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Five women we admire

Posted in Things We Love, and Women's issues

When camparigirl told me she was thinking of writing a post that featured some women in the public eye that she really admired, I wanted in. We compiled a short list each – and discovered that we had one Hero in common, two others very different. And here they are.

For us both: Hillary Clinton

Whilst her husband was busy lying about Monica Lewinsky, Hilary was watching him with a wry eye that told us she knew the score. And throughout the scandal she demonstrated an internal resilience that got our attention and our respect. Who knows what was going on behind closed doors, but she held herself, him and Chelsea together. Kept calm and carried on … to become the US Secretary of State and, hopefully, a Democratic Presidential candidate in 2016.

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When she gracefully promised Barak Obama she would support him in his bid for President (after losing to him in the Democratic Primaries), she stuck to her word and followed through. Even being prepared to take the blame when her leader needed support. And doing it with a grace that belied any personal rancour.

It can’t have been easy living with a brilliant man like Bill. But she has proved herself his equal and then some. She has been smart and considered in her opinion and reaction. She took style advice but still looks like herself. She took policy advice but stuck to her guns. She took legal advice and didn’t comment. Hillary learned from her mistakes.

Without apology or explanation – Hillary shows up. (sofagirl)

Wherever you are on the love/hate spectrum when it comes to Mrs. Clinton, you have to hand it to the lady: she is impossibly smart, impossibly hard-working and impossibly steely. During her husband’s presidency, no matter how reviled, criticized, analyzed she was, she never lost her composure. And, when most women, humiliated by one of the most public betrayals in history (or, at least, the most televised) would have divorced the cad and moved on, Mrs Clinton held on and thought of her brand. And how wise she was. After her husband’s second term came to a close, she became a senator, a serious presidential contender and one of the best Secretary of the State this country has ever had. And the signs are there she will probably run again for President in 2016. Through it all, she has not forgotten her sex and has worked extensively to better the lives of women the world over, in the belief that the welfare of women is central to economic stability. (camparigirl)

Graca Machel:

The only woman in the world to have been first lady of two countries: the newly independent Mozambique (as Samora Machel’s wife) and the newly freed South Africa (when she married Nelson Mandela in 1998). Graca said she knew her most important role was as wife and stepmother before political consort. And that creating an “all-welcome, all included”, multiple-family unit was her first priority in her marriage. Which she has achieved admirably considering the parties involved.

Nelson Mandela - Graca Machel 2

Graca reminded us all that our beloved Madiba is a man and not a saint – telling an interviewer on Mandela’s 90th birthday with a smile: “he is very stubborn you know – once he gets an idea in his head he won’t let it go”.  In her gently yet savvy way – making sure we didn’t set him up to fail.

Graca is an intellect and influence in her own right.  She is an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, producing the groundbreaking United Nations report on the impact of armed conflict on children and in 1997, was made a British dame for her humanitarian work. She is also fluent in six languages, a UN ambassador, a member of the Elders and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

This is a woman who has loved two Freedom Fighters – men that became Leaders of their Countries. But more than that – she is the woman who recognised that our Tata needed a home, with his favourite foods on the table, a rug over his knees, grandkids running around and the radio playing jazz in the background. And for that alone – we are eternally grateful. (sofagirl)

Alissa Rubin

imgv-iraq-obamaAlissa Rubin entered my life when I moved to Los Angeles and subscribed to the Los Angeles Times, then she promptly disappeared a few years later. When I switched my subscription to the New York Times about six years ago, I was glad to find her voice again and to see she had moved up to become Iraq and then Afghanistan Bureau Chief for the leading newspaper in the country.

A petite 49-year-old who has spent most of her adult life in combat zones, Ms. Rubin’s reporting draws the reader in, not just for her acuity and intelligence, but also for the exquisite point of view she brings to the realities of war. If John Burns is a master of the intricacies and policies of combat, Ms. Rubin takes us inside the horror, often focussing her gaze on the plight of women in countries where women’s rights are still beyond a dream. (camparigirl)

To view a sample of Ms. Rubin’s writing click here

Anna Wintour 

'In Vogue: The Editor's Eye' film screening, New York, America - 04 Dec 2012The Style Maven – a one-woman fashion tour de force. In the most restrained way. Wintour modernised fashion, creating a big business out of it.  On the way she remade American Vogue into the ultimate fashion bible – always beautiful, always classy – always just beyond our reach.

Much like the woman herself who has kept her life and love private, and weathered every criticism with a cool detachment and seeming disinterest. Recognising the potential in Michelle Obama – she dedicated 8-pages of the magazine to her. Re-inventing her look for the hautest office – but more than that – giving Mrs Obama a platform from which to talk about her husband, her beliefs and her life. Allowing us to know there was someone like us in the White House.

Clever Anna – politicing in the most elegant of forums. Michelle is responding in kind by pushing for a Diplomatic Posting for Wintour as a Cultural attaché. A genius exit strategy: for Vogue’s longest serving, and most influential Editor. Who unerringly knows when a trend is on the wane. (sofagirl)

Dame Judy Dench

There are other actresses of the caliber of Dame Judy Dench but what I particularly admire her grace, both off and on screen. Ms Dench comes across as a woman who has done exactly what she loves all her life, on stage as a remarkable Shakespearian actor, and on  the big screen. Her achievements, including an Academy Award for “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999 are too numerous to list but, if you have never seen Mrs. Henderson Presents, do yourself a favor, rent it, pour yourself a glass of wine or open a bar of chocolate, curl up on the couch and expect to be fully entertained by this small movie she carries entirely on her shoulders.

Dame-Judi-Dench2214Happily married until her husband, fellow actor Michael Williams died in 2001, she also played a prime example of a woman who can have it all in later years in the tv series “As Time Goes By” that first aired in 1999. An older woman with a business to run and a new relationship to foster – not only is it still very funny today, it’s also an unorthodox but pointed playbook for any couple, of any age. I hope, at 77, to still be doing what I love, with the same grace, sense of purpose and skill as Ms. Dench. (camparigirl)

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13 Comments

  1. Spoiler alert to anyone who has not seen Skyfall! Just erease previous comment from your memory….I am also very bummed she is gone. One of the reasons I would even watch James Bond – the other being Daniel Craig

    December 13, 2012
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  2. alan
    alan

    EXCELLENT PIECE……..I HATE THAT judy was written out of Bond forever…….ill really miss her unique character and acting skills.
    ………..and…….GO HILLARY….

    December 12, 2012
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    • Thank you for the suggestion. Will no doubt watch it as I am a big admirer of Ms Suu Kyi. I actually do remember Dr. Joyce Brothers although I can’t say I ever read anything she wrote. Interesting addition. Any woman who has fought abuse, who has helped other women empower themselves and taught them to speak up is a hero in my book.

      December 13, 2012
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      • You’re welcome. Ditto : – ) Let me know what you think of the movie and/or review.

        December 13, 2012
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        • I just ordered it on Netflix. Will let you know asap

          December 13, 2012
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  3. Great selection. I would have added Aung San Suu Kyi too. There was an excellent movie about the plight of the Burmese that included her. Can’t think of the name of it, but it was an under appreciated film. Just outstanding. I would also have included Dr. Joyce Brothers. Maybe you gals are too young to remember her. She wrote an outstanding article in Parade many years ago about men in certain fields who abuse women: athletes, cops, and doctors. Talk about bold! There actually was one time where Hillary Clinton lost her composure. She began crying. I hated to see that because I knew it would be interpreted negatively. I think it was when she lost the nomination. Glad to see you didn’t include Oprah! I’m just saying.

    December 12, 2012
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  4. Dear Sofagirl and Camparigirl,
    Enjoyed reading about these women. Happy to see Clinton on the list–over the years, I have been somewhat perplexed in regard to her as a role model, but it all makes sense now and I truly admire her. Thanks for the interesting post!
    Theg(r)eekgirl

    December 11, 2012
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  5. I love Aung San Suu Kyi. I loved when she recently met with Hillary Clinton and there seemed to be so much warmth between the two of them. I thought about including her but, as much as I love her, I am not sure I can relate to such extreme choices taken in the name of freedom. I admire people who can do that because I don’t think I could. Given the choice, I would have probably left my country. Never say never, maybe put in similar circumstances I would feel differently but I think such courage is the property of very few human beings.

    December 11, 2012
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    • silvia
      silvia

      I do agree with you, such courage is hard to be found. Nonetheless I like to have the certainty that somewhere in the world a woman can move mountains eventhough I will never be able to do the same.

      December 13, 2012
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  6. silvia
    silvia

    Proudly the list is long and it’s really hard to choose among all these names, it’s a had work to do and you did great.
    But there is one in my heart I’d like to remember that doesn’t need presentations, the 1991 Nobel Prize for peace, the newly member of Burma Parliament after years of opposition, resistence and resilience as Head of a non-violence movement to free her country from military dictatorship: Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. For me she embodies the legitimate right for freedom for every single human being and the fact that she is a woman enriches its meaning.

    December 11, 2012
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  7. All wonderful role models. Inspiring.

    December 11, 2012
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