The Well-Spoken Women of 2012


2012’s Well-Spoken Women
Give well-spoken women their due for a year filled with remarkable performances.  They delivered rousing words. Called it as they saw it. Rose above scathing scrutiny.  And, one brave girl is still recovering from attack. Their collective voices signal progress for women in the public square.

Malala Yousufzai | Education Advocate
The acceptance speech of this Nobel Peace Prize nominee is eagerly anticipated, let’s hope she wins. The courageous teen was shot by the Taliban for wanting all girls to go to school. Yousufzai’s BBC blog “The Diary of a Pakistani School Girl” was a voice for a generation that deserves and needs an education.  

Sandra Fluke | Attorney
Nasty name calling and a cold shoulder on Capitol Hill didn’t silence this forceful champion for equality. The demeaning treatment was ever more shameful in contrast to Fluke’s grace, grit, and good humor. Fluke told Parade Magazine:  “2012 is ending up a little better than it started off. I wasn’t planning on having a major career moment based on being called a prostitute but in reflection, Julia Roberts did it very well…”

Michelle Obama | First Lady
The job of a surrogate speaker is never an easy one.  You are expected to do your best but never outshine the principal.  The First Lady hit it just right before the crowd at the Democratic convention:  “Barack knows the American dream because he has lived it.”  We welcome four more years of watching her own the room.

Elizabeth Warren | U.S. Senator-Elect
When Ms. Warren goes to Washington, consumers will have a reform advocate on the Senate banking committee. The big money interests may have blocked her from running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but they couldn’t defeat her at the polls.  Now, the powerful on Wall Street and her soon-to-be Senate colleagues will contend with a people-backed fighter for oversight and accountability.  

Kathryn Bigelow | Director, Zero Dark Thirty
The first ever woman Academy Award honoree for best director is back with another war story. Now she is telling of the woman at the center of the CIA’s hunt to bring down Osama bin Laden. The film’s provocative subject has generated partisan sniping across the ideological spectrum. What is Oscar worthy, is this director’s POV.  Her sensibility speaks volumes about the value of powerful woman in Hollywood.

Marissa Mayer | Yahoo CEO
Mayer’s wince inducing comment that having a baby was “easy” caused consternation especially for those lacking her executive pay scale.  At a minimum, the new mom generated a dialogue albeit a searing one about parenting and the workplace.  If having the baby wasn’t easy would she have been able to share that?

Gabby Douglas | Olympic Gold Medalist
With head held high, the first African-American to win gold in the gymnastics individual all-around ignored the bizarre references to her hair that went viral during the London Games.  As Douglas will tell you, there’s no primping in gymnastics.  No amount of Internet chatter about hair gel could break her performance focus.

Julia Gillard | Australian Prime Minister
In a shot at “old fashioned and closed-mind attitudes” Australia’s first woman Prime Minister didn’t mince words in what has become known as her “misogyny speech.”  Calling out a legislator for a track record of sexism, Gillard said:  “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives; he needs a mirror.”  This is the speech everyone should see

Hillary Clinton | Secretary of State
Will she or won’t she, not even her hair dresser knows.  Whatever the decision, Madam Secretary has nailed the champion stance of an international stateswoman.  Her commanding presence was center stage whether conferring with NATO foreign ministers, toasting presidents and prime ministers, or talking democracy with Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi.