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The health and prosperity of humanity are directly tied to the state of our environment. We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or pivot to sustainable development? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now, said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) during the fourth UN Environment Assembly meeting held at the organizations’ headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The 51-year-old Msuya is Tanzania’s top import to the global environmental organization.

Appointed 15 August 2018 by UNEP’s Secretary-General António Guterres, this mother of two initially served as an Adviser to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region while based in Washington, D.C.

Not much is known about the private life of Msuya which is testimony of how guarded she has been to date, avoiding personal scrutiny as she has steadily ascended the top global echelons.

Holding a Master of Science in Microbiology and Immunology degree from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Immunology from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, Msuya also holds an Executive General Management Certificate from Harvard Business School (USA) and a Public Health Certificate from Johns Hopkins University (USA). Bottom line, she is solidly schooled.

Tellingly, within Africa’s patriarchal society, education acts as a catalyst, accelerating the pace of girls to tap into the mainstream  marketplace and Msuya, a mother of two, is certainly a typical symbol of this axiom.  

Prior to joining UNEP Msuya served as an  Adviser to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region in Washington, D.C. She brought to the position more than 20 years of extensive experience in the field of international development spanning corporate, strategy, operations, knowledge management, and partnerships, with diverse assignments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

From 2014 to 2017, Msuya served as the inaugural World Bank Special Representative and Head of the World Bank Group (WBG) Office in the Republic of Korea, where she established and developed office operations. She led on expanding and deepening the partnership between the WBG and the Government of Korea.

Before this Msuya held a series of high-level positions at the WBG, including the World Bank Institute’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Coordinator based in China, Principal Strategy Officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Manufacturing, Agribusiness & Services Department, and Special Adviser to World Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, Lord Nicholas Stern.

At the WBG Msuya led several strategic initiatives within complex organizations at global, regional and country levels. These including ,creating an innovative blended finance fund , namely ,the Food Fund in response to the 2008 global food crisis; leading the development of the IFC’s growth strategy for Africa, which helped IFC achieve a historic increase in private sector investments in Africa; and managing the China-Africa Knowledge Sharing Program, the World Bank’s most successful South-South program, which leveraged the WBG’s environmental and social standards to inform sustainable business practices of cross border investments into Africa.

Before joining the World Bank Group in 1998, Msuya worked as an International Health Policy Analyst with the Liu Center for Global Studies, presently the Liu institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Previously she worked in Tanzania on various assignments, both in the private and public sectors

Msuya joined the World Bank in 1998 as a Health Specialist. She went on to build expertise in development economics as well as lending operations in the health sector during her tenure with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development .In 2001, she joined the World Bank’s Development Economics Vice Presidency as Advisor to the Senior Vice President  and Chief Economist, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern

From 2005 to 2011, she worked at the International Finance Corporation, in the Departments of Operational Strategy and Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services, where she rose to the position of Principal Strategy Officer.

In 2011, she was assigned to the Beijing office of the World Bank Institute as Regional Coordinator for East Asia and the Pacific, focusing on support to the Bank’s operational work in its efforts to “fight poverty and promote shared prosperity”.

In April 2014,  Msuya was selected by senior management to establish and manage the first World Bank Group office in the Korea, serving for three years as the World Bank Special Representative to the Republic of Korea and Head of the World Bank Group Office based in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea.

At the time of her appointment to her present assignment, she served as an advisor for the World Bank’s Vice President for the East Asia and Pacific region, based in Washington DC.

And if her career trajectory so far is anything to go by, Msuya is slated to become a phenomenal figure with clout and influence in the globe.

On 15 August 2018, she was appointed to be the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Mr Solheim announced he had quit with effect from November 20 in the wake of an internal audit report that said he had gobbled up $500,000 in unnecessary and budgeted travel expenses in just 22 months.

Ms. Joyce Msuya was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) on 15 August 2018.

Tanzanian national Joyce Msuya has been appointed as acting head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) after Erik Solheim, the executive director abruptly resigned on Tuesday in the wake of accusations of misuse of funds.

On 15 August 2018, she was appointed to be the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Prior to joining UN Environment, Ms Msuya served as Adviser to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region in Washington, D.C.

Ms Msuya however, wouldn’t find her new role a walk in the park especially coming in the wake of Solheim exit with the UN body attracting more scrutiny in the way it runs its affairs.

Mr Solheim announced he had quit with effect from November 20 in the wake of an internal audit report that said he had gobbled up $500,000 in unnecessary and budgeted travel expenses in just 22 months.

Prior to joining UN Environment, Ms. Msuya served as Adviser to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region in Washington, D.C. She brought to the position more than 20 years of extensive experience in the field of international development spanning corporate, strategy, operations, knowledge management, and partnerships, with diverse assignments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Msuya served as the inaugural World Bank Special Representative and Head of the World Bank Group (WBG) Office in the Republic of Korea, where she established and developed office operations. She led on expanding and deepening the partnership between the WBG and the Government of Korea.

Before this, Ms. Msuya held a series of high-level positions at the WBG, including the World Bank Institute’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Coordinator based in China, Principal Strategy Officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Manufacturing, Agribusiness & Services Department, and Special Adviser to World Bank Senior Vice President & Chief Economist (Lord Nicholas Stern).

At the WBG, Ms. Msuya led several strategic initiatives within complex organizations at global, regional and country levels. These include:

  • Creating an innovative blended finance fund (the Food Fund) in response to the 2008 global food crisis;
  • Leading the development of the IFC’s growth strategy for Africa, which helped IFC achieve a historic increase in private sector investments in Africa; and
  • Managing the China-Africa Knowledge Sharing Program, the World Bank’s most successful South-South program, which leveraged the WBG’s environmental and social standards to inform sustainable business practices of cross border investments into Africa.

Ms. Msuya started her career with the WBG as Health Specialist, Africa Region in 1998. As an author and publisher of multiple articles in the health sector, including in peer-reviewed journals as well as a background paper titled “Making Services Work for Poor People” for the 2004 World Development Report (WDR), she delivered both sustainable development projects and leading analytical products.

Before joining the WBG, Ms. Msuya worked on various public and private sector assignments at the University of British Columbia in Canada and in her native country of Tanzania.

Ms. Msuya holds a Master of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Immunology from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. She also holds an Executive General Management Certificate from Harvard Business School (USA) and a Public Health Certificate from Johns Hopkins University (USA). Ms. Msuya is married with two children.

By Charles Wachira

Maria Kiwanuka, widely thought to be one of the richest women in Uganda, embodies a commitment to achieve personal success while avoiding gloating in an era where narcissism has become a byword for the uber-rich.

As it’s popularly acknowledged, an apple does not fall very far from a tree.

Maria’s old-man, an engineer, helped set up the Public Works Department in Uganda that built major projects including Entebbe Airport and array of residential flats before branching out to do private consultancy.

Currently, Maria, formerly a politician who served as Uganda’s Finance minister for four years beginning May 2011 ending in March 2015 plays the role of Senior Advisor to Yoweri Musevini, President of Uganda on matters touching the delicate docket of finance and singularly fixated on the Bretton Woods institutions.  

This a-lister was initially enlisted to study medicine at Makerere University, a regional premier institution but despite the prestige associated with the profession, she opted instead to study commerce.

Always playing the role of a contrarian, Maria while transiting to read for her A-level had the mind of dropping out of class to pursue the less rigorous course of secretary but wisdom prevailed.

“I was tired of school,” she says. “I was always interested in business.”

With the business bug egging her to engage in commerce, Maria moonlighted as a make-up artiste at a beauty parlour in Kampala, the capital while still a university student.

Her first port of call after university was at the Bank of Uganda, referred elsewhere as the Central Bank of Uganda, as a graduate trainee, attached to the commercial banks supervision department before going on furlough and heading to the London Business School (LBS), a prestigious institution.

“It was mama’s chequebook,” she says when asked if she won a scholarship, “and I thought it was going to be a two-year holiday” but London was intense “and very different from Makerere”, Maria reminisces

Towards the end of her master’s degree at LBS, the World Bank held recruitment fair and Maria was one of two scholars picked from the UK to join the lender that year.

One highly visible woman who was an alumnus of Maria at the World Bank was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, formerly also Finance Minister, of her country, Nigeria (2003-2006, 2011-2015) and Managing Director of the World Bank in charge of, Operations (2007-2011.

Ms. Kiwanuka, as she prefers to be called nowadays after marrying  a proverbial alter ego underlines the essence of aligning oneself  with a mate who inherently shares similar traits as oneself as a minimum requirement for eternal happiness and peace within the marriage fold .

Clearly, Mohan, the man who won the heart and mind of Marie, is equally smart in the head having also attended Makerere University where he read law, later on travelling to Switzerland’s   IMDE, Lausanne, a top-shelf global institution where he bagged an MBA.

Mohan is the Chairman and founder of a conglomerate of several of several organisations in Uganda spread in several sectors including media, horticulture, property development, plastics and paper and sits on several boards.

He has over 30 years’ experience at senior positions in various sectors. Between 1975 and 1990, he worked at the Uganda Development Bank and rose through the ranks to Bank Secretary and later to Deputy General Manager. He has been involved with steering Uganda’s financial sector restructuring since 1980.

Mohan holds an LLB from Makerere University and a Diploma in Legal Practice (Law Development Centre, Kampala). He also has an MBA from, Switzerland.

 

’d become then, (she resolutely refuses to discuss her husband or her family throughout the interview) spent almost a decade at the World Bank, working as a policy analyst and advising on bank projects in Africa (including Uganda) and Asia, before deciding to return home.

A music fan, mainly of 70s and 80s music, she set up Radio One with a promise of ‘Great Songs, Great Memories’ because none of the other radios at the time, Capital and Sanyu FM, spoke to people of her generation.

She ran the radio with an iron fist but she was also a good spotter of talent (for instance, Philip Besiimire, CEO of MTN Swaziland, and Richard Kavuma, Editor of the Observer newspaper both started out giving traffic reports on the radio)

She was very hands-on, she admits, and intensely competitive. Whenever there was a problem with the radio mast, she’d drive there and “show solidarity” with the engineers even if she wasn’t really needed.

She still listens to Radio One in her car but Ms Kiwanuka now spends more time in meetings or on planes than listening to her radio.

The meetings are unrelenting, she says, as one of her two mobile phones constantly goes off, never mind that it is a Saturday morning. The next day, she is due to drive to Rwakitura for a meeting with the President, then it is off to some foreign meeting.

Where many fight to get into Cabinet for perks like business-class plane rides, Ms Kiwanuka has had to downgrade from the occasional first-class to the government-regulation business class on foreign trips.

But she is not complaining.

“Uganda has been good to me,” she says, “it’s not been a sacrifice.”

When she speaks about agriculture, she becomes more animated, clearly relieved that the questions about her family and private life – the questions, she says, that are “trying to climb over the wall of her privacy” – are over.

Bringing a business ethic to bureaucrats
Ms Kiwanuka wants to bring a business ethic to government, spending money in productive areas like agriculture, infrastructure, and progressive reforms.

“We have a potential solution [to slowing economic growth] by becoming a bread basket for the region,” she says. “But we must prioritise and invest in the right areas.

“We must work for the greatest good for the greatest number.”

Economic growth is projected to drop to its lowest rate in almost two decades; inflation remains high at 21 per cent and there is an unemployment crisis among the youths. Fixing the economy is going to be much harder than anything Ms Kiwanuka has ever done. And she knows it, pointing out that over the last 10 years the country spent more than it could afford.

Can she achieve more production and less patronage in government? Her second Budget Speech (the first she’s been fully responsible for) is due in two weeks and will offer the best evidence of her efforts.

No free lunch
She is alive to the politics – the government, after all, needs to be re-elected, she says, – but also speaks with frustration about the politicking that has delayed the Youth Venture Capital Fund.

“Once you get politics into business, it dies,” Ms Kiwanuka says ruefully. She is hoping to create “a mindset shift” within government through prioritisation, accountability and enforcement.

“There is no free lunch,” she says. “To enjoy the niceties, you need to grow the purse.”

Once, many years ago, Maria’s father turned down a request by her young brother for some toy, saying he did not have money. Pointing to his father’s chequebook, the young boy contested the claim, saying as long as there remained leaves in the book, there was money.

Ms Kiwanuka now finds herself with one admittedly large chequebook, but even larger bills to pay.

“Do we cut money from education to spend on salaries? Or health? Those are some of the tough questions we need to ask.”

And the end of the interview she gets into her pristine white Mercedes Benz to run errands around town. She does not use her official car for private journeys and she gives her driver time off at the weekend so she can drive herself.

Grabbing a bunch of keys, she drives out to her office, to put in some work ahead of her meeting with the President. If anyone can drive the economy out of its current slump, it will have to be an outsider like Ms Kiwanuka – but only if those on the inside are willing to shift gears and change their mindsets.

 

For all the speculation surrounding who would make President Yoweri Museveni’s latest cabinet, Maria Kiwanuka, the proprietor of Radio One and Akaboozi Kubiri wasn’t in many people’s wildest dreams. But she was appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, replacing Saida Bumba.

However, while her academic qualifications, a Bachelors Degree in Commerce put her in good stead for this position, more importantly than not, Kiwanuka has played a major role in inspiring many people’s lives. Kiwanuka is a successful business woman, who has built her media house from scratch into one of the most powerful and success stories of our time.

Kiwanuka has been the fulcrum of Radio One’s success since 1997 when it was established. It was during a very hostile period of the emergence of FM radios in Uganda. It was not clear how Radio One would have faired against major competitors like CBS FM, Capital FM and Sanyu FM. Well, she clearly had a plan.

Mark Ssali, a prominent Sports journalist was one of the first people to work for Kiwanuka at Radio One. He, therefore speaks of how she inspired him. “The first thing I learnt about her was her awareness of what was happening in the industry she had come into. She was not only focused but very knowledgeable. She did not settle for second best and that is why she went out there hiring people she believed were good,” says Ssali.

Ssali was part of the Sports talk show, The Locker-room, the first of its kind on Ugandan radio, which was a hit. This, Ssali says, was because Kiwanuka came up with so many ideas on how to make the radio’s programming the best around. Such is her brilliance, Ssali adds, and as such thinks he learnt a lot. Kiwanuka’s unrelenting nature to be the best, Ssali says, has made him give his all to improve as a sports journalist.

Ssali has had many suitors like the former Gateway Television from the UK that was telecasting the English Premier League, Italian Serie ‘A’ and the German Bundesliga between 2007 and 2009. Ssali has become a household sports pundit with wide knowledge of Ugandan and foreign sport.

One could say that the ambitious nature of Kiwanuka left an indelible mark on Ssali. Michael Kigozi, a staff at Radio One opines that one thing he has picked from his boss, is the non-discriminative nature. “She has no stereotypes. She never judges people on the basis of religion, age difference, tribe or skin colour. For her, it is about your performance and to me, that is a good trait in a leader,” Kigozi says.

Kigozi continues that while Kiwanuka is result-oriented, she speaks to her staff with a parent-like approach and is always advising them in case they go wrong. Ismail Dhakaba, who has been working at Radio One since 2009 says that the number one thing Kiwanuka emphasises is the listener or the customer.

She wouldn’t tolerate losing a single listener, which is why she always arms her employees with the best skills to keep the listeners glued to her radio station. But all this has been achieved through making sure that her employees are good time-keepers and can do self-policing to get their work done as required.

“Her approach always makes you feel a sense of ownership to your work and as such, this brings the best out of you and ultimately, the radios succeed,” said Dhakaba. In a nutshell, Kiwanuka has a lot to tell and for someone who has made a number of keynote speeches, expect her experiences, that she will most definitely share with the guests that will attend the Uganda convention UK on 27th August at Troxy -London, will not leave you the same.

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Overview

Prior to her appointment to cabinet, she was the Managing Director of Radio One and its sister station Radio Two known locally as Akaboozi FM, in Uganda, in which her family owns majority shareholding. She also served as a non-Executive board member on the Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Foundation (East Africa), the Nabagereka Development Trust, Nkumba University, Uganda Development Bank and Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited.[3]

Background and education

She was born in Kampala, the capital of Uganda on 12 May 1955.[4] Maria Kiwanuka attended Gayaza High School, a prestigious all-girls boarding high school, located about 26 kilometres (16 mi), by road, northeast of Kampala, graduating in 1973. In 1974 she entered Makerere University, Uganda’s oldest institution of higher education. She graduated in 1977 with the degree of Bachelor of Commerce (BCom). She later pursued further education at the London Business School in the United Kingdom, graduating with the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA).[5]

Work experience

Beginning around 1980, she worked for more than ten years with the World Bank, as an Economist and Financial Analyst for the East Asian and Southern African regions. Specifically she covered projects in Burma, Malawi, Swaziland and Uganda. After she left the World Bank, she returned to her native Uganda and went into private business. Together with members of her family, she founded businesses in the areas of broadcasting, publishing, real estate and economic consulting. She has served as a financial adviser to the Nabagereka of Buganda since the early 2000s.[6] In a cabinet reshuffle on 1 March 2015 she was dropped from Cabinet and appointed Senior Financial Advisor to the President.[2]

Personal details

Maria Kiwanuka is married to Mohan Kiwanuka, the Managing Director of Oscar Industries Limited. In 2007, four years prior to Maria Kiwanuka’s being appointed Finance Minister, her husband was listed as one of the wealthiest people in Uganda.[7][8]

Maria Kiwanuka is a Ugandan economist, businesswoman and politician who served as Minister of Finance in the Cabinet of Uganda from 27 May 2011 to 1 March 2015.Since 2015 she has been Senior Advisor to the President of Uganda on financial matters, responsible for the Bretton Woods Institutions.

She was born in Kampala, the capital of Uganda on 12 May 1955.Maria Kiwanuka attended Gayaza High School, a prestigious all-girls boarding high school, located northeast of Kampala, graduating in 1973. In 1974 she entered Makerere University, Uganda’s oldest institution of higher education. She graduated in 1977 with the degree of Bachelor of Commerce (BCom).

She later pursued further education at the London Business School in the United Kingdom, graduating with the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Maria Kiwanuka is married to Mohan Kiwanuka, the Managing Director of Oscar Industries Limited. In 2007, four years prior to Maria Kiwanuka’s being appointed Finance Minister, her husband was listed as one of the wealthiest people in Uganda.

Born in Paris in 1916, during World War I, Geneviève Callerot arrived Sainte Aulaye in the valley of the Double with her family in 1920 where they settled to escape the first world war, she has since then, lived there.

Recently Knighted of the legion of honor, country novelist and farmer, 102-year-old Callerot, is a true heroine of the World War 11.

She was homeschooled by her mother until she was 14 years old, living a normal life until her family home was overtaken by the Second World War in June 1940, with the demarcation line not far from their property.

During the world war II, Callerot’s family played an important role in helping people escape from the Germans, taking advantage of the close proximity of their home to the demarcation line. Callerot, alongside her father and sister, she helped about 200 British and American war-wounded people and Jews escape into the part of France administered by Marshall Philippe Pétain’s collaborationist government.

She was arrested three times, and in October 1942, she spent three weeks in prison after being caught in the woods. Callerot was released after she invented the story of a fictitious fiancé “Jacques Martin” whom she claimed that she was set to meet.

After the war, she bought her house in Saint-Aulaye where she and her husband Jean settled as farmers in 1957 and raised their three children. Callerot had discovered her passion for writing during her teenage years, and this passion came alive by when she settled with her family in her peaceful home at Saint-Aulaye. She went on to publish her first book in 1983 at 67. The book titled; “The five girls of the Grand Barrail”, was a success, selling 15,000 copies. Since then, she has published five books including: “Thirteen corn kernels”, “Four bell sounds”, “Three Jules pond”, “The castle maid” and “Two girls under the boot”.

Over the years this Heroine of the World War II Geneviève Callerot was nominated as a knight of the Legion of Honour, the highest French decoration and reportedly one of the most famous in the world; Callerot had initially, humbly declined for the reason she stated that “loads of other people deserved it a lot more”. However, in July 2018, now 102 years old, she finally accepted the honour on the condition that her family would be associated with her in the award.

Speaking after the award, she said; “I didn’t want it because loads of other people deserved it a lot more,” she said. “And then I thought about it. I’m going to take it all the same in association with my parents, my brothers and sisters.”

Callerot had four brothers and sisters, only one of whom, Etienne Morise aged 83, is still alive.

She and her husband jean had three children, and when questioned about the secret of her longevity, Callerot attributes it to her regular physical exercise, and to the will that has always inhabited her to make the world a better place.

A true Heroine, whose act of bravely helped preserve generations today.

Sonia Maria Sotomayor is the first from Latina origin and the third woman to sit on the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Throughout her career, she has distinguished herself for her work on issues of race, gender, and ethnic identity, which she continues to do during her tenure in the Supreme Court. She backed the informal liberal bloc of justices when they showed dissents along the commonly perceived ideological lines. Considered a feminist and minority icon, she has drawn severe criticism from American right-wing activists.

Her Early life

She was born on June 25, 1954, in The Bronx, New York City, to Juan Sotomayor and Celina Báez. She has a brother, also named Juan Sotomayor, who has worked as a physician and university professor in the Syracuse, New York, area. Her parents, who are Puerto Ricans, migrated into America separately. Both eventually met and got married during in the US. Celina served in the 2nd world war as a member of the Women’s Army Corps, while Juan worked as a dying worker owing to his low educational background.

Growing up, Sotomayor lived in the Puerto Rican communities in the South Bronx and East Bronx. She grew up in a Catholic home and later came to identify herself as a “Nuyorican”, a portmanteau of the terms “New York” and “Puerto Rican”. Initially, the family stayed in a South Bronx tenement and in 1957 but later relocated to the well-maintained, racially and ethnically mixed, working-class Bronx dale Houses.

Her academic life was impeccable but she had a lot of issues at her home. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was emotionally distant. She only had the support of her grandmother which she described to be the source of “protection and purpose.” At seven, she was diagnosed with type one Diabetes and immediately started taking insulin injections.

When she was nine (9) years old, she lost her father and her mother became more distant until her adulthood. Though distant, Celina gave Sonia and her brother Juan good education. She stated that her mother has been the greatest inspiration in her life. She was also influenced by the fictional character Nancy Drew. She became interested in becoming a judge after she started watching CBS’ ‘Perry Mason’ television series. On the death of her father, she took extra efforts to become fluent in English. She attended Blessed Sacrament School and became the valedictorian with a near-perfect attendance record. She then studied at Cardinal Spellman High School in The Bronx, where she was part of the forensics team and was chosen as a representative in the student government. In 1972, she graduated high school as a valedictorian.

Her College and Career

She enrolled at the Princeton University on a full scholarship in 1972 owing to her impeccable academic performance and the best out of the candidates that applied. It was difficult in her early months at Princeton where assimilation was an issue. There was a significant gender gap at Princeton where few women were students. The number of Latino students was even more discouraging. She experienced difficulties in writing and did not possess enough knowledge of the classics. So she worked hard, spending long hours in the library and got a professor to help her out during the summer. This was the beginning of her political opinions. She was elected to co-chair the Acción Puertorriqueña, a student organization dedicated to building a large, united and healthy Puerto Rican community with a strong cultural identity in the Princeton campus.

She led the movement that brought a Latino faculty to Princeton. She was also active outside of the school. She headed an after-school program for local children and served as an interpreter for the Latino patients at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

She graduated from summa cum laude from Princeton in 1976 and enrolled at the Yale Law School in the fall of the same year on scholarship. She thrived at Yale unlike her experience in Princeton. She maintained good grades and was very active on the campus. She co-chaired a group for Latin, Asian, and Native American students and continued to advocate for hiring Hispanic faculty.

She landed her first job as an intern at Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison, a prominent law firm in New York, after her second year. Her performance there, by her own admission, was not particularly good and she was not offered a full-time position there. She cites this experience as a “kick in the teeth”. In 1979, she earned her J.D. from Yale and a year later, joined the New York Bar.

Photo source: FOX News Radio

Straight out of law school, in 1979, Sonia Sotomayor landed the job of an assistant district attorney under New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. The response to her appointment with her community was conflicting, so were the emotions within her. She had to overcome her inherent shyness and muster enough courage to venture into rough neighborhoods to interview witnesses.

Legal Career

In 1983, she was instrumental in convicting the “Tarzan Murderer”, who gained notoriety in the early 1980s for entering into people’s apartments acrobatically and proceeding to rob and shoot the occupants. In 1984, she became an associate at a commercial litigation practice group named Pavia & Harcourt. While she had no prior experience in civil litigation, she learned on the job as her firm used her extensively. She was also involved in visible public service roles.

Despite not being connected to either political party as she was a registered independent, she held several important positions in the state government, including as one of the founding members of the New York City Campaign Finance Board from 1988 to 1992. Between 1980 and 1992, she served on the board of directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

While her impressive credentials had long marked her as a prospective federal district judge, her centrist political views had prevented both parties from recommending her. It all changed when Democratic New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended her for a post. She was subsequently nominated on November 27, 1991, to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George W. Bush and was confirmed by the unanimous consent of the US Senate on August 11, 1992. She got her commission the following day. Her tenure as a district court judge was mostly uneventful. She demonstrated that she had no qualms about ruling against the government and received high-ratings from liberal public-interest groups, while other groups considered her as a centrist.

After being nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on June 25, 1997, she encountered staunch opposition from the Republican majority in the Senate as they believed Clinton had plans to make her a Supreme Court justice during his presidential tenure. Eventually, however, she was confirmed on October 2, 1998.

During the ten years, she served on the second circuit, over 3,000 cases were brought before her and she penned down about 380 opinions where she was among the majority. She gave rulings on various significant issues, such as abortion, first, second and fourth amendment rights, alcohol in commerce, employment discrimination, civil rights, and property rights.

Photo source: Politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com

On Obama’s Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, Sotomayor started to be seriously considered for a Supreme Court seat. She was nominated by the President on May 26, 2009. While her candidacy was embraced by the Democrats and liberals, it faced heavy criticism from the Republicans and conservatives.

Right-wing personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich called her a “racist”, referring to a comment she had made in a 2001 Berkeley Law lecture, when she had said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

She was confirmed by the full Senate by a vote of 68–31 on August 6, 2009, effectively becoming the first justice of Hispanic ancestry and the first Latina in the Supreme Court. On 8 September, a ceremony was organized to formally welcome and invest her into the Court.

She administered Vice President Joe Biden’s oath of office for the inauguration of his second term on January 20 and 21, 2013. She is the fourth female Supreme Court judge to have such a distinction. She has gradually emerged as the most liberal voice in the US Supreme Court in recent history.

She has constantly sided with the progressive side in her rulings. However, that does not mean there have not been any exceptions. Demonstrating individuality, she agreed with Ruth Bader Ginsburg against fellow liberals Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan on the issue of the constitutionality of the Obama health care law favoring the poor and disabled.

Her other prominent rulings include the 2011 J.D.B. v. North Carolina when the apex court decided that age is relevant when determining police custody for Miranda purposes; the 2012 United States v. Alvarez, which resulted in the Court striking down the Stolen Valor Act; and the 2012 Arizona v. the United States, which nullified several features of the Arizona SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law.

Accolades/Achievements

 

In 2013, Sotomayor published her memoir, titled ‘My Beloved World’, through Alfred A. Knopf. She has been a life-long fan of the New York Yankees. In 2016, Sonia Sotomayor received the Hispanic Heritage Award for leadership. She won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 9th Annual DVF Awards in 2018.

Through hard work and dedication, Sonia Sotomayor has accomplished everything she has set out to do. She has demonstrated that as long as you put your mind to something, you can do it! She is a perfect role model and a prime example that anything is possible. She is a great representative of the Hispanic community and is considered a hero!

 

 

By

EMEKPO CHARLES.

Maria Corazon Aquino was the first female Philippines’ President. Originally, she was just a housewife, more interested in caring for her family and supporting her husband, Senator Benigno S. Aquino, in his political pursuit. Nevertheless, when Benigno was assassinated at the Manila Airport on his return from exile by Marcos’ men, she could no longer stay adamant. Soon after the death of her husband, she became the anchor point for the democratic movement in the Philippines and the most sacrosanct personality in People’s Power Revolution (PPR), also known as Yellow Revolution. This movement toppled the twenty year old regime of President Ferdinand Marcos. Owing to her resilience, she ended up becoming a leader in so many fronts in her country and was later became the President of Philippine.

Her Early Life Story

This lioness, Maria Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino was born in 25th of January 1933. In 1955 she got married to her husband, Benigno Aquino (Ninoy) after graduating from Mount St. Vincent College in New York City, a young politician. She supported her husband’s dreams a politician who later elected as a senator of the country. Corazon Aquino had five (5) children.

As an elected senator of the country, Ninoy Aquino her husband became a popular and persistent opposition to Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator who was on the seat of the presidency since 1965. In 1972, Ninoy was imprisoned owing to his activism and support for a fair democracy in the country for eight long years and then exiled to the United States. When her husband Benigno Aquino was due to return to Philippine after serving his jail time in 1983, he was assassinated immediately he stepped into Philippine.

Her husband’s imprisonment, exile, and assassination caused outrage among his supporters and spurred Ferdinand’s opposition. The economic state of the country experienced further deterioration, and the government went into more debt.

After Benigno Aquino’s assassination, Corazon took his place as the leader of the opposition. There was a twist 1985 when Ferdinand suddenly announced an election to legitimize his hold on the country. Corazon as the leader of the opposition party was reluctant to run at initially, but after much persuasion by the supporters of her husband, she changed her mind and decided to run for the position of the president in her country.

In the course of her running for the presidential position, Ferdinand Marcos tried to tarnish her image with sexist statements, saying she was ‘just a common woman’ whose only expertise was just in the kitchen and the bedroom. Corazon in response to Ferdinand’s statement stated “May the better woman win in this election.” He further attacked her stating her inexperience in politics and public service. She also replied by admitting that she had “no experience in cheating, lying to the public, stealing government money, and killing political opponents.”

Ferdinand Marcos was declared the winner of the election after it was held in February 1986. Owing to the anomalies that marred the conduct of the election, lots of issues and agitations were raised about the outcome of the election. It was also condemned by the Catholic Bishops’ in their Conference in the Philippines and also by the United States Senate. The then President of America, Ronald Reagan called condemned the irregularities of the election and tagged the act ‘disturbing’.

Corazon Aquino solicited for support from her sympathizer and immediately organized peaceful civil disobedience protests and strikes and for mass boycotts of the media and businesses owned by Marcos. Her supporters and other Filipinos were very supportive. These popular, peaceful demonstrations came to be known as the People Power Revolution (PPR). As a result of the protests, Marcos ordered troops against the thousands of protesters (including whole families and nuns and priests) but not a shot were fired and the troops withdrew and many defected.

The political restiveness in the country made Ferdinand Marcos to flee the country to Hawaii in the United States in February 1986 thereby making Mary Corazon Aquino the first female President of Philippines.

Her taking over the number position as the President of her country marked a new civilization in the Philippines. Her few months in office as the President of the country ushered in great developments and changes both in the political and economic sector of the country. She immediately set up a Constitutional Commission that will be in charge of drafting a new constitution that ushered in the bicameral congress which limited the powers of the Presidency.

She also set up the Presidential Commission on Good Governance that initiated a process of trying and recovering all the ill-gotten wealth of Ferdinand Marcos. Her stay in office was not devoid of obstacles but one filled with lots of coup attempts from the opposition and sympathizers of Ferdinand Marcos. But this did not deter her from being persistent and resilient in her work for her country.

Corazon Aquino’s new Administration maintained a strong emphasis and concern for civil liberties and human rights, and peace talks with communist insurgents and Muslim secessionists. Madam President (Corazon) also focused on bringing back economic health and confidence of the country. The new Philippines administration succeeded in paying off about $4 billion of the country’s outstanding debts.

Corazon Aquino apart from being an advocate of good governance was also a lifelong member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international organization of former and current female heads of state and government that helps to mobilize women world leaders to intervene or take action on issues critical to the leadership, empowerment and development of women.

Corazon who was still the President of her country in 1992 decided to decline the requests for her to seek re-election. She wanted to be a pacesetter to both citizens and politicians, against the view of Ferdinand Marcos, that the presidency is not a lifetime position.

She was still very active in the public service and very often voices her views and opinions on the pressing political issues which earned her a lot of accolades. Corazon Aquino in 1992 was cited as one of ‘100 Women Who Shaped World History’ in a reference book written by Gail Meyer Rolka.  She received the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding in 1996 from the Fulbright Association. This award has also been received by Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela. She was chosen by ‘Time Magazine’ as one of the 20 Most Influential Asians of the 20th century.  Corazon Aquino in 2002 became the first woman to be named in the Board of Governors of the Asian Institute of Management.

Corazon Aquino was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008 and in 1st of August 2009; Mary Corazon Aquino was announced dead as a result of her ailment. Corazon Aquino’s death spurred a worldwide reaction and a lot of sympathizers attended her wake and funeral. Sequel to her great works, the Catholic Church in the Philippines felt there was a need to canonize and declare her a saint.

The United States’ former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that Corazon Aquino was “loved and admired by the world for her extraordinary courage” in leading the fight against dictatorship and tyranny. Also, Pope Benedict XVI commended her “courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people, her strong rejection of violence, oppression, and intolerance”

Mary Corazon Aquino was a great and amazing woman who had a terrific impact on the freedom and welfare of millions of Filipinos and the rest of the world. She achieved so much in her life and was loved and cherished by many.

By Emekpo Charles

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.