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Heroine of the Week

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Zhou Qunfei was born in 1970 and has established herself in the manufacturing industry after founding Lens Technology, one of the world’s major manufacturers of touchscreens. She is known as one of China’s richest self-made women.

While attending Shenzhen University where she took part-time courses, she worked for companies that were close to the university. During her studies, she earned certifications in accounting, computer operations, customs processing and even learned how to drive commercial vehicles.

Growing up, she had dreamed of becoming a fashion designer but found herself working for a small firm run by a family which specialized in making watch parts. With an earning of 180 Yuan per month, she was not satisfied with the working conditions and tendered her resignation just after three months with reasons why she could no longer continue with the firm. Impressed with her resignation letter, the factory chief offered her a promotion instead.

After some time, the factory folded and with the encouragement of her cousin, she went on to start up her own company in 1993 at the age of 22. The business started off as a family business with her brother, sister, their spouses and two cousins all working out of a three-bedroom apartment.

The new company worked towards providing customers with high-quality lenses for their watches with her looking into more advanced designs for the factory’s machinery.

Her growing company was then put on the map when in 2001 it gained a contract from Chinese electronics company, TCL Corporation to make screens for mobile phones. Now, she has started almost 11 new companies.

Business was beginning to pick up for her while she still produced watch lenses as she was approached by Motorola to design and develop glass screens for the Razr V3 mobile editions. This was during the transition in mobile phone technology from plastic to glass display screens.

Following this huge milestone, she decided to establish Lens Technology in 2003. She had chosen the name “lens” for the company so that it would easily turn up on searches when anyone was looking for where to get quality lenses.

Soon after, orders from HTC, Nokia, and Samsung started to come in and Zhou was on her way to becoming one of the outstanding game changers in touchscreen production. This feat was cemented after the company produced the touch screens for Apple’s iPhone during its entry into the market making it a dominant player in the industry. Till date, Apple watches still use lenses from Lens Technology.

Zhou Qunfei has risen to become one of the richest women in the technology sector who is still making cutting-edge advances. With her being also listed in many award listings like Forbes as #61 in 2016 Power Women, #205 in 2016 Billionaires (#9 in Hong Kong Billionaires for that year, #18 in 2015 China Rich List, and #30 in 2015 Richest in Tech. Fortune ranked her #18 on their 2016 Most Powerful Women of Asia-Pacific list, and she is a newcomer to the list. Bloomberg has ranked her as #211 out of the World’s Billionaires.

When asked what her hobby is, Zhou Qunfei has said that she considers her work to be her hobby but will sometimes make time to play ping pong and probably break a sweat while mountain climbing.

Her success story is one that has motivated a lot of migrant workers in China as she continues to leave her mark and make more strides in the world of technology.

HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi is a member of the ruling family of Sharjah and the niece to His Highness, Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammed Al-Qasimi.

She is the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates, respectively holding the positions of Minister of State for International Cooperation and Development, Minister of Foreign Trade, and Minister of Economic and Planning of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). HE Sheikha Lubna currently holds the position of Minister of State for Tolerance.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the California State University and acquired an Executive MBA from the American University of Sharjah. In March 2014, HE Sheikha Lubna received an honorary doctorate of science, from California State University, Chico; she also has an honorary doctorate in law and economics from the University of Exeter and the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies respectively.

While serving as the Minister of Foreign Trade, she had received commendations with her background in IT for developing a system that slashed the cargo turnaround times at the Dubai airport and also creating the first ever business-to-business online marketplace in the Middle East.

Besides from fulfilling her roles as a Minister, HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi also sits on the Board of various organizations, offering her knowledge when needed.

As a Minister of State for Tolerance, she is working towards creating and building a platform where there is a generally accepted and diversified living condition in the United Arab Emirates.

Some of her Awards and recognition include Datamatix IT Woman of the Year 2001; Commonwealth of Kentucky Honorary title — Kentucky Colonel, 2003; Business. Com Personal Contribution Award, 200,1 among others.

 

Born October 09, 1951, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Luiza Helena Trajano is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Magazine Luiza; one of the largest Brazilian retailers, headquartered in the city of Franca Sao Paulo.

Trojano studied at Faculdade de Direito de Franca, where she earned a degree in Law in 1972. A businesswoman, Trojana is responsible for the growth of one of Brazil’s largest retail outlets with more than 800 stores, located in 16 states of the country and a strong e-commerce operation.

Her journey to the top was not a smooth ail as she went through several sectors, such as collection and sales, before becoming Director-Superintendent of  Magazine Luiza in 1991, since then, she has served in various leadership positions before becoming Chairman of the Board of Directors of  Magazine Luiza.

Trojana has been recognized and honoured for her achievements in business, transforming a network of stores located in Franca, São Paulo, into a network strong enough to fight with the giants of retail business. Some of the honours she has received include the first woman and the only privately held retail company to receive this award in the “SUCCESSFUL 2000” promotion; Entrepreneur Award of the year awarded by Ernst & Young in the Commerce category year 2002; Entrepreneur of the Year Magazine É Magazine 2014 and numerous others.

Magazine Luiza was also been recognized for its people management policy was recognized with several awards. For 20 years, the network has been among the best companies to work on the Great Place to Work ranking its e-commerce operation won 12 times the Diamond trophy in the Excellence in Quality Award for Electronic Commerce – B2C. The company has been listed on the São Paulo Stock Exchange since May 2011.

Born in Chennai, India, to an Indian family and was raised in Indonesia and Singapore, Pramila Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives in 2016.

In 1982 and at the age of 16, she immigrated to the United States to attend college. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from Northwestern University.

Jayapal became a U.S. citizen in 2000. Before entering electoral politics she founded the Hate Free Zone (now known as OneAmerica), an advocacy group for immigrants, and campaigned for the rights of immigrants, women, and people of colour. The group successfully sued the Bush Administration’s Immigration and Naturalization Services to prevent the deportation of over 4,000 Somalis across the country.  Jayapal stepped down from her leadership position in May 2012, and in 2013 she was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change.”

She served on the Mayoral Advisory Committee that negotiated Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and co-chaired the Mayor’s police chief search committee, which resulted in the unanimous selection of the city’s first woman police chief.

After State Senator Adam Kline announced his retirement in early 2014, Jayapal entered the race to succeed him. She was endorsed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and won more than 51% of the vote in the August 5 primary, out of a field of six candidates. She went on to defeat fellow Democrat Louis Watanabe in November 2014.

In the Washington State Senate, Jayapal was the primary sponsor of SB 5863, which directs the Washington State Department of Transportation to administer a pre-apprenticeship program targeting women and people of color; the bill passed into law in July 2015. She co-sponsored a bill to test and track thousands of police department rape kits. Over her two-year tenure in Olympia, Jayapal was rated “in the bottom 98% of legislators in the WA Senate” by FiscalNote, which analyzes the ability of legislators to advance sponsored legislation. 

In January 2016, Jayapal declared her candidacy for Congress in Washington’s 7th congressional district, after Congressman Jim McDermott announced his retirement. In April, she received an endorsement from Bernie Sanders. On August 2, 2016, Jayapal finished first in the top-two primary, alongside state representative Brady Walkinshaw, also a Democrat. She advanced to the general election in November and defeated Walkinshaw with 56 percent of the vote.

Pramila Jayapal currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district, which encompasses most of Seattle as well as outlying parts of King County. As a member of the Democratic Party, she represented the 37th legislative district in the Washington State Senate from 2015 to 2017. She is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first woman to represent the 7th District in Congress, and the first Asian-American to represent Washington in Congress.

She is the author of Pilgrimage: One Woman’s Return to a Changing India, published in March 2000, and currently lives in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle with her husband Steve.

Given the predominance of child labour in Africa and most especially Cote d’Ivoire, several international conferences and committees have been set up to draw up plans that will assist in putting an end to these activities. These steps will not be complete without the touch of a mother who is directly affected by the negative conditions and wellbeing of children. It is based on this fact that the First Lady of Cote d’Ivoire Madame Dominique Ouattara, has exhibited the qualities of a true mother by spearheading the fight against child labour in her country.

 

Dominique Claudine Nouvian Ouattara was born on December 16th, 1953 in Constantine. Originally, she is from France and Côte d’Ivoire. Following her High School Diploma of from the Academy of Strasbourg, she holds a University Diploma (the equivalent of a Bachelor) of Languages specializing in Economics, from the University of Paris X. Her studies have successively been crowned with a Diploma in Property Management (Paris-1987) and a Real Estate Expert Diploma in Paris in 1989.

 

On the accession of her husband to the Presidency of Côte d’Ivoire, Mrs. Dominique Ouattara gave up her brilliant international career as a business operator to exclusively serve her adopted homeland. First Lady, Protector of Ivorian Childhood, Advocate for Women’s Rights, Dominique Ouattara shares since 1989 her brilliant international business operator career with humanitarian missions in Côte d’Ivoire and provides help and comfort to the underprivileged populations in the remote areas of the country.

 

Madame Ouattara created Children of Africa Foundation in 1998 to improve the living and health conditions of African children. With the support of Ivorian and international personalities, the foundation helps and supervises thousands of poor children and women in Africa and particularly in Côte d’Ivoire.

 

On September 12, 2017, Mrs. Dominique Ouattara received the Grand Cross of the Order of merit of the Republic of Portugal from President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in recognition of her many charitable actions in Africa.

 

In Côte d’Ivoire, the foundation works hard to tackle challenges faced by women and children. The outcomes of its sponsorship in favor of Ivorian children and women include:

 

  • The fight against child labor – Appointed in November 2011,

President of the National Oversight Committee of Fight Actions against trafficking, exploitation, and Child Labor (CNS ) she has supported the development of the National Action Plan 2012-2014, which aims to eliminate child exploitation and which must reduce in Côte d’ Ivoire, the worst forms of child labor. In June 2012, the report of the U.S. State Department on the fight against trafficking in persons, reclassified Côte d’Ivoire in Tier 2, indicating the progress made in the fight against abusive child labor

 

  • An ongoing Support to women’s economic empowerment in rural areas.

The First Lady has created a Support Fund for the Women of Côte d’Ivoire ( FAFCI ), to finance the micro-projects. The objectives of this fund are to improve women’s income, facilitate their financial independence, and strengthen entrepreneurial skills while fighting against unemployment. 115 000 women have received this fund already.

 

  • Construction of a mother/child hospital: Against the difficulties of access to care endured by women and children in Côte d’ Ivoire, Children of Africa Foundation has built the Mother / Child Hospital of Bingerville. This hospital has 120 beds, and it is intended to contribute to the reduction of maternal, newborn and child mortality while at the same time introducing measures to reduce HIV infection rates from mother to child.

 

  • Management and Promotion of the Fight against mother to child transmission of AIDS: Mrs. Dominique Ouattara actively supports all local, regional and international initiatives, Programs for the Prevention of AIDS by participating personally in the activities of relating organizations including: membership to of First Ladies’ International associations: the Organization of African First Ladies against AIDS in 2011; the African Synergy Association, as well as the participation in a meeting of First Ladies in Deauville, France in May 2011. Her active participation in the meeting of the First Ladies of the sub-region in Mali, in October 2011, demonstrates her commitment to fighting against the scourge in Côte d’ Ivoire.

 

Before devoting herself solely to Côte d’ Ivoire, the brillant career of Dominique Ouattara as an in international business includes the following positions:

 

  • Creation of the Malesherbes Gestion, Cabinet Parisien of management consultancy of joint ownership.

 

  • CEO of the AICI international (international real estate group), (International Properties Marketing Agency) whwich she created in 1979 and which is located in several cities in Africa and Europe (Paris, Cannes, Abidjan, Yamoussoukro, Libreville, and Ouagadougou).

 

  • President & CEO of EJD Inc., Management company of the Jacques Dessange Institute and acquisition of a DESSANGE franchise in the United States followed by the election as CEO of the “French Beauty Services, Inc.” company.

 

  • Elected in 1989 Honorary President of the Chambre Syndicale (Union House) of Côte d’ Ivoire’s Realtors (CSDAIM)
  • Honorary President of the Chambre Syndicale (Union House) of the Realtors Côte d’Ivoire (CSDAIM) elected in 1989.

Dolores Clara Fernandez also known as Dolores Huerta was born on April 10, 1930, in Dawson, a small mining town in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Her father Juan Ferånández, a farm worker and miner by trade, was a union activist who ran for political office and won a seat in the New Mexico legislature in 1938. Dolores spent most of her childhood and early adult life in Stockton, California where she and her two brothers moved with their mother, following her parents’ divorce.

 

According to Dolores, her mother’s independence and entrepreneurial spirit were some of the primary reasons she became a feminist. Dolores’ mother Alicia was known for her kindness and compassion towards others. She offered rooms at affordable rates in her 70 room hotel, which she acquired after years of hard work. Alicia welcomed low-wage workers in the hotel, and often, waived the fee for them altogether. She was an active participant in community affairs, involved in numerous civic organizations and the church. Alicia encouraged the cultural diversity that was a natural part of Dolores’ upbringing in Stockton. The agricultural community where they lived was made up of Mexican, Filipino, African-American, Japanese and Chinese working families.

 

Alicia’s community activism was reflected in Dolores’ involvement as a student at Stockton High School. She was active in numerous school clubs, was a majorette, and a dedicated member of the Girl Scouts until the age of 18. Upon graduating Dolores continued her education at the University of Pacific’s Delta College in Stockton earning a provisional teaching credential. During this time she married Ralph Head and had two daughters, Celeste and Lori. While teaching she could no longer bear to see her students come to school with empty stomachs and bare feet, and thus began her lifelong journey of working to correct economic injustice.

 

An Organizer is Born

Dolores found her calling as an organizer while serving in the leadership of the Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO). During this time she founded the Agricultural Workers Association, set up voter registration drives and pressed local governments for barrio improvements. It was in 1955 through CSO founder Fred Ross, Sr. that she would meet a like-minded colleague, CSO Executive Director César E. Chávez. The two soon discovered that they shared a common vision of organizing farm workers, an idea that was not in line with the CSO’s mission.

 

As a result, in the spring of 1962, César and Dolores resigned from the CSO and launched the National Farm Workers Association. Dolores’ organizing skills were essential to the growth of this budding organization. The challenges she faced as a woman did not go unnoted and in one of her letters to Cesar she joked…”Being a now experienced lobbyist, I am able to speak on a man-to-man basis with other lobbyists.”

 

The first testament to her lobbying and negotiating talents were demonstrated in securing Aid For Dependent Families (“AFDC”) and disability insurance for farm workers in the State of California in 1963, an unparalleled feat of the times. She was also instrumental in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975. This was the first law of its kind in the United States, granting farm workers in California the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions

 

While the farm workers lacked financial capital they were able to wield significant economic power through hugely successful boycotts at the ballot box with grassroots campaigning. As the principal legislative advocate, Dolores became one of the UFW’s most visible spokespersons. Robert F. Kennedy acknowledged her help in winning the 1968 California Democratic Presidential Primary moments before he was shot in Los Angeles. Throughout the years she has worked to elect numerous candidates including President Clinton, Congressman Ron Dellums, Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Hilda Solis and Hillary Clinton.

 

Women’s Liberation

As much as she was Cesar’s right hand she could also be the greatest thorn in his side. The two were infamous for their blow out arguments an element that was a natural part of their working relationship. Dolores viewed this as a healthy and necessary part of the growth process of any worthwhile collaboration. While Dolores was busy breaking down one gender barrier after another, she was seemingly unaware of the tremendous impact she was having on, not only farm worker woman but also young women everywhere.

 

While directing the first National Boycott of California Table Grapes out of New York she came into contact with Gloria Steinem and the burgeoning feminist movement who rallied behind the cause. Quickly she realized they shared much in common. Having found a supportive voice with other feminists, Dolores consciously began to challenge gender discrimination within the farm workers’ movement.

 

Non-Violence Is Our Strength

 

Early on, Dolores advocated for the entire family’s participation in the movement. After all, it was men, women, and children together out in the fields picking, thinning and hoeing. Thus the practice of non-violence was not only a philosophy but a very necessary approach in providing for the safety of all. Her life and the safety of those around her were in jeopardy on countless occasions. The greatest sacrifice to the movement was made by five martyrs all of whom she knew personally.

 

At age 58 Dolores suffered a life-threatening assault while protesting against the policies of then presidential candidate George Bush in San Francisco. A baton-wielding officer broke four ribs and shattered her spleen. Public outrage resulted in the San Francisco Police Department changing its policies regarding crowd control and police discipline and Dolores was awarded an out of court settlement.

Following a lengthy recovery, she took a leave of absence from the union to focus on women’s rights. She traversed the country for two years on behalf of the Feminist Majority’s Feminization of Power: 50/50 by the year 2000 Campaign encouraging Latina’s to run for office. The campaign resulted in a significant increase in the number of women representatives at the local, state and federal levels. She also served as National Chair of the 21st Century Party founded in 1992 on the principles that women make up 52% of the party’s candidates and that officers must reflect the ethnic diversity of the nation.

 

Her Second Wind

 

At 83, Dolores Huerta continues to work tirelessly developing leaders and advocating for the working poor, women, and children. As founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, she travels across the country engaging in campaigns and influencing legislation that supports equality and defends civil rights. She often speaks to students and organizations about issues of social justice and public policy.

 

There are thousands of working poor immigrants in the agriculture rich San Joaquin Valley of California. They are unfamiliar with laws or agencies that can protect them or benefits that they are entitled to. They are often preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of them. They often feel hopeless and unable to remedy their situations.

 

Dolores teaches these individuals that they have personal power that needs to be coupled with responsibility and cooperation to create the changes needed to improve their lives.

 

It is rarely practiced today because it is tedious and time-consuming. However, the results are long lasting and while people are in the process of building an organization, they are learning lessons they will never forget and the transformative roots are planted. The fruit is the leadership that is developed and the permanent changes in the community. In other words, this is how grass roots democracy works.

 

Recognitions And Awards

 

There are four elementary schools in California, one in Fort Worth, Texas, and a high school in Pueblo, Colorado named after Dolores Huerta.

She was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in March of 2013. She has received numerous awards: among them The Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award from President Clinton in l998, Ms. Magazine’s One of the Three Most Important Women of l997, Ladies Home Journal’s 100 Most Important Woman of the 20th Century, The Puffin Foundation’s Award for Creative Citizenship: Labor Leader Award 1984, The Kern County Woman of The Year Award from the California State Legislature, The Ohtli Award from the Mexican Government, The Smithsonian Institution – James Smithson Award, and Nine Honorary Doctorates from Universities throughout the United States.

 

In 2012 President Obama bestowed Dolores with her most prestigious award, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

 

 

Source: Dolores Huerta Foundation