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Sunday Roundup

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NOBEL PRIZE WOMEN
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I was reading American Elle last weekend (there's an advantage to reading fashion magazines from overseas: I'm physically unable to access most of the clothes they tell me I should buy), however, for once it wasn't the shopping pages that stopped me in my tracks, it was the editor's letter.

In it, editor-in-chief Robbie Myers had suggested that rather than use the word feminist, women should start referring to themselves as feminine-istas. I can see where she's coming from, fashion it up and perhaps we'd all be less embarrassed about labeling ourselves as such. But why should we feel embarrassed in the first place? I'm quite happy that my feminism doesn't need to be updated every season; that it doesn't come with tassels, prints or any other adornment (although if it can come with bra included, that would be superb).

I'm totally with Caitlin Moran on this one, who wrote in her unmissably fabulous 'How to be a Woman' that we should be standing up our bar stools shouting with wanton abandonment that we're all feminists. It doesn't need to be renamed; it just needs to be reclaimed.

American blogger Those Graces also picked up on the Elle letter, asking 'Why are people so afraid to admit they are feminists?'

My guess, or more accurately my experience, is that a large majority of men think if a woman says she's a feminist she's probably going to be a nightmare to date, will argue with him at every turn and won't ever wear heels or, god forbid, that aforementioned bra.

So the men are totally missing the point, and an unfortunate number of women too, who are nervous they'll have to exemplify all the above.

Except it's none of these things, is it. It's about equality, which means modern men - scratch that, all men - should be branding themselves feminists too, and joining in the chorus demanding equal pay and everything else, too.

For modern women still struggling with the concept, I would point them to an interview Fortune magazine ran with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently, who says a lot of very sensible things on many subjects, but none more sensible than when she's talking about the lack of women in senior corporate jobs.

In the interview, an essay she'd written a few years back, titled Don't Leave Before You Leave, is referenced, which I have since tracked down, and you can read here.

The long and short of it? Don't allow the decisions you make today to be curtailed by things that might happen in the future. She's talking mainly about babies, clearly, although the advice can easily apply to so many other things in life.

"Making decisions too early, trying to plan life too carefully, can close doors rather than keep them open," Sandberg writes. "Any time you make a plan, you do it with imperfect information; the further in advance you make that plan, the less information you have. You never know how you will feel or what choices you might face. Take life one step at a time and don't make decisions before you have to."

Which brings me in a rather roundabout way onto my favourite story of the past week: that of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee And Tawakkul Karman being awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The trio were honoured "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work".

Unsurprisingly, women are still in the minority of those that have received Nobel Peace Prizes over the years, however, there's a supportive group of those that have, on hand to provide advice to the latest three inductees into their hallowed club.

Jody Williams, who won the award in 1997, told CNN it was "awesome" and that Ellen, Leymah and Tawakkul should do their best to stay true to themselves once the media storm over their award subsides.

However their lives change, and however they leverage the intensity of interest to spotlight the causes they champion, one thing is sure, their win marked another great step in protecting the equality of women in the countries the winners hail from, Liberia and Yemen, whether they choose to call themselves feminists or not.