Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Girl for TIME's Person of the Year 2012

You see that darling face right in the center of the image to your left? That's my girl, Malala Yousafzai! A teenager from Pakistan who stood up for her rights and faced adversity with utmost bravery. She's back, she's stronger and she is on her way to becoming a global icon. She has been nominated to be TIME's Person of the Year in 2012. A strong contender, she's holding herself in the top three spots amongst several worthy opponents- and women.

The year 2012 has been the year of women we can be proud of. From teenagers in the spotlight such as Malala Yousafzai and Olympian Gabby Douglas who charmed many with her infectious smile, to tech-giant leaders like Marissa Mayer and politicians like Hilary Clinton, the canvas is etched with faces we have grown to love and admire.

When TIME announced The Protestor as Person of the Year in 2011, it was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. Journalism honored the pain and suffering of those fighting the good fight. The cause of journalism stood strong and proud. It wasn't always so.

TIME started this tradition in an attempt to honor the 'Man of the Year' in 1927. It took them a good 72 years to realize that this sexist term was getting a bit old and the title was changed to Person of the Year in 1999. At the turn of the millenium, people realized women were people too. And, not many women have won this title yet.

It is now 'time' to change this.

Gender bias is becoming a thing of the past
According to a recent article by Danny Hayes in Washington Post titled, "Why did Women do so well in 2012? Because gender bias is declining," talks about how people finally accepted the fact that female politician are indeed just as capable and competent as their male counterparts. This year, we picked more female leaders than we ever have.

We have to help women have it all
Anne Marie-Slaughter began the conversation a few months ago when she wrote her acclaimed piece, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All."The system needs to help women achieve their goals. Her support system, her family and her employers have to recognize her intelligence and facilitate her success. People like Marissa Mayer, who got a job while she was pregnant, should have changed perceptions. Since taking on her role as CEO of Yahoo, stock prices have surged. This will set a precedent in the right direction, hopefully.

Women have to help themselves
Partly, women are to blame themselves for having remained silent for so long. They are still not making their presence known. Very few contribute to editorials, scholarly publications and have stayed away from the conversation.

No one will speak for you, if you do not speak up for yourself
Learn from a 15 year old like Malala who spoke for herself. She is from a country considered to be one of the bottom five places of the world where one could find themselves born. So am I. And, I am doing fine.

I speak for myself.

And here is your chance to do the same.

Cast your vote and pick your girl this year!

The polls are open till midnight on December 12 (EST). Out of the 40 names, see the name you want most up there and let's see whose name will win on December 14.

Saman Sheikh is a broadcast journalist with several years of experience in the media industry. She is currently a student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She has embarked on a journey to educate herself by pursuing a second master's degree in Media Strategy and Leadership in an effort to continue her pledge to educate the public with the power of media. Follow her @SumSheek

Photo Credit: TIME.com

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