In honour of International Women’s Day we’ve selected the most wonderful Welsh women who helped shape the country we know and love today.
These ladies fought to change the way the world looked at women, became masters of their professions and exuded great personal strength during challenging times.
Here we get to see what inspired them, what makes them great examples of modern women and why we happily celebrate International Women’s Day in 2021.
Well known for her roles in both Stella and the incorrigible Nessa in Gavin and Stacey Ruth Jones represents the strength of Welsh woman in two very different senses.
The talented actress and gifted TV writer has turned her talent into novel writing.
One of the most well known and inspiring welsh women of our time.
We all have our own personal Everest’s to conquer but Tori James was the first Welsh woman to climb the actual Mount Everest in 2006 at the age of just 25.
Now Tori spends her time as a motivational speaker and working in youth training and developments and is certainly an inspirational young welsh woman.
Captain Hannah Winterbourne
The world is slowly, finally changing and becoming a much more accepting place to live for some.
Proof in the pudding is Cpt Hannah Winterbourne who is currently the highest-ranking transgender member of the British Army and the Army’s official Transgender Representative.
Her work with various LGBT causes all over Britain keeps her busy and her passion lies in educating the youth of today who are living gender non-conforming lives.
Hannah is also an Ambassador for LGBT Sports Wales and promotes the inclusion of the LGBT community all over the country.
A retired teacher from Cardiff, Dilys Price or “Daredevil Dilys” as she is now known has jumped out of a plane over a thousand times and raised tens of thousands for charities supporting disabled children.
She currently holds the record for oldest female skydiver and is the founder of The Touch Trust which has pioneered touch therapy all around Wales and the rest of the world.
Dillys’ motto is simple;
‘It’s never too late. Life can still be fun, be challenging and have a purpose.”
Over 16 years and five Paralympic games Tanni Grey-Thomspon amassed an impressive collection of medals competing in wheelchair racing. Her awards include including 11 gold, four silvers and one bronze medal and Tanni has also won the London Marathon six times.
Since retiring from competing Tanni’s work with disabled sportspeople has inspired a generation and encourages those with disabilities to take part in sport.
Star of the long-running Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley) soap opera, and welsh fashion icon Heulwen Haf is an inspiration to the millions of women who have lived with breast cancer.
Blodyn Haul is a documentary that follows Heulwen through every treatment of her illness and exposes her own alternative way of dealing with the disease. The follow-up Bron yn Berffatih is a study on life after cancer and how its presence affected her.
Both films are something Heulwen did to help others living with breast cancer,
“I just hope I can help someone who’s scared of what’s to come. Hold someone’s hand metaphorically and show people that life is really good now.”
Dame Shirley Bassey
Born in Tiger Bay in 1937, Shirley Bassey is one of the worlds most well-known female artists.
Her powerful voice has sung three memorable James Bond theme tunes and she was the very first welsh singer to earn a No.1 single.
In 2003 Dame Shirley sold off all her glamorous and iconic gowns to help fund RWCMD and begin the Dame Shirley Bassey Scholarship Fund.
With 35 studio albums, over one hundred singles and global sales exceeding £1 million Dame Shirley Bassey is without a doubt one of Wales’ most inspirational women.
Play write and scientific theorist Elaine Morgan is one of Wales’ greatest women of all time.
A keen interest in human evolution inspired Elaine to research, what was at the time, an entirely new palaeontological theory, that humans evolved from aquatic apes.
Up until 2000, her theories were widely discredited however in 2016 a documentary of David Attenborough’s has suggested evidence of our aquatic evolution exists in early hominid fossils.
Elaine Morgan’s theories could now officially be proven only a few short years since her death in 2013 and if conclusive Elaine will go down in history with others great minds such as Darwin, Einstein and Marie Curie.
After travelling the world as a maid throughout her youth Betsi Cadwaladr trained as a nurse and joined the military nursing service at the age of 65.
Betsi worked alongside Florence Nightingale and on the front line drastically improving hygiene and overcoming the bureaucracy that Nightingale adhered to.
Now Betsi’s name is associated with the largest health organisation in Wales, the Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board, and Betsi is recognised all over wales as one of the most important welsh women in history.
Megan was brought up in politics her whole life and when she became the first Welsh woman to be elected to the house of commons she began to make her ‘radical’ thoughts and feelings known.
During WW2 Lloyd George was an advocate for many of the issues British women were facing, devoting her time to supporting women’s rights and the employment of women throughout the war.
She became a force to be reckoned with in both the Liberal and Labour parties an unyielding advocate for Wales’ welfare continuing her father’s voice of passionate radicalism until her death.
Margaret Haig Mackworth
Viscountess Rhondda (Margaret Haig Mackworth) spent her life campaigning for gender equality at the height of the women’s rights campaign of 1913.
She inherited her father’s title and was to become a Life Peer but women were not allowed to sit or vote in the House of Lords at the time. Her campaigns to reverse this was unceasing.
Margaret Haig was the founder of the weekly feminist magazine, Time and Tide, and assisted the start of Six Point Group which was the first of its kind to campaign for equal pay and opportunities.
The Viscountess went to prison for bombing a post box in Newport and refusing to pay the fine, she went on a hunger strike and was released after 5 days of no food.
Margaret Haig was honoured in 2013, 100 years on from her bomb attack in Newport by a garland of purple, white and green flowers on the bombe post box and her portrait being hung in the house parliament.
Known as an eccentric, grand lady who defied Victorian convention, Amy Dilwyn is remembered today a strong and resilient welsh woman.
Not only was Amy a prominent businesswoman who became known as the first female industrialist in Britain after saving her father’s failing spelter works, she was also a gifted author and penned several novels.
When the National Union of Women’s Suffragettes Societies started Amy Dilwyn was one of the earliest members and supported other notable causes such as social justice and striking seamstresses until her death.
Lady Augusta Hall
An important sponsor of Welsh culture, Lady Augusta arranged meetings in her home for Welsh poets, authors, musicians and other creative types.
Her focus on maintaining Welsh tradition was keen, she insisted on employing a welsh household, ensured welsh was taught in local schools and welsh sermons were given in the churches in her home village.
Lady Augusta even took traditional welsh customs into her London home. Folk dances and annual customs such as Plygain and Mari Lwyd were continued, and Lady Augusta introduced many of them to the nobility of her circle.
Thanks in large part to Lady Augusta, the pride in Welsh customs remains today and many of the old traditions are still celebrated.
After studying abroad until the age of 23, Frances came back to England hoping to study medicine. As women were unable to enter Universities to do so she was privately schooled.
Unable to secure the required qualifications in England Frances returned to Europe and graduated in 1870 at 26.
Frances then returned to England to practice as a doctor and joined three other women in medicine to found the National Health Society.
In later life, Frances campaigned heavily in Wales for higher education for females and after her husband’s death, she travelled the world and became an advocate of social reformation, speaking in the very first Universal Race Congress in 1911.
One thing that makes Wales such a stunning country is its landscape and the preservation of it.
Esme Kirby is one of the wonderful welsh women whose work has helped preserve the wales we know and love today.
In 1958 she founded the Snowdonia National Park Society and ran several campaigns to prevent the landscape from being changed by developers.
After being ousted as chairman of her own society she began the Esme Kirby Snowdonia Trust.
All these marvellous women each did something in their lives that directly impacted Wales or the world. On International Women’s Day, we remember every remarkable woman and continue to try and makes changes to society for future female generations to come.