#BeBoldForChange on International Women’s Day
By Molly Winter, Account Executive, Publicis Resolute
Today is International Women’s Day! For all of us at Publicis Resolute, where we have a team full of brilliant and bold women, it’s one of the most important awareness days of the calendar year.
In keeping with the theme for 2017 – #BeBoldForChange – we’ve marked the occasion by building our own “wall of women,” celebrating the many ladies who inspire us, and by putting “bold ideas boxes” across the floor, asking everyone to post brave thoughts, opinions and requests.
To give everyone some food for thought, we also wanted to remind you about three women who always had the courage to #BeBoldForChange, in the hope that they just might inspire you too!
1. Rosalind Franklin – English Chemist and X-ray Crystallographer
Rosalind Franklin knew that science would be her future when she was just 15, back in the 1930s. Her father was against the idea of women attending University, but she defied his wishes and completed her doctorate in physical chemistry at Cambridge. During her working life, she faced a lot of sexism. Working at a laboratory in Paris, she met Maurice Wilkins and they both started working on separate DNA projects, but Wilkins mistook her for a lab assistant instead of a lead on her project, which caused friction between the pair.
Later when working at King’s College London, she discovered that there were two forms of DNA (A and B), and one of her X-ray diffraction pictures of the B form of DNA, known as Photograph 51, became famous as part of the evidence identifying the structure of DNA. Without Franklin’s permission or knowledge, Wilkins gave the photo to James Watson and Francis Crick, who were working on their own model of DNA. Crick, Watson and Wilkins famously won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for their double helix model of DNA structure. Franklin, who had already died at the age of 37 of ovarian cancer, was not credited for her photo, nor mentioned in their acceptance speech. While we appreciate Franklin’s contribution today, she went uncredited for far too long.
2. Marina Jaber – Iraqi Women’s Rights Activist
Strangely, it’s frowned upon in Iraq for women to ride bicycles. One inspirational 25-year-old woman, Marina Jaber, has been riding her bike through Baghdad in defiance of society’s norms. She has faced violence and verbal abuse but has continued to ride, saying “how do I want girls to rebel against their society and take their simple rights if I don’t dare to ride my bicycle”. She used to blame society for so many things she could not do as a woman, but said through riding her bike she realised “that the society is me”. She now helps to organise female bike marathons to show solidarity, with the message “I am society”. Keep riding, Marina!
3. Leymah Gbowee – Liberian Peace Activist
Leymah Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work against the civil war that was ripping apart her country during her early adult life. In 2002, as a social worker and mother of four (she has since had three more children!), she organised a march of Christian and Muslim women on the capital. This was followed by a sit-in that lasted for several months, where thousands of women prayed, camped and went on a sex strike. The President, Charles Taylor, who was responsible for much of the violence, finally responded by agreeing to attend peace negotiations, which were not fruitful. At this point, Gbowee organised her followers to blockade the meeting room, forcing the negotiators to stay until an agreement was reached. Thanks to the power of these women, President Taylor was removed and the first woman president of an African country, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was inaugurated. Sirleaf and Gbowee shared the Nobel Peace Prize together in 2011.
If you’d like to hear more, Leymah Gbowee is one of the many amazing women featured by The Female Lead, a non-profit organisation dedicated to giving women’s stories more visibility and offering alternative role models, founded by data pioneer and entrepreneur, Edwina Dunn. Brigitte Lacombe shot the beautiful photos for the book, and Marion Lacombe shot a series of powerful videos to go with it, which you can watch here. We’ve been lucky enough to get a couple of books for the office but you can also nominate a school to receive a free copy – inspiring the next generation of ladies to step up and be BOLD for change!