Hanna Miraftab on inspirational women

Hanna at work

Hanna at work - Credit: Archant

This month sees International Women’s Day on 8 March, which has made me think about what it means to be a woman or, even better, to be an inspirational woman, in 2019.

Emmeline Pankhurst, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Sheryl Sandberg…just a very few of the most inspiring women of the last 100 years. To become an inspirational woman is no mean feat and I’m sure the ladies above discovered that the working environment can be, unfortunately, a man’s world - but still they fought, and they succeeded, lighting the way for every woman who comes after them.

I am often told how lucky I am to be in my position. This frustrates me a little, because it wasn’t luck but hard work that got me where I am today. I’m particularly proud to have conquered many obstacles during my education and career to achieve my greatest goal – to own my own private dental practice.

No woman should be afraid to chase her ambitions, no matter what they are. Women are now finding their way into employment that was long considered a ‘male only’ preserve. I am a proud feminist, which means I believe in equality between the sexes – not special treatment for women, just because we’re women. Feminism for me means that women should have the same choices as men do and be treated in the same way men are – we should expect the same opportunities and expect to prove our worth as equals. How do we achieve this? We work, we prove ourselves and we don’t take no for an answer when we really believe we can do it.

Hard work pays off, it really does. The education system in this country works for those who are prepared to work themselves. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t ‘academic’; deciding what kind of job you want and setting goals for each step of how you are going to get there is possible for everybody and it is your attitude that will drive your success far more than your IQ will. I know, because I certainly wasn’t a genius on my dentistry course, but I worked hard and passed all the same exams as the ones who were!

For me, one of today’s most inspiring women is J.K. Rowling. As an unemployed single mother, she struggled with depression and a huge sense of failure, but having dreamed up the concept of a story about a boy who went to wizarding school, set about writing her first Harry Potter novel while her baby slept. Her first draft was rejected by 12 publishers - who are no doubt kicking themselves now! However, she continued to strive for success because she believed in what she had done. Since those early days she has earned in excess of $20billion through book and film sales (most of which she has donated to charity) proving that if you have a dream, you should not let initial rejection or failure stop you. Don’t give up, or you’ll never know what might have been.

I am an independent woman and have earned my own lifestyle thanks to knuckling down to years of hard work. I’m now in a position where I can enjoy the benefits of this and I hope that my story, which while not as dramatic as JK Rowling’s, might inspire any teenage girl (or her mother!) reading this.

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The fight for equality isn’t over, but every woman who achieves her dream and does it with pride and dignity takes us all one step closer to achieving the goal. Keep shining those lights, ladies!