International Women's Day

iwdInternational Women's Day (March 8th) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality. 

To celebrate the day, ENSA asked staff members, Programme Reps and the University's Vice Principal to name their most inspiring women. You can read about their choices below:

Edinburgh Napier Vice Principal, Alyson Tobin: Katherine Johnson

Mathematician, aerospace technologist and NASA scientist. As NASA acknowledged "Her calculations proved as critical to the success of the Apollo Moon landing program and the start of the Space Shuttle program, as they did to those first steps on the country's journey into space". President Obama said “Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach”. As an African-American woman in a male-dominated profession, her success was remarkable and she blazed a trail for all women entering into STEM careers. She died in 2020 at the age of 101- a life well-lived.

Photo: NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

ENSA CEO, Dee Bird: Christiane Amanpour

Award-winning British – Iranian journalist, Chief International Anchor for CNN, foreign war correspondent, and All ‘Round Tough Cookie, Amanpour is my choice of an inspiring woman for International Women’s Day. I first noticed her when she reported for CNN during the Persian Gulf War in the ‘90s. She’s cool, confident and unflappable.

Photo: By Peabody Awards - CNN Presents: Gods Warriors, CC BY 2.0,

ENSA President, Ankit Duggal: Bilkis Bano

Bilkis Bano is an Indian activist. At the age of 82 years old, she sat at a protest site for many weeks protesting the new guidelines of Indian central government for Citizen Amendment Act and Farmer bills. She gave hope and strength to activists and student leaders, who were being thrown behind bars for standing up for the unpopular truth in a democracy that was sliding into repression. She inspired peaceful protests across the country. She was included in Time magazine's under list of the 100 most influential people in 2020 in the icons category and was also listed by BBC in the list of 100 inspiring and influential women around the world.

ENSA VP, Heloisa Fyfe: Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir was a french writer, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist. De Beauvoir is the person behind the phrase: "One is not born but becomes a woman" ("On ne naît pas femme, on le devient”) this was one of the first times when a distinction was made between biological sex and the social and historical construction of gender. Her book The Second Sex is a foundation of second-wave feminism. De Beauvoir is an inspiration to me because she spent her whole life asking herself important questions about the world and the place we have as humans in it. 

Photo: By Moshe Milner - Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - Jean Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir welcomed by Avraham Shlonsky and Leah Goldberg.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0,

ENSA VP, Nikhil Reddy: Angela Merkel

Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician who has been Chancellor of Germany since 2005, making her the longest serving head of government in the EU. She served as Leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2005 and as Leader of the Christian Democratic Union from 2000 to 2018. Merkel is the first female chancellor of Germany and is widely described as the most powerful woman in the world.

Photo: ? (Aleph), CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

ENSA Office Coordinator, Elayne McNally: Pip Hare

Pip Hare has recently completed the Vendee Globe boat race 20/21 where she was circumnavigating the world alone on a boat against other sailors across turbulent seas - She hung on and fought hard against big winds and heavy seas in the Bay of Biscay and her boat, the Medalia, covered 24,000 miles with no help, no stops, and no turning back. "More men have walked on the moon than women completed the Vendee Globe, which is all the inspiration I need to succeed."

Photo: Martin Clavey, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

ENSA Programme Reps’ Choice: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama was the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Before Becoming First Lady, Michelle Obama was a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School and an attorney at a prestigious Chicago Law firm. Michelle Obama led major initiatives during her time as First Lady such as Let’s Move, Joining Forces, Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn. Let’s Move was the first major initiative to focus on the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States. Mrs Obama is an inspiration because she has risen above the systemic barrages of sexism and racism and her authenticity allowed her work and voice to reach America’s youth.

Photo: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons