Seven amazing role models to celebrate International Women's Day

Kinderling News & Features

It's International Women's Day today and we're celebrating strong, inspiring women all over the world. To get us in the swing, Kinderling Conversation spoke to author, social researcher and mum Rebecca Huntley about female role models we can all be proud to look up to. From athletes to actresses to aviators, here's a great list to share with the kids:

Cate Blanchett, actress

“I’ve shown my daughter lots of clips on YouTube when Cate Blanchett’s won an Academy Award. What we like about her is that she’s this gorgeous blonde conventionally beautiful woman but she’s also really interested in Australia and giving back. She’s interested in conservation issues and the arts. My daughter’s been to a couple of plays at the Sydney Theatre Company and we talk about trying to connect those big Oscar moments, those Hollywood moments with her life.”

Listen to the full Kinderling Conversation interview below:

Cathy Freeman, athlete

“One of the things I like to do is show my daughter when Cathy Freeman won her Olympic gold medal. I show it to her and tell her how everybody was so excited and I love that moment for two reasons. First of all, we see somebody in a short moment do an extraordinary thing, but I also like to talk to my daughter about all the time and effort it took to get to that moment.

The other thing I love is that when she won she carried both the Australian flag and the indigenous flag. I like to talk to my daughter about identity and we talk about how you can be proud to be Australian and proud to be something else. So Cathy had those two flags and she didn’t see carrying the two flags as cancelling each other out. She was proud to be an Australian – and she ran for everyone in this country – but she was also proud of her heritage.”

Emma Watson, actress

“I’m currently reading the Harry Potter books out loud to my daughter and she’s seen the movies and of course she loves Hermione. She says things like if she was at Hogwarts she’d like Hermione to be her best friend. And then my daughter started to connect Hermione with the actual person of Emma Watson. We listened to the speech she gave at the UN and she recognised her. So my daughter admires both Hermione Granger and Emma Watson for different reasons.”   

Nancy Bird Walton, aviator

“I think a lot of Australians don’t know who she is and I’ve had to actively introduce her as a historical figure to my daughter. A year and a half ago, we were on a plane and for the first time in her travelling life, there was a woman pilot introducing herself on the plane and my daughter looked at me and said ‘Oh Mum! Can girls fly planes?’ and I said ‘Of course they can!’

Nancy was a pioneer in Australian aviation, the founder and patron of the Australian Women’s Pilot Association. In the 1930s she became a fully qualified pilot at the age of 19 and the youngest Australian woman to gain a pilot’s license. She was one of those unsung heroes. We talk about her as a way for her to recognise that the things she sees now that women are doing that she thinks might be exceptional or worth comment women have been doing for some time we just don’t celebrate it.”

Ella Fitzgerald, jazz singer

“Ella Fitzgerald was born just at the end of the First World War and lived at a time of extraordinary racism. There were times when she was homeless but she became one of the most famous jazz singers. Her story is one of those lessons about perseverance, success and excellence over all the worst kinds of odds. We’re reading about Ella at the moment and my daughter is finding it very interesting. And it’s good for her to know that there were times when it was really, really difficult to be a young woman.”

Bindi Irwin,  conservationalist / TV star

 “More for her role caring about Australian native wildlife and conservation (than ‘Dancing With the Stars’). Girls at this age consume a lot of television featuring young American girls and it’s great for her to see an articulate young woman with an Australian accent talking about something that’s important to her and that’s the environment. One of the great things about Bindi is as she’s got older, she’s continued to make that a big part of what she does and a big part of her celebrity.”

Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter

“Frida Kahlo was completely unique. She didn’t copy anybody else. She lived at a time when it wasn’t very easy for a young woman to be involved in the art world, certainly at her level. She was sick as a young child and then involved in an accident as a young woman. She lived in pain for most of her life and she lived in isolation, too, but she made art despite that. Frida’s story is a different lesson in perseverance. It’s basically about continuing to do what you love, despite hardship. She painted so many self-portraits - and she’s not sitting there pouting in her paintings or trying to make herself look better than she is. It’s like the anti-selfie!”