Comic-Con: Miyazaki brings "Ponyo" to America | Los Angeles Times
At a panel he was asked "why he always had female leads; Miyazaki's simple response was 'Women are strong and beautiful.' "
I'm a big fan of Miyazaki's work and it's hard to choose a favorite but I think it has to be Totoro.
If you are unfamiliar with his work this is a good overview.
Color + Design Blog / Hayao Miyazaki: A Master of Color and Magic by COLOURlovers