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Women in Diaspora

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Kamala Harris represents the few whose decision to engage in politics was born out of the desire to give a voice to the voiceless diaspora in America. She became the first California attorney general with African American or South Asian ancestry after defeating Republican rival Steve Cooley in the 2010 election for the position.   Harris was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California to a Tamil Indian mother and a Jamaican father. The family lived in Berkeley, California, where both of Harris’ parents attended graduate school. Although, Harris’ parents were later divorced when she was 7 and her mother was granted custody of the children by a court-ordered settlement.

After the divorce, her mother moved with the children to Montreal, Québec, Canada, where Shyamala took a position doing research at the Jewish General Hospital and teaching at McGill University. After graduating from Montreal’s Westmount High School in Quebec, Harris attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in political science and economics. She began her leadership experience at an early stage in life as she was elected to the liberal arts student council as freshman class representative, a member of the debate team, and joined the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She then returned to California, earning her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1989.

Harris began prosecuting murder, robbery, and child rape cases as deputy district attorney for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, serving in the position from 1990 to 1998. Then, as managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, a position she filled from 1998 to 2000, with this position Harris prosecuted cases involving serial felons. Harris used her position to create a significant decline in Crime in San Francisco, with Harris as head; the San Francisco District Attorney’s office increased the percentage of dangerous criminals sentenced to prison by more than half. She also tripled the number of misdemeanor cases sent to trial and prosecuted the parents of truant children, which helped slash the truancy rate by 23 percent. She made California safer by prosecuting transnational gangs that exploited women and children and trafficked in guns and drugs. She led comprehensive studies and investigations into the impacts of transnational criminal organizations and human trafficking in California. Harris is an outspoken advocate for immigrant and women’s rights, and a proud member of the resistance against Donald Trump’s presidency.  In 2003, Kamala Harris made history; she was elected as the San Francisco district attorney, becoming the first woman, black, and South Asian to achieve this feat.

Kamala Harris was a fighter who continued to defend her people in time of crisis. She led comprehensive studies and investigations into the impacts of transnational criminal organizations and human trafficking in California.  She also fought for California families in the wake of the financial and national mortgage crisis, when she challenged Wall Street greed and took on the big banks, winning over $20 billion for homeowners, creating the multidivisional Mortgage Fraud Strike Force to crack down on fraud, and passing a “Homeowners Bill of Rights,” establishing the nation’s most comprehensive anti-foreclosure protections. Kamala was proud to lead the team that helped bring down California’s Proposition 8 at the U.S. Supreme Court and to fight for marriage equality nationwide. Throughout her career, Kamala has been a leading advocate for innovation and reform in the criminal justice system.

She introduced or co-sponsored the legislation to reform our criminal justice system, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, make higher education tuition-free for the vast majority of Americans, protect the legal rights of refugees and immigrants, and expand access to affordable, quality health care by creating a Medicare for All-style program.

She has won so many awards and accolades. Harris won endorsements from California’s political elite while campaigning for attorney general, including Sen. Diane Feinstein, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. On the national stage, Harris had the backing of former U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Leaders in law enforcement endorsed Harris also, including the then police chiefs of San Diego and San Francisco.

Harris’ numerous honors, include being named one of California’s top 75 women litigators by legal paper the Daily Journal and a “Woman of Power” by the National Urban League. Additionally, the National Black Prosecutors Association gave Harris the Thurgood Marshall Award and the Aspen Institute chose her to serve as a Rodel Fellow.  She was also elected to the board of the California District Attorneys Association. She received the endorsements of numerous groups, including EMILY’s List, California Legislative Black Caucus, Asian American Action Fund, Black Women Organized for Political Action, the National Women’s Political Caucus, Mexican American Bar Association, and South Asians for Opportunity

Kamala Harris depicts a woman with strength and a heart for the people as she continues to remain a fearless advocate for the voiceless and vulnerable.

Once upon a time in the city of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, a pathfinder was born. Her parents, Ana Delia and Antonio Coello named her Antonia Coello; the first of three children, and now known as Antonia Novello, she went on to become the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as Surgeon General of the United State.

Antonia was diagnosed with a medical condition at birth, which caused her so many pains while growing up, and interrupted the beautiful moments of her teenage days. She suffered congenital megacolon, an abnormality of the large intestine, which could only be corrected via a surgery procedure, she was made aware of the need for the procedure at age eight (8), but having lost her father at the same time,which lefther widowed mother with Antonia and her three siblings to take care of, it took another ten (10) years for the surgery to take place, frequently landing her in hospitals through her teenage years.

Ana Delia, Antonia’s was a schoolteacher who later became a junior high school and high school principal, primarily raising Antonia and her sisters on her own, she often stressed the importance of education. Delia later remarried.

Antonia’s health condition which was supposed to be corrected at the time when she turned eight put her through so much pain because her family could not afford the long trip to the surgical hospital, and she had to spend part of every summer getting interim treatment at a local hospital.

During this waiting period, Antonia was never deterred as she took her studies seriously, and made up her mind to become a doctor so that she could help other children suffering from health problems.Her experience with the disease left such an impact on her that she vowed to become a doctor so that “no other person would have to wait 18 years for surgery.

Life has so many challenges that may never end if we refuse to do something to it, but when we decide not to let our struggles define us, we are set for victory. Another interesting part about being great is using your struggles as a stepping stone to your great future.

In spite of the long-lasting sickness, Antonia was diligent with her studies, a bright student who excelled academically. Perhaps the sickness must have caused her to be reserved and sensitive because she was known as that rational child who had a good sense of humor and was very active in school activities.

Being the daughter of an educationist, she was well guided academically, and Delia, who always stressed the importance of education,stood by her daughter making sure that the disease was not a barrier for her to excel. She personally took her daughter tutorials on math and science, making sure that she was properly managed irrespective of the plague.

At age 15 Antonia graduated from high school and was admitted to study at the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Pedras. At age 18, she took a surgery to correct her medical condition which was not successful but the surgery was repeated when she was 20 at the renowned Mayo Clinic and this time, it was finally resolved to make her free to live normal after 20 years of waiting.

Anthoniagraduated from the University of Puerto Rico in 1965, with a Bachelor of Science degree. She decided to fulfill her dreams when she went on to study medicine at the same university. In 1970 Antonia graduated and got married to Joseph Novello.

Novello was a U.S Navy flight surgeon who changed to being a psychiatrist and a radio talk show host. The couple continued to live in Puerto Rico until Antonia was ready to begin her pediatrics internship training in nephrology (the study of the kidneys) at the University of Michigan Medical Center. The young couple moved to Ann Arbor in Michigan.

A year after she started her internship, Antonia won the Pediatrics Department Intern of the Year Award, as the first woman to receive the award. She remained at the pediatrics in Michigan until 1974, and continued her postgraduate work at Georgetown University before joining the private sector.

Antoniastarted her own private practice in Springfield, Virginia in 1976 where she worked as a pediatrician. She however came to the realization, that she did not have enough emotional detachment for the job,and sheeventually terminated her practice. In an interview thereafter, she stated that “When the pediatrician cries as much as the parents do, then you know it’s time to get out.”

She joined the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 1978, working with the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Disorders at the National Institutes of Health. She was eventually made the deputy director of the Institute of Child Health and Human Development, where she focused on pediatric AIDS. She stayed with the pediatrics at Georgetown University Hospital and in 1982 earned her degree in public health from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

She drafted legislation for the Organ Transplantation Procurement Act of 1984, while serving with the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.

In the year 1990, on the 9th of March precisely she began her tenure as the Surgeon General of the United State, appointed by the former President George H. W. Bush.

Antonia became the very first woman and the first Hispanic to hold the position.

She served in her capacity dispatching her duties as she was required.

There is nothing impossible for the determined person who is persistent in doing what is right and at the right time.

Eleanor Roosevelt, the renowned American politician, activist, and longest-serving First Lady of the United States, once said; “We gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face … we must do that which we think we cannot.” 

 

Susana Edjang is an African woman who is determined to better the health of many, as she makes tremendous impact in global health issues. She was born in Equatorial Guinea in the late 70’s but later grew up in Spain. Edjang currently resides in London where she began her career.  She is a physiotherapist and a development economist.

Edjang is an international development, global health and policy expert, who is presently using her knowledge as an officer at the United Nations to improve the health of women and children around the globe. She was a parliamentary advisor on global health and climate change at the United Kingdom parliament. Her position empowered her to change the status quo of the health status in Africa by promoting partnerships for mutual benefits between United Kingdom health institutions and their counterparts in Africa and Asia. This mission propelled her to become a co-founder of the Zambia – UK workforce alliance in 2011.

Susana worked at THET, where she was the health links manager in charge of supporting and promoting institutional health partnerships across the U K’s health and development organization. She currently works for the secretary general of the United Nations (U.N) at his economic, social and development unit where her job focuses on galvanizing action toward the health-related millennium development goals.

Susana Edjang is also a programme manager of Zambia U K health workforce alliance.  This workforce is a growing network of 45 Zambian and U K health organizations that support health initiatives in Zambia.

She has made giants strides in world health issues which have placed on global economic platforms and also won her various accolades. She was a winner of the 2015 inspirational women of the year award. Her leadership capacity her also gave her a place on the governing council of a pan – African network of emerging leaders on health.  Susana Edjang is a member of the council of the Royal African Society and a 2014 Yale world fellow. As a woman with distinct excellent abilities, she serves as a trustee of progression, an INGO engaged in civil society development in 11 countries around the world.  She is embedded with tremendous problem-solving skills as she is a co-author of “working in International Health” a unique guide which helps professionals overseas to work.

The success story of Susana Edjang displays the “never-give-up” spirit that can be found in many African women, who continue to walk the length and breadth of life proffering solutions to perturbing world problems.

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.