The first time I heard that there was such a thing as International Women’s Day, I genuinely thought it was a great idea for celebrating the lesser lauded woman – the mother who carries a bucket of water on her head for miles, the woman who hawks her wares all day long to ensure the school fees gets paid, and the woman who makes a dollar out of 15 cents just to ensure that the home keeps ticking nicely. The world is full of women – particularly strong black women – who go unsung daily.
I’ve had a bit of a change of heart lately though, and feel the public winners should also be celebrated. Just so our daughters will be able to mention more than just “Oprah Winfrey and my mummy” when asked to name strong black women they know.
So here you go, culled from Buzzfeed, here are some women who will make you proud, stand tall and say #OneDayIWill
1. Kaya Thomas, developer
Mobile developer Kaya Thomas is the cool big sister of tech; unlike the umpteen videos of makeup on YouTube, she offers coding tutorials. She has been onstage with Michelle Obama on BET’s Black Girls Rock? worked on We Read Too, created an iPhone app; all while still being a junior at Dartmouth College, USA.
2. Carla Harris, vice chairman of wealth management, managing director and senior client adviser, Morgan Stanley; appointed by Obama as Chairperson, National Women’s Business Council
A famous boss once said, “Always stay gracious; best revenge is your paper.” Carla Harris, a 20-year-plus Wall Street veteran, knows all about it and doesn’t mind sharing how she made it to the C-Suite; check her book Expect to Win. A consummate singer who has performed four sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, the cherries on the cake just get sweeter – in 2013, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as the Chairperson, National Women’s Business Council.
3. Bozoma Saint John, head of global consumer marketing, Apple Music
Boz, as she is fondly called, knows branding. She lives it, breathes it and brings it to bear on some of the biggest corporations in the US. Before working for Apple, she worked as an exec at PepsiCo, and has activated celebrity endorsements with Beyoncé, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Michael Jackson amongst others.
4. Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox
Perhaps one of my favourite stories, Ursula Burns is the daughter of immigrants, raised by a single mother in the New York projects. Today, Ursula M. Burns serves as Chairman and CEO of Xerox. This makes her the first black-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company, having succeeded Anne Mulcahy as CEO of Xerox. In 2014, Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world.
5. Valeisha Butterfield Jones, head of black community engagement, Google
Valeisha Butterfield Jones was named Google’s head of black community engagement in January of this year, but she’s been impacting lives for a long time. She founded the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN), which mentors young women interested in the entertainment industry, and she’s long been a go-to political strategist for agencies hoping to mobilise the younger generation.
6. Erin Teague; director of product, Yahoo
When you think Silicon Valley, you really should think Erin Teague. She’s previously held influential positions at Twitter and Intel and is currently responsible for designing the interface of Yahoo’s fantasy gaming apps. Erin has an MBA from Harvard and a degree in computer engineering (she was the only black woman in her graduating class), and is on the advisory board of CODE2040.
7. Cathy Hughes, Radio One
The first radio station Cathy Hughes bought was a disaster. She lost her home and had to live in the station, but legends don’t give up. That station turned into Radio One, the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast company in the U.S. It branched into cable network TV One and digital publishing brand Interactive One. (Buzzfeed)
8. Mellody Hobson — President, Ariel Investments; chair of the board of directors, Dreamworks Animation
Mellody Hobson is a Princeton graduate, joined Ariel Investments as an intern and rose to become the firm’s senior vice president and director of marketing. In 2000, she ascended to become the president of Ariel, a Chicago investment firm that manages over $10 billion in assets. It is also one of the largest African American-owned money management and mutual fund companies in the United States. Hobson is also the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Ariel Investment Trust and the Chair of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. She is a regular contributor on financial issues on CBS Morning News and a spokesperson for the annual Ariel/Schwab Black Investor Survey.
9. Zim Ugochukwu; founder and CEO, Travel Noire
You know we had to put a Nigerian, right?? It’s not an understatement to say Zim, 27, has revolutionised the face of travel and empowered young people to see the world. In 2013, she founded Travel Noire, a digital publishing platform for black travelers to see more of the world. Her bio, though,is perhaps even more impressive: “Previously, I cloned a gene as a biologist, ran a national anti-tobacco campaign, helped open a Civil Rights Museum & traveled through 90% of Asia.”
10. Debra Lee; chairman and CEO, BET
Another glorious Black woman who has given media a facelift, Debra Lee has given 26 years of her life to BET – impressive considering the entertainment channel has been running for 36 years.
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