Today is international Women's Day and we are marking it in West Devon by highlighting some high achieving women from our area to celebrate their contribution to our communities and demonstrate why they are good role models.

International Women's Day is celebrated to commemorate and honour women's accomplishments worldwide both now and in the past for their legacy.

Awareness of women's achievements locally and elsewhere is one part of helping forge a gender equal world and calling out inequality.

The idea is to raise awareness about gender disparities and discrimination, as well as promote global support for women by bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women

The missions for 2023's campaign and beyond, are to build workplaces where women thrive, increase awareness of creative women, forge women’s empowerment, empower women’s choices in health and applaud equality in sport.

One such shining example of a West Devon role model is Sam McNeill, from Princetown, who has forged her path in outdoor activity leadership and who was one of the few operational women in Dartmoor Search and Rescue teams in the early days.

She has now teamed up with husband international explorer Jim McNeill to train teams to explore the harsh wilderness of the Arctic on environmental expeditions. A career in these fields has only become more inclusive in the past ten years.

Sam said: 'I was lucky enough never to be hindered or disadvantaged by my gender and have never felt I've experienced chauvinism or sexism directed at me. I've always lived my life on my terms.

'Sadly, however, there are many, many girls and women around the world who have been born into countries and societies where they absolute don't have that privilege because of their gender.

'For me that is why International Women's Day is so important, to give a voice to those girls and women who can't speak out, can't receive an education and follow their dreams and face losing their life if they do. They still need to know there is hope!'