International Womens Day 2023

International Womens Day

International Women’s Day 8th March

The HASSRA Y&H D&I Sub Committee encouraged HASSRA members to write in about a woman who inspires them and why

You can read their stories below

Claire Woolven-Finnie

I am hugely influenced and look up to Pink. She is a massive ally to the LGBTQI+ community. She is not afraid to speak up and call out politicians and governments be it via interviews or by releasing songs. She is an amazing singer and can sing better than a lot of artists whilst hanging upside down flying across an arena or on the outside of a skyscraper. She promotes positivity and equal rights for women across the world. She speaks openly and honestly about her life, her flaws, her marriage and kids and promotes people having those awkward conversations. Including that when it comes to motherhood, she does not have a clue what she is doing half the time. A definite role model for women, young and old across the world.

Michelle Gill

My younger sister is my inspiration! At the age of 34 she was diagnosed with kidney cancer, whilst undergoing tests for a hysterectomy. The cancer was a type of cancer that most 75-year-olds suffer from, and a study was done on her to try and explain why she had it. Luckily, she not only survived the cancer but also recovered extremely well from the hysterectomy that threw her into early menopause. A short time after my mum was diagnosed with the same kidney cancer and after complications, she passed away in 2018, my sister vowed she would help other people with cancer. In 2021 l was diagnosed with cervical cancer, l was treated quickly and following a full hysterectomy that threw me too into the menopause. My sister was there for me every step of the way! Laughter, tears, tantrums and all! She is training to be a nurse and she is smashing it! I’m the proudest sister ever! She follows in my mum’s footsteps being the strongest, courageous woman l know and love x

Rosemay Roostan

A local lady 'Dorne Pottage' is an inspiration to me she runs a local charity called 'The Bag Fairies' which help the vulnerable and those struggling financially Dorne spends her days asking for donations to help those in needs she sorts through donations in her own time washing and sorting clothes toys bedding household goods the list is endless she wraps toys and gifts At Christmas for children who would otherwise go without. Dorne delivers and picks up deliveries from far and wide she really breaks down barriers and discrimination on a daily basis she works in a very cold damp premises day and night sometimes wearing 3 or 4 layers to keep warm this lady has a heart of gold and my inspirational woman entry is for Dorne a one un a million lady

Andrea Canham

I’d like to tell you about my daughter Ella. Ella was a nervous, unconfident, shy child who used to cling to me an awful lot – even when I was chatting with friends, she would be sat right there next to me! When Ella was 9 years old, we moved as a family to New Zealand, Here Ella seemed to flourish as although in a new school, having to make new friends, the academic year was slightly behind the UK and Ella found she was able to ‘keep up’ with the other children in school. This boosted her confidence massively. Unfortunately, our time in NZ ended and we returned to the UK when Ella was 10 years old and in her last year at primary school. This meant another school for Ella and, yet again, making new friends. The feeder secondary school for this primary school didn’t match with our address at the time so we appealed to DfE to secure a place at the secondary school of choice to save Ella making new friends again – which we fortunately won! However, when Ella started at this secondary school, she was subject to bullying which was a very upsetting and unsettling period for her – the school were excellent in sorting the matter but still, it's something she had to go through. When it came to leaving school, Ella chose to go to a college in Doncaster rather than take the easy option to stay in 6th form with her peers – she insisted that she wanted to pursue her interest in Art. Which she did and worked extremely hard to gather points – as with these points she later learnt – would accumulate meaning with enough point she would have the chance to go to university at a later date. At the end of this course, she didn’t quite have enough points so chose to attend another college and pursue a course in hair and media makeup. Accumulating enough points from this course meant she could then apply to university – which she did – but in Birmingham! This shy sensitive girl then moved away from home to live in Birmingham – just upped sticks – just like that! She had me in awe, and her dad was convinced she would never stick the course and would be home within in a week – how wrong he was! From living in Birmingham, completing a foundation course, securing employment as a make-up artist in the prestigious Selfridges store, she moved to Ibiza to experience a season working as a make-up artist combined with a ‘shot’ girl in Lineker's bar! She’s a little older now and from working in makeup in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols she found that she wanted more money to buy a property - so looked for better paid jobs. I’m constantly amazed by the professional, grounded person Ella has become. When I look at her personal achievements over the years – not one came easy to her – but she’s worked her way to where she is today. She is a smashing her career and lives in her own house with a partner. I know this may not be much of a story to some, but to me as a mum, seeing what a beautiful, inspiring young woman Ella has become just makes me immensely proud and seeing her flourish makes us even prouder! She’s my ‘go to girl’ for advice inspiration and general sounding board!!

Jake Barstable

Although this might seem very cliché; when I think about inspirational women I immediately think about my Mum. She was born in the later part of the 1940s and raised in a world where women had certain expectations thrust upon them, to behave a certain way, dress a certain way etc – her own parents were very strict and old fashioned, believed children should be seen and not heard and that a good beating was the preferred method when it came to discipline. From a very early age she was drawn by the non-conven­tional and grew to love escapism into books and eventually studied for and became a librarian. She always said that she loved books so much because they allowed her to experience things, she knew she never would in the real world. She had two children, my brother and I, and she always instilled in us from a very early age the importance of being yourself and encouraging a sense of imagination and wonder which she was often denied during her childhood. I was born female and am currently undergoing transition to male – and despite being raised in the 80s, my mum never forced me to be anything other than who I was, she never made me wear dresses if I didn’t want to, she never questioned that I would rather have a Transformer toy than a Barbie Doll. When I eventually admitted to myself (and her) that I was trans much later in life, she didn’t even blink, gave me a massive hug and simply said “not to worry, I’ve just got two sons is all” In summary, my Mum is inspirational to me because despite all odds she remained true to herself and fought for others’ rights to be true to themselves as well, instilling in me one simple value that I live by to this day “kindness first, always”.

Jodie Dewsnap

The inspirational woman in my life is my wife, Jen Dewsnap. Jen is the chair of our city’s pride organisation, Doncaster Pride. She has been involved with the organisation from it’s inception and has been instrumental in its growth from just 1,500 attendees in 2007 to a massive 20,000 attendees in 2022. Doncaster Pride isn’t just about a party though and Jen and her team have also ensured that the support available to the LGBT+ community throughout Doncaster is firmly embedded and accessible. Support groups are in place for LGBT+ youth, victims of domestic abuse and transgender support groups to name just a few. These groups have all come about thanks to Jen’s inspirational leadership. Although I have known Jen since the eighties, we only became a couple in 2019 and married in 2021. Being Jen’s partner inspired me to get involved with the pride movement and now we volunteer together to deliver this fantastic support for the LGBT+ community. I am proud to support Jen in this venture, but I’m even more proud to call this amazing woman my wife.

Bronte Fierman

One of my friends, Karen, is one of the most inspirational women I know. Karen is the kind of person who always has time for people no matter what she has going on her own life. She is compassionate and a real champion for women and people. I knew Karen from working in the jobcentre and our paths have crossed every now and then but, I didn’t particularly know her from Eve. We started speaking again when we both wound up in policy group. Those of us who have moved from one group to another in any government department will know the change can be quite daunting and scary at first. Karen took the initiative to pull together people who were all in the same position and created a group where we could all support each other and offer advice. I don’t know if I’d still be in policy without that support. More recently than this, I have been through a bit of a rough patch. Karen has been there for me like you wouldn’t believe. We’ve had conversations that have helped me to come to terms with what has happened whilst also taking the space to acknowledge my feelings. I know that she would do the same for anyone else. Karen is a one-of-a-kind person who gives so much through her volunteering and just being an amazing person. She is so selfless, thoughtful and has helped me endlessly.

Leana Scullion

Others may idolise celebrities and public figures, but my mum is the most inspirational woman I know. My mum has overcome many challenges in her life, all with a smile. She has survived domestic violence, health problems, financial problems and mobility problems but still finds the strength and resilience to support others in need, always with kindness and a selfless attitude. When growing up, my mum always led by example. When my dad was made redundant, she worked 3 jobs to pay the bills, even laying carpets etc herself rather than having to pay for someone to do it for us. When my aunt (her sister) fell on hard times, mum used money she had saved from overtime to go to the local family run toy store and pay for the toys for my baby cousins that my aunt and uncle had set aside to be paid for and collected on Christmas Eve. When they went to collect them and pay for them, they were moved to tears by mum's gesture. These are just 2 examples out of many I saw that shaped me into the person I am today.

Lauren Wheeler

It was in my first year at The University of East London that I met one of the most inspiring women that I know to this day. Her name was Ruth and she was captain of the women's badminton team. Today, however, she is a future Olympian for Great Britain in the sport of Rifle Shooting. From the day I met her, her ambition was clear, everything she did she did with purpose, and she was always full of motivation and confidence whenever she spoke. As a black woman in the sport of Rifle Shooting, she is one of very few. In fact, at the time of joining the sport she was the only one, and this led to her receiving countless messages of racial abuse both in person and across her social media accounts. This didn't stop her though, and in fact led her to campaign against the racial abuse within her sport and she has recently been working with Target Change, writing her own spoken word poem targeting racism within her industry head on. Ruth is my inspiration for her fearlessness and resilience, she always goes the extra mile and puts in 110% to everything she does. She is always wanting to learn, and every time I speak to her, she always tells me about her next venture, whether it be the next master's degree she is studying, or next international competition that she is attending. There is never a dull day around Ruth, and I know no matter how busy her life may be getting now due to her Olympic career, she will always have time for a catch up with an old friend. A true inspiration.

Emma Jackson

My Gran was born in the early 30’s, she told me stories of an idyllic childhood growing up in a small country village with her siblings and parents. She adored her father who was a kind and gentle man who doted on his children. My grans adult life was very different. She married a man with a career in the army, he was as military at home as he was at work. He was violent and controlling but this was an age where you got married and that was it-you were stuck. I can’t imagine this now. She told me that in their courting days he was wonderful and made her feel like a million dollars, but things changed very quickly once they were married. As an army wife she was very isolated and had no family support and as her husband worked up the ranks to sergeant major this meant further travelling to places such as Africa and Germany. My gran and her children suffered years of abuse from this man and with his position there was no help for my gran, it was dismissed by his superiors because of his rank. Some of the stories my mum has told me about the evil things he did are horrific, not only to my gran and the children but to close relatives too. He once broke my great grandmas jaw after she challenged the way he disciplined the children; can you imagine this now? When her youngest child was just 1 year old she planned and achieved her escape. She waited until he left for work then her brother-in-law came in his car to North Yorkshire to collect her and the remaining 5 children still at home (the two oldest boys had joined the army themselves by this point) and take them back to South Yorkshire to her family. How brave of her was this, in the late 60’s when so much stigma was put upon mothers without husbands, but she had come to the point where she couldn’t take anymore. After this her husband tried everything to win her back, he returned to the nice pre married man she had fell in love with but this time she had experience on her side. She refused to have anything to do with him and remained strong and focussed on making a better life for her and her children. She filed for divorce and began to make a new life amongst her family. She worked several jobs to make ends meet and always provided for the children-she didn’t receive a penny from her ex-husband in support and from then on none of her children had any contact with their father until he was elderly. At this point he tried to reconnect but the scars of the children who remembered the life with him were too deep and beyond repair. I always remember her as being so strong and determined and I can’t imagine her letting anyone treat her or her children this way but at the time she had no help or support. I think about her every day and often reflect on how my gran would handle some of the challenges I face through life. She leaves a huge legacy of strong women behind her, 5 daughters, 3 granddaughters and 2 great granddaughters all who hear the tales of my gran and how resilient she was.

Naveed Afzal

My mother who raised four children on her own and sacrificed her own career ambitions so the four of us could prosper. My younger brother is a successful businessman, my little sister teaches science abroad and my other sister manages my brother's company. I hope to be even 10% of my mother in terms of her passion, resilience and kindness.

Stephen Cragg

I have been fortunate in my life by being surrounded by inspirational women. The woman who stands out most for me was my History teacher who I was lucky to have been able to learn from throughout my GCSEs and A-Levels. Mrs. Hetherton was less teacher and more force of nature. From the moment her lessons started to the end of lesson bell, I and the vast majority of my school peers were hooked, taken on a journey with every topic from Victorian politics right through to end of WW2. Not only did she make history come alive, encouraged and praised self-learning, introduced the concept of looking beyond written history and inspired us all to see the lessons history could provide for the present. She was also inspirational in her personal life, dedicating herself to her children and her pupils while undergoing some serious personal issues, yet we were always her top priority. Thanks to this remarkable woman, I believe that she created the spark inside me to think twice, look again and never rush to judgement, for which I will always be grateful. I wish everyone had a role model like her.

Lee South

My inspiration is my sister-in-law Katie. A woman whose life threw so much at her but she tackled this with so much enthusiasm and love for the people around her who it also affected. Cancer destroys families and did exactly that sadly in the end for Katie. However, she took the fight head on, staying positive and keeping those round her positive too. Her desire to fight gave us all hope to the end.