Women of inspiration celebrated on International Women’s Day

Louise Wallace.

A public health leader has paid tribute to the women in our everyday society who are often our biggest inspirations without us even knowing it.

Today marks International Women’s Day (IWD), and North Yorkshire Council’s director of public health, Louise Wallace, has spoken of the women who have inspired her personally. Celebrated for more than a century all over the world, IWD brings people together to recognise women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, reflect on progress made and take action to drive gender parity.

This year’s theme, inspiring inclusion, builds on the belief that when we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world for everyone.

To mark the day, Ms Wallace paid a heartfelt tribute to the “remarkable everyday women” who inspired her throughout her life and the resilience, dedication and professionalism of those who are paving the way and pushing boundaries in public health.

She said: “It isn’t the women on the front page of a magazine; a social media influencer; a celebrity or movie star – it is the women living everyday lives.

“When I was in my teens, it was the 90-year-old women who told me her life story whilst I worked in a care home during my university holidays. I heard about the highs, lows, joys and sorrow. I could see it all in her eyes.

“When I was in my 20s, it was the women who were the generation above me at work who had walked the path I was about to walk in terms of my career and work. I remember the mentorship, reassurance, wisdom and care they gave me.

“When I was in my 30s, it was the women who were the midwives, who helped me to bring my babies into the world and the women who have helped me to have the confidence to be a mother.

“When I was in my 40s it was the woman who was my mother, as she faced her own mortality and I lost her. I realised despite my grief, I could never lose her as she had taught me so much and her love still sustains me today.

“Now I am almost 50, I keep being inspired to raise my two teenage daughters by the peer support, laughter and camaraderie I get from women in a similar position to me – you know who you are.”

She added: “I am also inspired by the young women in the early years of their careers who I see so much of myself in. Working with them brings me energy and joy, as I see their ambition for public health and to building a fairer and more just society.

“On International Women’s Day I would like to pay tribute to all the amazing women I work alongside, our leaders and influencers, to those who are pushing the boundaries of the possible. At the same time, I hope I can inspire other young women to pursue a career in public health and be the next generation of public service leaders.”