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International Women’s Day: In Conversation With Inspiring Women We Admire

Reflecting on International Women’s Day 2021 theme— #ChooseToChallenge—we at S/ are honoured to spotlight individuals who continuously push to overcome the challenges they face in their respective fields and beyond. This month our selection of inspirational, pioneering women will reveal the importance of this day, starting with the captivating women below.

Arielle Lydia, Model

Arielle Lydia
Photography by Zach Hertzman

“I grew up alongside my single mother and watched her work to support both of us, as well as graduate with honours from U of T teachers college, all while encouraging me to pursue my love of ballet and art classes. My mother taught me compassion by having me by her side as she started a non-profit organization in Central America (alongside many incredible women) that funded community education for midwives and scholarships for young girls and boys in the Mayan communities of Honduras. My grandma taught me the value of hard work and grace under pressure while we baked lemon bread together, and she shared stories of growing up in rural New Brunswick. My life has been full of strong women who have helped shape my vision of what it is I aspire to be. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I think of the progress we have made together, but also the journey that we still have to travel as women. As a Black woman, I am determined to leave this planet better than I found it, and pave a path that’s easier than the one that’s here now. A huge part of what inspires me to continue modelling is to try and have as large a platform as I can to make as big an impact as I can for women and trans women of colour. I know that with the help of the incredible females who surround me, that we can continue to make positive changes for our future girls.”

Becca Pereira, Founder of Spice Girl Eats

Becca Pereira, Founder Spicy Girl Eats
Photography by Daniel Neuhaus

“As an immigrant, one of the few jobs my mom could get when she first arrived in Canada was in the kitchen. She experienced firsthand what it was like to exist in such a male-dominated industry. To come full circle and now have my mom by my side with an all-female crew at Spice Girl Eats, I’m honoured! This International Women’s Day, I’m thinking about all of the women who are in kitchens cooking amazing food that goes unacknowledged. These women are working hard to break the barriers around them and open doors to pathways that were not available to them before—we are stronger when we are together. It’s important to support more women entrepreneurs, especially women who identify as minorities. They have even more barriers to overcome, and I’m proud to be part of it.”

Jeanine Brito, Artist

Photography by Monica-Bialobrzeski

“For me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the strides women have made and the inequalities that still exist. I make commitments for the rest of the year to read and share women’s stories, financially support organizations that work to address issues impacting women, and take time to honour the women in my own life. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by women who inspire and challenge me.”

Join the social media celebration using #IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge