Celebrating Female Empowerment Each year we eagerly look forward to connecting with brilliant women to celebrate International Women’s Day, and 2023 is no different. Placing a spotlight on the achievements, wise advice and inspiring insight of women we admire is one of our favorite things to do at Chantecaille, because we know that every one of us has the power to spark change in others, be it small or grand in scale. This year we asked a marvelous group of women from around the globe to speak to us about empowerment— and where our voices need to be heard even louder. Read on and prepare to be majorly inspired. Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Pin on Pinterest Email this to a friend Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, Founder of Malaika What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? To me, being an empowered woman means being able to make choices about my career, family and health, but also having the knowledge to make good and informed decisions. It is being educated in a way that means you are learning information and also how to exist in the world, care for yourself, and give back to others. It is also being asked your perspective on something and having your opinion and expertise valued. As well as being equipped with the tools to get the job done.Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today?I am excited to see more women taking on roles in STEM industries and more girls and women opting for STEM subjects in education. These are industries and degree subjects that have been hugely dominated by men and it is wonderful to have more women innovating and leading in this arena. I am also inspired by the ways in which the workplace is changing to accommodate people with caring responsibilities, which many women are. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? Wangari Maathai. She was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental work that helped the poorest find employment. She also campaigned for women’s rights at great cost to herself.What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? Keep learning and don’t take no for an answer. It may be harder for you in certain sectors to progress but we need women to push through and pave the way for others so chase your dreams, whatever they may be, and don’t give up. Then, do what you can to help the ones coming after you achieve their dreams. What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? Education for girls around the world. We need to advocate for those who are disadvantaged in this area. If a girl isn’t educated it affects every aspect of her life, including her health and well-being. Also, ensuring all women can gain digital skills, which are essential for both work and life in the world we live in and will be even more important in the years to come. This is why we do what we do at Malaika, the grassroots organization I founded in 2007. We have a school for 430 girls to get a comprehensive education that includes STEM. We also provide technical education for youth and adults at our community center, as well as other vocational training and sport. We built and refurbished 28 wells enabling 35,000 people to access clean water. And we have agriculture that provides food for our school and teaches sustainable farming. Liliana Madrigal, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Amazon Conservation Team What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? Sometimes the word "empowered" can feel like something another person gives you, but I believe everyone is and can be powerful. Feeling powerful for me is about acting and pursuing goals fueled by love, creativity, and passion, often despite obstacles or restrictive norms that may be in place. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? I am inspired by the conviction, boldness and creativity of younger generations that are constantly redefining their aspirations based on what matters to them and not what older generations expect. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? This question is difficult because there are so many shining examples of extraordinary role models. Indigenous women - particularly those in remote communities of the Colombian Amazon with whom I get to work - inspire me beyond measure. Not only are they healers, mothers, and guardians of their traditions, but they put their lives on the line to protect their ancestral lands and the climate for all of us every single day. They seldom get recognition for their work, but they are the community pillars behind the fight on the frontlines. I must also note my admiration for Greta Thunberg—her laser focus and unbending commitment to the climate crisis drives home the actions needed to bring about necessary change. Her example in how she travels, dresses and conveys strong messages to stagnant so-called "decision makers" is refreshing and coherent, in true alignment with what she professes. Uniting these inspiring women for me is that they all care about and fight for the generations who will face the greatest impacts of the climate crisis they did not create. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? Like I tell my daughters: love and respect yourself first, then identify your passion. And surround yourself with great mentors! What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? We need to read about our history and the powerful roles we've always played, even though they've been erased in many history books. Our rights are extremely vulnerable right now; we must unite and fight for our rights and those of our friends and families in marginalized communities every day. Sha Xiaoli, Harper’s Bazaar Executive Publisher & Editor-in-Chief What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? For me it's about growing myself and helping others grow. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? The biggest change is that there are more successful women and more outstanding women. To be noticed by society, to be noticed by the public. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? Advise diligence. What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? Many rural women need better living conditions. Lisa Potter Dixon, Makeup Artist and co-Founder of The C-List What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? For me this is all about how you empower other women, whether that be by inspiring them through what you are doing personally or from a distance. There is nothing more empowering than empowering others. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? We are inspiring our own change constantly. From the beginning of time, it’s been up to woman to take charge of their own destiny and to stand up against societal hierarchies. We are still fighting a huge equality battle, but we are being heard. What’s particularly exciting is this next generation of young women. The conversations that are happening are so incredible and so inspiring. I am very confident that going forward we will continue to see this inspiring change and I truly believe that this is down to the women of our generation and the woman of the past who have led the way for the women of the future. Also, shout out to all the non-females supporting us. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? I actually don’t think I can name one woman, I feel like so many come to mind. Any woman that uses their voice to stand up to what they believe in inspires me. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? Always believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one will. And always remember that if someone says no to you don’t let it get you down, keep going until the right person says yes. The people that said no to you obviously weren’t the right person for you in that moment. What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? I actually don’t think it’s about women shouting louder—it’s about everyone listening and in fact I would say that as someone who doesn’t have children but who has a lot of friends that do, we need to stop talking about a mum as “as oh you are on maternity leave, did you have a nice holiday?” Hold on a minute—being a parent is a full time job! The other thing we need to be shouting about more loudly or, again, people need to be listening to more, is about women’s health. Not enough is done to support woman—there are so many chronic diseases out there that are debilitating to so many. From someone like myself who is an endometriosis sufferer—1 in 10 women have this disease and so little research is done on it. We need to keep having those conversations. Kristina McKean, Founder of The Elephant Project What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? I think being an empowered woman means that you feel the freedom to make your own choices and use your voice to make a difference in the world. No matter what fears or challenges we face, we take risks and are confident. I think empowered women know that we can all make a difference in the world and we should all support each other. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? I think more than ever women are realizing they have a voice and can make a change. I think that is so important, especially for the next generation. I have teenage daughters and am so glad they are growing up in a world where their voice matters and they can speak up when they see injustice or something that they are not comfortable with. I think we are all stronger than we think we are. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? Lek Chailert who is the founder of The Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand is my hero! She grew up in a trekking camp and stood up for the elephants who were being abused. She was disowned by her family due to her resistance but continued to fight for the ethical treatment of elephants. I have never met a more inspiring, beautiful soul. She is one in a million and deserves as much support as possible. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? This question comes easily to me because I have two young daughters. I tell them to use their voices and listen to their intuition. Also, find something you are passionate about and shoot for the moon. I also tell them to never be afraid of asking questions—the worst they can say is no. What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? Everything! There are so many things that need our help and voices. I say pick whichever one you are passionate about and use your voice to make a difference. Campbell Ritchie, Makeup Artist and Animal Activist 1. What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? For me an empowered woman is in control of a situation by setting goals and taking actionable steps to achieve them. Making sure one is authentic in action, with no lip service, actually getting things done, having purpose and integrity, making confident, focusing, inspiring decisions that guide people toward their future through leadership. 2. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? I just read an article about Coexist, a UK based management company giving women paid leave for menstruating. Just this simple act of acknowledging that some women suffer incredibly to the point of mental illness during their period is a huge breakthrough. Young girls like Keiana Cave who have invented and created scientific solutions to help preserve humanity and environmental issues also inspire me. 3. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? My incredible mentor Beatrix Ost. She is an artist, writer, fashion designer, and most importantly an ambassador for peace. Dr. Jane Goodall is a primatologist and anthropologist who fights for conservation and animal welfare, she has been my hero since I was 6. I often get told I’m the Jane Goodall of the beauty industry. Lastly, Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, and food sovereignty advocate ecofeminist who is referred to as the "Gandhi of grain" for her activism associated with the anti-GMO movement. 4. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? Don’t take everything so seriously, because none of this matters, anyway. We live in a society that sets us up for failure: break the mold, be in your body, trust your gut instinct; it’s guiding you. 5. What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? Being honest and having integrity, and speaking your truth even if it scares you. Your opinion is what makes you who you are: you’re not asking for anyone to understand you, just simply to hear you. Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of American Wild Horse Campaign What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? An empowered woman is someone who is authentically and unapologetically herself. She is comfortable in her own skin, trusts her intuition, and is not afraid to step into her own power and take up the space needed to chase her dreams and ambitions. Far too often women shrink themselves to fit into societal expectations or out of fear of being labeled “aggressive” or “too much,” but once she sheds those fears she is unstoppable. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? Women have always been the backbone of social change, yet their roles have historically taken a back seat to male leaders. Now that’s changing. Women are leading movements in politics, conservation and social justice. It’s inspiring to see women stepping into powerful leadership roles and having their voices heard, listened to and valued. We still have a long way to go to ensure all women’s voices are valued equally, but the path we are on is the right one. The problems the world faces today are dire and radical change is simply not optional. Right now, it’s women who are grabbing the torch and unapologetically leading the charge and not a moment too soon. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? Jacinda Ardern, for not compromising her authenticity, empathy and compassion as a world leader. She is unflinching in her fight against inequality and climate change - the two core issues of our time, but her style brings people into the fold instead of alienating them. She also exhibited great courage in her recent decision to step away from the role of Prime Minister, remaining true to herself and her family. She is the embodiment of an empowered woman and I’m certain that she will continue to inspire women and the world in the next phase of her journey. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? Trust your intuition and be resilient. Don’t give up on your dreams. You are enough. Throughout your life, you are going to meet people who are going to try to drag you down, diminish your voice, and extinguish your beautiful and unique light. This is a reflection of them, not you. Trust your intuition, be resilient, and blaze your own trail. The problems we face are huge and the world needs you. Your opinions have value and your voice deserves to be heard. Do not be afraid to take the reins and chase your wildest dreams! What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? My passion is fighting to preserve what’s left of the natural world - those wild places and wild animals that still exist amidst so much human encroachment - like the corner of the American West where wild horses still run free. Fundamentally this fight is about saving ourselves and remembering that we are part of nature, not apart from it. But in order to make change, women must have the agency to fight. And that means addressing the current threats to our reproductive rights. The pendulum on women’s rights is swinging backwards. We need to raise our collective voices as women to protect our right to autonomy, to live as our authentic selves, safe from violence, racism and in control of our own bodies. Securing these basic rights will free women to change the world! Janice Koh, Actor What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? An empowered woman is a woman who has the courage to act on her instincts, the softness to listen and speak from her heart, and the strength to stand for what she believes in, with no fear of what others may think of her. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? I find it inspiring to see more women leaders in world politics, and also greater representation from female directors and storytellers in cinema and television. The progress is still slower than I’d like, but there has been progress. There is so much more potential for women to craft the narrative, both on the world stage and in the media. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? As someone from the Arts, I’m often inspired by female creatives, filmmakers and writers who are not only brilliant at what they do, but who also use their voice to break down barriers. These include Chloe Zhao, Cate Blanchett, Jeanette Winterson, Michelle Yeoh and Maya Angelou. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? Have confidence and believe in your talent and capabilities. Have the courage to take risks, especially while you’re young. And don’t give up. What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? There is still a lot of gender inequality today. For instance, the responsibilities of caregiving currently falls disproportionately on women, which has an adverse impact of women’s employment and personal income. We need to create more awareness about this unequal gender norm, including advocating for financial recognition and more flexible working conditions for women who are expected to “do it all”. This is what we need to shout about—the areas where we must do better. Melissa Murdick, Makeup Artist What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? Being empowered as a woman means I don’t allow external circumstances or other people to take away my agency in life. No matter what comes my way, I have the power to choose what to do next and how to respond in a way that most cares for me. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? I see women standing up for themselves more and more against the detrimental effects of living under patriarchy--which is amazing! We are speaking out about our bodies, how we are being mistreated & abused, the inequality in our romantic relationships, and more. Our voices are growing louder and more confident. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? My forever inspiration is Dolly Parton. Aside from her talent, I always admire how she carries herself in the world with self-confidence, intelligence, humor, and generosity. I aspire to all of these traits and have looked up to her for as long as I can remember. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? When it comes to deciding what path you should take in life, pay attention to your needs and desires and don’t sacrifice them on anyone else’s behalf. Your unique self is a gift to the world, and you have so much to share. All you have to do is honor your authentic self. What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? Every single thing that harms us, holds us back, impacts our self-esteem, or makes us unsafe. The list is fairly long when it comes to undoing the oppression we face. We also need to be especially vocal about issues affecting the most marginalized women in our society (including BIPOC, immigrant, & trans women) because so often the needs of cis white women are the only ones being heard and addressed. Janice Lam, Makeup Artist What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? Today, in addition to having basic career and being economically independent, women also need to focus on personal cultivation. It’s because when you have a personal career, you will often ignore the feelings of the people around you. Therefore, as a capable woman, in addition to establishing your own career, you also need to care more about the society so that you can adjust your mood better. Make good use of your own image or experience to affect others, not just money. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? Regardless of the workplace, political position or family, the status of men and women tends to be equal, and women's voices have begun to receive attention. Subtle changes between men and women, so that men and women are treated fairly, and change each other's views on men and women. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? There is no specific person, but at the family level, every mother who selflessly contributes to the family, especially working mothers, has sacrificed a lot for the whole family, which is respectable. Today, people face various pressures at work, and working mothers still take care of the children's daily life when they return home. Sometimes they don't even have enough time to rest. It is very admirable to see them devote all their time to take care of their children. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? Women should look at the world boldly, take the initiative to try more new things, like a sponge, and try to absorb as much experience as possible. Sometimes, broadening your horizons can enrich your inner experience, and these experiences are beyond the reach of books. Know something you think is worth learning and get advice from respectable people. Kayla Wong, Influencer What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you? I think it means being able to stay true to yourself and to not let what society thinks a woman should be define you. It doesn’t mean always being super confident but it is knowing you are enough and that what is most important is how you feel and not how you look. Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? I believe you can see it everywhere. Women are standing up for themselves and thriving in so many different industries and facets of life. If I had to pinpoint something I think it would be the women in the U.S.. A lot of rights for women have come into question in the last few years and we’ve only seen them getting stronger in banding together to fight for what they deserve. Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? Angelina Jolie’s current work with human rights have been inspiring to me. As someone from the LGBTQ+ community I’ve always found human rights an important topic to be aware of. I hope to one day be able to contribute more to this cause. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world? My advice would be to be patient with yourself. When I was younger, I was very impatient with my progress and always felt the need to compare myself with my peers. That created so much stress and anxiety for myself. Now that I’ve turned 30, I now know that we are in constant evolution. There is really no end point and I feel so much more confident and self-aware at this age than I ever did in my 20s. What do you think women need to shout more loudly about in our current times? That we are beautiful and we are strong and we are enough. Olivia IH, UNESCO and Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador What does being an 'empowered woman' mean to you?In my eyes, an empowered woman is someone who is self-confident, rational in decision making and independent. She is empowered by the trust and support other people give her and most importantly, she doesn’t live just for herself. She knows how to give back and empower others in return.Where do you see inspiring change for women taking shape today? (a particular company/industry/country etc) There has been great positive changes, especially for women, in the past decades in South Korea. I feel like women are less willing to sacrifice their professional careers just for the sake of their families, children or due to the social pressure.Such change represents an important progress, especially in a globalized world emphasizing on women’s rights and gender equality.Mindsets are likewise changing as more young women join the workforce, more working mothers engage in various professional fields and career women continue to reach higher ranks in leadership positions. Changes are slow but they are taking place! Who would you say is the woman who inspires you the most right now? Definitely my mother! My mother has been a working mom all her life. By doing so, she has set an example for me in that I learned unconsciously that women had to be financially independent. Financial independence has the great power of bringing confidence in women by allowing us to pursue greater goals and dreams.Without this teaching, I perhaps wouldn’t be taking as many challenges as I am now. What is one piece of advice to share with a young girl today about making her way in the world?Be yourself, love yourself and learn from others. Cherish life and experience it to the fullest!