk Award for ‘The Journalist Of The Year,’ in 2018, Faye D’Souza chose ethics over materialism. She treated journalism and continues to do so like a responsibility and not a job. Here’s how the warrior decided to roar like a lioness!

To sum it up, the fight is still on; but it’s clear, as women from various walks of life come together in different capacities to erase the brutal and belittling perspectives towards them, nothing can stop them from becoming the torch bearers of a wealthy tomorrow, where hope-equality-and-happiness blanket the world.