Here at the ACN, we are committed to championing for women’s equality, celebrate women’s achievements and challenge stereotypes and bias – goals that all align with this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme of #PressforProgress.
More locally, the staff at ACN was asked the question ‘Which woman is your inspiration and why?”
Below are some of the ladies our members nominated – some famous and some ordinary women on the surface, but each one extraordinary:
Nina Simone – American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and activist
Out of hundreds of inspiring women, I chose Nina Simone, the American singer/songwriter and civil rights activist. She fought racism with her voice and her lyrics, not rhetoric.
- Fran Stoddart, Nurse Educator
Dame Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, AD, CVO – Former Governor-General of Australia
In an extraordinarily diverse career she has often been a trailblazer for the rights of women, children and the welfare of the family. Some of the key roles that she has held, among very many, have been:
- Convenor of the National Women’s Advisory Council;
- Inaugural Director of the Queensland Women’s Information Service in the Office of the Status of Women; Director, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission for Queensland;
- Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission;
- Founding Chair and CEO of the National Childcare Accreditation Council;
- Principal and CEO of The Women’s College, The University of Sydney;
- Governor of Queensland for five years;
- National President of the Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital; and
- Chair of the National Breast Cancer Centre Advisory Network
Quentin Bryce’s contribution to advancing human rights and equality, the rights of women and children, and the welfare of the family was recognised in her appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2003. Also in 2003, she was invested as a Dame of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.
Her career has been characterised by courage and leadership, a willingness to raise and debate issues that need to be addressed, and to press for reform. She is universally respected for her lifelong commitment to improving the status of women in Australia and has been a generous mentor, friend and admired role model to those many women who have followed in her footsteps.
The culmination of her distinguished career came in September 2008 when she became Australia’s 25th and first, female Governor General.
- Carolyn Stapleton, Manager Policy and Advocacy
Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, AC, GM – New Zealand political figure
I could fill a book on this subject but if I were to choose a famous inspirational woman I’d go with Nancy Wake, WWII Special Operations Executive (SOE) and leading figure in the French Resistance. Nancy was both in Wellington, New Zealand and moved to Sydney as a child.
At the age of 16 she ran away from home to become a nurse then later moved to London to become a journalist. She later moved to Marseille, France with her French husband and was trapped when France was invaded by the Germans in WWII. She became involved with the French Resistance.
She was so elusive that the Gestapo referred to her as ‘The White Mouse’. She managed to travel to the UK where she joined the SOE and trained other operatives. Her story is too large to tell here but suffice it to say that she faced death and danger at every turn. After the war, Nancy left the UK and returned to Australia and spent many years moving between the two countries before returning to the UK in 2001. She died in 2011 aged 98. Not bad for a girl from Wellington!
- Sharon Smyth-Demmon, Nurse Educator
Naoko Tkagi – Japanese illustrator
She is an author of a series of comics & graphic novels. She was born in Mie Japan and moved to Tokyo for her dream of becoming an illustrator. I find her works about her experience as a 150cm tall person and a single lady living away from her family inspiring.
- Louise Wong, Clinical Placements Officer
Jude Holden – nurse
My chosen inspirational woman is one of my contemporaries, Jude Holden. Jude is a Scottish nurse and midwife. I trained with her, travelled with her and worked with her in the Kimberley. She is one of my best friends. She has been involved internationally with fistula care in The Gambia, Sierra Leone (Aberdeen Woman’s Centre), Malawi and is now in Tanzania setting up a woman’s hospital.
- Liz Moran, Nurse Educator
Oprah Winfrey, American media proprietor
My female role model is Oprah Winfrey. Oprah is a woman who has faced adversity, broken through barriers, had personal struggles, yet has always been able to graciously and generously support others. She has not taken a victim role, she has turned challenge to strength and has broken down paternalistic barriers to unite the world. I also see Princess Diana in the same way. Someone who had the ability to rise above traditions and barriers to heal and unite the world, despite her own human struggles. These women have a way of connecting with us like they know us and are our friend. They are remarkable in their ability to positively influence and lead by staying true to themselves and their own style.
- Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, CEO
Michelle Yvonne Simmons, Professor
My inspirational woman is the 2018 Australian of the year – Professor Michelle Simmons.
Michelle is a world leading scientist, who aims to build a quantum computer with the potential to impact on many aspects of modern life, including weather forecasting and drug design.
Michelle advocates for scientific research and acts as a role model for young scientists. I feel her achievements are ground breaking and truly impressive.
- Trish Lowe, Nurse Educator
Catherine Hamlin, Australian obstetrician and gynaecologist
My inspirational woman is Catherine Hamlin, an Australian obstetrician. Dr Hamlin has devoted 60 years of her life to the women of Ethiopia with obstetric fistula. Along with her husband and fellow obstetrician, Reg, Catherine Hamlin has transformed maternal healthcare in Ethiopia. They were surgical pioneers who altered the lives of ostracised women whom had become incontinent following obstructed childbirth.
Catherine Hamlin has devoted her lifetime to saving the weak and discarded of a foreign land, such unadulterated giving is awe inspiring.
- Julie Lee Yuen, Library Technician
Rosemary Anne “Rosie” Batty, Australian domestic violence campaigner and 2015 Australian of the Year
Rosie Batty has received a lot recognition, but very deservedly, for her advocacy against domestic violence to women and children. After her son was brutally murdered by his own father in February 2014, Rosie went on found the Luke Batty Foundation raising funds and awareness and putting domestic violence on the national agenda. I admire her determination to stand for this cause in such a public way when it would be such a tough, painful and personal topic to talk about. Rosie is a strong woman, who is making the world a better place for those who come after her.
- Olivia Congdon, Publications Officer
Mother Teresa, Saint
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
The quote that inspired me was the one from Mother Teresa – this quote resonated with my heart. My husband’s nickname for me is “Mother Teresa” and I am proud to say that as a Christian I look up to Mother Teresa and I hope to make a difference in the world like her.
- Helen Stamatiou, Affiliates Specialist
I admire my mum. She was raised in the city, met a farm boy (who was going blind) and married him and moved to the country. No one expected the marriage to last.
She loves music and has played the piano all her life. Her parents wouldn’t move her piano to the country when she got married – because they didn’t expect the marriage to last.
Her parents-in-law had a plan that they would help her set up a dress shop in town (so she couldn’t make a claim on the farm in the divorce) – because they didn’t expect the marriage to last.
She gave up a life of concerts and travel, and took on dusty farm work: chasing sheep and cattle, killing chickens, hoeing weeds, raising two kids miles from the nearest neighbours (and bought her own damn piano).
Her husband went blind and she cared for him and ensured he could be as independent as possible.
After 40 years of marriage – and husband’s failing health – they retired to town and people were thinking they might make a go of this marriage.
After 45 years of marriage to a blind farm boy – who now had dementia – she was forced to admit him to a nursing home; and people were thinking this marriage was looking like it would last.
After 48 years of marriage, her husband passed away – and people said she was a good wife.
10 years later – she is living a life she loves: full of music, friends (one of her good friends did own the local dress shop and we laugh that mum could have been her competition), travel, volunteering, and has a far busier social life than I have.
She has made the most of every situation and didn’t listen to the nay-sayers.
- Robyn Delve, ESP Contracts
The woman who inspired me the most was my husband’s nan Barbara Groom.
She inspired me with the way that she embraced life and hard but always loved and accepted her children and grandchildren, warts and all. She stood by her 16 year old daughter when she got pregnant in a time when this sort of thing was hidden and not spoken about, living with 7 children in a 3 bedroom house and keeping them all fed and clothed.
She was an amazing mother and a much-loved grandmother and taught me how to be a Mum when I didn’t have my own.
- Emma Woodhouse, Manager – Higher Education
The woman who inspires me is (surprise, surprise): my mum.
Elaine married at 16 ½ to the love of her life David, and raised four children, with me being the eldest. She worked very hard – we had a banana farm in the beginning and it was back-breaking work with long hours, uncertainty of the market and fear of what Mother Nature could throw at us.
Mum cooked, sewed, ran a tight financial ship, mothered us, disciplined us, educated us and generally kept us on the straight and narrow. She refused to let anything best her she nearly chopped her toe off working in the garden once, so she put a bandage on it, hopped in the car and drove herself to the doctor’s surgery.
She put up with the obligatory cricket or hockey ball going through the bedroom window (Dad was just as guilty as the kids). No airs and graces – she got down and dirty with the rest of us – but she was still a lady and tried to instill some of those lady-like qualities in me (not sure if she succeeded completely).
She was a dab hand at preparing the house/yard/animals for the floods we had at least once a year – cleaning up after the floods, watching the river rise and fall, watching and waiting for dad to come home in flood or fire season. She cheered our achievements, cried when we left home and then cried again when we all got married and had our families. Dad used to call her the Minister of Finance – we affectionately call her the Matriarch.
When Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease she became his primary carer. She went through so many hard and trying days but she never gave up and never stopped loving and inspiring us.
She’s maddeningly adventurous and fearless, like jumping out of a perfectly good plane because she could, walking on a glacier and with lions, jet-boating, hiking through our great land, jumping on the back of our Harley to go for a run with her favourite son-in-law (he’s the only one) – and she still wants to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge! It isn’t any wonder she inspires me – she managed to keep all of us going, even through the really tough times, and she isn’t planning on stopping any time soon.
She’s strong, fearless, adventurous, loyal, a financial whiz, passionate, compassionate, caring and loving. She’s my mum, she’s a lady and I know that I’m blessed to have her, I am inspired to be like her and yes (gulp) – I’m going to climb that bridge with her.
Karen Dansey, Manager – Corporate Support
I couldn’t limit myself to just one inspiring woman!
My second, and most important choice, is my maternal grandmother, Kit.
A formidable woman, she told us off when we needed it, enforced bedtimes and teeth brushing but was also, kind, loving and supportive. Along with my grandfather Tom, she encouraged me when I started my nurse training, helping out along the way with the odd food parcel and money when she could spare it. When I received my final nursing exam results I went straight to her home with the good news because I wanted her to be the first to know.
She faced each of life’s challenges head on and whilst there were difficult times she weathered them all with dignity. She worked hard all of her life and had rough hands, but her cheeks were soft and her eyes twinkled. She taught me to be resilient. She taught me to see through people who were not genuine and take their opinions with a pinch of salt. She showed me the value of kindness. I love her dearly and I am a better person for having her in my life.
- Sharron Smyth-Demmon, Nurse Educator
Please feel free to share your own stories with the women who inspire you today and everyday.