Every March 8 after the earliest Women’s Day observance held in 1909, people around the world celebrate, highlight and honor women’s achievements and contributions while challenging and calling out gender bias and inequality. For 2021, the International Women’s Day (IWD) selected #ChooseToChallenge as this year’s campaign theme.
According to the IWD website, the theme challenges the world population to be alert, responsible for its thoughts and actions, and “choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements” to create an inclusive world.
To be part of the celebration, the IWD invites all gender identities to strike the #ChooseToChallenge pose. By putting your hand high, you will be showing your commitment “to choose to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world.”
The world is full of smart women breaking barriers: today and every day, we should celebrate them.
Find below eight women leaving their marks in diverse industries.
Gabriela Ponce is the Mexican-American daughter of a Math educator, a dedicated community advocate, and granddaughter of farmworkers who now work as the Forza Motorsport tools and tech art team producer at Turn 10 Studios and the Team Xbox Latinx community lead.
Originally from El Centro, in the agricultural heartland of Southern California, Ponce started as the program manager at Xbox. She oversaw social experiences for gamers of all backgrounds to make meaningful connections with one another across spatial and cultural borders.
Graduated from UC San Diego, she was one of the small minority women in her class to earn a Computer Science degree. As one of the nation’s leading women and Latinx professionals in game development, she feels blessed to have a career in which she can combine her passions for culture, the visual arts, and technology, and seeks every day to “pay it forward” by empowering others to break into and succeed in the gaming industry.
Luna-Ostaseski is a first-generation Cuban-American entrepreneur and the mastermind behind the brand SIA Scotch. Carin’s journey into the spirits world stemmed from a twist of fate that turned a simple hobby into a full-fledged business. After years of exploring scotch’s richness and complexities, she set out to create her brand in hopes of changing the perception of what most would consider to be a “man’s drink” and making something that could be shared with everyone (of drinking age, of course) on every occasion.
Carin and her brand wish to change the public’s perception of Scotch and challenge some of its outdated stereotypes and empower minority entrepreneurs in the quest to pursue their passion.
Soriano is the co-founder of the first-ever clean tequila seltzer, Volley. Like many, Camila started her career working in the banking industry world before becoming wholly fascinated with the clean drinking/eating movement! After reading The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker, Camila began thinking deeply about what was in all of the products she consumed daily. She would feverishly read food labels and began educating herself and those around her on the lack of ingredient transparency in the food and beverage industry.
That’s where Volley came into the picture! After realizing that the “natural flavors” listed on almost every food and drink label did not come from nature but rather a laboratory, she and her husband set out on a journey to reimagine the RTD category and develop the first tequila seltzer made with only three clean ingredients: 100% blue agave tequila, sparkling water, and organic juice. “We all should be fighting for more transparency and for products with real ingredients because they taste better, too!” Camila Soriano said.
It should not be difficult to find and consume clean and real things. Fight for transparency and never settle!
Soriano’s passion is at the forefront of Volley’s mission to protect and take care of the planet through her brand’s partnership with Leave No Trace (LNT), a non-profit that provides resources so every person can preserve and enjoy our natural world.
Cameron Diaz and Katherine Power
The actress and the entrepreneur are the creators of Avaline, a new clean and vegan wine brand. This powerful female duo was introduced by Nicole Richie and drawn together by a shared love for wine and wellness; from there, they forged a strong friendship.
Their journey began in April 2018, as they immersed themselves into the wine world, learning everything they could about the industry: from farming to winemaking to distribution and retail. In an industry primarily run by men, the two saw this as an opportunity, not a barrier. After two years of extensive research and building a clean and delicious wine, Diaz and Powers launched Avaline. Today, their portfolio consists of a crisp White, Rosé, a Red (which was released after selling over 120,000 bottles of White and Rosé in the brand’s first ninety days!) and, most recently, a Sparkling released in November.
It’s also just fun to collaborate with your friends. The process of creating Avaline was as much a creative endeavor as it was a business venture,” said Cameron Diaz.
“I don’t know if there was ever a time that it felt like we were doing this for any other purpose but to create a beautiful, delicious wine that we could share with a like-minded community. There is something very gratifying about that. Approaching it with a spirit of ease and fun and doing so with your friend. I think you can really feel it in the end product,” she added.
As a brand committed to both transparency and equality in the wine industry, this month, Avaline will donate 2% of DTC sales to the brand’s newest partner, Lift Collective. This advocacy organization promotes positive change in the wine industry by advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. To further the partnership, Avaline will sponsor Lift Collective’s Virtual Conference on March 23rd and 24th and create Avaline Scholarships.
When Luna Sandara, co-founder, and Peruvian-born Sandra Manay, was in her senior year of undergraduate at Parsons School of Design, she’d planned to launch a clothing brand featuring traditional Peruvian fabrics, textures, and designs. But as she began exploring spirituality through full moon festivals and summer equinoxes, she discovered that many festival go-ers were using Peruvian essential oils, some of which were difficult to find in the U.S.
In recognizing the consumer demand for Peruvian aromatherapy oils and channeling her roots and professional background, Luna was founded and officially registered as a wellness company in 2014. Sandra’s Peruvian background is key to establishing authentic relationships with Luna’s suppliers and farmers. She prioritizes and values her relationships with her artisan partners, often visiting them at their workspaces in place of sending intermediaries.
She is passionate about empowering Latin American artisans to showcase their craft to the U.S. market and encouraging other BIPOC-owned small businesses to maintain sustainable and ethical practices.
Odesho is the founder and formulator of Bounce Curl. A haircare line focused on encouraging women to showcasing their naturally beautiful hair while spreading the message that hiding your curls is out and embracing your natural, curly hair is in.
Merian’s dedication to embracing natural beauty reaches far beyond other brands by ensuring all Bounce Curl products are created using 100% naturally derived scents and oils, a rule she credits to her Middle Eastern roots and upbringing. When Merian Odesho isn’t brainstorming how to make her products more sustainable, she’s investing in and mentoring women starting their businesses after experiencing challenging life situations.
Keshani is the founder of Alleyoop, a beauty brand with the mission to declutter women’s lives by creating products that offer multiple benefits within one item, giving women more time and physical space to dedicate to other areas of their lives.
Leila’s philosophy is all about efficiency and empowerment: rebelling against products that don’t do enough and trends that make women feel like they aren’t enough. Starting 2021, Leila Kashani added skincare to Alleyoop’s repertoire and normalized the radical idea that skincare routines don’t require ten steps or ten products. By creating products like Clean Slate, a cleansing stick that knocks out three essential steps in a single swipe, Alleyoop is sticking to their skincare motto of “skincare, not skin clutter.”