Could you run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days? Be inspired this International Women’s Day.

08 March 2017

By Lori Callahan,
Allianz Australia Chief Market Manager.

8 March celebrates International Women’s Day, which is a day to celebrate the achievements of women and to call for a continued focus on gender equality. For International Women's Day 2017, we are all being asked to #BeBoldForChange and in doing so to help shape a better working world - a more inclusive, gender equal world.

As a community, we are working towards the day when women can make confident choices about their lives and careers that reflect the limitless possibilities that the world has to offer. However, there is more work we need to do to support women in achieving their personal and career goals. Until we do so, we limit ourselves by not tapping into the talent and contribution of 50% of the population.

As I ruminate on the many women that have inspired me, I can’t help but think about an inspiring young woman I recently had the privilege of meeting, who in my opinion embodies the very spirit of International Women’s Day.

Sinead Kane is a woman from Ireland who recently participated in the World Marathon Challenge. This challenge saw her run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days! For any person this would be an amazing achievement but for Sinead it was a true showcase of courage since she did completed the challenge with only 5% vision.

Sinead’s journey began in the sub zero temperatures of Antarctica and continued with marathons completed in Punta Arenas (Chile), Miami (USA), Madrid (Spain), Marrakech (Morocco), Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and finishing in the above 30 degree temperatures of Sydney.

Despite her limited vision, Sinead continued to train hard and not only finished the seven marathons but also secured herself the Guinness World Record as the first visually impaired person to complete in the World Marathon Challenge.

Her force of personality was recognised at a young age. Born with limited vision, Sinead suffered from multiple eye conditions and despite being told by teachers she would never accomplish anything of prominence, Sinead set out to prove them all wrong.

Not only is Sinead an accomplished athlete, but she is also an accomplished lawyer, being Ireland’s first registered blind solicitor. This meant years of pouring over legal texts with a magnifying glass in order to get through the mountain of reading of legal cases required to understand the law.

After spending time with Sinead, I realised how inspiring this woman was, not because of her ability to conquer the constraints of her limited eye sight, but because of her continued wry defiance of people who have told her ‘no’. This is a woman who in her own humble words says, ‘I can choose to be blind or I can choose to be a visionary’ - and what a visionary she is.

As I contemplate on my role as a leader at Allianz, I believe that there is so much we can learn from Sinead including to never be defined by what others say about you and that greatness can come from some of the most unlikely places. Whether that means I can run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days, is a separate question!

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, I am asking that we forge a more inclusive, gender equal community that recognises and celebrates the inspiring achievements of women and indeed all members of the community. It is time to #BeBoldForChange #AllianzBeInspired

To follow Sinead or hear more about her story you can follow her on Twitter @blindrunner777 or Allianz Ireland Twitter @AllianzIreland

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