Carl Hinnrichs / Ella / Lily Tomkins

Women Who Rocked in 2013: Activism, Politics and Law


Hakima Hasan Motlaq

 Along with other women in the village of Asira al-Qibliya (14km south of Nablus in the West Bank), Hakima Hasan Motlaq established a community resource centre in January 2013, calling the project Retaj. As she herself said “Our main aim is the empowerment of women across many fields; education, culture, and financial empowerment,if we can.” But in less than a year the scope of the centre has moved beyond this to also work with children in the village – whether it’s just for fun or to address some of the psychological harm that many of the children are suffering from due to the unrelenting horrors they face living with the illegal Israeli occupation. Hakima and the other women’s unwavering determination in the face of such adversity is truly inspiring as they aim to empower themselves, and thus improve the conditions of the village as a whole. To hear more about Retaj and Hakima see this interview from December 2013.


Wendy Davis

On June 25, 2013, Davis held an eleven hour filibuster to speak against Senate Bill 5, legislation which would have closed all but five abortion clinics in the state of Texas – a state nearly three times as big as the entire United Kingdom.

The protest began with Davis proclaiming that she was ‘rising on the floor… to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans.‘ and going on to ask ‘What purpose does this bill serve? And could it be, might it just be a desire to limit women’s access to safe, healthy, legal, constitutionally-protected abortions in the state of Texas?‘ Throughout the course of the marathon filibuster, she read testimonies from women and doctors whose health and lives would be affected by the passing of Bill 5. About two hours before the midnight deadline, Republicans called her up on a ‘three strikes’ rule, claiming she had broken filibuster rules by twice veering off topic, and once allowing a Democrat colleague to help her with a her back brace. However, with the help of several hundred protestors and her colleagues, the bill was still succesfully stalled. A few weeks later, it was regretably passed despite the impact and attention Davis’ filibuster received, as legislating women’s reproductive rights apparently continues to be a focus of male politicians across the USA.


Nabila Rehman

At just nine years old, the incredibly brave Nabila Rehman appeared in front of Congress to testify against the drone strike that killed her grandmother in her Pakistan village, alongside her brother, Zubair, and father, Rafiq.

Nabila, who herself was injured in the strike, said in her testimony; ‘All of the sudden I heard this ‘dum dum’ noise, and I saw these two white lights come down and hit right where my grandmother was. Everything had become dark, and it was smelling weird. I was really scared and didn’t know what to do so I started to run, and I just kept running and running,” she said.

I felt some pain in my hand. When I looked, it was bleeding. I tried to bandage it and wipe it with my scarf to stop the bleeding but the blood just kept coming out. I had lost a lot of blood. Next thing I know I ended up in a hospital and it was evening time.”

The American government has claimed multiple times that their military campaigns have been conducted according to ‘all applicable domestic and international law’, with very few civilians being killed by drone strikes; Amnesty International, however, has since released a report in which they claim Bibi, Nabila’s grandmother, is one of over 900 civilians have been killed, and that these constitute war crimes.

The Rehman family bravely stood up to the American government and called for peace, justice and for ‘the American public to treat us as equals [with]the same status of a human with basic rights as they do to their own citizens‘ (Rafiq). One can only hope they will listen. 

9 year old Nabila, with a picture she drew depicting the drone strike which killed her grandmother.

9 year old Nabila, with a picture she drew depicting the drone strike which killed her grandmother.


Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond, Deputy President of the Supreme Court

In 2013 Baroness Hale was appointed Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Having previously been appointed the first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and the first female Supreme Court Justice, Baroness Hale is the most senior female judge in the history of the United Kingdom. She consistently hears some of the most important cases and delivers clear, concise, and ultimately fair judgments. She is a fantastic role model for aspiring female lawyers. Sadly, Baroness Hale remains the only female Supreme Court Justice, showing us just how difficult it remains for females to reach the highest echelons of the law. Baroness Hale has been critical of the Supreme Court Selection Commission’s failure to appoint other female candidates to similar positions.


Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar Council for 2013

Maura McGowan QC has spearheaded the campaign against the proposed legal aid cuts. She represented a formidable opposition to the Ministry of Justice plans to drastically alter the structure of the Bar. It is fantastic to see a woman take on the position of Chairman of the Bar Council in such an important year in the history of the Bar. I was lucky enough to listen to Maura McGowan QC at a Question Time Panel event. McGowan was a remarkable speaker, presenting her argument in the most eloquent way. We are starting to see more and more women enter the Bar; hopefully this will equate to a higher proportion of female QC’s in the future. Currently, whilst more females than males are entering the profession, this is not reflected by the large disparity that can still be seen at the most senior level of the profession.


One thought on “Women Who Rocked in 2013: Activism, Politics and Law

  1. Pingback: When is a shirt not just a shirt? | Belle Jar

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