#InspireInclusion Jacaranda Authors on Groundbreaking Women

The 2024 International Women's Day theme #inspireinclusion challenges us to think about, and share the importance of the inclusion of women, and female voices across all sectors in moving society forward.

As a female led team, with a roster fo powerful women on our list, we asked them to share some of the women who have inspired them.

As authors, poets, actresses, journalists, teachers, director, researchers and more, the 4 women we asked to share have given us a list of women who have definitively transformed the world as we know it.

Wangari Maathai | Anni Domingo Breaking the Maafa Chain

I would love to talk about Wangari Maathai a ground-breaking woman, whom I believe has shaped and will continue to shape the future for girls and women in the world.

Wangari Maathai was an extraordinary Kenyan environmentalist, political activist, and Nobel laureate. Born on April 1, 1940, in Nyeri, Kenya, she was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organisation that focused on tree planting, conservation, and women's rights.

Maathai's work was deeply rooted in the belief that environmental conservation and sustainable development were essential for social justice. She recognised the interconnectedness of environmental degradation, poverty, and women's empowerment. Through the Green Belt Movement, she mobilised thousands of women across Kenya to plant trees, combat deforestation, and improve their communities' livelihoods.

Her activism often brought her into conflict with the Kenyan government, particularly during the presidency of Daniel Arap Moi. She faced harassment, arrest, and even physical assault for her outspoken criticism of government policies that contributed to environmental degradation and human rights abuses.

In 2004, Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace." The Nobel Committee praised her as a source of inspiration for everyone concerned with the environment, human rights, and women's rights.

Throughout her life, Maathai remained committed to promoting environmental conservation, empowering women, and fostering democratic governance. Her legacy continues to inspire activists around the world to work towards a more sustainable and just future. She passed away on September 25, 2011, but her impact on environmentalism and social justice endures.


My contribution for Women's History Month are the women scientists of ISRO (the Indian Space Research Organisation), who were responsible for Chandrayaan 3, India''s successful moon landing  in August 2023. Over a hundred women were involved in Chandrayaan 3, and several were also involved in India's successful Mars Mission in 2014. ISRO's women scientists have done a great deal to influence young Indian girls to become scientists, and ISRO is widely known for its encouragement of women in science.

Maya Angelou
| Tina Andrews Queen Charlotte Sophia: A Royal Affair 

There have been women in this world of irrepressible accomplishment, influence, and impact…

…And then there was Maya Angelou.

When I think about women most responsible for shaping and inspiring one’s work, especially in theatre, literature, poetry, and education, I dare say few have resonated with the impact of this woman. Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton have heralded Dr. Angelou as one of the idioms she herself wrote about—A Phenomenal Woman. Beginning with her 1969 debut book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings chronicling her impoverished childhood struggle after being raped causing her to go mute for two years, plus the hurdles she endured being female and black in a “pre-civil rights” era America; to her poem On The Pulse of Morning given at the 1990 inauguration of America’s President William J. Clinton encouraging the new leadership to embrace the change people were starving for, Dr. Angelou’s groundbreaking work evoked both sides of the spectrum—praise and criticism, adulation and sadly of late, banned books. In between she wrote six autobiographies and volumes of poetry, essays, and screenplays before her death in 2014.

I am proud to have known Maya Angelou. She once counselled me in preparation to meet another brilliant woman—Coretta Scott King. Maya said: “Remember, Coretta may look like a back-ground player. But she’s powerful. Hers is the advice Dr. King heeds.”

And so is Dr. Maya Angelou’s—a phenomenal, inspirational woman for women and young girls everywhere.


My ground breaking woman is Carrie Mae Weems who in one of her interviews declared 
“In one way or another, my work endlessly explodes the limits of tradition,... I’m determined to find new models to live by. Aren’t you?” 

With work across photography, dance, literature etc., her creative practice is the embodiment of an ‘I belong wherever I say I belong’ philosophy and gives permission to me and so many others to push past narrow definitions of who we are or what we are capable of. And even in that freedom, part of the example she leaves is the strength to say confidently, ‘I don’t always know what I am doing, but I struggle through the process and grapple with it, until the meaning comes to me.’ (praphrase) This is a recipe for life and for getting out of your own way. 

Happy International Women's Day!