Celebrating International Women's Day

By BBC Maestro

Last updated: 21 February 2024

Each year, International Women's Day is celebrated across the globe and highlights women's achievements while raising awareness of continued inequalities.

In the spirit of championing women, we've collected quotes from some of our female Maestri to inspire and motivate you to face life's challenges, embrace your ambitions and find the strength to reach your goals.

Trust the process

Living life as a creative woman can be complicated, fighting against societal expectations as well as those we place on ourselves. In her BBC Maestro course, the romance novelist Jojo Moyes talks about how difficult it can be to make a start with creative work – and believe in our ability – when we're so afraid of making mistakes or being perfect.

“Have faith in the process. What I'm setting out to produce at this point is a draft. I don't expect it to be perfect. I expect to create something that I can polish and polish and rework and rework until it bears some resemblance to the shining idea in my head.”

Trust that the path to success isn't a straight line and learn to accept the bumps along the way. Jojo continues, “Self-doubt is part of the process… I think if anyone finds it that easy, either they're not telling the truth, or what they're producing is probably not great.”

Jojo Moyes for her BBC Maestro course on writing love stories

Don't do it alone

If you're a woman with dreams and ambitions, you may feel like you have to do it all yourself. But it's important to remember there are people in your life to support you.

Julia Donaldson, the author of popular children's books The Gruffalo, Stick Man and many more, highlights the importance of having a circle of people around you who encourage and champion you – especially when your motivation is low.

“In case you were wondering if [writing is] this joyful existence – no, it's not. It is blood, sweat and tears, it is a struggle,” says Julia in her BBC Maestro course, Writing Children's Picture Books. “I do tend to always think I just can't do it this time… luckily, I've got a husband who says, ‘Oh, you always say that, of course, you will’.”

Julia Donaldson

Carve your own path

At a young age, Malorie Blackman was struck by a lack of diversity in the fiction she was reading – so she decided to be a catalyst for change.

“I spent practically every Saturday from the age of 7 to 14 in my local library,” says Malorie in her BBC Maestro writing course. “In all those thousands of books, over all those years, I never read a single book that featured a black character. So, I started writing my own.”

Today, Malorie has a writing career spanning 30 years and has published over 70 books, including Noughts & Crosses, which later became a successful BBC television drama.

Malorie Blackman in her BBC Maestro course Writing for Young Adults

Challenge the status quo

No matter what industry you work in, there will always be an element of the status quo. If you try to challenge something, you may be met with the response, ‘That's just the way it's always been’.

Sometimes, standing up and challenging the status quo can be daunting. Still, it's one way that women can forge a path for one another – particularly in traditionally male-dominated industries. Consider former Poet Laureate and T.S. Elliot Prize-winner, Carol Ann Duffy, who decided to go against the grain and create a poetry collection featuring only women writers.

“When I was growing up, very few anthologies had women poets in them,” says Carol Ann in her BBC Maestro course on writing poetry. “So, I decided to put together a book. And I deliberately had only women poets. This was very important for me to do as a poet because if you want to help people write, then you have to encourage them to read.”

Carol Ann Duffy in her BBC Maestro course Writing Poetry

Build your confidence

We all understand how important confidence is. But if you’re feeling low in confidence, what’s the best way to build yourself up? 
Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence and a champion of monumental law change in the UK, says, “I believe that once you educate yourself, that can take you anywhere in the world, and it gives you that inner confidence.” 
In Doreen’s BBC Maestro course, Finding The Inner Strength, she says “When I first went into the House of Lords, that was a nerve-wracking environment; for someone like me, it was very out of my comfort zone.” 
She adds, “I would advise anybody that’s been put into a situation where they feel unworthy, just take a deep breath and dive in – because it gets easier. It takes practice to build confidence.”

Doreen Lawrence

Believe your best is yet to come

Despite over 50 years of working as a graphic designer, industry legend Paula Scher wholeheartedly believes in her ability to continue creating great work.

In her BBC Maestro graphic design course, she says, “I always think that I haven't done my best work yet and that the next job is going to be the really good one.”

It really is never too late to do your best work. So, wherever you are in your creative journey, get started on today's brilliant idea with a little help from our range of online courses.

Paula Scher for her BBC Maestro course on Graphic Design
A collection of BBC Maestri including Julia Donaldson, Alan Moore and Edgar Wright displayed alongside some gift boxes with orange bows

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