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My Top 10 Women of 2011

I thought I would end the year and start my blogging journey with a tribute to the fabulous females who have inspired me this past year…

10 NAOMI KLEIN Author and social activist. I finally got around to reading The Shock Doctrine (1997) this summer and the book felt particularly relevant given the current economic crisis. The Shock Doctrine explains the brutal nature of capitalism. Not afraid to go after the big boys Klein writes about how political upheavals and natural disasters have been orchestrated and/or exploited to enable the free market experiment to exist. She provides many examples of unjust and certainly un-democratic actions of Western governments in setting up economies that support their world view. Klein reminds me that the truth must be spoken however ugly it may be.

9 NAOMI WOLF Author and social activist. I found a copy of The Beauty Myth (1991) at my local market this summer. Wolf put into words the reality for so many women, how images of beauty have replaced older social discourses to control and restrict women. I am struck by, how 10 years on, the beauty myth as supported by the media, cosmetics, diet, fashion and plastic surgery industries is firmly lodged in our consciousness.

SHAIMA JASTAINA Womens’ Rights Campaigner. In the Year of the Protester, focus has been on the Arab Spring uprisings but reforms are also needed in countries where the West gives support to those in power. In Saudia Arabia women are not allowed to drive. In July, Jastaina took to the road in Jeddah and was subsequently tried and sentenced to 10 lashings. Her penalty was overturned by the late King Abdullah but the ban on women drivers still exists.

7 MERRL WYN DAVIES Author and Director Muslim Institute. I came across this Welsh convert to Islam in a Rageh Omar documentary about the life of the Phophet Muhammed pbuh. A delightful blend of critic, Muslim and straight-talking Welsh lady, she spoke of Islam in a language that I understood. Disillusioned with the traditional and insular practices I see around me Davies gave a progressive, inclusive and transformative view of Islam. I was overjoyed to find someone who articulated my feelings about my religion so well.

6 BETTY SUAREZ fictional TV character. Betty is a courage, kind-hearted and slightly naive Mexican American played by America Ferrera in the US programme Ugly Betty. Betty navigates her way though family, love and working at a top fashion magazine with determination and charm. I love the fashion but mostly I love how Betty speaks to ugly ducklings everywhere and by the end of the series has lost her braces learnt to love herself and travelled to London to persue her dream of setting up a magazine.

5 ISJ My friend. This year my friend decided to go travelling on her own, when she realised how much she was enjoying it, she quit the job she hated and extended the trip. While out there she found her passion using her creative flair to paint nails. She now does this at home and sells her designs on Etsy. Hoorah for bare-faced boldness and discovering a new talent.

4. MA My friend. MA is always honest, to others and herself. While I was building a career and applying for a mortgage MA was back in education training in her real passion – dance. Now a choeographer, she creates art that is meaningful and insightful, by submitting to the  creative process and resisting commercial or controlled projects. Her visit reawakens my creativity and helps me to understand the ambiguous nature of the process.

3 AT My friend. AT came into my life quite accidentally and has become one of my closest friends, reminding me that lasting friendships can emerge when you least expect them. I was winding down to begin maternity leave and she came to complete a 10 week placement  at my office. I was surprised to discover that we read the same books, had similar feeling about our relationships and could talk for hours about topics that I have seen other people get glazy-eyed at after five minutes. She made my last day at work so much fun and I laughed so much that I thought I may give birth prematurely. Here is to finding new life-long friendships.

2 JH My Midwife. Calm and firm yet personable and interested in me, my midwife helped create the birthing experience I had hoped for. She listened to my desire for minimal medical intervention and despite my waters breaking early, kept the doctors and inducing practices at bay. With her help I delivered naturally, with no tearing and baby was latched on and feeding in the first hour. Amazing women….sorry for all the swearing!

1 AB My daughter. Only 3 months old and she has already given me so much. A new found respect for my body in that it can create and nurture another human being. Born on International Peace Day she has taught me patience and tolerance of others. She has opened doors in my relationship with her father that I never realised were there. Above all, she has given me the courage to be the woman that she would be proud to call her mother.

Thank you ladies. May God bless you all and here’s hoping for a happy and fulfilling 2012…