The Strongest Women Of 2011
On December 30, 2011, 8:20 PM by Savannah Cox
Five women who shook the world in 2011.
2011 has proven to be quite the dichotomous year for women. For every union-saving frau like Angela Merkel there has been a Kardashian who impetuously destroys unions of the more “sacred” ilk. For every title of “first” that IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde tacks on to her glistening resume, there is an overbearing and neurotic mom exploiting her 4-year-old daughter to win both the title of Miss Grand Supreme and a supremely tacky tiara. From Lady Gaga to Hillary Clinton to Michele Bachmann, women have ruled the scene this year and have thus highlighted the female psyche at its best and worst. It is without further ado, then, that we bring you the strongest women of 2011.
Angela Merkel: The Iron Frau
Hailing from the formerly Communist East Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel knows a thing or two about the importance of unity. So revered by the international community, Merkel has consistently topped the list of Forbes “Most Powerful Woman” from 2006 to 2011 (save for 2010) and has been eternalized in plastic via her 11.5-inch tall Barbie form.
Prior to becoming the Chancellor of Germany and earning the title of the longest serving leader of a G8 country, Ms. Merkel paved her way through school as a discotheque barmaid and ultimately worked toward her doctorate in quantum chemistry while living in a veritable hovel that lacked both hot water and a toilet.
Picking up fluency in Russian along the way, Merkel now works with people more obstinate than belligerent bar patrons in order to accomplish something even more arduous than the pursuit of a doctorate in science: saving the euro zone from economic collapse. Nevertheless, her cast iron resolve springs eternal and it has not gone unnoticed: a Forbes poll reports that the French have more faith in Merkel (46%) to save them from the mires of economic malaise than they do in their cher Sarkozy (33%).
Asmaa Mahfouz: The Little Lady Who Started The Big Revolution
If you asked Asmaa Mahfouz on January 24th if she thought her YouTube video would result in the massive protests that currently serve as the burning image of the Arab Spring, she would have responded with a resounding “no.” Horrified by the fatal beating of Alexandria’s Khaled Said and inspired by the seeds of revolution planted by Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’s heroic act of self-immolation, the slight 26-year-old decided to combat the oppressive Mubarak regime herself.
Her weapon? Not her body or a bomb: the Internet. Taking to YouTube and Facebook in January 2011, Mahfouz called on her compatriots to join her in Tahrir Square to protest the human rights violations inflicted by Hosni Mubarak and his crooked cronies. And on January 25, they did: 50,000 marched en masse to Cairo’s center to demand their human rights.
Like most things viral, her voice spread and mobilized many of those formerly paralyzed in fear into action from Suez to Alexandria to Zuccotti Park. Demonstrating her support for the Occupy Wall Street movement this past October, Mahfouz stated in an interview with Democracy Now that “another world is possible for us” and it is therefore necessary to express solidarity with other international harbingers of change. Her first thoughts on Occupy Wall Street? “It’s a small Tahrir Square.”
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