Celebrating International Women's Day
As a company, we are proud to have a primarily female workforce – something we celebrate and champion every day. We admire many wonderfully inspiring women who embody female empowerment, with achievements across politics, fashion, philanthropy and the arts. From the women of Sahara, here are the women who inspire us the most…
‘Author, scientist, warrior, mother’ – Dr Vandana Shiva may not be well known to many, but she is a woman of great influence and immense power. A trained physicist, she wrote her final PhD dissertation on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory’. It was a visit back home to Dehradun, India in her 20s that sparked her interest in environmentalism, when she discovered that her favourite forest near the foothills of the Himalayas had been cleared. Since then, she has become an anti-corporate and anti-globalisation advocate of ecofeminism; promoting organic-only food production, land redistribution and farmers’ rights. With books such as The Violence of the Green Revolution and Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest and Water Wars raising global awareness about pressing environmental issues, we have nothing but admiration for the ways in which she has changed agriculture and food practices. Shiva has been described by many as a modern day revolutionary, and we wholeheartedly agree.
New Zealand has Jacinda Ardern’s aunt to thank for introducing this trailblazing woman to politics. It was Marie Ardern, a longstanding member of the Labour party, who encouraged her niece to get involved in a local campaign in her late-teens, sparking her interest in politics. As the country’s youngest Prime Minister in 150 years, Ardern’s meteoric rise has even breathed life to its very own term, ‘Jacindamania’. Her Labour party policies include tackling climate change, doubling the country’s refugee quota and investing in New Zealand’s rural regions. Ardern’s success in the political world has been attributed to her open and honest approach to communication with her peers, and the public. A defender of women in the workplace, unbelievably, she is only the second woman in history to give birth while in office. As the very first world leader to ever go on maternity leave, and the first to ever bring a baby to the United Nations General Assembly, she continues to challenge the status quo. Being the ultimate working mother, as well as a progressive politician with a strong duty to care for others, Jacinda Ardern should be an inspiration to us all.
You can’t help but love Dame Judi Dench, with legions of fans (young and old), she’s arguably one of the finest actresses of our generation. We’ve been enamoured by this multi-award winner for decades, and not just because she’s been known to wear Sahara on the red carpet! She initially cut her teeth on stage and television, working extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre Company for many years. Remarkably, she only gained prominence on the silver screen when she was in her 60s, with great success. A lesser known fact about Dench is that she’s quite the environmentalist, with a deep love for trees. She owns her own patch of woodland in Surrey, where she’s been planting trees in memory of family and friends for more than 30 years. Continuing to act well into her 80s, defying any age discrimination present within the film industry, Judi Dench proves that you can achieve your dreams at any stage in your life. This Sahara muse is a testament to finding new avenues upon which to unleash your passions.
Katharine Hamnett is the British fashion designer we’ve long admired, ever since she first launched her eponymous clothing brand in 1979. She became a household name when George Michael wore her ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ slogan t-shirt in a Wham! music video, and made a bold political statement in 1984 when she revealed her ‘58% DON’T WANT PERSHING’ t-shirt upon meeting then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Hamnett was ahead of her time; she began campaigning for manufacturing sustainability within the fashion industry in the late 1980s, but it took years of lobbying before the industry eventually caught up with her activism. She relaunched her brand in 2017, with classic and new designs ethically produced in Italy, and continues to raise awareness about matters that are close to her heart. We continue to admire Hamnett for her well-respected anarchism, ethical business practices and enduring drive to make a difference to the lives of the others, and the environment.
Liz Hosken is the co-founder and director of the Gaia Foundation, a charitable organisation that actively encourages ecological sustainability – it’s a wonderful charity that Sahara has supported for many years. Growing up in South Africa, from a young age, Hosken was very involved in environmental issues and the anti-apartheid movement; going on to achieve a BSc in Environmental Sciences and a Masters in Philosophy and Education for Social Change. She spent many years in the Amazon where she discovered indigenous ways of seeing the world, finding values that echoed her own. Through the work of the Gaia Foundation, Hosken seeks to share the practice of Earth Jurisprudence – the belief that the welfare of each individual is wholly dependent on the sacredness of the Earth. We highly respect and admire Hosken’s ongoing drive and determination for social and ecological change, as she shares important lessons about our planet through her charity’s pioneering and life-changing work.
Read our full interview with Liz Hosken (live on the Journal this Saturday) and learn more about the Gaia Foundation, as well her own personal experiences.