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Career

6 inspirational women making a positive difference

Instead of being ashamed of doing what you do or being what you are, I ask two important questions: Why not celebrate it? Why not be proud of the fact that the body you are in can do great things?

By Nicky Dewe
Nothing warms the heart and brings hope like women who are making a positive difference.
International Women's Day is on March 8 and 2019's theme is 'Balance for Better'. In celebration, we profile some true inspirations from here and abroad.

Fit for any challenge: Mirna Valerio

Being fit, healthy and happy doesn't look the same on everyone, and we love to see people challenging stereotypes.
Mirna Valerio is an inspiration. She's an ultramarathon runner, author, speaker, mother, wife and teacher.
Despite the racism, sexism and body shaming she has faced during her life, she remains a strong voice for body positivity and wants to inspire people to get moving.
She was one of National Geographic's 2018 Adventurers of the Year, her writing is now published in magazines, and she has been featured on several podcasts.
"Instead of being ashamed of doing what you do or being what you are, I ask two important questions: Why not celebrate it? Why not be proud of the fact that the body you are in can do great things?"

Try a little kindness: Kristin Neff

US psychology professor Kristin Neff is one of the first academics to look in-depth at the topic of self-compassion and how treating ourselves with kindness can make a quantifiable difference to our wellbeing in numerous ways.
Her research has shown that speaking to ourselves in a soothing and supportive way, rather than with the voice of a harsh inner critic, can lead to tangible benefits such as facilitating weight loss, a reduction in anxiety, and being better able to cope with other life events such as divorce, parenting and ageing.
Kristin explains that self-compassion is different to self-esteem in that it is not about judging our self-worth or determining our worth by measuring ourselves against others, but more about offering yourself the same level of kindness and understanding that you would to someone else.

Everyone is happier with a bellyful: Jacqui Ritchie

Jacqui Ritchie learnt first-hand after the birth of her son how overwhelming it can be having a new-born baby.
Sleep deprived, anxious and trying to juggle work and motherhood, she realised what a difference it made having people pop around with meals.
Soon, she had a dream of women uniting to cook meals and distribute them to others in need, and Bellyful was launched.
There are now more than 500 volunteers and 21 branches around New Zealand, and each month they prepare the meals in a 'Cookathon', to be frozen and delivered throughout the month.
As well as giving a helping hand to new mums, Bellyful also delivers meals to families affected by illness.

Birds of a feather play fair together: Samantha Jones

With a vision to eliminate exploitation in the fashion industry, Samantha Jones founded Little Yellow Bird, a brand that makes quality clothing and uniforms that are 100 per cent organic, fair trade and ethically made.
From start to finish, their whole production process is monitored.
The products are made in India using only organic rain-fed cotton, all workers in the supply chain are treated and paid fairly, the factories follow fair-trade guidelines and the profits are then reinvested back into community projects in the areas where the materials have been sourced.
In 2018, Samantha also raised more than $1 million for Origin, a tech platform that traces garments from origin to sale to raise consumer awareness and further reduce slave labour.

A cup of good: Robbie Francis

Robbie Francis lives with a disability and walks with an artificial leg. When she was given the chance to intern for an international disability rights group in Mexico, her eyes were opened to the appalling conditions that many disabled people live in.
In 2014, she founded The Lucy Foundation, which aims to empower people with disabilities by promoting education, employment and inclusiveness.
The foundation has helped to create a supply chain of coffee that is inclusive for people with disabilities in both Mexico, the country of origin, and New Zealand, the country of consumption.
All of the coffee-farming families they work with in Mexico are affected by disability, and they have enabled disabled family members to get training and employment within the local coffee industry.
In New Zealand, they are partnered with organisations who help get disabled Kiwis into the coffee industry through training and employment.

Mind power: Alexandra Eidens

Having struggled with a fear of failure as a child, when she became a mum Alexandra Eidens decided she didn't want her own son to develop the same "fixed mindset" that she had had.
She had a hunch that she wasn't alone in her perfectionist, all-or-nothing way of seeing things and created the Big Life journal as a way to help kids everywhere to not only believe in themselves and what they can achieve, but crucially to embrace their mistakes too.
The journal is designed as a work book for children, but there is also a teen edition that uses the same "growth mindset" tools, as well as teaching kits and printable posters.
The 'Big Life' concept is a great way to help kids to see the big picture.

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