“I want little girls to grow up knowing they can do anything, even play football.” 

– Jen Welter, the NFL’s first female coach.

Jennifer Welter is an American football player and coach who was most recently a defensive specialist for the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football.

Sri Lankan beauty queen and Mrs. World pageant titleholder Caroline Jurie, has pledged her support to the country’s less privileged children. She plans to use her new-found fame to inspire and empower children in the island nation.

Caroline Jurie, a mother of a two-year-old girl, hailing from a middle-class family from Kandana, a suburb of capital Colombo, has always aspired to be a model, though she had never walked on a ramp, till she competed for the Mrs. Sri Lanka pageant. 

Jurie has also launched a social project called “Be You”, to help children suffering from mental illnesses. In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in Colombo, Jurie said that it is important to “always be you and not change yourself despite criticism”.

“Always be who you are and don’t be afraid,” she said. She hopes that her life story can contribute to the social movement to encourage youth and children to pursue their passion and goals, without being victimized by social norms and constraints.

Jurie represented her country at the Mrs. World 2020, a beauty competition for married women, held on Dec. 2019 at the grand finale in Las Vegas, U.S.

Soon after returning to Colombo with the crown, she hosted a Christmas Party, inviting underprivileged children and those orphaned in the Easter bombings last year in April. The event brought together over 250 children, who enjoyed snacks, games, and gifts.

“My main intention of this campaign is to motivate youth especially, girls to expand the traditional and cultural boundaries which restrict creativity and free-thinking,” she said.

She wants to continue with the “Be You” project, even after giving up the crown. She aims to target children all over Sri Lanka, especially orphans and those with mental illness.

“My ultimate aim is to uplift and empower all children in my country, especially the less fortunate,” Jurie told Anadolu Agency.

A Sri Lankan Health Ministry report in 2017 had disclosed that around 7% of youth in the island nation attempt to commit suicide, indicating that behavioral problems were appearing a serious challenge.

Title did not come on a Platter

Jurie said she has discovered an alternate way to heal mentally ill children.

“When children suffer from such illnesses, they are asked to take medicine. But I have found another way to cure and that is to talk to them. Let them share their problems, and also use techniques of meditation and yoga. Ultimately, it is not only about medicine, but about using love and care, “she said.

Sharing her experience, Sri Lanka’s most glamorous woman said many children, mostly orphans are reticent. “Since they do not have parents, they do not express themselves. But it is only a matter of time. When you sit, start talking and loving them, they do become confident and communicative,” she said.

After completing her education, Jurie had moved to Dubai to pursue a career as a sales executive, where she met her soul-mate Nishantha Deepal. She gave up her career to pursue her dream of becoming a beauty queen.

The title did not come on a platter. While she sailed through the national pageant easily, it was a daunting task to compete at the international level. First, it was a lack of sponsors and then visa issues with the U.S. mission became obstacles. The U.S. Embassy rejected her visa twice. But ultimately her steadfastness succeeded. She returned to Colombo with a title.

Although her “Be You” project focuses only on children living in Sri Lanka, Jurie said that she is willing to expand it to cover other countries.

“All I want is to bring a smile to the faces of disadvantaged children.”

Jurie plans to spend time with children orphaned in the Easter attacks. “Those children need love, and I want to spend time with them and make them feel loved,” she added.

Miracle Nwankwo

“I would have loved to have heard a story like mine. I could have used it as an inspiration to get by. The lesson is to be hopeful, to dream and to aspire for more.’’ Ilhan Omar.

Young Ilhan Omar and her family fled Somalia to Kenya in 1991 during the civil war. While militiamen planned to attack their home at midnight they were advised by older female relatives to escape safely. Omar left with her family, shortly after, she recounted walking through streets scattered with debris and corpses. 

The family settled in the Utango camp, near the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa for four years. They were among the first displaced persons to reach the Utango camp, which had just opened. Refugees were kept in tents or makeshift huts before the facility was closed, in about 1996.

While in the camp Omar collects firewood and water for her family, and watched other kids going to school in uniforms. She remembers asking her father if she could resume her education.

The camp was isolated and rudimentary with inadequate provisions and sanitation, as such there were situations of deaths as a result of malaria.

Gratefully, Omar and her family moved to the United States when she was 12 under a resettlement programme.

The family arrived New York in 1992, secured asylum in the U.S. in 1995 and lived for a while in Arlington, Virginia, before going to settle in Minneapolis. Her father started working as a taxi driver and later got a job at the post office.

Omar lost her mother when she was 2 years old, so she was raised by her father and grandfather. Her father and grandfather emphasized the importance of democracy during her upbringing, and at age 14 she accompanied her grandfather to caucus meetings, serving as his interpreter. 

She also had her share of racism. Back in Virginia Omar was bullied in school as a result of her distinctive Somali appearance and wearing of the hijab. Several times, gum was pressed into her hijab and she was being pushed down stairs. In response to these actions her father will always say “They are doing something to you because they feel threatened in some way by your existence.”

Whatever has a beginning also has an end.

Omar gained U.S. citizenship in 2000 and she was 17 years old.

She attended Edison High School. While in school she volunteered as a student organizer. In 2011 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University majoring in political science and international studies. She was a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

She started her professional career at the University of Minnesota as a community nutrition educator between 2006 to 2009 in the Greater Minneapolis–Saint Paul area. She served as campaign manager for Kari Dziedzic’s re-election campaign for the Minnesota State Senate, in 2012. She served as a child nutrition outreach coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Education, between 2012 and 2013.

Omar managed Andrew Johnson’s campaign for Minneapolis City Council, in 2013. After Andrew Johnson won the election and was elected, she was appointed as his Senior Policy Aide from 2013 to 2015. 

However, there was a contentious precinct caucus that turned violent in February 2014, and Omar was attacked by five people and was injured. The day before the caucus, Minneapolis city council member, Abdi Warsame had told Johnson to warn Omar not to attend the meeting, Minn Post reported.

Omar was the Director of Policy Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network, September 2015. While in that capacity, she advocated for women from East Africa to take on civic and political leadership roles. In September 2018, Jeff Cirillo of Roll Call called her a “progressive rising star.”

Omar ran on the Democratic–Farmer–Labor (DFL) ticket for the Minnesota House of Representatives District 60B, in 2016, which includes part of northeast Minneapolis. She defeated Mohamud Noor and incumbent Phyllis Kahn in the DFL primary, on August 9. She faced Republican nominee Abdimalik Askar, who was her chief opponent in the general election and another activist in the Somali American community. However, Askar announced his withdrawal from the campaign in late August and in November Omar won the general election, becoming the first Somali American legislator in the United States. Her term began on January 3, 2017. A journey she scaled upwards till date.

She currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, giving hope to other young people whose stories are similar to hers.

Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, Kimia Alizadeh, has announced that she is permanently leaving her country for Europe.

The 21-year-old wrote in an Instagram post explaining why she was defecting, “Let me start with a greeting, a farewell or condolences,” “I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran who they have been playing with for years.”

Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal after claiming bronze in the 57kg category of Taekwondo at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Affectionately known in Iran as “The Tsunami,” Alizadeh announced she was leaving her birth country amid searing criticism of the regime in Tehran.

“They took me wherever they wanted. I wore whatever they said. Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated. Whenever they saw fit, they exploited me,” she wrote, adding that credit for her success always went to those in charge.

“I wasn’t important to them. None of us mattered to them, we were tools,” Alizadeh added, explaining that while the regime celebrated her medals, it criticized the sport she had chosen: “The virtue of a woman is not to stretch her legs!”

Reports of her defection first surfaced Thursday, with some Iranians suggesting she had left for the Netherlands. It was unclear from her post what country Alizadeh had gone to.

On Friday the head of Iran’s Taekwondo Federation, Seyed Mohammad Pouladgar, claimed Alizadeh had assured both her father and her coach that she was traveling as part of her vacation, a trip he claimed was paid for by the Iranian government. He dismissed the reports of Alizadeh’s defection as politically motivated rumors amplified by the foreign media.

Alizadeh confirmed the rumors Saturday, saying she “didn’t want to sit at the table of hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery” and that she did not want to be complicit with the regime’s “corruption and lies.”

“My troubled spirit does not fit with your dirty economic ties and tight political lobbies. I wish for nothing else than for Taekwondo, safety and for a happy and healthy life, she said adding that she was not invited to go to Europe.

She said the decision was harder than winning Olympic gold. “I remain a daughter of Iran wherever I am,” she said.

Her defection came amid anti-government protests in cities across Iran Saturday and international pressure after Iran admitted it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner, killing all 176 people aboard.

Canada, Sweden and other countries whose citizens died on the plane have increased demands on Tehran to deliver a complete and transparent investigation against the backdrop of fresh US sanctions on Iran and a dangerous escalation with Washington.

“Iran will continue to lose more strong women unless it learns to empower and support them,” said US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus about Alizadeh’s defection.

Source: CNN

Brigid Kosgei, Women’s marathon world record holder will return to defend her championship at the 2020 London Marathon, organizers said on Monday.

Kosgei of Kenya set the women’s world record last October in two hours, 14 minutes and four seconds marathon, shattering Paula Radcliffe’s world marathon record, which no woman had come close to in the past 16 years. 

Six months before the Chicago record-breaking run the 25-year-old won the London Marathon for the first time and she is not hesitant about coming back to defend her championship with other elite lineup of Kenyan runners.

“I am very much looking forward to returning to the London Marathon,” Kosgei said in a statement.

“Last year was an incredible year for me and it started by winning in London. Coming back will be very special and I hope it can be the start of another memorable year.”

Fellow Kenyan and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, who broke the two-hour mark in an unofficial event last October, has already confirmed that he will be defending his London title.

Other elite Kenyan runners to grace the field this season includes 2018 London Marathon winner Vivian Cheruiyot, three-time Berlin marathon champion, Gladys Cherono and current world champion, Ruth Chepngetich.

Joyciline Jepkosgei, the 2019 New York City Marathon champion, will also feature on the start line in London.

Jepkosgei and Kosgei are currently joint top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XIII with 25 points apiece.

To this end, everyone looks forward to the 2020 London Marathon which has been slated for coming April  26.

Pakistani-Canadian journalist Habiba Nosheen is a successful woman of color representing other women of color in the United States.

She was born in Pakistan by her Arab parents in 1982, and spent the early years of her life in Lahore. Her family migrated to Canada when Habiba was nine years old. The family became refuges on their arrival in Canada, but things fell into place after they gained right to residency. 

Growing up in Toronto, Canada Habiba obtained a bachelor’s degree from University of Toronto and master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism as well as from York University, Toronto in Women’s Studies. 

Habiba articulates four different languages fluently─ English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi. She started her career in journalism as a reporter at the CBC Radio Pakistan where she was later nominated to report for the prestigious Kroc Fellowship, on-air for NPR ‘s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In 2012, she started her PBS investigation, “To Adopt a Child,” which told the story of the murky side of adoptions from Nepal that left many families caught in the middle. The investigation won the Gracie Award for Outstanding Correspondent and led to a resolution in the Nepalese adoption system, after the government accepted faults for the first time that the whole system has a mistake.  

In 2013, she successfully shot the film Outlawed in Pakistan, she was totally responsible for directing, reporting and narrating of the film which was aired on PBS Frontline. The film was won the Emmy for Outstanding Research and Nosheen’s third Overseas Press Club Award.

Outlawed in Pakistan also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it was called “among the standouts” of Sundance by The Los Angeles Times. The film also got her 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.”

Another outstanding piece that brought her many ground breaking awards was her work for This American Life, a radio documentary “What Happened at Dos Erres?”. The pieced put together a massacre in Guatemala that happened 30 years earlier 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 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.

In 2014, Habiba joined 60 Minutes and she was nominated for the Emmy Award and named a finalist for the George Foster Peabody Award.

Pakistan’s leading newspaper named Habiba Nosheen as one of the “top 5 Outstanding Pakistani Women” in 2014. 

Her documentaries have received various supports from The Fund for Investigative Journalism, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and ITVS. 

Her reporting has also been published by The New York Times, TIME, The Washington Post, BBC and ProPublica among others outlets.

Two years ago she was announced by CBC as the new co-host of Canada’s leading investigative news-magazine show, “the fifth estate.” She has since been offering viewers deep and enticing stories, of ongoing events, on the fifth estate’s 42nd season premieres.

She also currently teaches journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Habiba is a happy mother of two lovely children.

The African Technology Industry is beginning to feel the heat of many innovative women who are uniquely building the tech industry in their various regions. In West Africa, Rebecca Enonchong, stands as a dedicated tech entrepreneur with unrestricted dedication towards upholding technology in Africa.

Rebecca was Born in Cameroon in 1967. In her early teens she relocated to the United States with her family. While in the States, she started working as a door-to-door newspaper subscription vendor at the age of 15. When she was 17 she was promoted to the position of a manager at the same company.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Economics from the Catholic University of America. Having concluded her undergraduate studies, she went on to work for a number of organizations including Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and Oracle Corporation, and she was also an independent consultant serving multinational clients.

In 1999, after Rebecca founded her footing in tech she pitched her tent in digital technology when she founded AppsTech. AppsTech is a Bethesda, Maryland-based global provider of enterprise application solutions, an Oracle Platinum Partner with customers in over 40 countries in three major continents. It is therefore safe to say that the company has grown into a leading global provider of enterprise application solutions.

Beyond AppsTech, Rebecca has built several other startups and incubators and she sits as the Board chair of several organisations.

She is Board Chair of Afrilabs, a Pan-African network of over 100 innovation centers in over 20 African countries that help mentor entrepreneurs. Also she is the Board Chair of ActivSpaces (African Center for Technology Innovation and Ventures) supporting entrepreneurs from two tech hubs in Cameroon. She is the cofounder and CEO of I/O Spaces, an inclusive co-working space in the Washington DC metro area. She sits on the board of Venture Capital for Africa (VC4Africa), of Salesforce.org, the African Media Initiative, Eneza Education and iamtheCODE.

Rebecca was named a Global Leader for Tomorrow (GLT) along with other tech entrepreneurs such as Google co-founder Larry Page and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff by the World Economic Forum of Davos, Switzerland in 2002.

In 2013, she was recognized as a finalist for the African digital woman award. 

Rebecca has also gained fame as one of the more followed sources for African tech news on Twitter, with over 30 thousand followers. Her handle, @Africatechie, has become a nickname for Rebecca in IT circles.

In the media world she is not left out been listed as one of the ‘10 Female Tech Founders to Watch in Africa’ by Forbes magazine in March 2014. Also, the New African magazine named her one of the most influential Africans in 2014, 2016 and 2017. She was also listed as one of Africa’s 50 most influential women of 2017 and as one of world’s 50 most influential Africans in 2018, in Jeune Afrique magazine.

She is co-founder of Cameroon Angels Network and co-founder and Vice-President of African Business Angels Network. Rebecca currently serves as a mentor/advisor to several technology startups. She was the founder and Chairperson of the Africa Technology Forum, a non-profit dedicated to helping technology startups in Africa.

The Tech Industry has been greatly impacted by this rare amazon, and we undauntedly consider this a great pleasure to celebrate this great woman in STEM.