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International Women’s Day: Liverpool’s Most Inspiring Ladies

Originally known as International Working Women’s Day, the 8th March now commemorates the women’s rights movement with International Women’s Day. The special date celebrates women’s achievements all around the world, with organised conferences and rallies, networking events and marches.

In more recent years, social media has enabled awareness and support to spread; we’ve seen more and more celebrities take to their channels to express their passions for women’s rights and gender equality. And at Signatures Liverpool, we thought we’d celebrate International Women’s Day 2017 with a look at some of Liverpool’s very own inspiring ladies!

Michelle Langan

Sadly, it’s certainly not uncommon to see rough sleepers dotted around the city centre. And in colder weather through the winter months, the conditions really can be tough. However, helping the homeless isn’t always plain and simple, especially with misleading newspaper headlines at work. And that’s where Michelle Langan’s mission began.

Michelle Langan set out to knock down the social barriers surrounding homelessness. It’s something that some of us don’t talk about too much, and tend to avoid in the street. Homeless people have expressed that they sometimes feel invisible and ignored by passers by, without anybody to speak to about how they’re feeling or why they’re on the street.

Michelle decided to take action, setting up the Papercup Project as a Liverpool volunteer group offering food, hot drinks and a listening ear to those sleeping rough in Liverpool. In October 2016, the Paper Cup Project launched their “coffee with a coat” plans in cooperation with Bean Coffee & Cocktails. The concept was centred around donating to the homeless in a quick, easy way.

Bean Coffee & Cocktails agreed to accept kind donations of coats across their stores, and in return people who donated received a free coffee. Alternatively, those donating could also donate the free coffee from Bean to one of the city’s rough sleepers.

Thanks to Michelle Langan’s inspiring work and fantastic efforts from the Papercup Project team, they managed to help 20 homeless people in Liverpool off the streets in 2016.

Katrina Johnson-Thompson

Liverpool’s fantastic track and field athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson was born in Woolton, Liverpool. Katarina represents Liverpool Harriers, and started off her journey to success when she won the heptathlon gold medal in the 2009 World Youth Championships in Athletics.

Putting strength, determination and plenty of girl power into practise, Katarina set a new indoor British long jump record in 2015 at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix. Later that year at Beijing’s 2015 World Championships, Katarina made headline news by leading the first two events with World Heptathlon Champion Jessica Ennis-Hill just in front.

The Liverpudlian reached new heights last year when she made it to the 2016 Summer Olympics, taking sixth place in the heptathlon. And though the star may have missed out on a medal, her mesmerising heptathlon high jump set a new British record.

Margaret Aspinall

Margaret visiting the 96 candles memorial in the Shankly Hotel

Undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s most inspiring ladies, Margaret Aspinall has touched many hearts over the years, as chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group. Though Margaret lost her own 18-year old son James in the infamous disaster, Margaret decided that she wouldn’t be defeated. Instead, she chose to act selflessly and put other victims first.

For over 26 years, Margaret told herself that she would make the bigger cause her priority, thinking about the 95 other people rather than her own personal heartbreak. While speaking to Brian Reade of the Mirror, Margaret shared,

“Whenever I was on support group business I’d quietly say ‘forgive me son, I’m putting you to one side for the moment’ because I never wanted to let the other victims down.”

Despite all odds, and persistent lies publicised by some of the UK’s leading media outlets, Margaret never gave up hope that the truth would be revealed. The remarkable campaigner explained,

“My job was all about getting the right verdict. it’s the only gift we can take to our loved ones. To say we did it, we changed the verdict.”

And after so many years of pain and injustice, Margaret’s inspiring work paid off. On 26th April 2016, the jury reached a verdict that the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed. It was justice at last for the 96 and their families.

Gee Walker

When Anthony Walker was killed in a racially motivated attack in 2005, his brave mother Gee Walker chose to deal with her grief with grace, and began to help spread awareness of racism around the city.

Offering her son’s killers unimaginable forgiveness, Gee shared,

 “I have to forgive them. I can’t feel anger and hatred, because that is what killed my son”.

The Anthony Walker Foundation was established by Anthony’s family. Gee Walker was dedicated to ensuring that her son’s legacy would live on for all the right reasons; she was motivated to keep spreading peace, harmony and integrity in Anthony’s honour.

The foundation continues to offer a range of workshops to the public, designed to make a lasting difference. Their work aims to shed light on issues surrounding diversity, and educate people on how to deal effectively with prejudice. The foundation’s services vary from school assembly presentations, workshops for staff on racist incidents and briefing sessions centred around hate crime.

With such a kind heart and desire to spread positivity in Liverpool, we’re endlessly inspired.

Kim Cattrall

While you may recognise her from strutting the streets of New York in Sex and the City, Kim Cattrall was born in the leafy suburbs of Liverpool’s Mossley Hill. Holding dual citizenship, Kim’s family migrated to Canada when she was baby, but she certainly hasn’t left her roots behind.

An avid supporter of Liverpool’s heritage, Kim uses her celebrity platform to have her voice heard, and when it comes to Liverpool, she isn’t afraid to speak out on behalf of us Scousers.

Kim became involved in the controversy surrounding the Futurist cinema and the campaign to protect Sefton Park Meadows. During the park campaign, Kim shared, “I love Sefton Park. I was lucky enough to grow up playing there. Sefton Park was a refuge for my mother during her childhood years”.

And though most famous for playing Sex and the City’s most fierce and fabulous lady, Kim’s idea of a day out is worlds apart from that of Samantha Jones; A huge fan of LFC, the Sex and the City star even owns a pink pair of lucky LFC slippers. The Mossley Hill-born actress has spoken of her support for the football team, sharing, “I really have been touched by many things in my life but to stand there with my scarf outstretched and to join in the chorus of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, I had tears running down my cheeks”.

Speaking to the Guardian, Kim explained that talking about Liverpool makes her think about her mother. Kim added,

“You know, my mother was a very strong woman and she was the one who educated me to make life choices that were good for me and not rely on a man to do that”.

Liverpool Girl Geeks

Thinking ahead for future generations of girls, Liverpool Girl Geeks aims to decrease the gender imbalance within the tech industry. Shockingly, only 17% of the UK technology workforce is female, and one of Liverpool’s most exciting, young, inspiring businesses is dedicated to changing that.

To put their work into action, Liverpool Girl Geeks have worked with a variety of tech companies to help encourage women and young girls to get involved. And most importantly, to raise awareness about the opportunities that are out there.

Co-founder of Liverpool Girl Geeks and managing director shared with Andrew Wright at YB News,

 “We want women to recognise that they have a place within the tech industry and by working closely with our partners we can promote the range of career choices available to them.”

Hoping to reach younger girls before they have decided their career path, Liverpool Girl Geeks have worked with teenagers and young girls on a variety of projects to ignite their talent early on and provide support that can’t always be found within busy school lessons.

So, we hope you’ve been inspired by Liverpool’s most unstoppable, forward-thinking women. We’d love to hear who has made a positive impact in your life over the years!

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About Jessica

Jessica is an English and History graduate with a passion for writing about Liverpool, from local history to cultural events.

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