David’s posted a link to an excellent story calling attention to the people who should have captured the media attention in 2010, but who didn’t. (I’m pulling it out from comments to make sure it doesn’t get missed.) Two of them are particularly relevant to this blog, but really all of them are:
Under-Appreciated Person Two: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The only African leader who appears with any regularity on our TV screens is the snarling psychopath Robert Mugabe, spreading his message of dysfunction and despair. We rarely hear about his polar opposite.
In 2005, the women of Liberia strapped their babies to their backs and moved en masse to elect Africa’s first ever elected female President. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was a 62-year-old grandmother who had been thrown in prison by the country’s dictators simply for demanding democracy. She emerged blinking into a country trashed by 14 years of civil war and pillaged by dictators – but she said she would, at last, ensure that the Liberian state obeyed the will of its people.
In the face of a chorus of cynics, she did it. She restored electricity for the first time since 1992. She got the number of children in school up by 40 per cent. She introduced prison terms for rapists for the first time. Now she is running for re-election in a fully open and contested ballot. I look at her and I think of all the women I have seen by the roadsides of Africa, carrying impossibly heavy loads on hunched backs – and I know what they will achieve when they are finally allowed to…
Under-Appreciated People Four: The Saudi Arabian women who are fighting back. Women like Wajehaal-Huwaider are struggling against a tyranny that bans them from driving, showing their face in public, or even getting medical treatment without permission from their male “guardian”. The streets are policed by black-clad men who enforce sharia law and whip women who express any free will.
Saudi women are being treated just as horrifically as Iranian women – but because their oppressors are our governments’ allies, rather than our governments’ enemies, you hear almost nothing about them. Huwaider points out that her sisters are fighting back and being beaten and whipped for it, and asks: “Why isn’t the cry of these millions of women heard, and why isn’t it answered by anyone, anywhere in the world?”