Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds among 10 who share what International Women's Day means to them

By ITV News Central Journalist Rachael Lewis

Today is International Women's Day, an occasion to celebrate the achievements of women from across the globe, and to fight for equality where it doesn't yet exist.

ITV News Central has been speaking to inspirational and empowering women from across the Midlands, asking them 'What does International Women's Day mean to you?'

Ellie Simmonds

Credit: PA Images

Born in Walsall, Ellie Simmonds OBE is a British former Paralympic swimmer, she believes International Women's Day is about empowering women.

She has told ITV News Central: "It's showing how incredible women are and a day for women to be celebrated."

The athlete who studied at the University of Loughborough added: "Also for me, especially in sport, I hope women's sport gets showcased on TV in the media and has as much awareness and equality as men's sport."

Uroosa Arshid


Uroosa Arshid, from Aspley in Nottingham, is thought to be the UK’s first hijab-wearing firefighter and she's hoping to empower others to follow their dreams.

Ms Arshid has told ITV News Central: "International Women's Day is so important to me, to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women all around the world, from all walks of life.

"It allows us to reflect and appreciate all of the women who have fought and challenged stereotypes to bring us to where we are today."

She added: "We still have a long way to go, but together we can achieve it"

Reverend Eve Pitts


Reverend Eve Pitts of the Holy Trinity Church in Birmingham is Britain's first female Caribbean vicar.

She said: "International Woman's Day means a lot to me, because if for no other reason the solidarity between women right across the globe.

"I just think that and find that so motivating to love who we are as women, even through the difficult times when women are treated badly in certain parts of the world and even in our own society.

"Things are not always easy for women, so I think one day where we can talk and share, and laugh and tell stories is vital for me and the things that we have in common rather than things that divides us - like culture."

Karenjeet Bains


Karenjeet Bains from Warwick is Team GB's first female Sikh powerlifter and has told ITV News Central what today means to her.

Ms Bains said: "What makes me proud to be a woman, is the fact that we are so incredibly strong.

"Speaking from my own personal experience, I'm a Great Britain powerlifter and I was the first British Sikh female to represent Great Britain at the world and the European championships - not only that but I am also the reigning Commonwealth champion.

"I truly admire how we as females are so strong and resilient we are determined to break any perceived barriers that society have placed on us.

"To really prove what women can do and what women are capable of."

Lucy Wood and Alice Evans

Credit: Lucy Wood

Lucy Wood from Rugeley in Staffordshire and Alice Evans from Loughborough are podcasters who provide funny, honest, personal and sometimes dark insight into disability and difference.

Ms Wood has described what today means to her: "International Women's Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate and uplift the stories and achievements of women to look at all the wonderful things that women have done over the years, despite still being marginalised."

Ms Evans added: "On the Labled podcast we love to focus on stories from disabled people, in particular stories of women who are disabled"

"Which is why when we recorded our episode of Rosa May Billinghurrt we found it so insightful and we were so proud to hear of the crippled suffragette

Ms Wood continued: "We think that our experience of being disabled women has had an impact on both our experiences of disability and on experience of femininity.

"It's really important for us to champion intersectionality and champion those people"

Sozan Hussain

Credit: Zana Lamallari

Sozan Hussain is part of a group of women from Iraq, Sudan, Albania, Nigeria and Lebanon - who are now settled in Smethwick - and come together twice a week as the Bearwood Community Bakery.

Ms Hussain has said women should use today as a reminder that they can follow their dreams.

She said: "International Women's Day means to me, if you have a dream, follow your dream and you can do it. Women can do it!"

Dr Isabel Morales-Muñoz

As an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute for Mental Health at the University of Birmingham, Dr Morales-Muñoz has told ITV News Central she thinks women should be celebrated every day.

She has said: "I'm proud to be a woman for our perfect combination of strength and sensitivity and of all the things that we have achieved despite diversities and being able to rule the world.

"So we should celebrate today, to remember how amazing we are and we should celebrate that every day - not just today."Lesley So

Credit: Lesley So / So Good Kombucha

Lesley So from Derby is a local female entrepreneur selected as one of the UK’s top 100 female business owners in the UK.

She founded her business 'So Good Kombucha' in 2020 and has told ITV News Central why she is proud to be a woman.

Ms So said: "Because we can do it all.

"We are kind and we are generous and we are resilient and we support one another and International Women's Day is a great chance to show the woman around us how much we appreciate and love them."

Lacy Lou

Lacey Lou is a female drag queen from Birmingham, who describes herself as an equality advocate.

When asked what today means to her, Ms Lou said: "Happy International Women's Day

"Today means a lot to me, because it is the celebration of the strength, resilience and courage that women have shown through out past and present."