The Most Inspiring Women of 2009--Who's Your Pick?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Around here, we're a big fans of strong and powerful women. We like women who stand up and take charge, who know when to lead and when to follow, who set goals and achieve them. (Of course, we also think men who do those things are pretty cool, too!)

So when SELF magazine sent us a list of their Most Inspiring Women for 2009, we were excited to read it. We love reading about people who have achieved success and continue to give back to those around them (kind of like Spreading the Spark while you reach your goals and beyond)!
So who made the list?

These women made SELF's list:
1. Sarah Jessica Parker: Actress and producer
2. Lolo Jones: 2009 USA Indoor Track Champion
3. Katie Couric: Host of "The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric"; "60 Minutes" Correspondent
4. Diane von Furstenberg: Designer and creator of the iconic wrap dress
5. Nancy Brinker: Founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Race for the Cure
6. Shakira: Global pop star and rescuer of needy kids
7. Mariska Hargitay: Star of "Law & Order SVU"
8. Laura Scher: Cofounder of Working Assets, a phone and credit card company that gives a portion of every transaction to charity
9. Trudie Styler: Actress and environmentalist
10. Rachel Maddow: Host of MSNBC’s "The Rachel Maddow Show"

You can read all about these inspiring women here.

If you were making the list, whom would you add to it? What woman inspires you?

If I wrote the list, I would add both my grandmothers:

My mom's mom, Willie (short for Willicent), is a quilter and quilting teacher who two years ago lost 35 pounds by cutting out sweets and riding a recumbent bike while watching TV at night. She's the only other tall woman in our family, and she taught me how to bake and sew. Gramma Willie is determined to stay healthy and make exercise a priority. At 70, she says she feels 20 years younger, and she looks great, too! (She has great skin!)

My dad's mom, Penelope, lives in Cody, Wyoming, where she has two horses and still works. On her 68th birthday last year, we celebrated by riding horse with some of her friends, some of whom are older than she is. Gramma Penelope has always been active and loves the outdoors. She taught me about the outdoors, introduced me to horseback riding and has always nurtured my independent streak. She's more adventurous than people half her age, and she inspires me to be strong and capable.

Who's on your list? What woman inspires you?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


Oprah Winfrey! She is definitely at the top of my list! Report
No one on that list would make my list but they are all fine women.

My list would have a number of ladies of a certain age whom I know personally, maybe H. Clinton as well, and a number of outstanding women throughout history. Report
The most inspiring woman who has influence me and my life, is my ancestor, Mary Draper Ingles. In 1755, she survived an Indian raid on her settlement, a kidnapping of she and her two boys, and travels that took her far from home. With her strength and faith, she escaped and walked over 800 miles to return to her home. This story was made famous by author, James Alexander Thom, in his book "Follow the River". If I ever start feeling sorry for myself, I read it again. It is that wonderful. If you have never read it, I can highly recommend it. Report
I am an independent voter and to me if we are talking about inspiring women... what woman can say that Sarah Palin is not inspiring unless they are only speaking for their party? I do NOT vote for the party I vote for the person and what they stand for. To me that is the way we ALL should vote. If you are proud to be American then stand up for American values not these communist/socialist politicians and actors? There are other countries with those values... they can always move there.

Sarah... a mother of 5 who has a down syndrome child who still accomplishes so much! Has a good marriage for so many years! If you are a woman and you don't support a good woman in politics then I just wonder what type woman you stand up for? Women need to stick together! Women who bash other women puzzle me... if you don't like someone just don't say anything about them? We need to be united and this is the BEST woman I have ever seen in the political realm therefore... to me she is at the TOP of the list for who inspired me.

No one famous, because I really don't know them or what their motovations are.I look up to my sister,she is the person who in spite of what she has gone through is caring and giving. Report
On my list, there would be a tie I could not break!
My girls and my Mom are the tie!
My girls are of course the apple(s) of my eye! They have
been such an inspiration to me. They have taken care me and
my husband with such compassion! If they decided to make a
career in caring for other medically they definitely succeed!

Of course, my Mom would also be at the top
for being my Mom for one, and raising 9 kids! She
also was very active in our community. Whoever
knew us in school, knew who our Mom was!!
She would babysit at a local church and help out at a local daycare, she would substitute at the local school, she would come to every high school game we had,
and always had supper ready before 6pm!

My next person would be my Mom's Mom, the only living Grandparent I ever knew!
She was born in 1912 and unfortunately passed in 1999. She was not as active as my Mom was in the community, but of course a person of her generation believed home was the place for a woman! Taking care of her family is what she did best until the day she passed!

Next, all my five sisters!
My oldest sister babysits in her home
My second to oldest sister is more like all of our second Mom
My third to oldest sister works at a local Nursing Home
My four to oldest sister, survives everyday of her life, justing living
My baby sister teaches at a local daycare center

There are more I would add to this list such as nieces, aunts, cousin, and friends I have recently meet from Spark!! Report
yes I can say Sarah Palin is in the forefront of the news. But... As an inspiration and someone to emulate in my opinion is not her or anyone else on your list.
My idea of an influential ,powerful, goal setting and ACHIEVING woman is Madeline Albright. Report
Good question-

These are just two of my favorite woman...I am inspired by woman of faith-

Corrie ten Boom-She and her family were Dutch Underground workers during World War II, saving hundreds of Jews. They were caught 4 years into their operation and she and sister Betsie were sent to three concentration camps over the course of 10 months. In prison, her heart stayed focused on Jesus, and with little food, and sickness, her liquid vitamin bottle/with eye-dropper never ran out of vitamins. This was only one miracle in her life...
After she was released from prison, Corrie traveled the world spreading the Gospel. Her ministry eventually led her to Germany to minister to the very people who had caused her sister to die. Corrie followed God all through her life and was very blessed because of it. She finally died in her home in California of multiple strokes. She authored the book, (made into a movie) The Hiding Place..
Everyone should see this movie!
Fanny Crosby-Hymnwriter-Blinded at birth by the doctor using the wrong solution as eyewash....-Her true name is Francis Jane (Fanny) Crosby and she was one of the most beloved Christian figures in the late 1800s. Her grandmother educated her, and using her memory of scriptures in the Bible, Fanny was author of more than 9000 hymns plus 1000 secular poems and songs. She endured many hard-ships in life, but the worst happened in 1859... Fanny gave birth to a baby but the child died shortly after birth..On the day of her death-she wrote a song (1915) "Safe in the Arms of Jesus".... Later that night she slipped into in the presence of the Lord she'd served through her verses and her life.

Oops-You asked for woman of 2009...
my daughters-in-law... Report
My sister who truly has it all and gives and gives and gives.....and Michelle Obama. Report
My grandmothers who were two different kind of women but taught me so much about life. Report
My Mom who retired at 76, then joined the housing authority and only gave that up in her 90's. She had her own apartment until she broke her wrist at 99 & had to go into assisted living for the last year of her life. She was known for her common sense, & when she spoke, people listened. Report
I have to say my mother.... She is full of life and fouses on her health. What I admire most about my mom is the unconditional love she has for others. She is the founder of "Darcus Hands of Mercy", a charitable business that she runs from home. Year after Year she spends countless hours preparing donated items for those who are less fortunate (both here in the USA and the Island of Jamaica). She is a Jewel and one of God's precious Angels. Report
Some of these comments really shocked me. Shocked not in a good way either!

My mother is one if the most inspiring women I know. I hope someday that I am as good of a person as she is. I work everyday at trying to be like her. She had a great role model and so do I. I hope I am lucky enough to be one to my children.
My mother is the most wonderful woman I know. My grandmothers were also at the top of my list (they are both gone now but the memories I have are if strong, capable women who passed on such love). Report
My inspirations are: Madea, Susan Sarandon, Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmie Holland, Evelyn Pearcy, and many others whom I cannot think of at this time of the night/morning. Report
Wilma,my mother,did an outstanding job of raising 4 daughters. Report
Michelle Obama Report
Oh, I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry.

Sarah Palin was inspirational to me... she (and McCain) inspired me to have my tubes tied post haste just in case they won the election and destroyed a womans right to bodily autonomy. As it's the best thing I've ever done (thus far) I guess I'm grateful that they managed to scare the ever loving bejeezus out of me with their anti-feminist, anti-woman politics. So, thanks guys. My burned tubes and I appreciate the push.

She also inspired me to work even harder to protect wolves and the environment because, again, her opinions on the subjects were utterly terrifying. Oh, and I'm also working harder to make sure gay folks get equal rights, too. So, by showing me just how looney the opposition was I was inspired to be more active and proactive. That's making lemonade outta lemons, eh? :) Report
My friend, Catherine, who is a breast cancer survivor. Not only does she and her husband run their own business, but they both serve our church in many ways. Earlier this year their 17 year old granddaughter contracted lukemia. Catherine told me she always thought the hardest thing she'd ever done was endure chemotherapy. She says she now knows she was wrong. The hardest thing for her is watching her beloved grandbaby suffer chemotherapy. Her granddaughter's response? Mawmaw survived it, so I can, too. THAT'S inspiration in action. Report
It would be easy to say that I am inspired by the well known names such as Michelle Obama or Oprah and I am not saying these woman are not worthy of my praise. But I am much more inspired by the women (and men) I read about daily here on sparkpeople, those people who have chosen to take the steps necessary to get healthy, get fit and thereby inspire others. I nominate those on here that have met, are meeting, are working towards or exceeding their goals, such as Fabat40, Girl*in*motion and Taz675. Report
Kate Winslet Report
Angelina Jolie, since her ex-husband, Billy Bob Thornton told Oprah "I couldn't keep up with her since she really does work to change the world for the better every day and she is completely real about who she is. Report
My friend, Rose, would qualify as inspirational. She closed her beauty shop at 80, was the first woman elected to our township government, and has been my mentor in becoming the first female mayor in our community.
Rose is now 89 and hasn't stopped. She goes to church every morning and then after that volunteers at our local nutrition center for senior citizens. She says she helps the "old" people. Although she does not drive at night, she does drive locally including doctor's appointments.
She is conscientious about monitoring her food intake.
Oh yes, one last comment.....she is a breast cancer survivor from when she was diagnosed in her 50s.
Rose is my inspiration. If I can be half as good as she is when I reach her age, I'll be happy. Report
I admire Stephanie's grandmothers more than most of the women on the official list. They most certainly didn't speak for me.
I would keep Lolo Jones & Nancy Brinker. But forget the rest of them.
There are news people that I have a lot more respect for than the ones listed. Report
I have a hard time embracing opinions of people who either "hate" people they don't even know (Hilary, for example) or appreciate them (Palin). How can we look up to them or down for that matter when we do not know them? It's crazy! Someone wrote that Sara Jessica Parker is having a surrogate carry her children so she (Parker) won't gain weight..where did she get that information? From the tabloids?

Anyway, my mother is/was my ispiration...she was truly a woman ahead of her time. Strong, independent, ambitious, tolerant. Report
there is no one on the list who really resonates with me. No one that i feel inspired, in the true sense of the word by. i cannot think of a Mother Teresa, someone who gave themselves in service to others.

i am inspired and admire my mother whenever i look at my children. i have just 2 and can find the day to day struggles to be a bit overwhelming at times. i believe that eternal happiness with my children, with my family is a goal that we should all have. i admire any who give themselves in that endeavour. if we can all be an influence for good within our own families, we could change the world. Report
Sarah Jessica Parker is having a surrogate mother carry her babies so she wont have to worry about her figure. She is not an inspiration at all especially on this website. I am sorry to be so negative but I am not impressed by this list at all. Report
My mother. Report
michelle obama, she just seems so cool, beautiful, put together, intelligent and all about fresh food growing! Report
1. My Aunt Carmen. So warm and giving; people everywhere gravitate to her.
2. Michelle Obama. handling he pressure of public life and being the first African American first lady, while making sure her girls are well cared for, and for her own career as an attorney in the past.
3. Senator Dianne Feinstein, CA. I don't always agree with her, but she certainly knows how to use power and influence in the "old boys" club of Washington DC.
I admire her strength.
4. Susan from Britain's Got Talent. For providing inspiration to all of the "plain people" of the world and making us all think about our definitions of "beauty". And for sharing that glorious shining moment singing "I had a dream". Report
While I have or have had a number of women in my personal life who could be on the list there is a woman, also called an angel, who should be on the list. Did not agree with all the decisions she made during her life, but her fight with cancer was nothing short of inspirational. She did not let the fight with cancer stop her from enjoying life. She left us kicking and fighting till the end. Am speaking of Farrah Fawcett. Report
My mother. Who every day takes care of sick and dying people.
My grandmothers. Who both worked as teachers all their working lives. One grandmother made such an impact on one young girls life that she made a book of inspirational teachers. The other grandmother reminds me that one is never older than one believes one to be. She once had to spend some time in an assisted living facility after a bad fall. Shortly after she got back home I spoke to her about it. She was telling me about all the fun stuff she had done there but she ended the conversation by saying that she didn't want to live there forever "because it was full of old people". She was 85 at the time. I miss her every single day. She passed away early last year. Those three are my heroes. Report
I would have to vote for my aunt in Ohio. She is 92 and uses the stairs from her fourth floor apt. because the elevators are too slow and don't give her exercise. She loves to read, plays cards at least twice a week, does word puzzles to keep her mind sharp, exercises daily, and eats healthy. That is an example to try to emulate. Report
I can't believe Oprah is not on the list!! Report
Condi Rice---an example of integrity in a "community" which is lacking in this character trait. Sorry, Eclipsed, but the category asked for who inspires and it's rare when someone in politics can really be admired and inspiring. So be it. Report
Why have the last few articles become political platforms for some? PLEASE leave your politics at home, this is not the place for them. Report
Its funny how some people call others "bigots" when they disagree on people and issues.
I'm from an era when women were admired for different things than they are now. I wasn't impressed with the list. None of those women could hold a candle to the service and accomplishments of a woman like Eleanor Roosevelt. She did it all, with a smile. A truly powerful woman.
Sarah Palin is the first woman of today that I have observed with the courage to say it like it is, in plain english.
I wonder if she would be so ridiculed if she were to move over the the other side politically.
Hmmmm...... Report
hummmmm.....I only know a few names on that list......I would say most lists would be made up of people close to you. Not those who make TV dream land.....

My list would be all the women who survive todays world...... Report
Some inspiring females I have to say for me are in the entertainment industry, namely Alicia Keys and Beyonce Knowles. I think the mentality they send to females are positive. Report
Tops on my list would be my mother-in-law, Olive. At age 95 she lives by herself in the house she moved into in 1946. Last winter she bought an exercycle to help her with balance and stamina. She took up card making at age 92. She's an avid reader. In the last 30 years she made over 1,100 quilts and baby blankets for charity. She has stayed engaged in life. She is my roll model Report
My Mother, raised three children on her own working three physically demanding jobs, so that we could live in our own home, even taking us on a road trip to Disneyland. She taught us our hard work ethic. She always supports us through thick and thin, even as adults. Even when we make stupid mistakes. She is there! You couldn't ask for a better Mother! Report
Thanks for the blog. Reading it, and the responsed- I enjoyed reading about so many wonderful women.
I've been lucky to have many real life women around me to inspire me. And... YES- the Spark pages are full of inspiration.

I forgot to add Spark Coach Nicole to my list. I appreciate her candor, her dedication, and her wit. I think she's the real deal. Report
For "in real life" people, I choose my mother--warts-n-all--who delivered me into the world when she was just 15 years old, and raised me well in spite of a long list of disappointments in her life; her mother, who took all her grandchildren to Sunday School, faithfully picking us all up in her '57 Chevy; my eldest daughter, who is one of my best friends and counselors and a great example of what a wife and mother should be.

I don't admire Hollywood or music celebrities as a rule--they aren't real.

Political figures are notoriously deceptive and untrustworthy and nobody's perfect, but integrity always shows. I'd put Hillary right in there with Ted Kennedy, Sanford, that Illinois governor (forgot his name) that was ousted and the whole long list of those who cheat on their spouses, their taxes, their business deals, etc. and then try to cover them up or act as though it's nobody's business what they do while on the public payroll. I wouldn't put her anywhere near Eleanor Roosevelt, who had REAL class.

So far, Sarah Palin has shown herself to be cut of far better cloth--I'd vote for her--and Condi Rice--now there's a smart, classy woman!

Michelle Obama might be alright, but hasn't really been tested yet. She hasn't been under fire like some others have--that's when we'll see what she's really made of. Report
I attended the Women of Faith conference in Washington DC this year & Sandi Patty was one of the speakers. I bought her new book "Layers" & it really inspired me to uncover & celebrate the women God created me to be.
She is an overcomer & inspires others to be too! She is on a weight loss journey of her own.
I don't think anyone on that list makes my own list, though I'm glad to see 2 and 5 there :) Not that they aren't strong women, I just don't pay much attention to television personalities, so I don't know enough about the others to be inspired by them ... I'd like to see a list of women who have run major corporations, been elected to high political office and served honorably, produced scientific breakthroughs, inspired through teaching, written books, persevered through adversity and still achieved their goals ... people like that. I also like people who inspire others through fitness - many of them are right here on SP :)

My grandmother is on my list. She is 96, still lives unassisted in her own home, regularly calls the 'elderly and shut in' , does visits, and until a few years ago sang in the church choir. She still cooks for many events. Now THAT is an inspiration! Report
I'm inspired by a lady who rides the service I work for, who became a rabbi at age 89. Also Laura Bush, who bucked the trend of personally attacking those who you may not agree with politically to publicly defend Michelle Obama. My oldest daughter, who is building a new life for herself and her daughter after both losing a child and having her husband leave her. My youngest daughter, who copes with a disability every day and still manages to have a full life as a teacher. Meghan McCain. Michelle Obama, and her mother. Any service woman deployed overseas, and the wives who are holding it down at home while their husbands are fighting in the Middle East. Really, I'm inspired by any woman who does her job without complaining, doesn't seek her own glory and doesn't quit in the middle. Report
Novella Carpenter, writer of the book Farm City. Anyone who can create a 'farm" in the middle of a ghetto in Oakland and raise livestock (even pigs and goats) and veggies, then lives of it, has my admiration. Report
Condoleeza Rice and Sarah Palin-- hands down. Report
If I were to choose an inspiring woman of 2009 in the public eye, I would definitely agree with those who chose Sarah Palin. If I were to choose someone I know personally it would definitely be a very close friend who overcame childhood sexual & emotional abuse and went on to minister to other woman helping them to experience God's love which set them free from the chains of their past. Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.