Lifestyle & Belief

People of the year 2012 (PHOTOS)


Pakistani children place oil lamps next to a photograph of child activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in a Taliban assassination attempt, as they pay tribute in Karachi on October 12, 2012. Pakistanis at mosques across the country prayed Friday for the recovery of a schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban as doctors said the next two days were critical.



GlobalPost asked its editors and correspondents to nominate their "person of the year." Some of the people on this list were inspiring, some notorious, some entertaining and some powerful. Here are the results, in no particular order:

Christine Lagarde: Took over a tough job at the International Monetary Fund, under very difficult circumstances, and has helped keep Europe and the global economy from spiraling into disaster. Plus, she's a classy lady who is smart, funny and commands your attention.

Joyce Banda: Malawi president who took over from Bingu wa Mutharika when he suddenly died in office. She suspended the country's anti-gay law and restored relations with donor countries.

Psy: He was the first entertainer to make it to a billion views on YouTube.

Amaia Egana: A Spanish woman who jumped to her death as bailiffs came to evict her from her home — a symbol of the human suffering of the economic crisis in Spain.

Aung San Suu Kyi: The Lady's election to Myanmar's parliament in April this year elevated her status as resistance hero to political juggernaut. Aung San Suu Kyi may represent the best chance Myanmar's reforms have to stand the test of time.

Malala Yousafzai: The young Pakistani activist came to worldwide prominence in the worst of ways, suffering a life-threatening attack by the Taliban. But in her recovery, Malala embodied the same striking courage and clarity of purpose that made her a symbol of strength to girls — and women, men and boys — around the world.

Julian Assange: Only one man, the founder of WikiLeaks, could spark such an unlikely feud between two such unassociated countries. Ecuador, Britain, and even Sweden were drawn into the fray. Holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June, Assange gave the world one of 2012's hottest suspense thrillers, which called as much global attention to an ex-hacker's plight as it did to a feisty South American OPEC nation.

Lal Bibi: Lal Bibi was raped and beaten by members of the US-backed Afghanistan Local Police program in the northern province of Kunduz earlier this year. In this deeply conservative country, rape victims are at risk of being killed by relatives in an attempt to salvage family honor. The Afghanistan Local Police members also had significant power in their area and would normally be considered beyond the reach of the law. However, Bibi's family stood by her and she later testified against her attackers in a court in Kabul. Four men were subsequently sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Hillary Clinton: Soon to be done with her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton visited a record number of countries (more than 100) in the position. A once polarizing figure, Clinton has found popularity in her position as secretary of state (and sky-high approval ratings), performing with courage and grace.

Chen Guangcheng: The blind legal activist from China successfully made a daring escape from under house arrest, seeking refuge at the US Embassy in Beijing and causing a diplomatic furor between the United States and China. His escape highlighted China's dismal human rights record and caused the Asian regional power severe embarrassment. After extended and tense negotiations between the Americans and Chinese, Chen was allowed to leave China to study abroad.

Nate Silver: Journalism has long suffered from an odd personality disorder, in which imprecision is embraced as "fairness." FiveThirtyEight blogger Nate Silver, more than anyone, has challenged this wishy-washiness by using science and statistics to make bold predictions about elections — and actually getting them right. In a world awash in flimsy facts and truthiness, Silver shows that journalists (and other knowledge workers) need to pay more attention to data and facts; his revolution promises to make denizens of the information age better informed.

Boniface Mwangi: A 29-year old Kenyan photographer who won the annual Prince Claus Prize and was featured heavily in a TIME cover story about "Africa Rising." He's a political activist trying to encourage Kenyans to kick out the bad leaders and vote in new ones as part of what he calls a peaceful "ballot revolution." With elections due in March, Kenya needs more young people like him.