The phrase “I am Woman – Hear me Roar”, although originally the title of a song released by the late Helen Reddy in 1971, has recently become notable again through the film “Cruella”, currently on the cinema circuit. But it’s power in the 70’s was extraordinary and, seemingly, it continues to inspire greatness in women.
The lyrics of the song are actually quite simplistic but resonate with common truths experienced by many women. They speak to the gains achieved from painful experiences, a refusal to be downtrodden, and the realisation that we may bend but won’t break. They also remind us that we can come back from adversity stronger and that ultimately, we can achieve anything.
Helen Reddy felt cowed by some of the female singing legends that she competed with in the pop music industry in the 70’s, in terms of speaking her mind as a woman. Prior to “I am Woman” she hadn’t written any of her own music, saying “I realised the song I was looking for didn’t exist, and I was going to have to write it myself”. And so “I am Woman” was born, a small song that made a material impact, not only in reaching the number one spot on music charts worldwide, but also in becoming a sustainable mantra for all women to this day.
Helen received a Grammy Award for her song in 1973 and when accepting the award, she said “I thank God, because she makes everything possible”.
Women who evolve from humble beginnings or horrific events to survive and achieve their goals inspire others without effort, but simply by being who they are – amazing people. Women everywhere aspire to be as successful in their own lives, and often, do so.
I recently became aware of a woman who’s story I had been completely oblivious to at the time of her incident, and she literally took my breath away – her extraordinary courage, strength and determination is so inspiring.
In 2005, Kechi Okwuchi was 16 years old and on a flight home to Nigeria when the plane she was travelling in crashed. She was one of only two survivors out of 107 souls on board. But Kechi suffered third degree burns over 65% of her body, she was in hospital in South Africa for seven months and has undergone over 100 surgeries.
Two things about this remarkable woman resonated with me; firstly, despite significant scarring on various parts of her body, she openly and confidently chooses not to wear clothes that hide those scars, but rather reveals them to the world. Perhaps as a reminder to herself of the incredible hardship she has overcome? Or to celebrate her survival?
Also, music featured significantly in her recovery journey. When she was still in too much pain to move, her mother would sing to her or play CDs of Kechi’s favourite music. In 2017, Kechi entered the “America’s Got Talent show” and made it all the way to the finals! We all need to find our inner warrior so that we too can be as brave as Kechi.
Sometimes, we fail to recognise what magnificent women we are. We may be inspired by the incredible journeys of women such as Kechi – who have achieved greatness or overcome horrific adversity. We may look within ourselves with compassion and positivity, so that we can begin to recognise our own strength and courage.