Have you seen the film Hidden Figures? It may not have won any Oscars, but it certainly won over our cinema audience last night with its inspirational story.
Telling the story of the careers and lives of three African-American women, who were pivotal in launching NASA's first human spaceflight mission in 1962, the film left everyone with a deep-rooted sense of pride.
Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson fought a relentless battle for respect and equality in a racially unjust world – a battle that was ultimately won, through small steps, an undying devotion to intellectual achievement, and an unwavering sense of justice.
We live with versions of these obstacles today; parallels that lead to income inequality, lack of education, trafficking and slavery and much more, and Hidden Figures reminded me that we are all called to be problem solvers.
I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by amazing women who are tackling unacceptable issues and working out solutions every day. Lisandra Rickards for example, heads up the Branson Centre Caribbean bringing her business sense to enable entrepreneurs to thrive. While Lauren and Kim leading Unite BVI’s passion has shaped my understanding of the local community’s needs. Anna Gowdridge is building the 100% Human network with The B Team which will engage 150 business leaders who are passionate about re-defining work, to help people and organisations thrive. And lastly, Essie North is re-imagining education at Big Change as they seek to set young people up to thrive in life, not just in the classroom.
Hidden Figures reminded me that while we can all play our part, we don’t create sizeable change alone. I’ve listed just a few of the amazing women who I work with every and it is by bringing others along with us that we create a community of change makers.
Our work with One Acre Fund really brings this to life as they are now working with over 400,000 smallholder farmers in Africa to improve their harvests and in turn pull them out of poverty. Many of these farmers are women.
“While rural poverty affects both men and women, research suggests that putting more income in the hands of women leads to improvements in child nutrition, health and education. The economic empowerment of rural women – through increased access to livelihoods training, education, and health and financial services – is key to reducing rural poverty across the globe.’
One Acre Fund’s comprehensive 4–part model is designed to help rural women improve their farms’ productivity, increase their incomes, and grow their way out of hunger and poverty. With increased income comes increased purchasing power— farmers are able to invest in livestock and small businesses, pay for their children’s education and health care, and even bring running water to their homes.
In the film, Hidden Figures, NASA administrator Vivian Michael, isn’t trying to repress non-white people, but she doesn’t put herself on the line to right any societal wrongs either; she doesn’t fight for change.
If we are to be successful in creating an equal and just world, we need to collectively stand united and #BeBoldforChange – which is why tonight I am going to be joining women of the Jo Cox Foundation to celebrate all the positive and bold action taking place. I am looking forward to sharing stories, hatching plans and forging alliances for a better future for all. If you are based in the UK, here are some ideas of how you can #BeBoldForChange as we celebrate International Women's Day!