Women’s History: Real stories from real women
As I sit at my laptop and scratch my head, I try to think of a search term to kick off my research for my women’s history post. “Women’s history” seems too broad a term, “Badass women in history” makes me want to curl up in a ball and die from embarrassment and “Women in STEM” isn’t bringing anything new to the table, as we’ve extensively covered this topic on our blog already. The internet doesn’t need more posts on the Florence Nightingales, Michelle Obamas or the Greta Thunbergs of the world, no matter how inspirational these women may be. Let’s dive into the lives of the women who mean the most to us.
Miriam & Angie’s story:
When I was 9 years old, I tragically lost my mum and moved from living with her in Germany to living in the UK with my dad. As you can imagine, this wasn’t easy for a young child but thankfully from the very moment I touched down in England, I was surrounded by an endless string of magical women. Women who supported me, uplifted me, became role models and close friends. Maybe the universe saw my loss and doubled down trying to reverse the damage, maybe it was my mum (who I view as my guardian angel) sending a helping hand, or maybe I was just incredibly lucky. Whatever the case, I am eternally grateful to them all and would write an essay of love & gratitude to each and every one of them if I could.
The one I’d like to call out today is the very first woman who supported me after my mum died. Her name is Angela (Angie) and she was my dad’s girlfriend at the time, who I lived with for a short while. Angie came to pick me up from the airport – she couldn’t speak German and I couldn’t speak a word of English at the time. Within minutes, we were hysterically laughing in the car (not easy given the circumstances) and from that day on and for many years to come, she was my role model. She was effortlessly cool, independent, intelligent, well-read, adventurous, confident, beautiful and funny (she still is all those things). Even after her and my dad broke up, I would see her regularly and she’d take me shopping or we’d have sleepovers, and I happily could have spent every waking moment with her. I watched her adopt two beautiful children from Guatemala as a single (ish) woman and show unbelievable perseverance and strength in this process. Without her support or her fierceness, without her taking me under her wing or guiding me through my time moving into womanhood, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Tii & Raija’s story:
Back in 1998 I started my studies in film and focused my career on becoming a film director and screenwriter. Back then in Finland, women and film were still something that was more of a rarity as the Finnish film industry was heavily influenced by men. I was lucky enough to have a teacher in my school by the name of Raija Talvio who was a well renowned screenwriter and editor. Her and her husband were well-regarded in the industry and she had a lot of great experience with working with the directors in Finland.
In 2002 at the end of my studies when we were having to plan our final project, in order to get our degree I told our judging panel comprised mainly of men that I wanted to direct a film but at that time there were only a few projects the University/ Film School was going finance as a final degree work project.
Unfortunately, I was not picked at the time to direct anything and I was gutted. The majority of the projects were given to my male classmates. My teacher, Raija, saw that I was distraught. She always believed that I had what it takes and thought I was very talented especially in coming up with ideas and screenwriting. She sat me down and said “Tii, don’t let this discourage you or let this stop you from following your dreams. Everyone wants to be a director usually but many do not realise that, in order to be a great director you have to know where it all starts”. She told me “People who want to direct just see the whole cake but seldom realise what ingredients go into making the cake, and in order to make the best cake you have to know the ingredients and how the cake becomes the end product.” She continued by saying “Tii, learn where film-making starts. It starts on paper, an idea that builds into a story and from that story it becomes reality – the shot film. The other thing you need to remember is how you are going to put that story together so that others can see what you are trying to create and say…for this you need to learn how to edit.”
With that insight I approached one of my classmates who was chosen to direct with an idea for a short-story I had in my head for some time. I spoke to her about it and we approached our judging panel who agreed it was an interesting story and it was agreed it would get financed by the school. I also suggested that I wanted to edit it. After the script was written we filmed it and I edited it. It got the 2nd highest ranking amongst the other short films made by the other directors in our class and was sold to the Finnish broadcasting company to air on TV.
My teacher not only inspired me to learn how to think about film-making in another way, she also inspired me to get a job first as an editor. Due to her wisdom I became one of the leading editors in Finland and won several awards. A few years later I got to finally be a director for Film and TV where I also won other awards.
Juana’s & her great grandmother’s story
My great-grandmother Maria Dioselina was a peasant who was born in a small town near the city, where she had 6 children with her husband. Colombia has lived in violence since the 40s, and unfortunately, the family lost their land due to the armed conflict, as well as my great-grandfather disappeared, which is why one day in the middle of the night and the dangers of the mountains, my grandmother with her 6 small children had to flee to the capital. In the capital, my grandmother had to find ways to survive with her children, she had various jobs and managed to raise all her children by herself. My great-grandmother in the 50s had to live through complex situations for a woman and even so she managed to form incredible human beings. Today, she is an example for everyone in the family, she is the person who taught us what courage, resilience, honesty, hard work, humility and solidarity are. In the month of the woman I decide to commemorate my roots and the courage not only of her but of all the women who have had to go through violence in the world.
Lisa & Georgie’s story:
Snowplower, Lisa says: “My friend Georgie Ricks is an inspirational young woman that has set up her business based around her own personal experiences suffering with PCOS. Whilst she is based in Dubai, she works internationally and is British. She has also recently won a highly prestigious ‘Young Women’s Business Award in Dubai’.”
Lisa has decided to let Georgie tell her own story.
My name is Georgie, and I am a qualified Nutritionist and Personal Trainer specialising in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and women’s hormones here in Dubai. I run a women’s nutrition coaching business called ‘It’s a PCOS Party!’ where I offer 1 to 1 coaching programs and online courses to educate women how to overcome PCOS and live a happy, healthy life.
PCOS affects 1 in 10 women globally and is the leading cause of infertility. It is a condition fighting away at so many women who feel completely left in the dark with no proper advice or guidance. PCOS is a metabolic disorder and a hormone imbalance condition where elevated insulin prevents ovulation which in turn, makes it incredibly difficult for a woman to conceive. Additionally, 80% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance which if not treated, leads to diabetes. This also contributes to weight gain where currently 38% of married women in UAE are overweight. PCOS unfortunately brings several nasty symptoms such as acne, hair growth and hair loss, skin patches, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
From my personal experience, I have now made it my life’s mission to raise awareness and help as many other women as possible, so they won’t have to go through what I did.
You don’t have to find a cure for a rare disease or walk the four corners of the Earth for a good cause to be an inspirational woman. Sometimes all it takes is for you to spread a bit of love and some good advice to have others look up to you.