Nisam Rayees (Broadcaster)
Positive Role Models
Not just novels, inspirational women come from comics, movie and TV series scripts too.
I grew up enjoying reading Archies comics and Betty is my favourite character. Be it studies, baking, car repair, scuba diving or singing she's always a topper — an all rounder with a heart of gold. She has a special friendship with Veronica despite their contrasting upbringing and love for Archie. She's a character who inspired me while growing up.
It was my son Saad an ardent Harry Potter fan who introduced me to Hogwarts and their main characters. Hermione is a level headed overachiever whose knowledge and quick thinking helps Harry through many challenges. She's a positive role model for young girls.
She's the typical modern working mom who juggles motherhood with a hectic career. She's witty, practical and total hands on mom to four kids and her skill in coming up with humorous but practical solutions to everyday problems is something we can relate to.
She is the ever smiling, ever helpful down to earth whacky friend I would like to meet every day. Not to forget her funny out of tune passion for music! Who can forget her classic "Smelly cat"!
At a time when girls are obsessed with supermodel looks, here is a girl who challenged that and made us believe there is more to life than looks. Her humble upbringing, good hearted nature and dedication for work gave a new meaning to being beautiful.
After watching all the James Bond and Supermen, this gun wielding super fit woman gave the superheroes a run for their money. Angelina Jolie did perfect justice to this character. It's a fantasy character but if men believe in 007 then why not Lara Croft.
Jane Jaffer (Author)
Brave and strong, compassionate and loving
I have selected female characters who have dared to be different. Women who chose to show their true, authentic self to the world. These women are brave and strong, but also compassionate and loving. In other words, their characters are balanced, showing traditionally male and female characteristics. One of my choices deviates from the rest: Anne Frank was far from a fictional character. Real women like Anne Frank and Helen Keller were totally inspirational to a whole generation.
Pride and Prejudice
I chose Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen's witty comedy and one of the most popular novels of all time because, unlike her sisters, Elizabeth is portrayed as a sensible, intelligent young woman with great integrity.
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, plain Jane nonetheless emerges as a passionate young woman, yearning to find love in Charlotte Bronte's novel. Despite her difficulties Jane shows an unbroken spirit and a caring nature.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Investigator, Lisbeth Salander, is a strong, brave woman with of authority issues. A survivor of rape and sexual abuse, she appears fearless in the novel by Stieg Larsson. You don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.
Acclaimed by many as the world's greatest novel, Anna Karenina provides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. I chose Anna because she has the courage of her convictions. She abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature — with tragic consequences in this book by the writer Leo Tolstoy.
The Diary of a Young Girl
This book provides a deeply moving and unforgettable portrait of Anne Frank — an ordinary and yet an extraordinary teenage girl. The Diary of a Young Girl remains the single most poignant true-life story to emerge from the Second World War. Anne was 13 when the family went into the Secret Annexe in 1942 and, over the next two years, she vividly describes in her diary the frustrations of living in such confined quarters, the constant threat of discovery, the hunger and fear. Her diary ends abruptly when, in August 1944, she and her family were finally discovered by Nazis.
The Red Tent
Her name is Dinah. She is strong and brave and yet compassionate. She reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood – the world of the red tent. The book by Anita Diamant begins with the story of her mothers –Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah – the four wives of Jacob. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. It shows us how difficult life was for women in the past – and indeed how difficult it still is for many women around the world.
Khalid Al Haribi (Co-founder, Tawasul)
Of balancing tradition and modernity
Inspiration can be hard to come by; especially from fiction. There are very few names and images that come to mind that can be called an inspiration and who have an impact on our lives. Here are six special fictional characters who made an impact on me.
Jasmine is the first woman that came to my mind. She was the significant other of the Sohar born famous sailor The Sindbad, and the daughter of the wali in ancient Arabia. Her name Jasmine reminds of the beautiful fragrance of the flower, and is associated in mind with the first time I smelled jasmine flowers outside the mosque in our neighbourhood. Her character's intelligence, shyness, resourcefulness, and her style impacted the way I view women.
Shahrazad is the main character in the famous 1001 nights. She is the young woman who agrees to be the wife of the Persian King Shahrayar to save her family. Her previously emotionally scarred royal husband killed his previous wives after the first night, but spared Shahrazad as he would fall asleep while she was telling him a story that needed to be continued. To me, Shahrazad's sacrifice for her loved once, her cleverness to tame her unjust conditions, and the beauty of her stories is an inspiration. Shahrazad also reminds me of my childhood, as there was a famous Ramadan quiz series with the same name.
Sally is one of the most famous international woman characters in the Sultanate. As children we were all deeply touched by this story of a little girl who lost her family in British India, and went from riches to rags, and spent her childhood in an orphanage. She reminds me of watching the show with all my family. Sally's patience and forgiveness despite hardships was inspiring.
Julnar is one of the main characters in the novel WaIslamah by Ali Bakathir. This one of the first novels I ever read. Julnar is the true love and wife of the main character Prince Qutuz. Julnar and Qutuz were abducted from their good families as children and sold into slavery as mamluks in Mumlukid Egypt. Julnar's strong character, true love and faithfulness to Qutuz helped her get through life and rise to become one of the first ladies of Egypt.
Um Khammas is the modern main character of the Emirati creative popular series Fareej, aired in 2006. Her simplicity, straightforwardness, and sense of humour inspire admiration for women who balance tradition and modernity.
This famous historic woman fictional character is said to have lived in Al Yamamah in the Arabian Peninsula in the sixth century. To this day her eye sight is cited as the role model in having the right foresight and fortune telling. While reading about her it reminds me that no matter what foresight you have, or advanced you are ahead of your times- your gift and talent could bring you serious consequences.
Rohini Dinesh (Avid quizzer)
Not perfect, but real women
My list is not made up of 'perfect' women, but of 'real' women with inherent flaws; of women who, despite their shortcomings, have had an impact on me one way or the other.
Enid Blyton's Famous Five
Famous Fiver Georgina, who insists on being called "George", is many things – feisty, hot-headed, at times rude, but kind and loyal at the same time. However, as a 9-year old, what struck me most about her was that she never considers herself inferior to a boy in any way. This breaking away from the traditional gender stereotype is what appeals to me most about George.
Chinese legend fame
Mulan does what she thinks and knows is the right thing to do; she is independent, courageous, self-assured, hardworking and sacrificing. She displays enormous love and respect for her family. And all this, while firmly believing that women are every bit as capable as men, a radically new concept at her time.
Miss Jane Marple
Agatha Christie series
Miss Marple is a fine example of "age no bar" to do or achieve anything. In the midst of house-keeping at which she excels, she finds time to solve crimes with her razor-sharp mind, acute analytical skills and deep understanding of human nature.
Perry Mason series
Witty, graceful, poised, uber-efficient, respectable, warm and friendly – that is Della Street for you in the series by Erle Stanley Gardner. An unlikely choice for an "inspiring" character, maybe; but she has, to a certain extent, influenced my sense of wanting to do things to a T.
To Kill a Mocking Bird
In this Harper Lee authored book young, strong-willed Scout Finch is outspoken and honest and fearlessly stands up for what she believes in. These are traits that I admire deeply in a person.
The Color Purple
Celie suffers untold sexual, physical and emotional abuse well into her adulthood. Yet, instead of wallowing in self-pity and turning bitter, she exhibits remarkable resilience in this book by Alice Walker. Her transformation into a self-confident woman is slow, but sure.
Despite all hardships, she remains soft on the inside, caring and gentle; she is an embodiment of pure, unconditional love. These traits are inspiring and a tribute to all womankind.
Those with distinct individuality
Commitment, justice, simplicity, passion, sacrifice, optimism, compassion, leadership, determination and honesty are some of the characteristics that women adorn in their life. At every stage in a women's life there comes an event or a moment that tests her – who she is , who she wants to be, what is she made of and where will she go next. She has to decide to get up, dust herself off and move on. She has to choose to lead. She has to believe what she is doing is right. She has to take a chance to make a difference. Such a step makes her an inspiration. The types of women characters I admire the most are strong, have a distinct individuality and have gone against the grain to make a difference in life.
Scarlett O' Hara
Gone with the Wind
Scarlett O' Hara of Gone with the Wind, a character who was an epitome of determination was hard-headed and strong where her determination drove her to achieve everything she desired by any means necessary. So much so that even under the threat of starvation and death she was determined to survive.
On the contrary there is Jane from Jane Eyre who was full of passion, commitment and principle. She possessed a sense of self- worth and dignity. Despite facing alienation from all sides she was committed to find a true sense of being.
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Then is Rebecca Bloomwood of Confessions of a Shopaholic, a profound shopaholic whose optimistic attitude helped her sail through the depths of debts.
Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice was known for her many admirable qualities. Her honesty, virtue, compassion and wit enabled her to rise above the cynical, class-bound and spiteful society.
The Devil Wears Prada
Then comes the Devil leader Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada who was an expression of female authoritarian style of leadership.
Aarthi Mohan (Student of mass communication)
Alice in Wonderland
Finally, sweet and sensible Alice of Alice in Wonderland whose ideology is challenged repeatedly and she overcomes the nonsensical happenings of the Wonderland with her perseverance.
Zeena Al Towayya (The first Omani woman to have stepped into Antarctica)
None like her
Of all the ladies who have made impacts on me and probably the whole world, I would like to say some words about J.K. Rowling, the British novelist. Rowling has been an inspiring figure to me for years because she has made an awesome difference in her life which impacted the world. Rowling now is number one selling fiction author in history ever. She was a depressed lady and living on social security benefits. But one day she chose a different path and sunk inside her soul and she managed to make a breakthrough. With her fantasy fiction, Harry Potter she made a remarkable name in the history of fiction writings. In 2008, Rowling delivered a magnificent speech at Harvard University in which she shared with students her experience in life. She is a great lady with humble and modest character. Moreover, the thing that inspires me most about Rowling that as well as she is a strong personality who has a lot to offer to fellow human beings, being a human rights activists for years.
Amelia Mathias (US Embassy)
The Little House on the Prairie
"Growing up, I was always inspired by Laura from the book The Little House on the Prairie. Laura was committed to her family and her education, despite constant challenges. She leaves her childhood home with her family and travels in a covered wagon halfway across the United States to live in uncharted territory despite the dangers".
Damon Goforth (Political officer at the US Embassy)
Strong in moral convictions
As one of the most influential feminist works written, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and its lead character of the same name strongly exemplifies an individualistic, passionate, and complex female character. While she suffers greatly throughout the novel, Jane Eyre remains strong in her moral convictions, and never gives up on living her life on her own terms.
Erin Clancy (Political officer at US Embassy)
Eloise at the Plaza
Eloise, of the Eloise at the Plaza, was my favourite fiction-based role model as a young girl. At the age of six, Eloise was a young woman about the town in New York City, which she ruled from her penthouse suite at the Plaza Hotel, New York City's most famous hotel. I admired her fierce independence and her bravery to venture into the world of adults alone. She was always poised, courteous, and helpful to strangers she encountered during her adventures. Now as an adult, I like to picture myself as Eloise's big sister—someone who is brave, independent, professional, with an eye for some fun and adventure all at the same time".
Lisa Sellin (HR Officer at the US Embassy Muscat)
Wanting to be like her
Little House on the Prairie
I read the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and was enchanted with the girl who grew up in a land that was new to being settled. She was so honest about all the good and bad aspects of living on the frontier, and I wanted to be Laura!
Tamra Hackett (Consular officer at the US Embassy)
Intelligent and compassionate
To Kill a Mockingbird
From a classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird, I am inspired by the courage of "Scout" a young girl who stood up against racial injustice in America. Scout came from a privileged family but her intelligence and compassion enabled her to stand up for black Americans who were discriminated against in her town.