Friday, 21 October 2011

Women of the year

This week has been full of inspiring women! It began with the Women of the Year lunch on Monday where I was in the company of some very inspiring women, one of whom was a WI member from South Lincolnshire. This woman has done so much throughout her life, not least receiving the Battle of Britain medal! Not many women could claim to have one of those in their possession. Guests ranged from well known celebrities, such as Lulu and Ruby Wax, to journalists and child minders, chief executives of companies, lawyers, editors and chefs, fighters for justice, councillors, and choreographers and inventors – the list is almost endless! And that’s without mentioning the women who strive to bring peace into so many situations.

The winners were all documented but the words of one, Nawar El Saadawi, were particularly memorable. Nawar has been persecuted throughout her life for her views, her books have been banned, and she has received death threats. Earlier this year she was in her native Egypt when the president resigned. Nawar urged women to continue to use their brains to make a difference – because women's brains work differently from those of men. That a young man or woman should say, “Nawar, reading your book has changed my life” has to be the highest accolade.

Closer to home, I visited a federation council meeting in Cornwall where I witnessed many inspiring things within the world of the WI, which is so often the heart of a community. Many awards were given out throughout the evening to reward achievements by WIs and for attainment of members, and it is always important to remember that the WI truly inspires when it helps a member do more than she ever thought was possible; women who help others achieve this are truly inspirational and we are lucky to have plenty of them.