From breaking down barriers to breaking world records, here are the women who are inspiring the WILD team this International Women's Day.

There’s no doubt about it — women are at the forefront of changing the world for the better. There are millions of inspiring and influential women across the globe who are pushing boundaries, breaking records and making history, and this International Women’s Day, we are celebrating them.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, which recognises the contribution of women and girls around the world who are leading the charge on climate change to build a more sustainable future for all. The climate crisis impacts women and girls the most, as so many women depend heavily on natural resources yet they have less access to them,  which amplifies existing gender inequalities and puts women’s lives and livelihoods at risk.

In honour of all the women past, present and future who have dedicated their lives to smashing the glass ceiling, we’ve compiled a snapshot of women around the world that are killing it in male-dominated fields. From breaking down barriers to breaking world records, here are the women who are inspiring the WILD team.

Maya Gabeira, big wave surfer


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Big wave surfing is exactly what it sounds like — a bunch of adrenaline junkies surfing the biggest waves they can find. Maya Gabeira has five Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Award titles under her belt and has become one of the most notable big wave surfers ever, setting the 2020 world record wave for both men and women of 73.5 feet (22.4 metres) in Nazaré, Portugal. This wave also earned her a world record for the biggest wave ever surfed. While women make up around 20–30 per cent of surfers, the statistics are much lower when it comes to big wave surfing and Maya is currently one of only three female full-time big wave surfers. Although still hitting big waves, Maya has diverted her creativity into a soon-to-be-published children’s book, Maya and the Beast, which is set to inspire young girls to smash records and gender stereotypes.

Shonda Rhimes, TV producer


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From Grey’s Anatomy to Bridgerton, Shonda Rhimes has without a doubt created some of the most iconic shows of the 21st century. Since inking a Netflix deal worth between US$300 million and US$400 million in 2017, she has become the highest-paid showrunner and is arguably one of the most successful showrunners in TV history. Shonda’s production monolith, Shondaland, has become known for its unique, powerful female leads (Meredith Grey, Annalise Keating, Christina Yang and Daphne Bridgerton, to name a few) and helped shape the careers of so many talented actors of colour. In true Shonda form, the showrunner recently told Time magazine that she in no way bought into the “girlboss” stereotype that so many have lumped her into before: “I think the girlboss archetype is bullsh-t that men have created to find another way to make women sound bad.” We love to see it.

Greta Thunberg, climate activist


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If you thought we’d be doing a round-up of inspiring women and not including Greta Thunberg, think again. At just 19 years old, Greta has become a leading voice in the climate activism field alongside the likes of Sir David Attenborough. The School Strike for Climate (Skolstrejk för klimatet) protest which began in 2018 as a solo act has since snowballed into global action around the world and made Greta a household name and inspiration for so many. Her speech at the 2019 UN Climate Summit will go down in history as one of the most powerful speeches of the 21st century, with many more to come, no doubt, as world leaders scramble (and, for the most part, fail) to implement climate policies.

Ash Barty, world no.1 tennis player


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World no.1 tennis player Ash Barty has become an icon of Australian sports and an inspiration to so many young athletes. The 25-year-old Ngarigo woman has an impressive 15 singles titles, including three grand-slams, under her belt and continued to make history as the first Australian player to win the Australian Open in 2022 since the 1978. As Tennis Australia’s National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador, Ash recently toured the Northern Territory and held tennis clinics for the children of the Mutitjulu community. She has since announced that she will be taking some time away from the courts for some much-needed R & R, but we can’t wait to see what’s in store for this legendary Aussie pocket-rocket — and what history-making achievement is next.

Peggy Whitson, astronaut


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American astronaut and biochemist Peggy Whitson has solidified her name as one of the greats alongside Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. With almost 666 days spent in space, she holds the record for NASA astronauts and all women astronauts for the most cumulative time spent in space. She has since retired from NASA but is continuing her space explorations for private missions, including the Axiom Space Ax-2 mission that will launch in late-2022 or early-2023.

Lhakpa Sherpa, mountaineer

Mountain climbing has been dominated by men for decades and prior to 2018, only 605 of the 4,738 people (around 12 per cent) to have summited Mount Everest were women. That number is slowly increasing thanks to inspiration from the likes of Napalese-born mountaineer Lhakpa Sherpa. She begun her climbing career as a porter at just 15 years old and now holds the record for the most ascents of Everest — a total of nine times. Lhakpa, a single mum living in Connecticut and working at her local Whole Foods store, is currently training for her 10th Everest summit in May 2022. Suprisingly (or not so much given that women in male-dominated sports are constantly overlooked) Lhakpa doesn’t have any sponsors or major deals and works multiple jobs to fund each Everest expedition. She has also launched an adventure tour business, Cloudscape Climbing, that operates treks and expeditions of the Himilayan mountains.

Nemonte Nenquimo, Indigenous activist


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Named in Time‘s most influential people of 2020 list, Nemonte Nenquimo is a force to be reckoned with. The Indigenous Waorani woman from the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador was also one of six Goldman Environmental Prize Winners in the same year and is co-founder of Indigenous-led coalition, the Ceibo Alliance. As part of her environmentalist efforts, Nemonte has filed lawsuits against the Ecuadorian government, led the installation of essential infrastructure such as solar energy and rainwater catchment systems in small villages and launched the digital “Our Rainforest Is Not For Sale” campaign with Amazon Frontlines. Nemonte is following in her grandfather’s (a legendary Waorani leader himself) footsteps. “I am the granddaughter of this warrior,” Nemonte says. “And I will also confront what may come, without fear. Everything I do is for life itself. And for my daughter.”