To cap off International Women’s Month, here are five women who are breaking biases, smashing the glass ceiling, and paving the way for future generations.
- Jessica Jung
Korean-American singer, songwriter, actress, novelist, and businesswoman
“I actually learned that you should never give up, and if you love something, take courage and absolutely go after it.” — Jessica Jung
Jessica rose to fame in 2007 as one of nine members of the K-pop girl group Girls’ Generation. The group was dubbed by TIME Magazine as one of the most influential K-pop acts that helped introduce Korean music to the world, and in 2013 even became the first K-pop group to reach 100 million views on YouTube.
In 2014, Jessica launched her luxury brand business Blanc & Eclare. She was subsequently dismissed from Girls’ Generation due to conflicts between the group’s schedule and her work with Blanc & Eclare. Even though fans questioned her decision, Jessica continued to follow her own path, releasing new music as a solo artist and becoming an actress. Blanc & Declare’s products are now being sold in around sixty stores in locations such as Seoul, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Taiwan, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Vancouver. In 2020, she published Shine, a young adult romance novel about a Korean-American K-pop trainee whose experience closely mirrors Jessica’s. A sequel, Bright, is currently in the works.
2. Kathrin Jansen, Kizzmekia Corbett, Elena Smolyarchuk, Nita Patel, Hanneke Schuitemaker, Sarah Gilbert, et al.
The women who gave us the COVID-19 vaccine
“Women often don’t recognize, you have incredible strength inside you. It just needs the right moment to come out. I think in science, you can do this.” – Nita Patel
Throughout the pandemic, women scientists, researchers, and medical professionals have been at the forefront of the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccines.
- Kathrin Jansen led the effort at Pfizer that produced the first vaccine approved for emergency use.
- Kizzmekia Corbett is an immunologist in the U.S. National Institutes of Health who helped design the Moderna vaccine.
- Elena Smolyarchuk is the chief researcher of the first completed clinical trials for the vaccine Sputnik V.
- Nita Patel – and her all-women team of scientists in Maryland – led development of the vaccine for Novavax.
- Hanneke Schuitemaker is the global head of viral vaccine discovery for Janssen Pharmaceuticals (owned by Johnson & Johnson).
- Sarah GIlbert is the architect of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
This good news comes at a time when many working women are feeling the double burden of managing full-time work and household responsibilities due to pandemic-related school closures and work-from-home orders. According to Nita, the COVID-19 crisis is negatively affecting women’s “productivity, boundary setting … and mental well-being.” But she also hopes there is a silver lining to the pandemic: A new generation inspired to get into science.
3. Angelina Mead King
Restaurateur, hotelier, race car enthusiast, sustainability advocate
“The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that life is very short to do things you don’t want to do, so make sure you spend your waking moments doing the things you love doing…”
After Angie King came out as a transgender woman in 2016, she experienced many instances of discrimination, from being questioned by an immigration officer at the Changi Airport in Singapore to being asked to leave women’s bathrooms in public establishments. But with the support of her wife – international host and model Joey Mead King – the two are now one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ couples in the Philippines.
“I think a lot of shock value [comes from questions like], ‘How can a real woman still have a relationship with a transwoman?’ It’s so categorised,” Joey said in a 2021 interview. “[People think] if you’re a transwoman then you must automatically favour a male. Our relationship broadens people’s perspective on the possibilities of love. It’s not just A, B, or C.”
4. Monique Ong
Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor, MindNation co-founder and Chairman
“If I just believed the doctor telling me that [I was] below average and cannot go back to work, then I would never get better.”
Mon sustained a devastating traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2017 that left her with aphasia, a disorder that causes the patient to have trouble speaking, reading, writing, and understanding language. She was told that with therapy, her brain capacity could improve up to 80% — at the most. But she refused to let doctors determine her fate; in her quest to return to her normal life, she challenged herself and those tasked to treat her. When she was tested by her neurologist six months after her accident, her brain was operating at 95%.
In 2019, she co-founded MindNation, an innovative mental health and well-being company that has grown globally as a trusted partner for organizations and communities alike.
5. Hidilyn Diaz
Weightlifter, the first Filipino to ever win an Olympic gold medal for the Philippines
“Don’t ever give up. Even if some are saying that you are not capable or limiting you… we are born to break barriers. You can do it.”
For the longest time, there are clear categories in sports based on which gender is most represented. For example, football, basketball, boxing, boxing, and weightlifting are examples of male-dominated sports because they are thought of as being more “masculine.” On the other hand, gymnastics and figure skating are thought to be female-dominated sports because they are more “feminine.” Hidilyn changed all that by not only getting the gold for weightlifting in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but also setting a new Olympic record for her efforts.
Hidilyn’s success has attracted many young Filipinas to start taking up weightlifting themselves, bringing new meaning to the phrase “lift like a girl.”
Talk to a MindNation WellBeing Coach so you can reach your full potential and become the best version of yourself. Book a session now through bit.ly/mn-chat or email [email protected].