Women Hold Up Half The Sky

It’s a great title for a post isn’t it? Thought-provoking, controversial with a whiff of feminist rant thrown in.

But I can’t claim any credit. These are actually the words of Chairman Mao. That’s right, the founder of Chinese Communism. Women could what men did, he said.

But don’t despair. I haven’t been off reading anything highbrow. Or anything remotely related to philosophy or Chinese politics (well not intentionally anyway). I filched it from an interview with Angelica Cheung, editor of Chinese Vogue, that appeared in last weekend’s The Times Magazine.

And what it made me think about is our own woman in a man’s world here in UK, Queen Elizabeth II.

Next weekend, we will celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. That’s 60 years as the Head of State in the UK and 15 Commonwealth realms as well as Supreme Head of the Church of England. I still remember her Silver Jubilee in 1977. Australia had a special 50 cent coin made to commemorate it and there was lots of telly-watching at school to enlighten all we convicts colonials about the importance of the occasion.

For all the good it did – I voted for a republic in 1999.

Sorry ma’am.

While my republican views remain firmly in place, I have to admit that there is something quite extraordinary about a woman who commits her life to her country at the age of 25 and still enjoys the kind of public respect and affection that Her Majesty holds today.

Granted there have been ups and downs. But she still appears as poised, active and interested 60 years on. What a fantastic ambassador. She has navigated 12 prime ministers at home and many more of their counterparts abroad, across both her own Commonwealth realm and the world at large.


So as far as I’m concerned, next weekend’s moment in the limelight is well and truly deserved. Here’s to a woman who has seen her nation dutifully, safely, peacefully through a lifetime of challenges.

You could even say she’s held up her piece of sky.

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