malala-yousafzai-1-w724When thinking about influential women under the age of 25 these days, one name springs to mind. The young lady who has had my friends and I in jaw-locked awe is Malala Yousafzai. You will definitely have heard of her… especially if you follow the news.

When I was her age, my biggest concern was not being allowed to go to the Blue Light Disco to make puppy eyes at the latest hottie. The plight of other 16 year old girls around the world couldn’t be further from my mind. So just to re-ignite the embers of interest here’s a run down of why Malala will go down in history.

In Pakistan and in many of the middle Eastern countries, girls and women are not given the same right to an education as their brothers. The Taliban, perhaps, see education of females as a threat to their regime. So Malala was forced to use pseudonym when writing blogs for the BBC about what life was REALLY like under the Taliban. In 2009 she was only 11 or 12.

In 2010 a documentary was made about her life by The New York Times. This lead to her public speaking fame which she she chose to use to turn the spotlight on the plight of the inequality in educational opportunities in the middle east. This also lead to award nominations and the International Children’s Peace Prize.

Malala again made headlines in October of 2012, when the Taliban tried to shut her up for good by shooting her in the forehead, and killing her classmates who were on the bus with her. She spent many months in rehabilitation.

By April 2013 Malala had been on Time Magazine‘s ‘100 most influential people’ list, and her face graced the cover of that issue. Standing tall in the faces of the terrorists.

Canada decided to give Malala an honorary Canadian Citizenship a few days after the first anniversary of the shooting.

She won the inaugural National Youth Peace Prize in Pakistan and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel slipped past her this year, but I know in my gut that she will get the honour in the years to come.

What this incredible young woman does in her spare time will change the world for the better and when she turns her sights on public speaking, she is one outstandingly inspirational person.

“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”

Malala has released her first book entitled I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.

I look forward to getting the chance to read this book as it has the potential to make a whole generation sit up and pay attention. How grateful I am that we to live in an era when 16 isn’t too young to have a say in the future of our planet.

Here is a link to the speech Malala made to the UN in 2013.


I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Paperback,320 pages

Published October 8th 2013 by W & N Non Fiction (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)(first published March 2013)

ISBN: 0297870920 (ISBN13: 9780297870920)


May ObrienSince we’ve been looking so much at amazing women abroad for the last few Mirror Mirror instalments, I thought it time to look to our own shores for a while. Today we look at the MOST influential Indigenous Australian woman, May O’Brien.

Born in Western Australia, in1933 to the Wongatha people May was part of ‘The Stolen Generation’, however, as she tells it she was not ‘stolen, but displaced by circumstances out of her control’. An abusive mother and an absent father, meant May spent plenty of time in institutions. She may not have been stolen, however, she would have been treated no differently than those who were.

Despite her disadvantages, May blossomed into an activist, an author, a teacher and a forward thinker. She was taken in by a part-Aboriginal couple, who were unable to adopt her because of the then ‘native welfare laws’. In turn, this lead her to the Mount Margaret Mission.

For a decade May worked and studied at Mount Margaret. She went onto school and then to college (which was almost unheard of for an Aboriginal woman) and returned to Mount Margaret Mission to teach in 1954. As the first female Aboriginal teacher in Western Australia, she has earned her title as a trail blazer.

obrien_wunambiShe spent 25 years working in education, and was eventually given the chance to begin planning programs designed to benefit indigenous children in the education system.

In 1977 she was awarded the British Empire Medal, opening doors toward further recognition including the Churchill Fellowship in 1984. This particular medal allowed her to study other indigenous cultural issues in Canada, Great Britain and the USA.

Up to this point she had worked tirelessly against racism and sexism.

Retirement from the Education Department has not seen May slow down a whole lot. She is still an ambassador for Literacy and Numeracy, is involve in her community and has written many children’s books.

I encourage you to look more into the Stolen Generation, and have a little empathy for those who made the most of their situation and worked to change the laws, change society and fought to give the following generations a better chance of success.


Some of May’s children’s books

The Legend of the Seven Sisters

Wunambi the Water Snake  

Bawoo Storie

The point of this series is to highlight strong women who you may not know anything about. To inspire and to give hope where you may be left wanting. The women we focus on have done courageous, incredible and amazing things to shape the world and blaze trails for each and everyone of us to follow. Today we’re going to look at the most powerful woman in the American political system.

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was born on October 26th 1947 in Chicago, Illinois. Unlike many of her fellow politicians, Hillary attended public schools. At age 13 her political aspirations and beliefs were sent reeling when she found evidence of electoral fraud against Richard Nixon, and rather than throwing in the towel she instead put her support behind another republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, for the 1964 election. Hillary was, and is, an extremely smart woman graduating in the top 5 percent of her high school class in 1965.

Her college studies were also weighted heavily in political sciences. Her views were once again brought into question with the Vietnam War, she was said to have described herself as “a mind conservative and a heart liberal.” But Hillary was to find her fire after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr., whom she met in the early Sixties. She organised a two-day student strike and worked with Wellesley’s black students to recruit more black students and faculty at Wellesley College.

From here Hillary spent time studying at Yale Law School, and in 1974 she was a member of the impeachment inquiry staff in Washington D.C, and we all know the rest of that story. She married Bill Clinton in Arkansas on October 11, 1975, in a Methodist ceremony in their living room.

From ’75 until the early ’90’s Hillary became the first woman to be made a full partner of Rose Law Firm, gave birth to their daughter Chelsea, and was a advocate for children’s and women’s rights.

As the First Lady of the United States of America, Clinton helped construct the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice, promoted immunisations against childhood illness and through coverage of Medicare gave older women the opportunity to receive mammograms to detect breast cancer. Not to keep things for women only she also helped get extra funding into prostate cancer research.

On January 21, 2009 Hillary Clinton took her oath as President Obama’s Secretary of State. She was in the Whitehouse of her own accord. Now things were going to get a little interesting as she had the platform to empower women globally, not just in her own back yard.

Mostly her role as Secretary of State was as a diplomat. She managed to ruffle a few feathers by speaking frankly about freedom of information, equality of same sex couples, and women’s rights. One of the highlights had to have been meeting with with Burmese leaders as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and sought to support the 2011 Burmese democratic reforms.

Hillary’s last day as the Secretary of State for the United States government was on February 1 2013, and became a fully private citizen for the first time in thirty years. She wishes to stick to her philanthropic ventures, public speaking and writing more on her biography.

The world needs more women with her drive and intelligence. Makes me wonder if she’d take another swing at being the first American female President.


It’s been a while since we had a Mirror Mirror instalment and this one is sure to be interesting. Margaret Eleanor Atwood is a Canadian at heart, being born in Ottowa on November 18, 1939. She began writing at the tender age of 6, but her realisation of wanting to be a writer came a decade later.

Atwood didn’t attend school full-time until she reached the eighth grade, and was in her 22 year of life when graduating from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in English (honours) and a minor in philosophy and French.

As well as graduating from University in 1961, she won the E.J. Pratt medal for Double Persephone, a book of poems she’d published privately, and armed with a fellowship from Woodrow Wilson she began graduate studies at Radcliff College completing them a year later.

She went on to teach in Universities across British Colombia, Alberta, Alabama, Toronto and Montreal, as well as becoming the Berg Professor of English at New York University.

There can only be one person to be the first to receive prestigious awards and Margaret was the first to receive the Arthur C. Clarke award in 1987 for The Handmaid’s Tale, the same book was also nominated for a Nebula Award in 1986 and a Prometheus Award in 1997. And though the three awards are synonymous with science fiction, Atwood did not see her work as fitting this genre. She explained… “For me, the science fiction label belongs on books with things in them that we can’t yet do…. speculative fiction means a work that employs the means already to hand and that takes place on Planet Earth.”

Margaret is also a known environmentalist, philanthropist and political heavy weight. She was an honorary joint president of the Rare Bird Club within BirdLife International, was the subject of the 2010 documentary, In The Wake of the Flood, by Canadian director Ron Mann following her on the book tour for The Year of the flood, and in 1987 spoke out against free trade proposals between Canada and America.

For writers perhaps her most lasting philanthropic venture was becoming the founder of the Writers Trust of Canada. Encouraging budding writers to make their mark on the world as she has.

There really is no question that Margaret Atwood is a much respected personality.

Now comes the exciting part for Brisbane people. On the 25th of February 2013 Margaret Atwood will continue her tour for The Year of the Flood with a one night only Evening of Words and Music. Tickets are selling fast and for more information you can head over to the Brisbane Writers Festival website or click the link…


It’s not every day you come across someone who strives to make a difference in the world, ‘Just like Mother Teresa’. To be honest I doubt there are many people who remember who Mother Teresa was and her selfless acts and achievements. So, a name I would like people to brand into their memories is Moira Kelly.

She was born in Melbourne on January 31st in 1964. At age 8, saw a documentary about Mother Teresa and decided then and there she wanted to get involved with humanitarian work. As with every journey she began small, jumping the fence to help feed the special needs kids in the special school next door to her own primary school.

She left school after completing grade 10 and in the years following, she trained to become a teaching assistant, a lay missionary, and a probation officer. With that knowledge under her belt and years of experience she moved to Western Australia to help with the Aboriginal Mission.

Unbeknownst to her parents, Moira sold her car when she returned to Melbourne, just so she could afford to travel to Calcutta in India to work alongside Mother Teresa in her mission for the full six weeks until her visa ran out. She returned to India in 1987 and a year later was awarded the Australian Bicentenary Young Woman of the Year for her work in community services and the Advance Australia Ambassador.

Since then Moira has done humanitarian work in the Bronx, Bosnia and Herzegovina and has started many aid programs, including Nobody’s Children and Children First. She opened a farm in conjunction with Children First called the Open Door Rotary Farm, where the children who are brought to Australia for medical treatment are homed and cared for.

Her awards are numerous and well and truly earned with hard work, blood, sweat and tears. To get an idea of just how she struggles to make the world better, you can look for A Compassionate Rage, a 2001 documentary film by Film Australia and Alan Lindsay following Kelly for 18 months on her missions overseas as she tries to organise medical treatment for sick and injured children.

Four of the children Moira has been able to help have been making headlines in the last few years, and it is debatable as to who makes us smile more. Trishna and Krishna are the conjoined twins from Bangladesh, who were successfully separated by the incredible surgeons at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Emmanuel Kelly you may have seen on the last season of X Factor, singing Imagine and making us all do the ugly cry with his angelic voice. Ahmed Mustafa is a quadruple amputee who will be representing Australia in the 2012 London Paralympics as part of our stellar swim team. The boys have come a long way from their humble beginnings in Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Baghdad.

Moira Kelly is certainly living a large life and her kindness will hopefully inspire generations to come.

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