Founder's Message: International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 - #BreakTheBias

Founder's Message: International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 - #BreakTheBias

I took the leap from being an employee to a founder with the determination to succeed. Throughout this journey, I have been inspired and empowered by trail-blazing women in various fields.  I am continually impressed by the resourcefulness and grit displayed by these women.

It has been very fulfilling to bring KAMBIIO skincare to you and I’m fully committed to realizing our vision and mission. I hope that I continue to earn your support.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked globally on the 8th of March to raise awareness and promote women’s rights and celebrate women’s achievements. It is also a special day for me to reflect on my own ideas, my journey as a woman, a mother, and now as an entrepreneur.

The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias; calling out gender bias that oppresses women in our communities, families, workplaces, schools, and organizations. Sometimes, gender bias may become so invisible because we have been living it for such a long time. A day like this reminds us to continue to advocate on employment discrimination, access to education, unequal pay, legal injustice, sexual and reproductive rights, gender-based violence, and gender stereotypes. Bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. It also prevents socio-economic growth and sustainable development.

In honor of IWD 2022, I wish to highlight and celebrate both past and present women who have shown resilience and triumph in their various fields.

 

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE:

 

“One person can make the difference” – Wangari Maathai (1940 - 2011)

Born in Kenya, Wangari Maathai is recognized for her contributions and the persistent struggle for environmental conservation via her Green Belt Movement which is focused on planting trees for sustainable development.  She made significant contributions advocating for women's rights, breaking the bias against gender roles even when her activities were regarded as subversive. She was actively involved in village affairs, creating jobs for local women around Kenya and promoting a healthy environment, democracy and peace. She was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Admirable trait: Outspokenness

 

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood”- Marie Curie (1867 - 1934)

Polish-born French physicist; Marie Curie is one of the remarkable women in science that you get to read about and remember her name in any exams at elementary school. She overcame adversity in her home country before heading to France to study. She is recognized for her groundbreaking work on radioactivity and the identification of two radioactive elements, radium, and polonium.  Her work paved the way for the use of radiation in medicine. Unfortunately, she suffered from “radiation” sickness as a result of exposure to radioactive elements. Literature research indicates that regardless of gender-based bias and discrimination (being a woman in a male-dominated career, an immigrant, or campaigning funds for her research) she remained fully committed to her passion. She was the first person to win the Nobel Prize twice in Physics and Chemistry respectively. Her achievements shatter gender-based stereotypes and promote gender equality in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related fields.

Admirable trait: Brave

 

“Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977- present)

Chimamanda Adichie is a renowned Nigerian author of award-winning and best-selling novels including ‘’Purple Hibiscus’’ and ‘’Half of a Yellow Sun’’. Feminism is one of the areas that Chimamanda Adichie feels strongly about.  She believes women should not “shrink” themselves because they are women and should be allowed to be many things!  “We should all be Feminists” and “Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminists Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions”, her non-fiction books delve into gender inequality, gender-based discrimination, gender stereotypes, and different perspective on gender roles in the twenty-first century. She is a driving force and inimitable inspiration for women to become feminists.  In her words, a feminist is a person who believes in the social-political and economic equality of the sexes. A man or woman who says ‘Yes there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it. We must do better.” She is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

Admirable trait:  Bold

 

‘’We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced’’- Malala Yousafzai (1997- present)

Pakistani activist for female education, Malala Yousafzai was the young girl in 2012 who the Taliban attempted to assassinate on her way back from school following an order in Mingora that no girl was allowed to go to school when the Taliban took control of her hometown. Malala defies traditions that suppress women and spoke out publicly about education rights for girls. She established the Malala Fund, a charity to help economically disadvantaged girls to receive a quality education. She continues to speak on women's rights such as gender discrimination and child marriage. She is the youngest Nobel laureate ever, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17. Malala is the shero for the right of all children to education.

Admirable Trait: Self-Confidence

 

“If nothing else, I want women to understand that they are powerful” - Liya Kebede (1978 - present)

Liya Kebede, is an Ethiopian-born model, businesswoman, actress, and maternal health advocate. From humble beginnings, she faced discrimination earlier on in her career, due to the color of her skin but she persevered. She has modeled for notable fashion brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and covered various magazines such as Paris Vogue, Vogue Italia, and Harper’s Bazaar US. However, Liya is just not a pretty face. She founded a sustainable fashion brand, LemLem alongside LemLem Foundation which funds women artisans' design and production training for job opportunities in Africa. As a goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organization on maternal, newborn, and child health, Liya devotes her time to campaigning for women's issues in developing countries, ensuring that women and children’s deaths no longer go “unnoticed and unchallenged”. She also founded the Liya Kedebe Foundation, a charity on a mission to reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality in Ethiopia and around the world. She is the first woman of color to represent the Estee Lauder brand.

Admirable trait: Perseverance

 

“The most alluring thing a woman can have is confidence”- Beyonce Knowles-Carter(1981- present)

“Modern-day feminist”, Beyonce, also known as Queen Bey is a Grammy award-winning singer and businesswoman with record-breaking success. She is one of the most influential pop-artist with chart-popping albums. She uses her music and platform to promote and empower women. This can be clearly seen in her music video “Lemonade” “Freedom” and “Flawless”. She is a strong advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. Via her BeyGood foundation, she supports the Black Lives Matter movement and black-owned small businesses. She is a role model for women to be fierce and run their world.

Admirable trait: Unapologetic

 

“I’m not here to sell. I also want to teach” - Oyeta Kokoroko (1990 - present)

Oyeta Kokoroko is a cosmetic formulator, businesswoman, and the founder and CEO of Okoko Cosmetiques, an award-winning, luxury and high-performance natural skincare brand in Canada. Born in Togo and moved to Canada at the age of five, Oyeta has carved a niche for herself in the green/clean beauty industry.  With sheer determination and resilience, has created a successful business with Okoko. Following the continuous success of Okoko Cosmetiques, she launched the Okoko House of Brands as an avenue to mentor and coach aspiring indie founders. Oyeta is a prime example of a woman who supports other women by using her knowledge to help others. She promotes diversity and invests in women for her business. She is an absolute inspiration for young, hard-working entrepreneurs.

Admirable trait: Tenacious

 

“I think that we will come out on top as women, as people of color, as Muslims, as transgender people, as people who are part of the disabled community - I think that we’ll come out on top” - Ibtihaj Muhammad (1985 -present)

Ibtihaj Muhammad is an American sabre fencer, 2016 Olympic medalist, and trailblazer for Muslim women in sports. She became the first US athlete to wear a hijab while competing at the Olympic games. It wasn’t always rosy for Muhammad, as she faced several challenges including racism as a black and Muslim woman in the sport. She defies the odds, breaking barriers and stereotypes to excel in her field. Asides from fencing, she owns a modest clothing line, Louella. She also had a barbie-doll modeled in her likeness by a leading global toy company, Mattel. An activist, author, and entrepreneur, Muhammad is an ambassador with the U.S Department of State on empowering women and girls through sports initiatives as well as promoting diversity, equality that inspires a positive change on social causes.

Admirable trait: Unswerving

 

Simple ways to join the IWD movement

  1. Fundraise/ donate to a female-focused charity organization
  2. Elevate visibility for female-led businesses. For example; shine a spotlight on your social media channels
  3. Partner and collaborate with women-owned businesses that align with you or your business
  4. Host/Coordinate events and activities that highlight women's issues
  5. Spread the achievement/s of any female you know
  6. Launch an initiative or passion project that empowers women
  7. Buy from a female-led business
  8. Champion women in STEM and innovation
  9. Now and beyond, allow inclusive work cultures that ensure women thrive
  10. Support SHEROS who remain unsilenced, forging positive changes for women's rights and women's health
  11. Talk to a child about inclusion, diversity, and gender equality
  12. Join the movement, by sharing the IWD 2022 campaign theme #BreakTheBias

 

Happy International Women’s Day!

Maryann Okoro

Founder, KAMBIIO

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