Women in Diaspora


Examining the life of Leyla Hussein one can see the selflessness of a great philanthropist who is determined to use the tragic events of her life to strengthening others who have found themselves in similar shoes and to change the course of events for the upcoming generation. 

Leyla Hussein is a Somali psychotherapist and social activist. She is the Chief Executive of Hawa’s Haven, and a co-founder of Daughters of Eve, a non-profit organization which campaigns for greater awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) and works to support young women and girls. She runs savior groups for women/girls who have undergone female genital mutilation. Hussein was born in 1980 in Somalia. Even though she came from a privileged family where her parents were educated professionals, she still underwent Female Genital Mutilation. She was pinned down on a table by four women and cut, after which she received presents, as a bribe which made her doubt the people she should have trusted. This experience although very hurting set as a drive towards the achievement her dreams. Hussein later immigrated to the United Kingdom for her post-secondary education; after giving birth to a daughter at the age of 21 and was forced to confront the true extent of the psychological trauma that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) had left her with. She earned a postgraduate diploma in therapeutic counseling from the Thames Valley University.

Hussein’s experience created a passion in her to fight against female genital mutilation and reduce the harm it had already brought on its present victims. Her desire to create a support network for women and girls with similar experiences made her enroll at Thames Valley University where she earned a degree in therapeutic counseling. Hussein has over a decade of work experience on reproductive health, with a background as a youth outreach worker. Hussein worked for African Well Women Clinic in Waltham Forest where she worked closely with female genital mutilation (FGM) survivors from the UK. She also broke the cycle of FGM in her family with her own daughter. She has 8 years of experience in working with young people as youth outreach worker. Leyla worked at the NAZ project London as a sexual health advisor working with Somali affected by HIV and AIDS. Following her pregnancy, she wanted to ensure the physical safety of her daughter and that inspired her to start campaigning to make a change on how girls globally are protected from all forms of harm. Hussein is the Chief Executive of Hawa’s Haven, a coalition of Somali women campaigners and community activists that aims to raise awareness on gender-based violence. She also runs the support therapy group Dahlia’s Project (a support group for women who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM)), which was established in partnership with Manor Garden Health Advocacy Project where she serves as an Independent Training Consultant, as well as a Community Facilitator in 2010, she along with Nimco Ali and Sainab Abdi founded Daughters of Eve. As part of her role, she has made links with many organizations working with young people such as youth groups, local Somali football teams, and non-African youth groups.  The non-profit organization was established to help young women and girls, with a focus on providing education and raising awareness on FGM. Hussein and Ali have managed to bring Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) into the spotlight and break the taboo surrounding it in the UK. In 2014, following their successful e-petition calling for a stop to FGM, the Girl Summit 2014 hosted by the UK government and UNICEF announced new action and funding to protect those at risk from FGM and forced marriage in a generation. That same year, they were named as two of Britain’s most influential women in the BBC Woman’s hour power list.  Hussein organized a conference of over 400 people in response to the backlash against Somalis in the UK following the 7/7 London bombings. She worked with the Somali Youth Forum (SYF) to show a more positive image of their community and highlight the talent and contributions of young Somalis.

Leyla possesses great leadership qualities. She was formerly an advisor for the END FGM-European campaign supported by Amnesty International, speaking in this capacity before the Cyprus, Vienna and London legislatures. In addition, Hussein sits on the board of trustees of The Special FGM Initiative Advisory Group and the Desert Flower Foundation Advisory Group, a charity funded by Waris Dirie, and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary advisory group on Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) Scrutiny and Involvement Panel by the Crown Prosecution. She also used to sit on Naz Project London Board of Trustees.

She has made a great impact on the lives of women in her society as this has won her a lot of awards. Among these awards are the 2008 PCT Breaking Down Barriers Award, the 2010 Cosmopolitan Ultimate Campaigner Women of the Year Award, the 2011 Emma Humphrey Award, the Lin Groves Special Award, the 2012 True Honor Award by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Right organization, the BBC 100 Women of 2013, the Ambassador for Peace Prize by the Inter-religious and International Peace Federation, Debbets 500 list since 2014. In addition, Hussein and Ali received a community/charity award at the 2014 Red Magazine Woman of the Year awards for their work with Daughters of Eve. They also placed sixth in the Woman’s Hour Power List 2014.

Hussein currently works with a number of organizations in order to eradicate FGM, including the Metropolitan police as part of Project Azure and advises the END FGM European campaign supported by Amnesty International Ireland. She also serves as an Independent Training Consultant and Community Facilitator at the Manor Garden Health Advocacy Project. Hussein has been invited to speak on Somali issues on local, national and international television and radio programs including the BBC world radio service, World has your say, BBC Today and Five Live, Universal TV (Somali TV), Channel 5, Al Jazeera, Islamic channel, BBC 24 and took part in a Dispatches documentary on refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Her impact continues to be felt both in Somalia and beyond as she has changed the painful fate of so many female children.

Salha Kaitesi is a British Rwandan gender equality and female empowerment champion, who believes that it is the basic call of every human on earth to wipe the tears of the disadvantaged populace, by being a solution to the basic problems around the world.  

While working as a social worker for the North of England Refugee Service from 2006-2011, Kaitesi received an insight into the true situation of the disadvantaged and vulnerable people from different countries around the world. Several months later, the desire to play a role in impacting the lives of others eventually birthed Beauty of Rwanda, a not-for-profit Jewellery, and home décor organization that she founded in order to economically empower women and girls in Rwanda. Beauty of Rwanda’s “One Basket” campaign, which focuses on helping boost trade and end poverty for many basket weavers and local artisans (a predominant trade for disadvantaged women in Rwanda) in Rwanda through the purchase of at least one piece of the handmade crafts is a small initiative but goes further if done by many. Kaitesi had no experience in E-Commerce when she started the organization Beauty of Rwanda, but despite the hurdles she had to cross, the organization today continues to put women and girls at the center of its work. “If you feel like the chips are all in place, even though there will always be doubts, just go for it. Better to try and fail than to never try at all”, she is quoted to have said.

Guided by the philosophy that says “none of us can move forward if half of us are held back”,  Kaitesi, continues to champion the empowerment of women and girls, not only in Rwanda but in the rest of Africa too. Her efforts in empowering women, girls and campaigning to end poverty have not gone unnoticed. In March 2011, she was voted as one of the 20 inspirational women of African Diaspora in Europe. In the same year, she was also the winner of the first ADA awards (African Diaspora at work Awards). In 2012, Kaitesi was featured in AfroElle Magazine’s “Top 35 under 35” game changers, top influencers and emerging leaders.  2013 brought with it two recognitions – 3 category nominations for the Women4Africa awards and being listed in ‘Top 100 women who inspire in the world’. Between 2014 to 2017, Kaitesi won the Women4Africa Recognition Award (2014), winner Community Giants Awards Inspirational Woman (2016), a finalist nominee again at the Women4Africa Role Model of the year (2017), winner of the Newcastle University Rise up Start up Single Founder Award (2017) and runner-up Outstanding Entrepreneur Pride of Newcastle University Awards (2017).

Salha Kaitesi who attributes her awards to passion, courage, hard work, determination and a love to empower women especially African women owns and runs a blog called Teakisi (pronounce Tee-ki-is) which creates a space for African women to empower and celebrate each other. The blogzine stands out for several reasons, one of them being the dedication it gives to the everyday African woman. According to the blog, most of its contributors are not professional bloggers and writers, but everyday women with a story to tell and wisdom to share.  The contributors to the blog range from University students stay at home mums, professionals and everything in between. The variety of African women from different backgrounds and locations accounts for the distinctness found on the platform. Teakisi is a platform that also prides itself on the ability to not only gather African women in one place but most importantly to giving them a voice. The overall aim of Teakisi is to show the world that the African woman is multifaceted, multitalented and multicultural. Ultimately, Kaitesi’s mission through the blog is to change the narrative about the African woman. Last year Teakisi was awarded the Versatile Blogger award by other peer bloggers in recognition for the high-quality writing, images, and uniqueness of its content.









Pakistani-Canadian journalist Habiba Nosheen was born in Lahore, the capital city of Pakistan in1982, where she spent her early years. Her family migrated to Toronto Canada as refugees, when she was nine years old. 
Growing up in Toronto, Nosheen obtained a bachelors degree from the University of Toronto, a Masters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a second Masters degree from York University, Toronto in Women’s Studies.
She started her career in journalism as a reporter at the CBC Radio Pakistan where she was later nominated to report for Kroc Fellowship, on-air for NPR ‘s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Nosheen’s successes did not come without the peculiar challenges of a woman of colour, threading the forbidden part of investigative reporting; she started her investigative reporting named, “To Adopt A Child” in 2012, a report that highlighted the story on the murky side of adoptions from Nepal, that left many families caught in the middle. “To Adopt A Child” report earned her the Gracie Award for Outstanding Correspondent and led to a resolution in the Nepalese adoption system after the Nepalese Government acknowledged the irregularities in the adoption system.
Nosheen further delved into film production in 2013, where she successfully co-directed and produced the award-winning documentary Outlawed, shot in Pakistan. The film follows Kainat Soomro, a Pakistani woman who was gang-raped at the age of 13 and struggled to obtain justice. Nosheen’s narration of Outlawed was aired on PBS Frontline and was awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Research. Outlawed, also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it was called “among the standouts” of Sundance by The Los Angeles Times, and also earned Nosheen the David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award by The Overseas Press Club which honors “the best international reporting in the broadcast media showing a concern for the human condition.”Nosheen has continued to produce groundbreaking pieces highlighting the struggles of disadvantaged people since the documentary Outlawed. Her other works include the radio documentary “What Happened at Dos Erres?” The piece put together details of the 1982 massacre of a village in Guatemala, which had only two known survivors; partly by tracking down the men responsible for the killings and interviewing them about what happened that day.
The documentary was tagged “a masterpiece of storytelling” by the New Yorker and it won her various awards including; The George Foster Peabody Award, The Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, The Third Coast Radio Award, The New York Radio Festival Award and two Overseas Press Club Awards in addition to being a finalist for The Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Her achievements have continued to soar as she joined 60 Minutes on CBS News in 2014, and was nominated for the Emmy Award. Nosheen’s documentaries have received various supports from The Fund for Investigative Journalism, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and the Independent Television Service (ITVS).
A happy mother of two lovely children, Nosheen has been widely published across the United States and the Middle East.
She co-hosts of Canada’s leading investigative news-magazine show, “The Fifth Estate’’ Canada’s and currently teaches journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She articulates four different languages ─ English, Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi.

In 1975, Brooklyn witnessed the birth of a heroin and a spectacular trailblazer. She was born as Ludmya Bourdeau but presently known as Mia Love.

Mia Love who happens to be the first black female Republican Party member to be elected into a US Congress was born on the 6th of December 1975 but was raised in Connecticut by her Haitian parents, Maxime and Marie Bourdeau.

She was raised with very little resources and had a humble childhood. She was the youngest of three children born to her Roman Catholic parents. When Mia’s parents migrated from Haiti to the US, things were a bit difficult because they got into the country with a tourist visa which only afforded them a temporary stay. At the birth of Mia, the couple got a permanent residue status based on the immigration law at that time that grants immigrants from the Western Hemisphere who had a child born in the United States stay.

Although the law expired in early 1976 the couple had already become naturalized citizens.

After graduating from the University of Hartford with a degree in fine arts in 1997, Mia worked as a flight attendant, and then she moved to Utah to stay with a friend. At Utah, she met Jason Love, whom she fell in love with and got married. They are blessed with three children.

Mia launched into politics in 2003 having been engaged in various community matters in Saratoga Springs, Utah her settlement.

Also, with a vast experience gathered in numerous leadership roles, where she proved herself worthy to handle issues between residents and the city’s bigger developers of Saratoga, the city found her most reliable and nominated her for the Saratoga Springs City Council in 2003. An idea birthed her neighbors and other supporters.

Mia successfully won the election making her the first Haitian-American to win an election in Utah County, Utah.

She resumed her government position in January 2004 but was faced with an economic decline which was affecting the city at the time. She pushed for a shift from the agriculture tax to municipal tax and urged that most budgets be decreased.

Mia joined forces with other city council members to ensure the deduction of all expenses; the deduction of budget reduced the City’s loses during the economic downturn from $3.5 million to $779,000.

After six years of service as a council member for Saratoga Springs City Council, she won the mayor’s seat winning her opponent Jeff Francom with 861 votes to 594.

She served as Mayor from January 2010 to January 2014, in her stead she was able to fight against natural disasters which hamper on the city.

Having lost an election for Republican Utah 4th congressional district to her opponent Jim Matheson by 768 votes out of 245,277 votes cast she participated in the re-run.

Fortunately, Jim Matheson announced his decision not to participate in the rematch. On April 26, 2014, during the Utah Republican Convention, Mia was announced the winner of the Republican nomination for the 4th congressional district with 78% members vote at the convention, making her the first the first black female Republican Party member in the U.S. Congress.

The 4th Congressional District of Utah held another election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 8, 2016. Again, incumbent Mia Love defeated Doug Owens and Collin Simonsen (Constitution Party) in the general election. Love and Owens competed in the rematch of the 2014 race, in which Love defeated Owens by five percent.

In as much as there are a lot of women out there who are capable of leading businesses and organizations as well as starting up their dream agencies like their male counterparts, they still face limitations that emanate from the aged long adversary called gender inequality.

Records have been broken, times have changed, and women are very hungry, hungry to change circumstances, to become somebody, to be famous and to also impact their world.

Many of the women in these categories have not been far from their dreams even in places like the diaspora where it might seem impossible.  Women in the diaspora have done and are still doing tremendous things in places that they do not refer to as their place of origin.

That is why we take our time to document and celebrate the women in diaspora whom we sometimes call the women of color, their achievements, and engagement in private and public sectors of the countries where they reside.

In this edition, we take a look at Kimberly Casiano the Latin-American woman of color born on December 21, 1957, in New York City.

The former President and Chief Operating Officer of Casiano Communication currently serves as a member of Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company, Mutual of America and Mead Johnson Nutrition Company.

Kimberly Casiano is a Puerto Rican by birth her father was the Chairman of the Board of Casiano Communications.

After spending 12 years of her life in New York City, her family moved to Puerto Rico when her father joined Governor Luis A. Ferré’s cabinet as Economic Development Administrator.

Casiano studied Politics and Latin American Studies at Princeton University, she graduated in the year 1979, after which she moved to Harvard to pursue a master degree in Business Administration and in 1981 she was done and was recognized as the youngest woman to receive an MBA from Harvard at the time.

In the same year she became a master’s degree holder, that same year she established her very own Caribbean Marketing Overseas Corporation.

The Caribbean Marketing Overseas Corporation is a consulting firm that addresses areas between the United States, Caribbean and Central America on specifics such as financing, trade, and investment promotion.

She was totally involved in managing her company until 1988 when she joined Casiano Communications her father’s company and rose to the position of the president in 1994.


Her connection to the ford motors dates back to her undergraduate days at Princeton university in the 1970s when she was studying Latin American studies alongside with Bill Ford Jr. who is presently the chairman of  Ford Motor Co.

Bill and Casiano were the Tom and Jerry of the class because they never agreed on any topic. Casiano wondered why Bill of an American prestigious family will be interested in learning a Hispanic language because at that time he was the only non-Hispanic in the class.

The thought of it always made her furious and she decided to antagonize him in all of their lectures. She was always against his point and whatever he said in class.

After twenty years, bill who took over the family’s organization met with Casiano who is the president of her family-owned publishing and marketing business, but this time not as enemies because times and seasons had taken away the youthful exuberance and they were able to relate on a mutual ground which went deeper and in 2003, Bill ford called on Kimberly Casiano to come on board as member of the company’s directors.

She continued to take up top positions as a member of the board of directors of other organizations and associations including being part of the current board of directors of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), an NGO that provides an annual budget of close to $50 million scholarships to Hispanic college students in the US.

And Mead Johnson Nutrition board of directors, a leading nutrition company for babies and children In 2011, these two are parts of the others which are not mentioned.

Casiano is married to Juan F. Woodroffe who is a Peruvian and they have two children.

Janice Bryant Howroyd is an African-American woman, born on the first of September, 1952 in Tarboro of North Carolina, United States of America. Her father had a mixed race, his ancestry was of both Irish and Cherokee, but Janice mother is an African-American.

This astute woman is energetic and passionate, self-inspired and very diligent. Being self-inspired is traceable to her early days in life, as a teenager in Tarboro. She suffered the torments of racism being a black girl in the midst of other white children. She was the first and only black student while in high school.

According to Janice, “back in high school, there was so much racial discrimination, there was no joy in returning to school the next day if you succeeded in surviving the bad day you had the day before.” She recalls one of her worst days in school, when one of her teachers “explain why Africans were so well suited to slavery and how we’d be much poorer as a society if we went any further with this affirmative action,” these words got to Janise that she had to bite the inside of her jaw to avoid shedding tears, as she believed crying could depict accepting defeat.

On getting home that day she cried herself to stupor as those words kept ringing in her head. She had no intention of going back to school because she had lost her motivation at that point. She begged her parent to allow her to stay back home the next day but her father refused. He gave her the options of going back to school while he confronts the teacher himself, or that she be enrolled in an all-black school. These options gave her no choice than to pick up herself and continue with the journey.

She fought to put all the negativity behind. She fought to become the image she had painted in her heart. She fought to become better than what others expected of her, and today she wins on every side, with that challenging in the past.

Janice eventually became one of the first African American students to desegregate her town’s previously segregated high school. Her personal motto is, “Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professional”

After high school, Janice was awarded a scholarship to study English at North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, she was there for few years and then graduated with a degree.

She got her first job with the American Red Cross and the National Academy of Sciences, she worked there for some time until 1976 when she visited her sister who was married and lived in Los Angeles, California. On getting to California she fell in love with the place and lifestyle and the decided to pitch her tent over there.

Unknown to Janice that her dream was about to start its formulation. Janice brother-in-law Tom Noonan worked as a top official in the Billboard magazine. Janice worked as Noonan’s secretary at billboard, and was opportune to meet with business executives and celebrities through Noonan, she began traveling from place to place and learned diversity through her job.  After two years at Billboard magazine, she had learned so much that it built her strength and she began stretching her tentacles for a life of entrepreneurship.

At that point, she had gathered over $1000, $987 from her savings and $533 which she borrowed from her mother and brother. But what was she going to do with the money?

While at billboard magazines, Janice discovered that a large number of the support staffs at a billboard, took the job because they had been aspiring to get into the entertainment industry, and they thought that working in a magazine firm as huge as billboard could get them closer to their dreams. So, Janice’s idea was to start up an employment agency that will recruit permanent workers who do not aspire to be actors or screenwriters but are interested in building their career on a long term dedicated service.

She took her money and rented a small office space with a telephone line on the Beverly Hills address and she called it the ACT∙1 Personnel Services in 1978. Janice was hopeful about the step that she had taken, this is the attitude of every entrepreneur, they always believed in themselves and they are risk takers.

Fortunately, she started getting clients, and her first client was Billboard, she got the billboard without stress may be based on the fact that she had a relationship with the company, but she soon found others by calling businesses and offering to send them the right.

It wasn’t a smooth ride for Janice, but today she is known as the first Black woman to own a billion-dollar company that started as a single-office operation. Currently, ACT∙1 employs over 1,300 workers in 240 satellite offices in the U.S. and eight other countries, providing services with detailed information from the employee background checks to executive travel management.

ACT∙1 is also known as the largest woman minority-owned employment agency in the United States making it distinct from other firms in the same field of work.

Janice is a successful woman of color, a wife, mother, mentor, ambassador, businesswoman, author, and an entrepreneur. She is happily married to Bernard Howroyd and they are blessed with two children. She received several recognitions and awards in the course of her career, including a key Presidential appointment by President Barack Obama in May 2016, as a member of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She also received The BET Honors Entrepreneur Award.

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, Howroyd is “an individual who has had a significant impact on the well-being of her community and who has had the foresight and generosity to recognize that her success is best savored when she pays it forward.” Through scholarship funding and personal service, she supports universities such as Harvard University, University of Southern California, California State University, San Bernardino and her own alma mater, North Carolina A&T, women’s support organization, Minority serving organizations, and serves as a mentor to others through personal work and media engagements.

Howroyd teaches people to understand that “One cannot effectively lead without passionately serving” and has said that one of the greatest gifts of her business is that it enables her to help others.

As a successful woman of color, we celebrate all her efforts and impact in the women society at large.


Tolu Olubunmi is definitely a Nigerian native but working endlessly in achieving the American dream.

She was 14-years-old when she moved to America and wanted to become an engineer. Tolu worked hard in school to make her way into a top university and she achieved her goal. She graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 2002. But unlike so many other college graduates, Tolu’s undocumented status kept her from the jobs that she was otherwise qualified for.

Being a determined young woman, she began to think of how to improve the life’s of immigrates like herself, then she decided to devote her time to changing immigration policies in the US so that others will have the opportunity to realize their own dreams in the country they love and call their own. Just last year, Tolu was given one of the biggest opportunities of all: to introduce President Obama at the White House before his speech on immigration reform! Tolu was also recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of 15 Women Changing the World in 2015.

She is a member of the Board of Directors of USAIM for IOM, the United States based non-profit partner of IOM, the UN Migration Agency. She is also a founding board member of the United We Dream Network and co-founder of and Immigrant Heritage Month.

She currently serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Migration and co-chairs the Mobile Minds – an innovative initiative advancing cross-border remote working as a 21st century alternative to physical migration.  She made the World Economic Forum’s list of outstanding women entrepreneurs, focusing her attention on international migration issues and access to opportunity for all people.

In 2015, Tolu joined 26 CEOs, Executives, Olympians, Activists, and other inspiring women to walk the runway at designer Carrie Hammer’s New York Fashion Week show featuring “Role Models Not Runway Models.” Her story has been profiled by several media outlets, including TIME and MSNBC and she has been a featured speaker at the White House, the World Bank, and the US Congress.

The social entrepreneur is guided by a quote from John Wesley ‘’ “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways, you can. In all the places, you can. At all the times, you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Olubunmi is a strong believer that if each of us, in our own way, should all aspire to live out these words then there’s nothing we can’t achieve. Tolu says ‘’it took her own setbacks to open her eyes to this truth’’.