International Women’s Day | Celebrating Women Who Inspire Inclusion

This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating women who have made efforts to promote inclusion and diversity, and giving them their flowers.  

As a charity that values the importance of diversity and empowerment, what better day is there to celebrate this than on International Women’s Day! Reflecting on this year’s campaign theme of Inspire Inclusion, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a few women who have made efforts to promote inclusion and diversity because we believe that this plays a crucial role in our fight for gender equality and women’s rights. These are women who we believe are doing great jobs at challenging stereotypes, breaking down barriers, creating awareness, and therefore promoting environments where everyone irrespective of their backgrounds, feel valued and respected.

Tonia Daley Campbell @toniadaleycampbell  | Local to our own home of the City of Wolverhampton, Tonia Daley Campbell is an actress, writer, director, producer as well as a proud wife and mother of 4 who has been doing a great job at putting work into ensuring that the demographic of audiences at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton is more reflective of the community living in the city. Throughout her career in the creative industries which spans over two decades, Tonia has been dedicated to uncovering and promoting emerging talent from the West Midlands region. Her passion for nurturing new voices and perspectives has made her a champion for diversity and inclusivity in the creative sector. The work she does as an Audience Development Consultant at The Grand Theatre entails leading a team of Black and African Caribbean Theatre Ambassadors to develop strategies to increase representation and create a more diverse and inclusive audience, making The Grand Theatre a more welcoming, inclusive, and community-oriented space.   

Marcela Maranon @thejourneyofabravewoman | Being the first disabled Latina to climb 19,341 feet up the highest Mountain in Africa, Marcela Maranon took on the incredible mission of conquering Mount Kilimanjaro to break barriers and change the perceptions that people hold surrounding individuals with disabilities. Over the last two decades, Marcela Maranon has been an advocate for people living with physical disabilities, since she went through a life-changing car accident in 2002 at the age of 21 and was left paralysed from the waist down. She has made it her mission to dismantle the preconceived notions and misconceptions that people have about people with disabilities and illustrate how medical devices like wheelchairs are a source of empowerment for people with disabilities as they grant them a greater sense of freedom and independence. Marcela’s relentless strength and bravery in the face of adversity have seen her gain a large following online, inspiring others daily to change their outlooks and ideas about life and disabilities.

Catherine Asta @catherine.asta / @thelatediscoveredclub | Listed in the top 50 influential Neurodivergent Women in the UK in 2023, over the last decade, Catherine Asta has dedicated her life to working with hundreds of women amplifying their stories on her forward-thinking podcast ‘The Late Discovered Club’ and she is now doing this incredible work all while battling a cancer diagnosis. With multiple degrees in Psychology, Sociology, and Psychotherapy, Catherine’s passion for all things women, autism, and mental health led her to publicly disclose that she was autistic and had ADHD in 2022. This acceptance of herself and her mental health journey led to her creating her successful business; The Late Discovered Club, a community and podcast that aims to bring to light the stories of women who are diagnosed as neurodivergent later in life. Her story shows the importance of showing strength in the face of adversity and why opening up the conversation of inclusivity surrounding mental health is so necessary in our society for women to thrive. We would like to send her lots of positive energy, while wishing her a speedy recovery!

Serlina Boyd @serlinaboyd / @cocoagirlmag / @cocoaboymag | Combining her passion for helping children and love for media; Designer, Founder, and Publisher, Serlina Boyd utilised her experience with publishing and childcare, marrying the two together to create the first-ever black children’s magazines Cocoa Girl and Cocoa Boy with her 8 year old daughter Faith. Spurred on by the bullying that Faith had experienced at school surrounding her hair and the under-representation of black hair she had seen black girls suffering from since her own childhood, Serlina saw the importance and impact that these magazines would have on the young black community even after being told by a colleague that; “No one will be interested”. Making its way into the hands of more than 10,000 children within the first four weeks of the launch, Cocoa Girl was a hit, landing partnerships with BT and Puffin Books. Alongside this, Serlina also runs the charity Cocoa Dream which is dedicated to helping all children especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds increase their literacy skills. They run free writing and journalism workshops in schools and children’s centres.  

Nicola Lowe @wisdomforworkingmums | An award-winning executive, business owner, leadership coach and mum of two, after becoming a mum, Nicola Lowe went on to create Wisdom for Working Mums and become an influential force in identifying and creating modern approaches to women combining work and motherhood. The history of women, motherhood and finding a work life balance when juggling both, is one that in the past has lacked the exposure of open conversation surrounding the difficulties and potential issues that women could face when becoming a new mother and also having the responsibilities of a job and the burn out that these two major duties in conjunction can conjure. Nicky’s workshops and coaching create an educational and understanding environment and space for women to share and learn how they can in fact thrive in their career and motherhood.   

Onjali Rauf @onjalirauf / @osrefugeeaid / @mherstory | Onjali Rauf, a British Bangladeshi author and activist, has dedicated her life’s work to promoting inclusion and equality. As the founder of O’s Refugee Aid Team, she’s worked tirelessly to provide support and resources to refugees, ensuring that their voices and experiences are heard and respected.  Additionally, through her work with Making Herstory, she’s been instrumental in mobilising people from all walks of life to combat abuse, and trafficking of women, championing the rights and voices of marginalised groups. Onjali Rauf’s dedication to inclusion is not only evident in her activism, but also in her writing. Her book, ‘Boy at the Back of the Class,’ beautifully tells the story of a refugee child, bringing awareness to the experiences of refugees and promoting empathy and understanding. When asked about the inspiration behind the book in a 2019 interview with The Guardian she said; “When I started being called Paki, I started to feel [my difference]. I wondered: why is there no one who looks like me in the books? So I wanted to write those characters.”  Rauf continues to be a powerful voice for inclusion, encouraging readers to see the humanity in people and promoting a world where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. An adaptation of the book is currently on tour and will be coming to The Wolverhampton Grand Theatre in April. 

At The Haven, we are inspired by the stories of these women, who have dedicated their lives to promoting inclusion, equality, and support for marginalised groups. We share these values and strive to embody them in our work as a domestic abuse charity. We are committed to providing a safe and inclusive space for women and children fleeing abusive relationships, and we recognise the unique challenges faced by migrant women, particularly those with no access to public funding. We work tirelessly to provide access to essential services such as counseling, legal advice, and housing, empowering women to take control of their lives and break free from the cycle of abuse. Through our work, we aim to create a more inclusive and equitable society where all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances, have the opportunity to thrive. We hope these women’s stories of resilience and inclusivity inspire you to promote inclusion in your own life and in the spaces where you do not see this kind of diversity being celebrated. The more we highlight the incredible stories of women from all backgrounds and all walks of life, the more awareness we raise about the amazing work we do as a gender to pave the way for other marginalised communities. We must give our sheroes their flowers while they can still smell them!   

Is there a woman in your life that you believe deserves to be recognised for the parts they have played in inspiring inclusion and promoting diversity? Please celebrate them on your social media platforms, tag us and we will help to amplify their voices by sharing your post.  

DISCLAIMER: While we are recognising these women for their inspiring work in promoting inclusion, it is important to note that this recognition does not constitute an endorsement of all their views or actions. We acknowledge that individuals are complex and multifaceted, and we are highlighting their contributions to inclusion, without necessarily agreeing with everything they have said or done. Our intention is to celebrate progress and inspire others to promote inclusion in whatever way they can.

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