Woman of the year

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Woman of the year

It’s become a customary and traditional habit among online writers at this time of the year. They’ll be reviewing the highlights and lowlights of the past cataclysmic year. Or they’ll be waxing lyrical about joyful repasts which came and went quicker than you could sneeze. They also love talking about other people, prominent men and women mainly, who made headlines for all the right and wrong reasons. It’s not been a customary habit of mine, but I thought that this time I would add my own voice to this annual tradition. Where I come from, not much has been said about this woman.

But, indeed, she is spoken of and written about on a regular basis in other parts of the world. I’ll say this upfront, she has for many years been for me one of my most admired women. Her life has historically been a difficult one and in actual fact began as a child following in her father’s giant footsteps. For some years, she travelled to parts of the world with her mother, so also led a nomadic existence. By the time she was ready for college, she had, like me, developed an enduring love for books.

Now, particularly if she should win re-election as German Chancellor, I wonder if it would be premature to suggest that this humane German woman will at least be nominated for the Noble Prize for Peace towards the end of this year. On the European continent, no other leader has risked his or her political reputation as much as Angela Merkel has done. Her motives being quite pertinent in light of Germany’s history in the previous century, Angela Merkel remains at the forefront of helping as many Syrian refugees as possible, leaving most of her peers to shame.

In fact, one of the worlds’s leading current affairs magazines named Merkel as Person of the Year for 2015. But small mention has been made throughout the last few months to Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) likely first democratically-elected president, Aung San Suu Kyi. A spurious piece of legislation from the tiny Southeast Asian country’s military dictatorship, designed to oppress and hold on to power through corrupt means, currently prevents the Nobel Peace Prize laureate from acceding to her throne, something that Myanmar’s multicultural electorate could well be looking forward to later in the year.

Also, in previous years, Aung San Suu Kyi never aspired to such a lofty leadership position. Given the country’s long association with brutally oppressive rule and within the current global context, she may feel compelled to follow in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps and lead a transitory and unitary government. This won’t be an impossible feat and the country’s constitution (given the National League for Democracy’s overwhelming parliamentary majority) could be amended to usher in the country’s (now) elder stateswoman as its first democratically-elected leader after many years of military rule.

There are increasing signs that Aung San Suu Kyi is willing to finally follow in her father’s footsteps and build on the foundations he laid for Burma before he was assassinated. When you consider the precarious state of geopolitics today, particularly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia (with China watching over its shoulders) Aung San Suu Kyi is a necessary official participant on the global stage, not least in her own country. She has not departed from her liberating stance, but has emphasized a pragmatic approach to governing with the emphasis on empowering her people economically.

Burma’s once-incarcerated National League for Democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, is my woman of the year for both 2015 and 2016.

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