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International Women’s Day: a list of some inspirational woman in the world

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International Women’s Day (IWD), marked on 8th March every year, started as a Socialist, political holiday, but is now celebrated all over the world.

There are some who argue that solidarity for women ‘should be for life, not one day’. True. But when you take into account that some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, still do not allow women the right to vote, its is important to have a day where we remember the struggle that women go through, as well as celebrating their achievements in what is still a man’s world.

I would like to concentrate on some inspirational women across the world, both obscure and well-known alike. As you can appreciate, there are far too many to list, but feel free to share your inspirational women in the comments below.


(The late) Marie Colvin

Marie Colvin

Born in Long Island, she was educated at Yale University and started her career as a police reporter for a news agency in New York before moving to Paris and then London. She then joined the Sunday Times in 1986 as a Middle East correspondent.

Marie died on February 22nd 2012 while covering the siege of Homs in Syria, aged just 56.

“We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, and what is bravado? Journalists covering combat shoulder great responsibilities and face difficult choices. Sometimes they pay the ultimate price.”

An inspiration for anyone who wants to be a foreign correspondent or war reporter.

Nabila Ramdani – French Journalist

Nabila Ramdani

French-born Nabila is a well-known journalist of Algerian descent who specialises in Anglo-French issues, Islamic affairs, and the Arab World. She writes for several British, French and Arabic newspapers,  as well as regularly appearing on television programmes, including the BBC and Al Jazeera.

Nabila was awarded the title Young Global Leader 2012 by the World Economic Forum and is a winner of the inaugural European Muslim Woman of Influence (EMWI) Award 2010.  She is a nominee for the EU Journalist Award-Together Against Discrimination 2010.

Nabila was due to take part in the Gaza Marathon this year until it was suddenly cancelled by Hamas. She wasted no time in condemning their actions.

This intelligent and articulate lady is not afraid to say what she believes. On top of that, she wears some chic blazers.

Mishal Husain – BBC World News presenter

Mishal Husain

Born in England to parents of Pakistani origin, Mishal gained her first experience of journalism at the age of 18, spending three months as a city reporter in Islamabad at Pakistan’s leading English-language newspaper The News.

In 2009, The Times named Husein as one of the most influential Muslim women in Britain.

Intelligent, beautiful and a fantastic presenter, she is an inspiration for south-Asian women everywhere.

Sara Khan – Director and Co-founder of Inspire

Sara Khan

An activist for women’s human rights organisation, Inspire, Sara completed an MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights. Sara is also a qualified hospital pharmacist and has a Masters in Pharmacy.  She has led on a number of innovative projects which have included leadership training, capacity building, women’s rights and the role Muslim women can play in countering extremism.

Is there no end to this lady’s talents?

She has contributed articles for the Guardian and New Statesman. In March 2009, Sara was listed in the Equality and Human Rights Commission Muslim Women’s Power List.

Raquel E Saraswati – activist

Raquel E Saraswati

A reform-minded Muslim, Raquel helped coordinate Irshad Manji’s Project Ijtihad, an effort aimed at fostering critical thinking in Islam. She has also been involved with gay rights organizations Al-Fatiha and Dignity/USA, and supports the Campaign to Stop Child Executions.

Raquel focuses primarily on issues related to the status of women and girls in the Muslim world and in Islamic communities in the West.  She is a vocal advocate for religious reform, freedom of speech, and equal rights for women and girls. If you follow her on Twitter, you will be well-aware of her feisty, won’t-take-any-crap attitude.

What I especially admire about her is that unlike many Muslim women who wear a hijab, she does not preach about it, nor does she condemn women who choose not to wear one.

Malala Yousafzai – Pakistani student and activist

Malala Yousafzai

I doubt there is anybody who does not know who this 15-year-old Pashtun activist and blogger is. The youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in history, she is known for her education and women’s rights activism in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. In early 2009, at the age of 11/12, Yousafzai wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls.

On October 9th 2012, Malala was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus.Her condition improved enough for her to be sent to a hospital in the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation.

Of the Taliban, she said: “Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” She is a perfect demonstration of what education can do for a female.

Ayesha Mattu/Nura Maznavi –  editors of Love InshAllah

Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi

Ayesha Mattu is a writer and international development consultant who has worked in the field of women’s human rights since 1998 and Nura Maznavi is a civil rights attorney, writer, and Fulbright Scholar. The fantastic duo paired up to edit Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, a collection of heartfelt narratives of American Muslim women.

What inspired me most about them was that they included everyone in this book – black, brown, white, devout women, nominal Muslims, you name it. Love InshAllah gave Muslim women of all backgrounds a platform on which to share their wonderful stories, something which was long overdue. Here’s hoping for a British version!

Naveeda – MUA

Naveeda, MUA

Naveeda, MUA

A professional hair and make up artisté and fully qualified beauty therapist, Naveeda is a well-known name in the beauty industry.  With over twelve years of experience in bridal make up, she is in the top of the list of make up artistés in every Asian magazine Editor’s contact book and regular contributes on leading bridal and fashion magazines such as Asiana.

What inspires me most about this lady is that she started off as a housewife with two young boys and grafted for years until she finally made it to where she is now. On top of that, she raised a fantastic son who is one of my closest friends.

Zee Mitha – business-woman @ZeeZooMeeMoo1

This feisty, loud, fellow Lancashire lass is not afraid to speak her mind. Zee always gets involved in community issues and has visited Muslims girls’ schools to inspire them to become businesswomen. She has contributed to the BBC Asian Network on topics which affect Asians and Muslims.

Whatever she has achieved in life, she has done so through hard-work and determination, often standing up to her own parents and community members to stand up for what she believes in.


My mother

Only kidding!

She has her faults and we may not see eye-to-eye all the time (ok never!) but I admire her for putting up with so much throughout her life. Everything she has now, she has because she went out there and did it for herself, not relying on anyone or anything. Plus she gave birth to ME so that’s got to put her in the list right? :- D


One Response

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  1. thanks for sharing this article and drawing my attention to names that I hadn’t encountered before. It would be so lovely to live in a world that doesn’t require a special day for women but until then,this day is great for raising issues that need to be addressed.

    Sarita (@SaritaAgerman)

    March 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

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