Women of the year salute Mandela's work

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The Independent Online

The former South African leader Nelson Mandela was named the World Leader of the Century at an awards ceremony yesterday.

The former South African leader Nelson Mandela was named the World Leader of the Century at an awards ceremony yesterday.

The bestowing of such an honour was part of the Millennium Festival of Women's Work, at which a Russian cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, was named Greatest Woman Achiever of the Century.

Mr Mandela recorded a personal message for the ceremony, which was held at the Cafe Royal in London, because he was unable to attend.

Ms Tereshkova, 63, who was the first woman in space, made a speech about science and peace. Other speakers at the ceremony included Germaine Greer, Mary Quant, Joan Armatrading, Doreen Lawrence, Moira Stewart, the ballerina Deborah Bull and the former racehorse trainer Jenny Pitman.

The event was organised to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the Women of the Year lunch. Yesterday was the first time that men had been invited. A festival spokeswoman said the decision was a recognition that "excellence has no gender".

More than 600 women were expected to attend, including Jane Asher, Shirley Conran, Nicole Farhi, Anna Ford, Glenys Kinnock and Dame Diana Rigg.

All the women invited were asked to vote for the most influential woman of 2000. Mo Mowlam won with 13 per cent of the poll. Cherie Blair, Hillary Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi all received 7 per cent, followed by Madeleine Albright andthe Harry Potter author, J K Rowling.

Also in the poll, most guests said they felt women would achieve equality in the workplace within their lifetime, but not within 10 years.

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