Political Powerhouses: Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia in 1982. She came from a big family, the youngest of seven children. She was raised by her father and grandfather after her mother died when she was still young. In 1991, civil war broke out in Somalia, and she and her family were forced to flee to Kenya. Ilhan and her family spent four years in a refugee camp there before they immigrated to Minnesota. Ilhan graduated with a degree in political science and international studies from North Dakota State University. Afterwards, she worked as a Community Nutrition Educator with the University of Minnesota. She...

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No Time For Fear – Politicking Girls: Venezuelan policies impact women and girls

Venezuela has been in the midst of a deep and crippling recession since 2014. This recession and the subsequent political and economic policies enacted in the Latin American country have had a devastating impact on women and girls. Stories that come out of the country are heartbreaking. In February, a nine-year-old girl died from diphtheria, a treatable infection for which there is a vaccine. The girl went to four different hospitals where there was a shortage of medicine and later died Daniela, a 14-year-old girl with cancer, could have gotten diagnosed earlier. Instead, doctors decided to...

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Political Powerhouses: Maxine Waters

Maxine Waters began her political career in 1976 in the California Assembly. Today, she is one of 12 black women in Congress, having represented the State of California since 1991. She’s recently been in the news due to her criticism of the 45th president. She received even more coverage when TV host Bill O’Reilly mocked and dismissed her, saying, “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.” Though he later offered a (non)apology, Ms Waters replied on Twitter, “I am a strong black woman. I cannot be intimidated, and I’m not...

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Political Powerhouses: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was born in 1947 near Manila in the Philippines. When she was just 14 years old her father was elected President of the Philippines. As a result of coming from such a well-known family, she received the best education. She spent two years in Washington D.C. studying economics at Georgetown University, where she was a classmate of Bill Clinton. She returned to the Philippines, where she earned a Masters degree, then Doctorate, in economics. She then went on to become a university professor in economics. In 1986 she was appointed as the undersecretary of trade and...

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Political Powerhouses: Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was born in 1953 to a political family: her father was the former premier of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in comparative government, followed by a degree in international law and diplomacy. Afterwards, she returned to Pakistan where a military coup had just taken place, as a result she was placed under house arrest. In 1978 her father was hanged after being found guilty of sanctioning the murder of a political opponent. While living in exile in Britain she became the joint leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). She...

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Political Powerhouses: Yulia Tymoshenko

Yulia Tymoshenko has had a varied career. She started off working as an economist and academic before becoming involved in the gas industry. This led to her becoming one of the wealthiest people in the Ukraine. She went on to become involved in politics and was one of the co-leaders of the Orange Revolution, a series of rallies and protests in the Ukraine in late 2004. These protests were in response to the general elections of 2004 which were marred in controversy. They ultimately led to another election in 2005 which saw her become the first female Prime Minister of the Ukraine. That year...

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Political Powerhouses: Aja Brown

In 2013 Aja Brown made history when she became the youngest woman elected as Mayor of Compton, California. Just last week she was re-elected for a second term. Aja was born in Altadena, California but she has strong roots to Compton. Her mother was born there and, tragically, in the 1970s her grandmother was raped and murdered in her Compton home. To this day no one has been arrested for this crime. Aja received a full scholarship to the University of Southern California. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Policy, Planning and Development in 2004 and she went on to earn a master’s...

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Political Powerhouses: Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was born into politics. Her father was the well known independence General Aung San, who was assassinated when she was only two years old. Her mother was also involved in politics, serving as the first Minister of Social Welfare and Myanmar’s (then Burma) ambassador to India. Suu Kyi herself studied economics, politics and philosophy at Oxford University in London. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s she lived in a number of different countries with her husband and children. She returned to Burma in 1988 to care for her ill mother. At this time the country was under the...

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No Time For Fear – Politicking Girls: U.S. Global Gag Rule Creates Worldwide Ripples

Last month, Boko Haram released more than 80 of the Chibok girls kidnapped by the group in 2014. The Nigerian government negotiated the girls’ freedom in exchange for five Boko Haram leaders. The girls need to be reintegrated back into society and will face many challenges. Access to psychological care and support for sexual and mental health issues are vital to ensuring their welfare. The Chibok girls’ potential treatment ties into a policy change recently instituted by the current United States presidential administration: The Global Gag Rule. The Global Gag Rule, or Mexico City...

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Political Powerhouses: Sheikh Hasina

Sheikh Hasina Wazed was born into a political family. Her father was one of the key organisers of the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. She herself became involved in politics while studying at Dhaka University and worked as her father’s liaison while he was in prison. In 1975 her father and three brothers were assassinated; afterwards, she spent six years living in exile in India. She returned to Bangladesh in 1981 where she became more vocal in the political world, and was elected the President of the Bangladesh Awami League. She worked throughout the 1980s to secure basic...

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