• You are the women who taught me that the hand we are dealt does not have to define or defeat us. (Flickr/Hartwig HKD http://bit.ly/2m26hfg)Source: Flickr/Hartwig HKD http://bit.ly/2m26hfg
To all the women who keep charging forward, who never give up despite all that is thrown at them. You are the women who have shaped me.
By
Jill Stark

3 Mar 2017 - 3:46 PM  UPDATED 7 Mar 2017 - 12:24 PM

You have grit. And passion. Boundless, heart-on-your-sleeve passion. You are wise and you are resilient, and your vulnerability is your strength.

You have the courage to keep going, even when the simple act of breathing in and out has become an effort. You are the warrior women who have shaped my life.

When you were told to be quiet, you made your voice heard. You were interrupted and shouted over, castigated for being “hysterical”, and constantly reminded that your presence would be tolerated only if you knew your place.

Nevertheless, you persisted. From operating theatres to football fields, construction sites to the corridors of power, you did not accept the status quo. You stood tall, took your place, and redressed the balance.

Through it all, you did not break, nor allow your heart to become hardened with hate. You showed grace, and dignity and a deep well of resilience that reminded me how bullies always wither in the face of genuine strength.

You are my editors -  the trailblazing women who not only smashed the glass ceiling but destroyed the joint. You are my colleagues - the fearless footy reporters who demanded entry to the boys’ club then rewrote the rules.

You were ridiculed and harassed and relentlessly trolled for doing your job. You were told to “lighten up” when the boorish middle-aged men who treat their media platform like a frat house made lewd jokes at your expense, or laughed about drowning you, on their nationally syndicated radio show.

Through it all, you did not break, nor allow your heart to become hardened with hate. You showed grace, and dignity and a deep well of resilience that reminded me how bullies always wither in the face of genuine strength.

You are every woman who has endured cat calls and felt the fragility of your safety from the time you were a girl, living in a society that insists you must be pretty but then blames your body, your shape, your clothes, for the violence you encounter.  

You are the mothers and stepmothers, aunties and sisters, foster mums and grandmothers, friends and teachers, who help girls navigate this culture, teaching them to smash stereotypes and stay safe without closing down to bitterness or fear.  

You are every woman who has been broken in two by the painful end of a relationship, only to claw your way back to the vibrant, joyful version of yourself you thought was gone forever.

Feminine power: 6 times female-led protests changed the world
Since the suffragettes, women have used their collective power to protest against inequality.

You are the women who share the battles you have fought so that others might not have to fight so hard. The young trans women who tell their stories as a clarion call of hope for every person struggling with their identity in a world that still denies their basic rights.

The disability activists who speak of the liberation that comes from living a proud, unapologetic life, not one that turns you into an “inspirational” meme and saddles you with the burden of low expectation.

You are the women who have fled persecution, trauma and war, seeking a better life for your family in a country that can more than afford to offer you sanctuary but does not always seem welcoming.

Or my goddaughter, a young woman whose life has been hijacked by chronic illness, but who has humbled us all with her quiet strength, compassion and selflessness. 

And the women who have survived the unimaginable. Like my oldest friend, who lost her beautiful boy, aged 5, and willed herself to keep going minute by minute, not because she’d “moved on” or forgotten her pain but because it’s possible to choose to be okay whilst at the same time living with a broken heart”.

You are the women who taught me that the hand we are dealt does not have to define or defeat us. My friend, fighting breast cancer for the second time, who laughs when people say she is “so unlucky” before reminding them of the abundant love that envelops her, which she gives back to the world in spades.

Or my goddaughter, a young woman whose life has been hijacked by chronic illness, but who has humbled us all with her quiet strength, compassion and selflessness.

You are the friends who held my hand in my darkest moments, promising me that although I couldn’t see it, I would once again find pleasure in living.

As we approach International Women’s Day on 8 March, these are just some of the women I am thankful for.

And you are the woman who brought me into this world, who has nurtured and nourished me, taught me to dance like no-one’s watching, to stand up for myself and my beliefs, and never, ever apologise for who I am.

As we approach International Women’s Day on 8 March, these are just some of the women I am thankful for.

You have forged a path with your example. When I am face down on the canvas, it is your voices that help me get back up.

Our collective wisdom powers me forward. As the iconic feminist songwriter Helen Reddy said, it is wisdom born of pain. But together we are strong. We are invincible. We are women.

Thank you for never giving up.

Follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.

Celebrate all the wonderful women in your life on International Women's Day with a movie from our 'Fearless Females' collection, like Venus And Serena, available to watch now on SBS On Demand.

Female genital mutilation is hurting Australian girls and we must work together to stamp it out
Female genital mutilation is largely hidden in Australia and other high-income countries. But the United Nations says it is a global concern – and our research found it does affect girls here.
IKEA has partnered with a university to offer female factory workers full scholarships
A scholarship program between IKEA Foundation and a Bangladesh-based university is giving female factory workers in the developing country a chance to re-design their futures.
This fashion label fights female objectification with meat turbans
Melbourne-based fashion house, MOGA, has released a photo shoot of raw meat turbans in protest of female objectification.
If churches believe in gender equality, why aren't there more female leaders?
Some Christians interpret Biblical teachings to say that women are essentially equal to men, but should be submissive to male leaders in the church and home.
'Targeted for elimination': What drove these females to flee to Australia?
The Abbott government controversially pledged to favour “persecuted minorities” from Syria, including Christian refugees. A journalist meets some who have arrived. What drove them to flee to Australia?