Inspirational Women of the Modern Time

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A Brief History

On October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai boarded her school bus in northwest Pakistan.  A gunman asked for Malala by name, then pointed a Colt 45 at her and fired three shots.  One bullet hit the left side of Malala’s forehead, traveled under her skin the length of her face and then penetrated her shoulder.  In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England for intensive rehabilitation.  She went on to win Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and the Sakharov Prize for 2013.

Digging Deeper

Role models are important so that one has examples how one can act in certain situations in life. 

Throughout history women were often not seen as important.  In fact, the friezes at Baldwin-Wallace College that depict great civilizations and great men neglect to represent any women; women are neither shown nor acknowledged.  College is a time when students try to figure out what they believe in and what direction they should take in life.  As a female student, the author of this article showcases recent and contemporary women she feels had good attitudes or led lives or had accomplishments that are worthy of celebration.  For her they are role models, and in the following lists she explains why they are admirable and how they inspire her.

10.  Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan; 1915 – 1959)

Holiday is known as the “First Lady of the Blues.”  She is widely considered to be one of the most impressive and expressive jazz singers of all time.  Although she died aged only 44 in 1959, many of her records are still sold today.

In her own words, “You can’t copy anybody and end with anything. If you copy, it means you’re working without any real feeling. No two people on earth are alike, and it’s got to be that way in music or it isn’t music.” This quotation shows that she meant business, and when she made it big, it was because of her own efforts, despite being born poor.

9.  Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; 1926 – 1962)

She does not have the best reputation because of the mistakes she made and because she was primarily famous for her looks and affairs.  She even acknowledged this herself by saying, “I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”  She may have had a couple mishaps along the way, but she was honest and very real.

8.  Audrey Hepburn (born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; 1929 – 1993)

An actress during Hollywood’s Golden Age, Hepburn defined beauty and grace.  She was one of the best actresses of her time and was later voted the most beautiful woman of the twentieth century.  After retiring, she devoted the rest of her life to her tireless humanitarian work and efforts with UNICEF and is quoted as saying, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’.”

7.  Billie Jean King (born 1943 – )

King played tennis and won 67 professional tiles.  “Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquility,” could also be a description of King’s fierce and collected and calm sides.  She now employs these traits in the pursuit of equal rights for gays and lesbians and has battled for equal pay for women.

6.  Oprah Winfrey (1954 – )

Oprah is the first woman to own a talk show, and her book club is also successful.  Not just being a woman but also an African American made it especially hard for her, but she persevered.  “Turn your wounds into wisdom” are words to live by.  They obviously helped Oprah defy the odds.

5.  Madonna Louise Ciccone (1958 – )

With over 250-million records sold, Madonna is the most successful female artist of all time.  She herself describes her personality best with, “I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay”.  Though she may not be the most talented performer in all that she does, her incredible self-confidence and determination to get what she wants put her on top of the others.

4.  Princess Diana (1961 – 1997)

Loved by millions who watched her grow into her role as a royal, Princess Diana did make mistakes, but these only made her more human to the rest of us.  Generous, kind and loving is how she was perceived, and she gave a lot back through her humanitarian work.  Empathetic and compassionate, she knew that,  “everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back if only they had the chance.”

3.  J.K. Rowling (1965 – )

As a single mother barely making ends meet, J.K. Rowling started writing her first best-selling novel on a napkin.  Now she is a self-made woman.  “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place” definitely benefitted her.

2.  Tegla Laroupe (1973 – )

As a runner, Tegla Laroupe held the marathon record and won many awards.  She now promotes peace, education and woman rights in her native country of Kenya.  Her statement, “In a country where only men are encouraged, one must be one’s own inspiration”  is empowering.

1.  Malala Yousafzai (1997 – )

Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban in her efforts to get an education.  She ended up being shot in the head but survived.  Rather than let that destroy her, she is now known globally for woman’s rights in terms of equal education.  “All I want is an education, and I am afraid of no one” shows her determination and fearlessness.

Though many of them are not conventional role models, in the opinion of the author, all of these women deserve a place on friezes in the halls of college campuses so that female students have someone they might be able to relate to to look up to and to learn from.  Who do you think are great, inspirational women of the modern time and why?

For another interesting event that happened on October 9, please see the History and Headlines article: “October 9, 1992: UFO Crushes Chevy Malibu (The Peekskill Meteorite).”

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