José Luis – Bullet-proof grandma
I never met my grandmother, or mamama, healthy. A few years before I was born she had a stroke followed by cancer, these took a toll on her. I did, however, always meet her happy. She would always make sure to be present, on Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries, with the biggest smile, even when she could not leave the bed on the previous days. My mamama is the strongest woman I know, she will always be an example of how the worst circumstances should not kill one’s spirit. She could not move her right hand anymore? She became a lefty. She could not eat solid food? Then chocolate mousse became dinner. As a kid, I would always say I have a bullet-proof grandma, over time I become ever more certain of it.
Cassandra Langenskiold – Michelle Obama
What I love about Michelle is that while she stands powerful, strong and brave unlike many women I have come to see in the media, she is also extremely relevant; I can see myself sitting down with her and talking about my own (admittedly not so grand) life, her giving me advice on the most mundane things and not being condescending to the slightest degree. Michelle somehow manages to make you feel like you could simultaneously be her and be her closest friend. Something rare, I think, about a person with the privilege and power she has had as the partner of one of the world’s most powerful leaders, is that she continues to provide a voice to women around the world no matter their own circumstance. When I see her, hear her, I feel powerful. She represents values that I want to be my own someday, with hard work and practice: confidence, perseverance, and kindness. While I may never meet her, I regard Michelle Obama as one of the most inspiring women leading the world today and hope that other young girls come to find her as special of a role model as I do.
Minh Nguyet Nguyen – My grandmother
As cliché as it may sound, my grandmother is my source of inspiration. She is brain and beauty combined, and I have never met anyone with a stronger character. She has experienced war, lost, and many hardships in her life, yet when I am with her, she radiates warmth and comfort. She used to be a chemistry teacher, and to this day, some of her old students still come and visit us. Needless to say, my grandmother is memorable and will forever remain my role model.
Sara Haverkamp - Mom
When I think of women that have inspired me throughout my life, I could sum up an entire list. My sister, who is always accepting and caring of every person no matter their background or circumstances. My girlfriends, who complement my life in so many ways and teach me about life. Let alone many of my teachers, who open up my mind, which I consider to be one of the greatest gifts of all. On top of the list is my mother. Having grown up with struggles I’ve never had to face in my life, she is the most selfless, caring and hardworking person I know. She is my rock, motivator and helping hand in life. I’m forever grateful for all of them.
Milan Weber - Rosa Parks
It would be a shame not to have Rosa Parks on this list. It sounds silly but when I heard about this woman for the first time in high school I didn’t understand what was so brave about sitting in the front seat of a bus. While writing my thesis about civil rights in the United States in the twentieth century I realise what a big and brave step it has been to ‘break the law’ at that time. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused the ‘separate but equal’ laws and seated herself at the front of the bus in Alabama. She, together with many other people, assured that something changed in the American society regarding civil rights and for that reason, I definitely wanted to mention her on this day.
Julian Beltran - To The Forgotten Genius of the Baroque
Art history has neglected female artists for most of its academic tradition. Only in recent years, and thanks to the female liberation and feminist movements of the late XX century, has art history turned its attention to those female artists it has done a disservice to in the past. Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the most accomplished artists in the Baroque which has been eclipsed by her master, Caravaggio. Countless publications on Art and the Baroque have neglected her genius even when some argue that she mastered the chiaroscuro, arguably better than Caravaggio, and some art historians place her in a higher category when it comes conveying drama and emotion in paint. For this reason, I would like to dedicate this piece of writing to Gentileschi and to all other innumerable female artists that have been forgotten by HIStory and to whom we are only now having the privilege of learning about.
Saaiqa Merali - My mum
My mum is definitely my heroine - mostly because she’s given me two sisters to love and admire as well. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate more and more how incredible my mum is - I’m not sure I’ll ever truly know fully. She juggles raising three daughters, running an entire household, co-partnering a family business... and still finding the time, patience and energy to cook the most wonderful meals daily. My mother’s legacy would be her commitment to service, and her fierce loyalty towards and love for her family.
Lena Weiberlenn - To our sisters
to our sisters
whose voices are silenced
brushed aside and
not deemed worthy
whose opinions have mattered
the present wouldn’t be what it is if it couldn’t be changed.
so grab your megaphones, pens,
voices, microphones, and
show your strength, flaunt your worth
to our brothers
whom power has been gifted to in abundance
whose mistakes have been brushed aside and deemed acceptable
whose hearts have been hardened
emotions been stifled and
whose rights have mattered
opening your heart doesn’t make you less of a man. empowering women doesn’t make you weak. it makes you strong.
so show that strength and fight for the rights of every woman in this world
to be the same as yours.
we need to come together
Doğa Bilir - Hereditary
I come from a long line of strong, determined and independent women. But my biggest role model is my great-great-grandmother. I had never had the chance to meet her personally. She passed away, at age 93, when my mom was in college. But I had always found her life so inspiring. She had got married at 13, had her first kid at 15, got widowed at 17. She lost her husband on the independence war and one of her sons to a disease that she didn't even know existed. She had lived through the most radical changes through Turkish history, she experienced the declaration of the Republic, she lived through two coups. She raised her other son with the subsidiary the state gave to martyr's relatives, she had raised five grandchildren. Despite being illiterate, she sent her second-oldest grandson to a big city for his education, she moved in with him when he got kicked out of the dorm, she put him through college. Everything my grandfather is thanks to her. I had never had the chance to meet her personally. But her stories had taught me how to value education, how to adapt to circumstances, how to be strong and determined. She thought had me there are no excuses in life and anything is possible if you work hard enough. And I will be forever grateful.
Berdan Kaplan - Fighter
For this special day, I want to talk about the biggest fighter that I know. She is a 20-year-old student in nursing; has a red belt in karate; is a talent in horseback riding and bicycle racing; and has the kindest soul I have ever met. Her name is Rosalie and she is by far the person that owns the biggest chunk of my heart, and the utter most respect. A year ago, she lost her mother to cancer. What she went through, is something most people wouldn’t have survived as strongly as her. Today, she is visiting me in Rotterdam, and I am extremely lucky to call this beautiful human being my friend.