International Women’s Day, taking place on 8 March, celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The global day was first celebrated on 19 March 1911, emerging from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the 20th century in North America and across Europe. It was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1977.
International Women’s Day is not affiliated with any one group, but brings together governments, women’s organisations, corporations and charities through talks, rallies, networking events, conferences, and marches. It’s a day to celebrate coming together to call for advocacy, change and progress in women’s and girls’ rights, so that the women of tomorrow have every opportunity to fulfil their potential.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked you to contribute creative expressions that celebrate women who have personally inspired you. You can now explore the full gallery online, or see some examples below.
Digital Painting by Amber Selway
I chose Frida Kahlo who was a Mexican artist. Known mainly for her autobiographical art pieces, Kahlo explored ideas of politics and self-expression within her work. Although during her life her pieces remained largely unrecognised, her work was brought to prominence by art historians in the late 70s. She is now recognised as one of the most influential women in the art world.
Collage by Andrea Dean
I chose my daughter Grace. As a child my daughter was very shy, very quiet and reluctant to try new things. But when she went to university, she recognised the opportunity to become the woman that she wanted to be and challenged herself to take on new experiences. These words aren’t labels but how I see and have seen her.
Drawing by Hannah
I have chosen my Teacher because of what she has done for me and everyone else.
- Teaching us to become better people
- Erasing our bad actions
- Ability to make our learning fun
- Correcting us when we go wrong
- Helping us in every way
- Encouraging us to become the best people
- Raising us up to being talented people
- Supporting us always
Drawing by Eliza
Malala inspired me because despite being shot by the Taliban she still stood up and spoke for her country and all women.
Painting by Anna Edmonds
I chose my Mum because she is kind and because I love her.
Drawing by Darcy Whymark
I chose Maggi Hambling because I just love her work, it is so free and feels like it just pours out of her. I love how it feels messy and unfinished and shows how art isn’t a perfect thing. It makes me understand how sometimes I just need to make marks on paper, and it frees me to do that.
Sketch by Hussain T
International Women’s Day is a global event celebrating the achievements of women. Once a year, on 8 March, women celebrate and do activities. On this day women are recognised for their accomplishments in life without regard to divisions, whether national, economic or political. On International Women’s Day you can enter an event, donate to women’s nonprofits and celebrate women.
As I researched International Women’s Day, I felt so impressed that it inspired me to sketch a woman’s face. This sketch is of an ordinary woman who is an embodiment of treasure full of qualities.
Digital art by Ali T
Clara Zetkin is very famous, and she was the woman who inspired all the other women to be brave and show confidence in themselves. She stood up for herself and other women. She did this because when she joined the women’s labour movements this showed her that she must be brave through this difficult time.
She was a very good role model to others. When something happened, she did fall but always stood back up and passed all the obstacles in her path.
As girls started taking this matter seriously, Clara Zetkin created a name for this movement called International Women’s Day. This event is celebrated on 8 March and every woman is celebrated.
Drawing by Cayden Reville
I have chosen J.K. Rowling as the woman I am inspired by because she has written wonderful, clever books and I am inspired to someday do similar things.
Drawing by Muhammad Hafeez F
Onjali Q. Raúf is an inspiration for me because she is a bestselling children’s author and has written four amazing books.
She made two charities, one called Making Herstory and the other is O’s Refugee Aid Team. She helps refugees in camps. The charity provides emergency goods and aid. It also spreads awareness about refugees. She has written books about refugees and the difficulties they face every day.
She has raised much awareness about refugees and homelessness with her books. Many people have been inspired by her and have raised funds to help refugees. She is also very kind, fun and motivational.
Drawing by Luiza Jasharaj
I picked Dua Lipa because she is a singer and her songs have girl power in them. Also I like her because she is Albanian and I am half Albanian.
Drawing by Hamish Lochrie
I have chosen to draw Rosa Parks because I believe in equality. She fought for human rights and I think she is an inspiration. She changed lives. I first heard about her in a Doctor Who episode… I wanted to find out more. I have also read books about her.
Drawing by Ciaran Whiteside, Colette Mellan
My mum inspires me to work hard, help my family and to be kind and caring towards others.
Drawing by Mariah
My mum is the best person in the whole universe. To me my mum is a hero. My mum has been there for me no matter what I have been through. My mum always cooks for five people. She also sews us beautiful clothes, however she never wastes money on herself. She is always worried about us and wants us to feel happy. It makes me really sad that she doesn’t get things for herself but she always says ‘kindness is the key to everything’. Without my mum I don’t know what I would do and where I would be. THANK YOU MUM FOR EVERYTHING!!
Etchart picture by Olivia Gallagher
In August 1926, teenage Olympic-medal-winning swimming sensation Gertrude Ederle from New York, USA wanted to prove that a woman could complete a swimming challenge said to be as difficult Mount Everest.
After a failed attempt in 1925, she went back a year later at the age of 19, waded into the sea in France and called ‘cheerio’. 14 hours and 31 minutes later, having swum 36 miles, she reached the English Coast. She was two hours faster than any of the men that had previously done it.
I love sport and she inspires me to keep trying to reach my goals as anything is possible.
Art by Kimberley McFarlane
The woman who inspires me is my mummy. My mummy is an amazing mum to me, my little brother and my little sister. My mummy also has an important job in renewable energy. She is helping to produce electricity for us all and to protect our environment. I love her and I am very proud of her.
Drawing by Olivia Ren
Eilish McColgan: I chose this athlete because I like sports too and she encourages women to run.
Drawing by Oliver Boyd
Mia Hamm. Why I chose her:
- She set up a foundation to raise awareness for people in need of a bone marrow transplant
- She inspired women to play football
- She showed Americans it isn’t just about NFL, NBA and baseball
Drawing by Zeenat
I chose my cousin who is a nurse.
Drawing by Keira Ford
Misty Danielle Copeland was born on 10 September 10 1982. She is an American ballet dancer and has an amazing story. One night she was dancing the lead role in a ballet called The Firebird as the prima ballerina. At the end of the performance, she revealed something no one would have ever imagined… Misty had fractured her leg in several places! It seemed so cruel that the same night she had achieved her dream she was told she would never dance again. But she didn’t take no for an answer. After her leg had healed, she trained hard and after many months she was as good as she was when she first broke her leg—possibly even better. She is now a world-famous ballet dancer and is working at the American School of Ballet to help other young people to achieve their dreams just as she did. I admire her because even after an injury like that she still wanted to keep on dancing and didn’t give up. That’s what I admire her for.
Digital art by Marnie Rowden
This is Rosa Parks. She became famous for starting a boycott in a bus because she wouldn’t move when a white man wanted to sit where she was sitting. I chose Rosa because she’s interesting and did a good thing when she stood up to a white man when she was asked to move. You shouldn’t be ashamed of the colour of your skin or other people’s skin. It doesn’t matter what you look like and it’s what you’re like on the inside and whether you’re kind.
Digital art by Lily Rowden
I have chosen Rosa Parks. She started a boycott by not moving from her seat on a bus when someone told her to. White people and black people had to sit in different places. She inspires me because she was brave for not moving. She knew she was going to get into trouble. She thought she should sit where she wants and I think that’s right.
Land art by Musa Hussain, Sarona Hussain
I have used land art to create a portrait of Marie Curie. She is an inspiration to me because she discovered pioneering cancer treatment that went on to help many members of my family.
Drawing by Mhairi Frazher
I picked Emma Watson because she fights for girls’ education and gender equality. She is also very good at acting. I know how she felt when she was eight as I am also eight and locked in with my brothers!
Video by Jay
I chose Retta Davidson because she animated Pinocchio and Bambi which I got inspired by. My dream is to be an animator and draw and design cartoon characters!
As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re also hosting two virtual events for students aged 13–18, both taking place on Monday 8 March 2021:
- 8 March, 10.00–11.00: Careers at Engie Find out more about exciting roles with Engie by taking part in a Q&A panel with inspiring female role models. Event information and tickets for Careers at Engie
- 8 March, 13.00–14.30: My Skills My Life An interactive skills session with female role models across STEM sectors. Event information and tickets for My Skills My Life
To discover more free online events for schools, colleges and families between 5 and 14 March 2021, explore the full British Science Week programme from the STEM Ambassador Hub Trans-Pennine.