IMDiversity’s Women’s Village celebrates International Women’s Day, 2011, by honoring two women of color from two very distinct cultures who have had major impact on today’s world.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, March 2011, and especially to commemorate the 100th anniversary, this March 8th, of the first International Women’s Day, we’re spotlighting two women who have had positive global reach within the last year. Our choices have selectively centered on 2 women of greatly varying positions, roles, geography and opportunity. In doing so, we wanted to show how a sense of the specialness of womanhood inhabits and connects us all.
Hope disappears only when you say there’s no hope — Asma Mahfouz
Asma Mahfouz is the 26 year-old Egyptian woman whoseFacebook/YouTube video went viral, edging Egyptians, women especially, out into the streets and onto Tahrir Square on January 25th’s Day of Wrath; here the final salvo was launched of nonviolent revolution, ousting from power Hosni Mubarak and his 30 years of dictatorship, repression and poverty over the Egyptian people.
It’s not hard to see why Mahfouz’s plea had such impact. Her plainspeaking, plaindress—in traditional headscarf and simple street clothes—and projection of great strength and urgency created the most immediate and identifiable face of the revolution.
She became the face of women seeking the legitimacy and support to come out and make it a universal struggle, bridging gender, and class. In appealing for men of good intention to protect her and her sisters, she gave men added purpose, women added security, and signaled the hope for a new Egypt of greater partnership between the sexes.
Asma Mahfouz symbolizes today hope for the raising of women’s voices, for their inclusion in the emerging paradigm of a new Middle East.
Michelle Obama, the first African American First Lady, is maturing into an iconic figure who, now that she joins Eleanor Roosevelt as the most influential first lady in our history, may have as lasting an impact on the American people as her husband.
Michelle Robinson Obama, mother of two, stepped off the summit-reaching executive ladder to become First Lady and has used her berth to support women in finding that elusive balance between career and mothering. Her Let’s Move campaign and its attempt to overcome childhood obesity and raise healthy children is the most far-reaching attempt so far to give faltering parents a boost.
As a role model, she is a judicious and proud consumer of her African American culture, promoting positive cultural endeavors and icons amidst a morass of negative images, both black and white. With the president, they are a beacon of the commitment and hard work that successful marriages and healthy offspring are made of.
Spanning continents, cultures and life’s roles in this ever-changing world, Asma Mahfouz and Michelle Obama are bellwethers for the emerging 21st century woman who finds fulfillment through commitment.