It has been practiced worldwide since the early 1900s, a time when women had just begun voicing their opinions on what they knew best: themselves. March 8th is International Women’s Day. Currently, women are at the forefront of many social movements across the Globe. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of strong, resilient and empowering young women who are using their passions to work towards creating that vital, worldwide network of women supporting women.
1. Hannah Welever, Filmmaker/Cyclist
Hannah Welever is, in her words, “a skier, cat-owner, 5’10” bike riding lady.” She is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago who now works as a full-time freelancer in the film industry. She works at Radar Studios, while also balancing freelance work, writing her own scripts, and having a social life. See Hannah’s incredible work here.
What makes you proud to be a woman?
The amazing community of women around me.
How do you use your work in film as a platform for social change?
What I enjoy from new media is the willingness to test the boundaries by telling refreshing stories, stories that don’t generalize or marginalize us as women . Since our gender is so painfully underrepresented in the entertainment industry, I always keep that in mind whether I’m writing a film, directing a film or shooting someone else’s. So as a filmmaker, creating films with strong female leads is just one of the ways I keep this discussion ongoing. It’s all about making something different and making something people want to watch. I hope that my voice can speak louder than my gender so I can continue a change through my filmmaking, and all art-forms .
What do you do on a daily basis that contributes towards this idea of a global network of women supporting women?
Radiating positivity and fostering creative energy is the best way to sustain this beautiful community I have established, and I hope other women can see their voice as the powerful tool that it is.
Talk a little bit about how the female relationships in your life. How do you and the women in your life lift each other up?
It’s not always about buying a gift, or going for coffee, but just simply showing someone you care about them through conversation and interest. I try and support the female artists around me so that they will continue to make work, while also continuing to share it.
2. Janet Mock, Transgender Activist/Author
Janet Mock is an advocate for transgender women of color. She is a contributing editor at Marie Claire (she actually came out via the magazine), and has created transgender specific programs for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a LGBT youth center. She is also behind the social movement #GirlsLikeUs, which encourages transgender women to come together to form a revolutionary community of women supporting women. All women.
“Femininity in general is seen as frivolous. People often say feminine people are doing “the most”. But I knew even as a teenager that my femininity was more than just adornments; they were extensions of me, enabling me to express myself and my identity. My body, my clothes, and my makeup are on purpose, just as I am on purpose.” -Redefining Realness, Janet Mock
3. Tanisha Pina, Fashion Journalist/PR
Tanisha is a 22 year old freelancing machine. “I do a little bit of everything, I guess. I work as an editorial assistant for a small online publication and freelance in Fashion PR/production.” She is also in the process of putting out her own magazine.
What makes you proud to be a woman?
This probably sounds weird but I guess everything that women are usually shamed for. I don’t really think too much about what makes me a woman… It’s more so like, we’re put down for all of these things and we keep doing them and doing them well and I think it takes a lot to be proud of who and what you are when you’re told not to.
At what moment did you realize that you are capable of anything?
Every morning when I wake up I have to remind myself.
Talk a little bit about how important the female relationships in your life are. How do you and the women in your life lift each other up?
Oh women are so important to me. I’ve found a REALLY motivating and comforting and inspiring group of women on Tumblr and other social networks and it’s kind of funny because we all know each other and we’re constantly complimenting and comforting and supporting each other and most of us have never met. It’s nuts, honestly. I think they, as a group or entity sort of, are one of the most important female relationships I have because it’s constant, everyday 24/7.
4. Britni Tozzi, Actor/Singer/Humanitarian
Britni Tozzi is a professional actor here in Chicago. She is also the founder and president of Global Empathy Now, a non-profit benefiting underprivileged families in Africa. Britni started Global Empathy Now when she was just 23.
So you’re the founder and president of Global Empathy Now. What challenges have you faced? What about GEN makes you the most hopeful for the future?
Building and running a non-profit from the ground up is not easy. It took a lot of time to properly organize and establish the organization, achieve tax-exempt status, etc. Global Empathy Now makes me extremely hopeful for the future because I have watched SO many people come together to make things happen for people on the other side of the world whom they’ve never met before!
Auditioning, which is a huge part of your career, involves a lot of competition, specifically with other women your age. What advice do you have for women who struggle with comparing and jealousy?
Please don’t compare yourself to others! Watching, listening, and learning from others is great, but comparisons and jealousies are destructive. First off, appreciate your own talents and experiences – only you have lived them! That is incredibly special. Have a vision of YOUR best self and compare yourself to that – embrace that – embrace YOU!
How do you contribute to the global network of women supporting women?
Artistically, there are so many ridiculously talented women in Chicago. When I see a role available and I know of another woman who would be great for it, I send her the information! We can’t be tearing each other down. We have to build each other up. Through GEN, I’ve been able to connect with some remarkably giving and dedicated women. There is an amazing Canadian woman named Alison Fraser who created and runs an organization called Mom2Mom Africa. She and I support each other, and in turn, both get to support African women and families. Pretty neat.
5. Amy Poehler, Actor/Author of best-selling book, “Yes, Please!”
Amy Poehler is best known for her many roles on SNL, and the recently retired Parks and Rec (sigh). But, if you’ve never seen her YouTube channel, or read her book “Yes, Please,” you are missing a whole other side to this funny women. Whether Amy is interviewing girls in her “smart girls” series, or giving incredibly honest advice in her “Ask Amy” video journals, she is constantly working to be someone young girls and women can look up to. One of our favorite quotes from “Yes, Please” is:
It’s called ‘Yes Please’ because it is the constant struggle and often the right answer. Can we figure out what we want, ask for it, and stop talking? Yes please. Is being vulnerable a power position? Yes please. Am I allowed to take up space? Yes please. Would you like to be left alone? Yes please.‘Yes please’ sounds powerful and concise. It’s a response and a request. It is not about being a good girl; it is about being a real woman.”
What are your ideas for building a worldwide community of women supporting women? Leave them in the comments below!