What does International Women's Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the success and achievement of women and highlight ongoing issues. This week, our community of MBA students and alumni shared what the day means to them.

Aqila Choudhry MBE (Executive MBA, 2013)

Managing Director of ‘Love in Care’, based in the UK

Aqila  Choudhry (EMBA 2017)

“I feel it is a day for all women to reflect and celebrate their personal achievements and those of others they admire. International Women’s Day is a day of unity with all women across the world celebrating each other. There is a lack of appreciation and acknowledgement across all societies for the impact women have made and continue to make in the world, and International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate those achievements.

It is a reminder that society has a long way to go yet to achieve equity for women and acknowledge their contributions to all aspects of life. My workforce are predominantly women who are from different heritages across the world and this day is a great opportunity to acknowledge them and their personal and professional achievements.  

I am planning to mark the occasion with the International Women’s Day Lunch drop in for all our staff to come and eat and make a “Love My Achievements Card” for themselves and keep that with them to remind them what they have achieved to date.”

Sudtanwa Suwanbumrung

MBA Student, from Thailand

Sudtanwa Suwanbumrung

“For me, International Women’s Day is a special day for everyone to revel in the achievements of all women worldwide.   

It is the day to show the world that women are strong, powerful, independent, and resilient, and how we create the world-shaking impacts.   

It is the day to awaken public awareness about issues that women face globally.  

It is the day to remind everyone to break barriers and accelerate equal opportunities for all women.  

It is the day for all of us to stand together for peace and equal rights and empower each other.   

It is the day when our voices need to be heard and amplified.... It is International Women’s Day!”

Anu Shah (MBA, 2010)

Product Lead at Meta, award winner, angel investor, based in the USA

Anu Shah

“As a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I understand the importance of International Women's Day from both a social and business perspective. Recognizing and celebrating International Women's Day is crucial for several reasons.

Firstly, diversity and inclusion. Gender diversity is essential for fostering innovation and creativity in the workplace. By acknowledging and supporting International Women's Day, we emphasize the importance of creating inclusive environments where women can thrive professionally.

Secondly, economic empowerment. Women make significant contributions to the global economy. Empowering women economically is not only a matter of social justice but also a strategic business decision. Investing in women-led businesses and supporting female entrepreneurs contributes to economic growth and prosperity.

Thirdly, talent development. Acknowledging International Women's Day is an opportunity to highlight and promote the achievements of women in various fields. This recognition encourages the development of talent pipelines and provides role models for the next generation of women leaders.

Finally, corporate responsibility. Successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists understand the responsibility that comes with their influence. Supporting International Women's Day is an expression of corporate responsibility, signalling a commitment to gender equality and social progress. 

As for what International Women's Day means to me personally, it represents a moment to reflect on the progress made towards gender equality and the work that still needs to be done. It's a day to appreciate the accomplishments of women globally and to renew our commitment to creating opportunities for women in all aspects of life. To mark the occasion this year, I would engage in various initiatives such as: promoting women-led businesses, mentorship programs, educational initiatives, internal policies and practices, and public advocacy. By taking these actions, I contribute to the broader movement for gender equality and demonstrate a commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable future.”

Mutya Nayavashti

Current MBA Student, from Indonesia

Mutya nayavashti

“International Women’s Day holds particular significance for me as it honours women's enduring strength, resilience, and invaluable contributions across cultures and history. It's also a personal reminder of the empowerment it brings. It fuels my determination to pursue my aspirations and strengthens the bond of solidarity among women worldwide. The day is constantly motivating me to overcome obstacles and embrace opportunities. It emphasises women's pivotal role in positive change within their communities and beyond. I fervently hope communities, organisations, and governments will take more concrete actions towards achieving gender equality. It's about creating a future where everyone, regardless of gender, can flourish and contribute meaningfully to society.”

Joey Kong (MBA, 2014)

Director at Ma Petite J Co., based in Hong Kong and the UK

Tsz yan joey kong MBA 2014

“Sipping a glass of red in my garden on a warm sunny day today, I can’t help but notice that Spring is just around the corner now.  

This also reminds me that I will soon be organising a barbecue to celebrate this year's International Women’s Day with my group of amazing girl friends who I am so lucky to have met along the way.  

Progress for women is also a progress for all of us, so let's take the opportunity to reflect and review what we have done so far and what more can we do going forward to continue the legacy done by all the amazing women before us, and at the same time educating our children of the meaning and importance of it.  

Most of you who grew up or studied in the UK would know of Emmeline Pankhurst. She always comes to mind whenever I think of an iconic figure. She is an English political activist who organised the UK suffragette movement and helped women to win the right to vote; she started a getaway for us to continue to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment today. 

It is so important that the UN made IWD official in 1975, so that we have this global holiday to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women today (myself included!) 

Whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, we should all be proud of ourselves. Cheers to all you amazing women out there!”

Amanda Olore

Current MBA Student, from the USA

Amanda Olore

“International Women's Day helps to promote the achievements of women and inspire us for what's to come. I love this year's theme: Inspire Inclusion. As a white, American woman, I have privileges in life that open opportunities that might not be available to other amazing, well-deserving women. It is critical that we create inclusive environments that include all women to build a better future for everyone.”

Lucía Fuertes (MBA, 2016)

Associate Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, based in Spain

Lucia Fuertes

“As it is marked by events in several countries, the International Women’s Day becomes a global platform to raise awareness about women worldwide and amplifies its global strength. In addition, I believe that it is important because it acknowledge the contributions of women who have paved the way for our progress and to those who are still striving for their achievements. 

Personally, the International Women's Day is a time of celebration and pride for me. For me this is an inclusive celebration, whether one is a public figure or not, acknowledging that each woman has contributed in her own way to where we stand today. 

While I appreciate marking this day annually, I believe its essence extends beyond a mere date on the calendar.  

I celebrate with friends to honour the significance of the day and this year, I've received an invitation to an event, adding another dimension to my celebration and marking the occasion in a special way.”

Natasha Babar-Evans (MBA, 2016)

CEO at Better Connect, based in the UK

Natasha Babar-Evans

“I am CEO at Better Connect which is a non-for profit organisation whose vision is to help people to overcome challenges so they can thrive in life and work.  International Women’s day is an important day for me to celebrate women who have done just that and also who have helped lift others so they can achieve their potential.  

I have spent time during my career on boards where I have been the only female and the only BAME individual around the table in those meetings and I found it difficult to articulate the importance of diverse viewpoints in business. I was lucky enough to be coached by female and male ally role models who have helped me to find my voice and be the inclusive leader I want to be.  I also embrace my feminine qualities which I believe are great leadership qualities, in particular, the power of empathy and kindness.  I did an MBA at Leeds University a few years ago and I was lucky enough to meet some fantastic business leaders from across many nationalities and I was struck by the fact that they were also struggling with similar challenges.  

This year, I am delighted to be spending International Women’s Day with amazing colleagues from my team at Better Connect who are attending the Women of West Yorkshire Network (WOWY) IWD event being held in Leeds which is hosted by Mayor Tracy Brabin and Fatima Khan-Shah the West Yorkshire Inclusion Champion.  I am really looking forward to being around such a positive and inspirational group of women and male allies to celebrate International Women’s Day.”

Helenah Keseabetswe

Current MBA Student, from Botswana

Helenah keseabetswe

“I believe that its important to celebrate International Women's Day because it's the day that the world just pauses, reflects, recognises and celebrates the role and impact of women in their homes, communities, villages, workplaces, cities, countries and the world.  

International Women’s Day for me means celebrating the women. A human being who is capable of giving life, nurtures and unconditionally loves that life. It is a celebration of a woman who works as a cleaner to feed her children, a helper, a grandmother who takes care of her grandkids, a preschool teacher who teaches the upcoming President how to read, write and speak, a mother who is also working as a Director in a multi-million dollar company, a woman who works as a pilot, civil engineer, IT specialist, a woman in a corporate space.   

This day reminds the world of the power of a women, their resilience, perserverance, love, hope and joy.  

I am hopeful that in the next five years we will see more and more women occupying leadership roles in various sectors especially those termed as ‘male-dominated’ such as construction, IT and engineering.  

To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, I will wish my Mother a happy International Women 's day first thing in the morning as I am forever grateful for life lessons learned from her, and attend any event around campus hosting celebration of the day with my friends.”

Surbhi Dhir (MBA, 2009)

Senior Client Partner at Publicis Sapient, based in the USA

Surbhi Dhir

“Being a woman is gift! It’s who I am so for me it is as important as my birthday.This day, like my birthday, is a milestone day for me and a day of reflection about the change that we have witnessed, the transformation that we are driving and the amount of work that still lies ahead of us to inspire inclusion. I am the lead for Womens' Leadership Network for Publicis Sapient Canada and we celebrate the entire month of March as an opportunity to recognize, acknowledge, promote the work, commitment of women leaders in all walks of life!”


Tao Jiang (MBA, 2002)

Senior Teaching Fellow at University of Leeds, based in the UK

Tao Jiang


“To have a day dedicated to women around the world is very helpful to highlight the gender disparity and inequality in terms of how women are treated in many societies is really important.  It is also a reminder for me to think, and reflect on my own experiences in life. International Women’s Day means courage, authenticity, and celebration. I have lived my life in different countries with totally different cultures, this lived experience has made me realise that being true to myself, dare to stand up for what I believe are essential to who I am no matter where I came from and where I live.”

I am one of the co-chairs of Women At Leeds Network at University of Leeds. We have organised a celebration event in collaboration with Leeds Trinity University to mark this day. I will be leading the event and I am already looking forward to it.”

The Business School would like to wish all staff, students, alumni and our wider community a very happy International Women’s Day.