Inspired by world-changing women

These high-achievers are a credit to our sex, and just might save the planet

By Tracy-Ann Oberman, October 22, 2009

For those of you who are followers of my column you may remember that I’ve just returned from the “jolly’ of the century in Miami — presenting the Lifetime Achievement Awards to the International Women’s Forum.

Never mind the awards — as soon as my first-class ticket arrived it became all about the trip. Daughter packed off safely to Aunty Debs, work put on hold, phone switched off for the first time in months.

The flight became a mini-break in itself. First class was luxurious — in fact more than luxurious. Glass of champagne in one hand, pyjamas pulled on before you could say “chicken or fish”, cashmere socks (de rigueur for long-haulers in first class apparently, so my posh friends tell me) and I settled onto the flat bed under my duvet and set the personal in-flight entertainment to “cinema”. Moon and Star Trek, both missed on general release, sent me into sci-fi heaven. Meanwhile all niggling thoughts of being mistakenly booked for the gig through some hideous mix-up floated away.

However, having been told that we were being met at Miami Dade airport to be fast-tracked through immigration, I was alarmed to see two high-ranking police officials and a man in a suit approach us a we stepped off the plane. “This is it,” I thought, “the embarrassing moment when they arrest me for not being Tracey Ullman and send me home Economy.”

But no — on the contrary, they welcomed Tracy Ann Oberman and newly branded husband Mister Oberman (he was delighted! Not) with open arms. It went swimmingly from there on in — sea-facing suite for Ms and Mr Oberman; flowers for Ms and Mr Oberman; special spa products for the Obermans. Ha!

This is it — the moment they arrest me for not being Tracey Ullman

But then the importance of the event struck me. I was in the company of some of the highest powered and successful women in the world. To name but a few: Dame Clara Furse, one-time chief executive of the London Stock Exchange and the first female to occupy the position; Tzipi Livni, the Israeli politician, current leader of Kadima the largest party in the Knesset; Dr Sylvia Earle, once chief scientist for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and who travelled over 1,000 ft below the waters of the Caribbean in a submersible to walk on the sea floor — she was four months pregnant at the time; Mareia Meyor, double Emmy winning primatologist and could-be supermodel.

The women we met were all jaw-droppingly inspiring with a wide spectrum of talents. I know myself how hard it is to be a working mum and what juggling and emotional wrenching in two takes place to keep family and career and sanity intact,so it was fascinating to be at a conference of the world’s big female movers and shakers who were all happy to applaud each other’s talents and not be afraid to celebrate motherhood, their children, and their undeniable achievements.

Mr Oberman rightly noted that these women from 42 different countries were warm and encouraging toward each other, not threatened or competitive. He said he couldn’t imagine males of a similar stature, at a similar event, hugging and kissing each other, comparing snapshots of grandchildren whilrt debating global strategy on financial and ethical issues.

So this column is to celebrate women. All of us. We are pretty incredible. We are homemakers, and lifegivers and, and, in some cases, if that weren’t enough, we can change the world with our achievements.

Last updated: 5:26pm, December 10 2009


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