Inspirational Women for International Women’s Day 2021

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Africa, Americas, Asia, Culture & History, Europe, Travel Destinations

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021 (8 March), the incredible work shaped by women from across the globe deserves to be recognised.

From the first African American female Mayor of San Francisco, to Vienna’s female director spearheading the Sigmund Freud Museum, and an award-winning, critically-acclaimed Colombian chef – here are 10 women worth celebrating on International Women’s Day 2021.

Monika Pessler – the director spearheading the successful Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, Austria

Monika Pessler, c Wien Tourismus, Rainer Fehringer
Monika Pessler, c Wien Tourismus, Rainer Fehringer

Vienna is not only one of Europe’s most beautiful cities but is also an enlightening cultural hub, home to over 100 museums, including the Sigmund Freud Museum, led by director, Monika Pessler.

Pessler has worked her way up as an art historian, curator and director at various Austrian institutions, contributing to and shaping the modern day landscape of Vienna’s vibrant cultural scene. Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, is a Viennese icon whose legacy has not only been preserved, but explored further and championed by Pessler’s leadership.

Under Pessler’s direction since 2014, the museum most recently celebrated the 120th anniversary of Sigmund Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ in 2020 and underwent an extensive 14-month expansion and renovation project seeing it reopen in August 2020. The museum takes guests on an immersive experience which, for the first time ever, provides access to all of the Freud family’s private rooms.

Dr. Margit Gabriele Muller – leading the world’s largest Falcon Hospital in Abu Dhabi

Dr. Margit Gabriele Muller, executivedirector of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Dr. Margit Gabriele Muller, executivedirector of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

Away from the white sand beaches, theme parks and museums, visitors to Abu Dhabi can find an unusual attraction in the form of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.

Led by Dr. Margit Gabriele Muller, this world-renowned falcon facility – the largest in the world with 130 employees from 16 countries – offers medical care to falcons and other animals, with daily tours taking visitors behind the scenes to see these beautiful birds up close. As a passionate animal lover, Dr. Muller has a wealth of experience and has worked with falcons and raptors for over 20 years. She has written books about birds of prey and is highly regarded within her field, having made a name for herself in a male-dominated and culturally different world.

Perseverance and strength has enabled her to develop the hospital from its humble beginnings to its current position, where the team has been awarded more than 50 international awards, including the prestigious ‘World Responsible Tourism Award’ in 2016 and 2017.

Ariel Tweto – connecting local communities and advocating for youth to explore nature across the USA
Ariel Tweto - Image rights_ Brand USA _ MacGillivray Freeman Films
Ariel Tweto – Image rights, Brand USA, MacGillivray Freeman Films

Full of energy and verve, trailblazer Ariel Tweto is a triple act: from becoming a private pilot in 2012; to founding the non-profit organisation, Popping Bubbles; and starring in hit series like Discovery Channel’s ‘Flying Wild Alaska’ and GoUSATV’s ‘Trails & Trailblazers’.

She has explored America’s hidden trails and ‘Trails & Trailblazers’ follows her adventures meeting pioneers in science, history, and exploration along the way. Tweto has explored the unchartered territories of Alaska’s landscapes, enjoyed kitesurfing along Oregon’s scenic Columbia River Gorge and even witnessed what it is like to ride the bison on Antelope Island in Utah. Inspired by her travels, Tweto’s mission is to encourage local communities to embrace the positive mental benefits of the outside world, from kayaking mountain rivers to park strolls.

She believes everyone houses an inner trailblazer, stating: “to be a trailblazer is to find a new path, it’s about opening your eyes to the world around you, becoming inspired, starting a new journey.” Her priority has been ensuring the Alaskan communities in her hometown, many of which are physically isolated, remain connected.

From transporting goods to rural Alaskan communities in Flying Wild Alaska, to founding her charity organisation, which is dedicated to supporting communities from within, by creating bespoke programmes and networks that foster the different needs of each individual. The charity’s ultimate mission is to pop the social and physical barriers that prevent people from living happy and successful lives.

Grace Uwingeneye – guest experience guide at One&Only Nyungwe House, Rwanda

Rwanda One Only Nyungwe House
Rwanda One Only Nyungwe House

Grace Uwingeneye has been championing the stories of Rwanda her whole life. She began her career working as a primate research assistant at Nyungwe National Park, one of the last mountain rainforest habitats on the planet. Now, she curates incredible nature-based experiences for guests at One&Only Nyungwe House, connecting them with the local environment and offering an exclusive view of Rwanda’s impressive wildlife.

Uwingeneye inspires guests to become immersed in conservation, encouraging them to develop personal relationships with the Rwandan locals through experiences such as tea harvesting sessions in the rich tea plantations of Gisakura and inviting guests to participate in Umuganda – a nationwide initiative where locals spend the last Saturday of every month giving back to their community.

In her role at One&Only Nyungwe House, Uwingeneye’s passion has fuelled change in the surrounding communities as she supports local groups in a myriad of ways: from securing grants for further sustainability programmes; educating former poachers on the environment; to mentoring younger generations and village communities on how to grow edible mushrooms as an alternative to hunting bushmeat.

Mayor London Breed – the first African American female Mayor in San Francisco, USA

Former San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has paved the way for ground-breaking females being the first Black, first South Asian American and first female Vice President of the United States. Another Bay Area figurehead changing history is Mayor London Breed – the 45th Mayor of San Francisco, the first African American female Mayor in the city’s history and the second female Mayor.

Mayor Breed is a native San Franciscan, raised by her grandmother in Plaza East Public Housing in the Western Addition neighbourhood. She led San Francisco’s emergency response to COVID-19 and is currently guiding the City’s phased reopening and economic recovery.

Since becoming Mayor, she has focused on helping the City’s homeless population into care and shelter; adding more housing for residents of all income levels; helping those suffering from mental health and substance use disorder on San Francisco’s streets; changing the nature of policing in San Francisco and issuing a set of policies to address structural inequities; ensuring that all San Franciscans have access to a thriving economy; making San Francisco a cleaner and safer city; and furthering San Francisco’s leadership in combating climate change.

Lydia Tomek – head winemaker at Ravine Vineyard, Ontario, Canada
Lydia Tomek, Ravine Vineyards, Ontario International Women’s Day 2021
Lydia Tomek, Ravine Vineyards, Ontario

The neat lines of lush green vines around Niagara-on-the-Lake make for a beautiful office backdrop, peppered with small wineries just a short drive away from Niagara Falls. This landscape is home to Lydia Tomek, head winemaker at Ravine Vineyard, a fifth generation-run family farm that is home to an organic vineyard, restaurant and kitchen garden.

Tomek’s career in winemaking began when she was 23, establishing her as one of the youngest winemakers in Canada at the time. Now, she is an award-winning winemaker who leads the way in a male dominated industry. Over the past two decades, Tomek has carved a name for herself within Ontario’s wine industry whilst balancing family life and being a mother; aside from working at the vineyard, she serves on community organisation boards, works with Multiple Sclerosis Canada and has created the LocaLove Garden Project for kids.

When travel is possible, visitors to Ravine Vineyard can indulge in farm to table dining overlooking the 34-acre organic winery, or sample the famous icewine which put Canadian winemaking on the map.

Libby Callaway – fashion forward founder of The Callaway, Nashville, USA

Libby Callaway, photo by Emily Dorio International Women’s Day 2021
Libby Callaway, photo by Emily Dorio

Nashville’s historic music culture was the seed that grew into the wider creative culture that’s rooted in the city now, with fashion being another one of the main draws. Libby Callaway, founder of Nashville-based communications company, The Callaway, has paved the way in Nashville’s fashion industry, shifting how the city is perceived by the fashion-world.

Responsible for bringing luxury brand experiences from big companies such as Hermès and Cartier to Tennessee, The Callaway represents Nashville, helping brands from the outside integrate themselves into the community in a way that’s organic, whilst selling the idea of Nashville as a vibrant community that people are interested in. A recent success was her pop up “Greetings from Nashville” take over at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, bringing a taste of Nashville to fashion hub NYC.

Callaway also sits on the boards of the Nashville Sexual Assault Centre and the Arts & Business Council, and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Nashville Fashion Alliance.

Leonor Espinosa – award-winning chef and champion of community gastronomy in Colombia

Leonor Espinosa - Photo credit Jorge González International Women’s Day 2021
Leonor Espinosa – Photo credit Jorge González

Leonor Espinosa is the Colombian chef making waves across the globe. Named ‘Latin America’s Best Female Chef’ in 2017, Espinosa has since secured a spot on ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list for her restaurant Leo in vibrant Bogotá, which showcases little-known Colombian ingredients and champions the gastronomic traditions of local communities.

Aside from propelling Colombia‘s thriving food scene forwards, Espinosa’s foundation FUNLEO aims to improve the health and wellbeing of locals through food, providing gastronomic training for communities and helping agricultural areas to enhance their produce. For more than a decade, the FUNLEO foundation has also worked with indigenous communities to raise awareness about biological wealth as an important factor to help combat inequality and give women monetary agency.

Espinosa also set up Zotea, a community-run restaurant, greenhouse and coconut oil production room that generates income and opportunities for the Pacific Choco area, whilst preserving its rich gastronomic heritage.

Carmen Portela and Monica Perez – the female powerhouse team working to support locals through tourism in Puerto Rico

Carmen Portela and Monica Perez (main image) are the founders of Local Guest, a female-powered tour company and social enterprise that develops and curates community-led local experiences in Puerto Rico.

Portela and Perez train Puerto Rican locals, small businesses and non-profit organisations, helping them to develop tours that bolster their communities. 80% of profits from each tour is directly invested in the host communities and visitor experiences are memorable and transformational, such as helping to restore mangrove forests, recreating indigenous pottery in art workshops, and sowing seeds in San Juan’s urban gardens.

The two women created Local Guest to shine a light on Puerto Rico’s lesser-known areas and natural wonders, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that all of Puerto Rico’s communities can benefit from sustainable tourism. In addition, Local Guest also fundraises through its non-profit organisation ‘Love in Motion’, which was established in 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Love in Motion provided initial relief and continues to aid rebuilding through community tourism efforts.

Juliet Margaret Cameron – the Isle of Wight’s pioneering Victorian photographer

Julia Margaret Cameron by HHH Cameron, 1874
Julia Margaret Cameron by HHH Cameron, 1874

Celebrating women who helped pave the way for modern day photography, Julia Margaret Cameron was responsible for turning photography into an art form, experimenting with soft focus and pioneering the first photographic close-up portraits. She has inspired generations of photographers, and to this day, exhibitions of her work are displayed around the world.

Take a short walk north from Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight and arrive at the former home of this pioneering female Victorian photographer, now housing the Dimbola Museum and Galleries, with permanent displays and visiting exhibitions from the likes of Annie Leibovitz and Wayne Levin.

Wightlink offers car ferry day return crossings from Portsmouth to Fishbourne from £52.50 with short break car ferry return crossings from £65.50. For foot passengers Wightlink’s tickets cost £14.40 per person. .

Main International Women’s Day 2021 image of Carmen Portela and Monica Perez.

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Travel Begins at 40 Editor

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