5 Celebrated Women & the Role of Their Mentors

By Jinhuang Saw | Education

Feb 25

Be it boardrooms or fashion, politics or the movies, women today are making their dynamic presence known more than ever before and how!

Often, along with staying focused, working hard and being passionate, there is one more important factor that is driving some of the most powerful women to keep dancing to the rhythm of success — the presence of a mentor.

According to Lisa Lannon, co-author of ‘The Social Capitalist’, having a mentor is a critical part of a successful business strategy. “A good mentor helps inspire you, push you, drive you and helps you connect to others,” she explains. “They help you open your mind and help prepare you for everything that’s out there.”

As we approach International Women’s Day, let’s look at some powerful, influential women who strongly credit their mentors for being a strong chapter in their book of achievements. 

Oprah Winfrey | Talk show host, television producer, actress, author, philanthropist

Someone who Oprah continues to look at as her friend, guide, philosopher is the late iconic poet and activist Maya Angelou. 

Says Oprah of her mentor, “She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. Mentors are important, and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship”. 

But perhaps the most powerful motivation she received was in the form of three simple words ‘You are enough’. When Oprah asked, “I am enough…of what?", Maya explained, “You don’t need another person, place, or thing to make you whole. God already did that. Your job is to know it.

Elizabeth Taylor DBE | Actress, businesswoman, humanitarian

Women in the same profession — especially in the glitzy world of fashion and films, are often pitted against each other as ‘arch-rivals’. 

So who would have ever thought that the beautiful and iconic Audrey Hepburn was a mentor to the equally beautiful and equally iconic American beauty and star Elizabeth Taylor?

The bond between the legendary Hollywood female stars Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn is a classic case of women who help fix each other’s crowns. Hepburn mentored Taylor throughout her career, and they remained friends up until Hepburn’s passing in 1993. 

Malala Yousafzai | Activist for female education,Nobel Prize laureate

During the premiere of her documentary ‘He Named Me Malala’ at the Into Film Festival, Malala shared a rather unlikely inspiration — actress Emma Watson! 

This just goes to show that someone who inspires you doesn't necessarily have to be someone much older or ‘wiser’ it could be a fellow peer! 

When Malala found herself struggling with whether she should refer to herself as a feminist, it was UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson’s speech at an event on gender equality that set things clear for her. 

After hearing Emma say, “If not now, when? If not me, who?" Malala recollects, “I decided there’s no other way, and there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself a feminist. I am a feminist and you’re truly feminist, because feminism is another word for equality.

Jane Austen | English novelist

Known for her witty, modern style of writing focused on strong women characters, 18th century writer Jane Austen’s works are the toast of the literary world even today. 

Due to a mutual love of literature, Jane began long literary discussions about novels, poetry and plays with Anne Lefroy, a keen poet herself. It is believed that Jane shared her writing with Anne who acted as her friend and mentor. Despite their age difference, both formed a friendship that was marked by intelligence and respect, much needed in Jane’s early years to boost her confidence.

Amal Clooney | British Barrister, International law and human rights

Inspiration In her distinguished career as a human rights lawyer, barrister Amal Clooney has taken on authoritarian governments and giant global corporations. And this started young with a strong influence right in her growing up years at home. 

I think, growing up, my mother was definitely a role model,” reveals Amal of her mum, journalist and broadcaster Baria Alamuddin. “She was always a working woman and someone who is independent and cared about her career and cared about being independent but also had balance.” But most of all, Clooney was inspired by her mother’s ability to strike just the right balance. “She never lost her femininity and she believed the balance was important, and that is something that stuck with me.
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