International Women’s Day 2024 (#IWD2024) reflects on how we can create a world which fosters diversity and inclusion, where the differences of individuals are valued and celebrated. The recognition of the importance of inclusivity when raising awareness for equality means that any action taken by any individual is valid, and displays that IWD belongs to every individual internationally.
At Great British Speakers, we have a wide range of inspiring female talents who have been making a positive impact for our clients since our inception over 6 years ago. With over 500 female speakers, you can be sure to find the perfect host for your International Women’s Day celebration.
It’s not easy to pick just a handful of influential women from our extraordinary IWD team, but below you can find a 15 of our leading speakers for IWD day events this year. If you would like to book one of the inspiring women listed below, or prehaps would like a personalised shortlist please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss any requirements you may have.
As a young model, Sophie Hughes experienced pressure from the fashion world to diet and fast to lose weight and secure work. She went on to graduate from university with a psychology degree, focusing on resilience and wellbeing. After moving across the globe to Australia to continue her modelling career, Sophie returned to the UK to act as an organ donor for her young nephew, who desperately needed a liver transplant. After a successful 8-hour surgery, she was left with a seven-inch scar across her stomach. Throughout her 3 month recovery, Sophie jumped 4 dress sizes, and realised that this would alter her career more than she had ever imagined.
From this point on, Sophie became an advocate for body positivity and works tirelessly to inspire confidence and improve the representation of curve models in the fashion industry.
Sophie inspires audiences to feel more uplifted and empowered.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is perhaps most famous for becoming the first female Muslim to serve in the British Cabinet in 2007 as the Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, and becoming the first Asian Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2010. The image of Sayeeda wearing a shalwar kameez on the steps of 10 Downing Street is recognised worldwide as a symbol for change in the United Kingdom. Since resigning from the British Government in 2014, Sayeeda continues to contribute towards current affairs issues such as faith, religion, race, and equal rights.
Alongside her political career, Sayeeda is the Chair of the Baroness Warsi Foundation and Trustee of the Savayra Foundation. She has consistently been voted as one of the Top 500 Most Influential Muslims in the world, and was even nominated as Muslim Woman of the Year in 2015. Sayeeda’s charitable advocacy focuses on social mobility, gender equality and freedom of religious belief.
Sayeeda broaches controversial topics, engaging and encouraging her audiences to break down barriers and feel more comfortable discussing their opinions on topics often considered taboo.
Belinda Parmar OBE works with global companies to create more inclusive cultures within the workplace, founding the Global Empathy Index and CEO of The Empathy Business. She utilizes the science of empathy to develop empathetic leadership and communication within organisations. In 2015, Belinda was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to women in technology and was shortlisted as Woman of the Year 2022 in the Women in IT Awards. She was also voted one of the Top 20 Global Public Figures in Diversity 2020, and a Top 20 Diversity Champion 2021. Additionally, Belinda is the author of Little Miss Geek, which is used to inspire young women in school to become tech pioneers.
Belinda has spoken on internationally recognised platforms such as Davos and TedX, providing insight for audiences in how to become more inclusive and drive forward innovation in technology.
Chanelle Lady McCoy is one of Ireland’s most successful businesswomen, co-founding and leading multiple global pharmaceutical companies such as Chanelle McCoy Health and Pureis. A former investor on Ireland’s Dragons Den, she relished the opportunity to share her experience of successfully growing her businesses as a woman in the medical sector and encouraging new entrepreneurs as they embarked on their journeys. Chanelle has won multiple awards for her business acumen, such as the All-Ireland Business Champion Award in 2018, and has recently been ranked 23 in the Top 50 Incredible People Shaping Modern Ireland.
Chanelle has extensive experience in the international business world from a female perspective and shares her thoughtful insights in a way which encourages the future workforce to embrace innovation while maintaining a successful work-life balance, which is vital for health and wellbeing.
Dame Arlene Foster was the second most powerful woman in UK politics in 2017 (second only to the Prime Minister of the time, Theresa May), becoming the youngest woman to be appointed as the First Minister of Northern Ireland in 2016.
Throughout her career, Arlene has campaigned for women’s rights, particularly focusing on empowering women from disadvantaged backgrounds into entering public roles. She was first featured on public television at the age of 17, after surviving an IRA attack on her school bus. Since resigning from office in 2021, Arlene has continued to be vocal about politics and female empowerment through appearing on news shows and contributing to newspaper columns such as The Express.
Arlene delivers insightful information about how to demonstrate resilience in leadership roles and empowers women to take a step forward and achieve their goals, no matter their background.
Dr Michelle P King is an expert in equality, diversity, and inclusion, with over 10 years of research in these areas. She is an award-winning speaker, working with international companies across a breadth of sectors such as Dior, FIFA, and JP Morgan. Notably, she is a Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation’s ‘Girl Up’ Campaign and has previously held positions such as the Director of Inclusion for Netflix, and Head of the UN’s Women’s Global Innovation Coalition. Michelle is an experienced presenter, having presented at over 500 events, including the Nobel Peace Prize.
Michelle is an internationally recognised presenter, with the knowledge and experience to support organisations in creating diverse workforces and promoting an inclusive culture.
Gabby Jahanshahi-Edlin is an internationally recognised entrepreneur and expert on social and cultural change. Her field of expertise is women’s health and equality for those who menstruate, founding the charity Bloody Good Period in 2016. Following this, Gabby Co-Founded Bloody Good Employers, which is aimed at educating employers about menopause and menstruation to further equality within organisations. She has been featured in books, podcasts, and television shows, furthering her outreach work on an international scale.
Gabby is an experienced consultant and advocate for equal rights and period equity, working with International organisations such as Disney, Apple, and the UK Government to name a few.
Ilja Abbattista is a public speaker who advocates for human rights, and raises awareness for global issues such as modern slavery and sex trafficking through personal experience. Through her presentations, Ilja inspires audiences to take action, and allows others to gain an understanding of the realities of slavery and trafficking, while offering those who have lived experience of these traumatic experiences hope.
Ilja provides tools for her audiences to build resilience, self-esteem, and how to nurture a positive mindset when faced with adversity. Additionally, her commitment to driving social change has seen her collaborate with schools and communities to create a safer and more informed world for future generations.
Ilja is an inspiring speaker, who uses her unique perspective and lived experience to educate others on global issues and drive forward social change to support survivors and prevent future exploitation.
Juanita Headley has over a decade of experience in global humanitarian work, helping those who have survived human trafficking, exploitation, and sexual abuse. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Juanita is passionate about sharing her story to help advocate for those who have suffered from exploitation. After growing up in London, she moved to the United States, where she qualified as an attorney and has been aiding the indigent community.
Juanita founded the international organisation Changing Cases over a decade ago, which is dedicated to educating the public on human trafficking and safeguarding children from exploitation. Juanita recognises the importance of advocacy and education around topics such as grooming, safeguarding, and trafficking, to prevent the spread of human exploitation across the globe.
Juanita is a globally recognised speaker, who empowers audiences to take action through the art of storytelling.
Liz Earle MBE is a globally recognised entrepreneur, most famous for her award-winning eponymous beauty and skincare company Liz Earle. As an expert on health and wellbeing with over three decades of experience, Liz also owns and edits a magazine, podcast, and writes books and guides to share her knowledge. She has been appearing on television since 1990, covering topics from fitness to menopause. Liz has used her public status to draw attention to charities and important causes, advocating for causes such as clear food labelling, training for disadvantaged people, and those experiencing menopause to name a few.
Liz is an expert in the health and wellbeing sector, and an inspirational female entrepreneur who can speak on a range of topics.
As a teenager, Lurata Lyon was a victim of human trafficking and organ harvesting in Yugoslavia during the war. Upon her rescue, she was relocated to the UK as a refugee and was given the right to remain in the country indefinitely. Lurata has chosen to not be a victim, and has reacted with resilience to the situation that she was put in.
With over 15 years of experience, she is now a voice for those who do not have one. Since her arrival in the UK, Lurata has run a successful personal training business, helping individuals with nutritional information and injury rehabilitation up until she experienced her own injury. Following this, she moved into the public speaking and coaching industry, where she has helped others, and given hope and inspiration to others who have faced their own struggles.
In 2015 she released her book The Devil Couldn’t Break Me, where she detailed her horrific experiences during the Yugoslavia war to raise awareness and funds for charities that support women and children who experience violence. Further to this, in 2023 she released her second book Unbroken: Surviving Human Trafficking.
Lurata aims to teach audiences how to raise their self-confidence and self-belief, help them gain a different perspective of their life and work environment, and inspire them to overcome their obstacles.
To find out more about Lurata Lyon and book her as your International Women’s Day Speaker, click here.
Natasha Saunders is an engaging motivational speaker, who has previously worked with organisations such as the Metropolitan Police, The Mayor of London, and Refuge Charity. She delivers training to organisations to educate, support and develop both executives and staff in their approach to business and life challenges, in order to become more resilient and adaptive to change.
Speaking from her own experience of domestic abuse, Natasha has gone on to change laws, raise millions in funds, and train the UK government and police forces on their awareness, response, and wellbeing.
Natasha has extensive experience in delivering keynote speeches, alongside appearing in the media and on live television.
Orla McKeating is an engaging speaker who educates her audiences on topics that she has firsthand experience with, such as single parenting and race. She has delivered two TEDx talks, and has consistently received awards and nominations in recognition of the importance of her work. In 2019, Orla founded Still I Rise Diversity Storytelling, which provides dynamic workshops for children and young adults. Her organisation also provides sessions for adults covering topics such as race issues, disabilities, diverse families and immigration.
Orla delivers impactful presentations, employing storytelling as a technique to engage with her audience to inspire change and embrace diversity.
A survivor of child marriage and experiencing the death of her sister in an “honour” killing, Payzee Mahmod has dedicated her life to campaigning for women’s rights and raising awareness of “honour” based abuse taking place globally. Payzee led the 3-year campaign to change the legal age of marriage in the UK from 16 to 18, and continues to share her expertise internationally with governments, academics, and in the media. Payzee continues to work with NGO’s and committees across the globe to bring recognition of these issues into the conversation about women’s rights.
Payzee shares her experiences and provides training for gender equality for a range of audiences, such as education providers, healthcare providers, and social services.
Payzee engages audiences in difficult and taboo topics, sharing the realities of the lives of women and girls from the MENA region and beyond, and demonstrates how these survivors can be supported.
Sian Gabbidon is a renowned businesswoman, becoming the first black female winner of The Apprentice (series 14). She started her fashion business Sian Marie from her bedroom while working full-time. Sian inspires her audiences by sharing her success story through her determination, passion, and through overcoming adversity. Sian engages her audiences in how to build a brand and secure funding, with her global loungewear brand as evidence that hard work truly does pay off.
She has been featured in television programmes, news articles, and public speaking events, captivating audiences in her Cinderella story.
Sian shares her expertise in digital marketing and social media to promote brand exposure, while advocating for a work-life balance to mitigate burnout.