Today is International Women’s Day, and we’re celebrating it by acknowledging an eclectic collection of 10 inspiring women who are building great businesses and setting the world on fire.

Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer, VaynerMedia

A true servant leader, Claude lives and breathes her purpose – mentoring and connecting to the heartbeat of every single person at digital agency VaynerMedia, that is, 750 people+ across five offices. Her passion is reaching millennials through mentorship.

“Millennials I’m meeting on a day-to-day basis have so much anxiety because life has sped up drastically, certainly from my generation, and the pressures of work are really high. Those things add to everyone’s psyche. So, it’s our responsibility to provide a release-valve, not a ripcord.”

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Julie Hanna, Executive Chair, Kiva

After escaping civil war, Egyptian-born Julie Hanna went on to grow into a formidable force in the tech sector. She was named a presidential ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship by president Obama, acts as an advisor to incubator IdeaLab and several start-ups, and is the founder of many more. She’s driven by a belief that technology’s democratising power can truly change the world for better.

“Long before ‘change the world’ became a cyncial cliché, it was a sincere, audacious belief.”

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Melinda Gates, DBE, Co-Founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation  

The foundation is using its staggering wealth to help empower women economically around the world. It has just pledged US$170 million to the cause. Melinda (and the foundation) is putting passion, might and finance behind this essential cause. She says it best herself… read her recent op-ed here.

“When money flows into the hands of women, everything changes.”

Quote from Quartz Media

Sylvie Moreau, President, Coty Professional Beauty

Inspirational leader, brand builder and innovator in the world of beauty, Sylvie sits on Coty’s Executive Committee and is a big champion of radical diversity and inclusion in the beauty industry. Her $1.8B division portfolio is home to some of Coty’s biggest brand stars: OPI, Wella and GHD. A proudly self-proclaimed feminist she wholeheartedly believes that beauty and feminism go hand in hand. Active and engaging on social media, she’s a big believer in the power of the beauty industry to make a positive difference to consumers’ lives.

“Beauty is the art of highlighting that which a woman feels is most beautiful in herself and what could be more empowering than that?”

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Vivian Chan, CEO and Co-Founder, Sparrho

A trained scientist with a PhD in biochemistry, Vivian Chan is a smart, inspiring entrepreneur balancing science and tech with a mission to educate the world. And she’s cool!

“Science is the fundamental bedrock of society: it explains not only how the world works, but how we work too. Yet this world that we live in holds millions of people whose access to this knowledge is limited or denied.”

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Emily Weiss, Founder and CEO, Glossier

Emily Weiss started her beauty blog, Into the Gloss, in 2010. It quickly attracted a huge community of beauty fans and aficionados before pivoting into products in 2014 and becoming a visionary digital-first startup with a cult following like no other. From the outset, Weiss knew she wasn’t just building a business, she was building a brand. International expansion is gathering pace. Watch this space.

“It’s an incredibly crowded market and you really have to have a strong point of view and a differentiated idea to make someone understand – particularly a room full of men, who aren’t necessarily beauty consumers – understand something that is foreign to them and understand why something like Glossier is different than what is out there.”

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Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, Authors, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Their books are powerful, featuring brief stories of empowering, visionary, strong women from around the world and throughout history. The messages are spot on for teaching our courageous girls (and boys!) their potential.  And the illustrations (all done by female illustrators) are fabulous too. The books made crowdfunding history on Kickstarter and are now translated into 30 languages with over a million copies sold.

“We’ve always been very passionate about empowering women, and on the children’s media side, we’ve witnessed how it is still so packed with gender stereotypes. The kind of sexism that we experience in life is reflected in the children’s products that surround us.” 

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Phoebe Philo, OBE, former Creative Director, Céline

Although she has recently stepped down, Phoebe Philo is revered for having reinvented the French fashion label Céline during her 10 years as Creative Director. She kept a respectful distance from the often showy world of luxury fashion and quietly redefined womenswear. She designed clothes and accessories that were described as being not just for women, but about them. Beautifully minimal, practical and elegant, she captured the strength of women in her designs.

“I felt it was time for a more back-to-reality approach to fashion, clothes that are beautiful, strong, and have ideas, but with real life driving them.”

Quote from British Vogue

Sarah Dubbeldam, CEO, Editor in Chief & Creative Director, Darling Media & Magazine

Developed by CEO and Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dubbeldam, Darling is more than just a magazine but a movement – a call for a change in how we depict women in the media, and equally, how we perceive ourselves in our daily lives. Built on a foundation of female empowerment, Darling is a celebration of female strength, intelligence, beauty and diversity in all its raw, untouched glory.

“As a woman, I’m tired. Tired of trying to live up to the unattainable perfection I see in advertisements and on screen… Tired of the focus always being on beauty and not about my heart or character.”

Quote from Huffington Post

Happy International Women’s Day!