Women Of The Year 2011 (No Pandas)
As Christmas day passes and the population spends a few days in the doldrums waiting for New Year’s Eve, journalists across the land begin to hastily gather information and evidence for those vaguely irritating ‘end-of-the-year’ lists. The BBC got in rather early, with its ‘Faces of 2011’. However, something wasn’t quite right with the women chosen. The inclusion of a panda as the most newsworthy woman of December 2011 quickly sparked justifiable outrage from people who believe women are human.
Let’s not fool ourselves; the BBC’s list was less about women achievers, and more about newsworthy women of the year. A browse through the men’s version confirms this, with Paul McMullan, ex News of the World journalist, featuring as Mr July. Granted, he did get a lot of press coverage, and there is nothing admirable about hacking phones- but he wasn’t replaced with an animal.
The inclusion of Sweetie the panda isn’t the only slap in the face to the women. The human females on the list are regarded newsworthy for getting married, or being victims of awful crimes, or being a figment of someone’s imagination, whereas the male list didn’t include men who were famous for getting married (not to mention the fact that they were all human). This just isn’t good enough. I’ve decided to compile an alternative list. In no particular order, I give you, the newsworthy women 2011!
1. Sarah Stevenson
Before #pandagate the BBC’s Sports Personality of the year list conveniently forgot that women existed. But here is a notable British sportswomen who didn’t received half as much press coverage as she deserved in 2011. World Tae Kwon Do champion Sarah Stevenson started training in in the sport at the age of seven and has collected 10 medals since then – six of them gold.
2. The women who started Slutwalk
When a Canadian policeman warned a group of female students not to dress like ‘sluts’ in order to avoid being raped, his throwaway comment inspired those women to spark one a worldwide feminist march movement. With its roots in Toronto, Slutwalk touched nerves of feminists and non-definers alike, with thousands turning out on the streets all year long to rail against victim-blaming.
3. Aung San Suu Kyi
It is mind boggling that Suu Kyi didn’t make the original list. The Burmese politician was detained under house arrest for a total of 15 years, and has been campaigning for democracy in Burma for most of her adult life. This year, her party, the National League for Democracy, announced it would return to politics after boycotting the last Burmese elections in 2010, with Suu Kyi running for parliament.
4. Pauline Pearce
Pauline, or the Hackney Heroine, keeps her place on the list. Her impassioned monologue in the eye of the August riots cut through the chaos, captivating rolling news audiences with a sense of clarity that could hardly be comprehended through the images of burning buildings and shattered glass.
5. Mona Eltahawy
One of the woman who tweeted the revolution. Mona Eltahawy has not only won numerous awards for her journalism- this year she tweeted the Egyptian revolution from Tahrir Square whilst millions of us were glued to our laptop screens. In November she was beaten and sexually assaulted by Egyptian security forces. She tweeted the moment, and told the full story to The Guardian, further exposing Egypt’s oppressive regime.
6. Christine Lagarde
If we’re talking column inches, it would be impossible not to mention Lagarde. Christine took over from Dominique Strauss-Khan has managing director of the International Monetary Fund in July 2011. Now she’s navigating the European financial crisis. She was also the first ever female chair of an international law firm.
7. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee & Tawakkol Karman
The three women who jointly shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Sirleaf, Gbowee and Karmen are from Yemen and Liberia and were awarded the prize for their amazing services to global feminist activism. The women were awarded the prize in December – the same month that the BBC saw fit to dedicate the most newsworthy woman of the month to a panda.
8. Kim Kardashian
Reality star Kim Kardashian has done more to expose the absurdity of the notion ‘sanctity of marriage’ than she may realise. Her farcical 72 day marriage racked up substantial column inches, with many dismissing it at a publicity stunt. Situated in the middle of 2011’s continuous worldwide fights for equal marriage, it also caused many to question just exactly what was so special about marriage between a man and a woman that had to be so viciously discriminatory.
9. Nafissatou Diallo
Originally appearing on the BBC’s list, Nafissatou Diallo retains her place on the alternative list not for ‘causing a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic’, as the BBC’s Bob Chaundy so eloquently put it – but for speaking up against rape and sexual assault in the face of money, power, press intrusion, and horrendous adversity.
10. Angela Merkel
Merkel is the first ever female Chancellor or Germany, Forbes’ number 1 most powerful woman, and is often regarded as the leader of the European Union. If that’s not newsworthy, I don’t know what is.