Some of the women who have made the headlines in 2009, left to right: Lady Gaga, Gail Trimble, Rihanna, Susan Boyle (top), Heather Brooke, Neda Agha-Soltan, Arlene Phillips, Jaycee Lee Dugard (middle), Fiona Pilkington, Vanessa George, Christina Schmid and Rachel Uchitel.
LADY GAGA (JANUARY)
Outrageously dressed to offer not so much a fashion statement, more an exhortation, 2009 saw the rise of singer Stephanie Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga. She burst on to the scene in January when her debut single Just Dance reached number one. She then joined the handful of artists to top both the singles and album chart simultaneously with The Fame Monster and her first single from it, Bad Romance.
GAIL TRIMBLE (FEBRUARY)
Twenty-five-year-old classics graduate, Gail Trimble, powered her Corpus Christi College, Oxford, team to victory in February's University Challenge final (until later disqualified on a technicality) by answering more than her other three team mates put together. But adverse comments about her by bloggers, the least offensive of which was "smug, know-it-all", and Trimble's comment that "I try really hard not to come across as clever", sparked a media debate as to whether British culture really values cleverness.
Barbadian songstress Rihanna was forced to cancel her appearance at this year's Grammy awards after her boyfriend and fellow recording star, Chris Brown, assaulted her. Within hours of the attack, images were broadcast across the world showing Rihanna's bruised and beaten face. Brown was convicted of assault in March and the relationship never reconciled. The pictures were leaked by the LA Police Department. As a result, an organisation called STOParazzi proposed a so-called Rihanna's Law aimed at preventing the police from releasing pictures and information that they believe exploit victims of crime.
SUSAN BOYLE (APRIL)
"She opened her mouth and the world fell in love with her." So said Simon Cowell of his protege Susan Boyle when she appeared on Britain's Got Talent in April. Her version of I Dreamed a Dream contrasted a sweetness of voice with the plainest of looks, and she soon became an international sensation. The 48-year-old Boyle, from a Scottish council house and with learning difficulties, found fame initially difficult to handle and sought refuge in The Priory. In November, her album became the best-selling debut in UK chart history.
HEATHER BROOKE (MAY)
In May, US journalist and author Heather Brooke won a High Court battle to force MPs to declare their expenses. She hailed it as a "victory for accountability". It was the culmination of a five-year campaign in which she doggedly used tribunals and court hearings to force more and more details into the open. Brooke had developed an expertise in the use of Freedom of Information Acts garnered as a crime reporter in the United States. Eventually, MPs' expense claims were leaked, and the duck houses, moats and house "flipping" et al, caused a public outcry.
NEDA AGHA-SOLTAN (JUNE)
On 20 June, Neda Agha-Soltan, 27, was stuck in traffic in Iran's capital Tehran, close to where the main protests against the alleged rigging of Iran's election were being held. Feeling hot and tired, she got out of her car only to be shot dead. Eyewitnesses claimed pro-government Basij militia dressed in civilian clothing had deliberately targeted her. Video footage of Neda's last moments was broadcast around the world, and the Iranian protest movement had claimed its first martyr.
ARLENE PHILLIPS (JULY)
The BBC faced a public backlash over its decision in July to replace the 66-year-old choreographer Arlene Phillips with former winner, Alesha Dixon, 30, for the judging panel on Strictly Come Dancing. The producers had wanted the younger woman to do for Strictly what Cheryl Cole was doing for its ITV rival, X Factor. Sexism and ageism accusations were levelled against the Corporation since the men who remained on the show include 65-year-old Len Goodman and 81-year-old host Bruce Forsyth.
JAYCEE LEE DUGARD (AUGUST)
In 1991, 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard was walking to a bus stop near her home in California when Phillip Garrido allegedly kidnapped her. He is believed to have then held her captive at his home some 200 miles away and fathered two children by her. Jaycee was finally discovered 18 years later this August when police spotted Garrido, a known sex offender, with two girls who appeared to be behaving suspiciously. He is now awaiting trial. "I am so happy to be back with my family," said Dugard. "Nothing is more important than the unconditional love and support I have from them."
FIONA PILKINGTON (SEPTEMBER)
In September, an inquest heard how 38-year-old mother Fiona Pilkington had been tormented by a local street gang for more than seven years, but had become exasperated by the police's failure to take any action. So desperate had she become that she drove to a secluded spot with her disabled daughter Francecca, who was 18 but had a mental age of three, and set the car alight with both of them inside. The tragedy turned the spotlight on antisocial behaviour in Britain and the authorities' methods of dealing with it.
VANESSA GEORGE (OCTOBER)
At her trial in October, Vanessa George, a 39-year-old worker at the Little Ted Nursery in Plymouth, admitted sexually abusing children in her care. She took photographs of the acts and sent them to two accomplices, Anthony Blanchard and Angela Allen. The judge said her crimes "plumbed new depths". Police discovered her images of abused toddlers and babies on a computer in Manchester. Though she pleaded guilty, George has refused to provide a full list of her victims. She was given an indeterminate prison sentence.
CHRISTINA SCHMID (NOVEMBER)
Christina Schmid, whose husband Olaf was killed trying to defuse a bomb on his last day in the field in Afghanistan, spoke out in November by declaring her belief that there were too few bomb experts serving there. She described how her husband had become mentally tired through over-work, and had to operate in "just a shell-scrape in the ground, without any showers, any toilet facilities, week after week, day after day, hour after hour, in 48-degree heat". She felt her husband had "not necessarily felt appreciated" by the public, and deserved a Victoria Cross for his bravery.
RACHEL UCHITEL (DECEMBER)
An alleged affair with glamorous hostess Rachel Uchitel began the sex scandal that engulfed Tiger Woods as the year drew to a close. Uchitel met the golfer at Manhattan's Griffin Club where she looked after the rich and famous. Uchitel first hit the headlines when she was photographed in a distraught state after losing her fiance in the 9/11 atrocity. Two years later, she suffered a nervous breakdown followed by a short-lived marriage. According to US tabloids, she visited Woods during a tournament in Australia but Uchitel vigorously denies she had an affair with him.
Compiled by Bob Chaundy.
Part one - the men - is here.