IWD is a worldwide day in which we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Celebrated since 1911, today is really special as it doesn’t belong to any one country, organisation, charity or political group. It’s a day for all of us.

IWD is always a very busy day for us here at Shona, and this year is no exception, as we’re representing the girls of Ireland all over the place today at morning, lunchtime and evening events.

In today’s post, we want to pay special homage to some of the women of Ireland that we admire for so many reasons. We noticed when making the list that so many of these amazing women became role models because they came through struggles or challenges and succeeded regardless, which is an important reminder to believe in our own abilities, and not be defined by our hardest and darkest days. There are thousands of women all across our little island who are using their voices to make change, so the list is endless, but this article covers just a few we love.

Before we kick off, we wanted to wish everyone a Happy International Women’s Day xxx

Nicola Coughlan

Why we love her?

Whether you know her as “the wee lesbian” in Derry girls or as Penelope Featherington from Bridgerton, we can tell you now, that all of us at Shona HQ are massive fans of Nicola Coughlan. Nicola has become a household name in the past years but she has made sure to use her platform for good. From her humble nature, her strong allyship with the LGBTQ+ community to her wittiness, there is honestly no reason for you not to love Nicola Coughlan!

How is she using her voice?

One of Nicola’s stand out moments was in 2019 when the world witnessed 30 women with their suitcases led by Nicola crossing Westminster Bridge to protest the criminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland. Why suitcases? To symbolise the journey Northern Irish women must make to access abortion by crossing the channel into the UK.

Our fav interview of Nicola


Norah Patten

Why we love her?

Norah is a proud Mayo woman who, when she was 11 years old, visited NASA in Cleveland and became obsessed with all things space. Ever since then, she has made it her mission to visit the stars.  Norah is an aeronautical engineer with a PhD for UL and a longtime STEM advocate who is making it her business to show all the young girls of Ireland that they can achieve their wildest dreams and showing us all what it’s like to have a career in STEM!

How is she using her voice?

On her website, Norah promotes the fact she is an active space and STEM ambassador who has been able to use her platforms to create many opportunities, programs and projects for the next generation. One of her projects is the ‘PoSSUM13’ which was started in 2019. The project aims to engage young girls in space science while giving them the opportunity to develop an experiment for testing on a microgravity flight. It runs annually and continues today.

Our fav video of Norah


Senator Eileen Flynn

Why we love her?

Eileen Flynn flew onto our radar when she made history for becoming the first-ever female from the Travelling community to sit in the Seanad. We love watching on as Eileen continues to not only smash glass ceilings but absolutely destroy them, all while staying grounded and ensuring the Travelling community are rightly represented and supported.

How is she using her voice?

From the word go, as soon as Eileen secured her seat in the Seanad, she has made sure to use her voice and position to make a difference. She has and continues to campaign on issues including homelessness, same-sex marriage and hate crime while continuing to fight prejudice and discrimination from every corner.

Our fav interview of Eileen


Mamobo Ogoro

Why we love her?

Mamobo is a PhD student who also happens to be a social entrepreneur. She set up Gorm Media which is a digital media company with a vision to spark a movement of unity by supporting young people use their voices.

How is she using her voice?

Mamobo has created a platform where people can have open conversations on pressing social topics in an effort to gain an understanding and unify communities.

Check out this video of Mamobo sharing her vision of Gorm Media



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Rachel Blackmore

Why we love her?

Rachael Blackmore became a household name in 2021 when she became the first ever female jockey to win the Aintree Grand National, and since then this woman has been unstoppable! She is now considered one of the best jockeys in horse racing and will be sure to go down in history.

How is she using her voice?

Rachael is ensuring that she is remembered for her skill. She also is making it her mission that if she is to be considered one of the best jockeys in history, it’s not as one of the best female jockeys, as gender shouldn’t matter. She sure backed up this mission with her famous Grand National victory statement, “I’m not male, I’m not female, I don’t even feel human at the moment.”

Our fav video of Rachael


Sinead Burke

Why we love her?

There is a long list of reasons why we love Sinead, but the most important one is that she has changed the life of many people and with her passion for change, she has positively impacted people all over the world.

How is she using her voice?

Sinead uses her voice as a catalyst for change. She has always had a love of fashion but due to her condition, she always found it difficult to either be taken seriously in the fashion industry or even find clothes that fit right. Instead of sitting back, she has used her voice to highlight the need for more diversity within the fashion and design industries at the young age of 16. With endless campaigning, she has challenged big names to make changes and draw attention to people who have disabilities. She has helped create the first little-person mannequins.

Our fav interview of Sinead


Ailbhe Smyth

Why we love her?

Ailbhe is a long-time activist on feminist, LGBTI+ and other social issues and was centrally involved in the Marriage Equality referendum and was Co-Director of the Together for Yes national campaign which repealed the 8th Amendment.

How is she using her voice?

She is currently Chair of Women’s Aid. In 2019, Ailbhe was listed as one of Time Magazine’s ‘Most Influential People’. Ailbhe has faced many challenges in her life and she is always willing to tell her story to help another women overcome similar challenges, something that we also try to do here at Shona. To be honest with you all, Ailbhe is just a deadly person that everyone should know about!

Check out Ailbhe’s interview for our SHINE Festival 2021

Just click HERE 🙂


Lydia Gratis

Why we love her?

Lydia is an activist for the deaf community who has used her story (she was the first black-deaf girl in the Irish deaf community and when she was growing up, she struggled to fit in with her black community and her deaf community) to speak out about anti-racism.

How is she using her voice?

Lydia has channelled these emotions of not feeling represented or understood within deaf spaces and turned them into her motivation. As part of a youth leadership role, she served as president of the Irish Deaf Youth Association, a non-profit organisation catering to deaf and hard of hearing young people all over Ireland. They also create social, educational and networking opportunities for Irish deaf youth.

Check out this video of Lydia where she speaks about black deaf justice in Europe


Caitriona Balfe

Why we love her?

Not many people can pair a long career as one of the world’s top models with a massively successful acting career while also staying humble and completely down to Earth. But, we are here to tell you that Caitriona Balfe is one of these people.

How is she using her voice?

Caitriona stole our hearts in Belfast and has been flung into the public eye once again. Caitriona makes sure to use her platform at every opportunity. From supporting initiatives that provide goods and clothing to refugees to continually supporting World Child Cancer organisation, there is really no reason not to love this woman!

Our fav interview of Caitriona

If you need a daily dose of joy, check out Caitriona on Twitter! She’s great craic, we promise!



Again, the list of the incredible women on this little island of ours is endless. We want to know, who’s on your list? Let us know so we can add them!

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