International Women’s Day 2017: 7 inspiring TED Talks by women that everyone should watch

Liz Connor
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: "women systematically underestimate their own abilities"

If there’s one thing that 2017 has taught us so far, it’s that girl power isn’t dead.

February’s marches saw millions of women in major cities around the globe take to the streets with banners and knitted pink hats to make a peaceful stand against president Donald Trump’s inauguration, holding banners with positive messages of solidarity with all genders, races and religions.

Today, the fight for equality continues, as International Women’s Day kicks off around the globe. The day will highlight the range of economic, political and social achievements made by women, as well as opening up the discussion on how we can forge a more inclusive world for the next generation.

In celebration, we’ve selected an evening’s worth of inspiring TED Talks from female speakers that every person should watch.

There are thousands of hours of talks to watch online, but this handful will inspire, provoke and encourage you long after you’ve logged off.

Find your voice against gender violence - Meera Vijayan

What is it really like to be a young woman in India? asks journalist Meera Vijayan. Feeling angry, frustrated and helpless with the situation after a tragic Delhi rape-and-murder, Vijayan was compelled to use digital media as a voice for the millions of women who are forced to endure sexual violence. Through chilling personal stories of abuse throughout her life, Vijayan explains why we need to speak out about gender violence as a way to spark change for vulnerable young women in her country.

Why we have too few women leaders - Sheryl Sandberg

As Facebook COO, Sandberg knows a thing or two about being a girl boss. In her impassioned talk, she questions why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their profession, and why women are socially conditioned not negotiate for themselves in the workplace. Here, she offers three powerful pieces of advice to women and girls who are aiming their gaze at a top spot in the Fortune 500. What are they? You'll have to watch to find out...

Unlock the intelligence, passion and greatness of girls - Leymah Gbowee

This moving talk from Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee shares powerful stories about the unlocked potential of incredible women she’s met throughout her life, and poses the idea that we can transform the world simply by giving the ‘second sex’ an equal start.

The power of introverts - Susan Cain

We’re often told that being introverted is a shameful quality, but this talk will change your mind in less than 30 minutes. The world needs introverts in leadership positions to prosper, says Cain. She argues that we are living through a belief system that rewards extroverts and tries to stamp out these important qualities. In this passionate talk, she explains why introverts like Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi brought extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and why we should be encouraging and celebrating the next generation of quietly confident children.

Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model - Cameron Russell

The first thing you’ll notice about Cameron Russell is that she’s beautiful, brunette and leggy - but that’s exactly the point she wants to get across. Looks are superficial, says the Victoria Secret’s model, explaining why we should be more aware of the way looks are constructed, rewarded and penalised in our society. Through personal anecdotes, she is honest about how the modelling industry operates, and why we shouldn’t taking looking perfect too seriously - which, she reminds us, is bestowed in a random “genetic lottery”.

Your elusive creative genius - Elizabeth Gilbert

Ever stared at a blank page, not knowing where to start? Unlocking your inner creative genius is easy, says author of Eat, Pray, Love, all you have to do is take the pressure off yourself. Worrying about failure can often lead creative people into a cycle of anxiety and depression, but all we have to do to be successful, in our own eyes, is to keep creating without worry of judgement. Being an artist, she says, shouldn’t mean suffering.

Why we should all be feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What does ‘feminism’ mean today? In this groundbreaking talk, renowned Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers a modern definition of feminism for the twenty-first century. Drawing on her own experiences, Adichie explains what it means to be a woman now, and why every person should identify as a feminist. "Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice," says Adichie. "I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change."

Follow Liz Connor: @lizconnor_

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