International Women’s Day: Six inspirational British women and what we can learn from them

IN: General

For International Women's Day, we wanted to compile a list of inspirational women who could teach us important life lessons.

We thought about Karren Brady, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Oprah Winfrey - a trio of women who have undoubtedly experienced unprecedented levels of success within their respective fields.

But we know that all women are different, with varying wants, needs, aspirations and successes. For that reason, we've hand-picked some of the UK's stand-out women from all different walks of life; women with varying degrees of success and popularity, but who can all provide us with relatable and worthwhile life lessons.

The 'Hard-As-Nails' Businesswoman

Hilary Devey

She might be more well-known for her role as 'the fearsome one' on the panel of the BBC's Dragon's Den, but Hilary Devey more than earns her place as one of Britain's most influential women through her resistance to give up in getting what she wanted.

Proving that academia isn't everything, the English businesswoman and entrepreneur left school at the age of 16, working her way up through a number of tough sales positions in the years following. When she had the idea for the business that would make her millions, she decided to sell her own house to fund the venture after meeting resistance from banks.

Today, as her palletised freight network Pall-Ex draws in annual revenues of approximately £75 million, Devey epitomises the kind of can-do, strong female business attitude that all budding female entrepreneurs can aspire to.

The Flourishing 'Mumpreneur'

Jessamine Hislop-Newton

The term 'mumpreneur' has gained unprecedented popularity over the last few years as more and more new mums have begun to use their maternity leave to develop start-up businesses .

As a teenage mum, Jessamine needed to build a career that would fit around the demands of her busy lifestyle - but often found herself quickly written off within the business world.  After encountering frustrations when trying to sell used baby items on online auction sites and car boots, she saw a niche in the market for a dedicated children's market, thus 'Little Pickles' was born.

The dedicated mother-of-five now has 28 organisers running markets in several countries, earning her a spot in the Mumsclub 'Top 100 Businesses 2013'.

The 'Rags-to-Riches' Success Story

J.K Rowling

JK Rowling was a poverty-stricken single mum when she first came up with the idea of a children's fantasy novel about a young boy who finds out he is a wizard. She famously encountered numerous knock-backs, including being rejected by 12 publishers before Bloomsbury finally took on 'Harry Potter' on the advice of its CEO's daughter. 

Now a multi-billionaire and author of the world's most popular fiction ever, Rowling has professed, "rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life."

Rowling's story, though an incredible case of rags-to-riches, shows us that no matter where you are in life, perseverance in an idea you believe in will be rewarded. 

The Successful Working Mum

Sarah Beeny

Mother-of-four Sarah Beeny is well-known for taking on big property development projects when heavily pregnant and says she prefers to work throughout pregnancy so she has more time to spend with the baby when it arrives.

Best known for indulging her passion for property as presenter on a number of mainstream property development shows, Beeny credits the support system around her - including her husband - for her success.

But, despite the impressive career path she has carved for herself, Beeny maintains, "my children have been and always will be my priority - and I just have to make time for the rest when I can."

The Influential Academic

Mary Beard

Cambridge Classicist, regaled author and prolific blogger, Mary Beard, has spent a lifetime enthusiastically cultivating and sharing her knowledge about civilisations past and present. In 2010, she accepted her first presenting job in a BBC2 series, 'Pompeii: Life and Death in a Roman Town', followed up by a second documentary in 2012, 'Meet the Romans'. 


undefinedAnd when unduly criticised by controversial TV critic AA Gill for her appearance ("she's this far from being the subject of a Channel 4 dating documentary," referring to controversial series The Undateables), Beard responded with a sharp-witted article aptly entitled, "Too Ugly for TV? No, I'm too brainy for men who fear clever women."

And it's within this rousing critique that she writes, "I'm every inch the 57-year-old wife, mum and academic, half proud of her wrinkles, her crow's feet, even her hunched shoulders from all those misspent years poring over a library desk."

The Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher

Love her or loathe her, there's no doubt that Britain's first female Prime Minister firmly stamped her mark on the history of British politics. A formidable figure from humble beginnings, Thatcher's work in the name of entrepreneurship and privatisation exuded her unshakeable belief in hard work and achievement.

Whilst the jury's out over whether she was a help of a hindrance for women in the workplace, the fact that she so adeptly managed to rise through the ranks of parliament to cement her place in British politics undoubtedly makes her worthy of a spot on this list.

And I think she speaks for all ladies when she says, "if you want something said ask a man; if you want something done ask a woman."

From budding 'mumpreneur' to high-flying businessperson, no woman is typical, which is why we wanted to celebrate a range of women who are or have done it for themselves whatever their goals and personal circumstances. 

If you agree that these six women deserve recognition for their achievements, be sociable - share.

Images used courtesy of Wikipedia 

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