2017 Power List

Fatoumata Kebe-2017 Powerful Woman

Why we love Fatoumata Kebe

Fatoumata Kebe

THIS IS Fatoumata Kebe, a final-year astronomy student on a mission to clean up space.

The 29-year-old, who works on space debris, is just months away from collecting her PhD from at Observatoire de Paris and Université Pierre et Marie Curie.

Space debris is the traces of human activity in space, all the things left there.

“Bits of rockets, for instance,” she told Clique.tv. “My work focuses particularly on what happens when these objects collide and explode. For example, I try to determine how many pieces of debris an object will split into.”

Fatoumata decided this was the subject for her after completing a programme at NASA.

“Over there, I took a space environment course on the subject with an engineer from the European Space Agency. I liked it because, at the time, I was torn between space and the environment, and here was a subject that dealt with the environment in space.”

There are currently two million pieces of debris orbiting the Earth, so, according to Fatoumata, a need for her expertise will be around for the foreseeable.

“We leave traces everywhere we go: there is plenty of work to do.”

She adds: “A 5 cm piece of debris in space has about as much energy as a bus. And it can have very serious consequences.

“The space around the Earth is too cluttered. We can’t send up any more rockets or satellites without risking them being destroyed by debris.”

Working in astronomy was a “childhood dream” for Fatoumata. She found pictures of stars and planets “fascinating”, but didn’t know how to get into the profession.

“After focusing on science subjects at school, I went off to university. I did a Master’s in fluid mechanics, but as that wasn’t sufficiently space-oriented, I did courses at the European Space Agency, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), etc. I then went off to Japan for a year to learn about space engineering and building nanosatellites.”

She is currently writing her Ph.D. thesis and hopes to officially become an astronomer.

On perceptions of astronomy being a male-only profession, she says: “I think the problem is a wider one. There is a problem with women in the sciences, from high school onwards. Once you get to university, the numbers of women dwindle over time. There are very few of us left by the time you get to post-doctoral level.”

“A lot of girls around me have said things like, ‘Fatou, I want a family life’. Girls lack self-belief in this field.”

She admits people have tried to discourage her, but she is defiant and admits, “I’m against positive discrimination, so it’s quite difficult.”

2017 Power List

Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2017 – A List of Our Own©

Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2017 – A List of Our Own©

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Laura Flessel is Sports Minister in the French government

Hat tip: Monique Wells

Source: The African Courier

Laura Flessel is France’s sports minister.

Laura Flessel
Laura Flessel, during the first Council of Ministers, Thursday 18 May.
REUTERS / Benoit Tessier

Aged 45, she is a double Olympic fencing champion widely known in French sport.

Flessel, who was born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, is currently number one on the all-time list of French female Olympic winners, with five medals to her credit.

Flessel, who is married and has a daughter, was France’s flag-bearer at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London. It was her fifth and last Olympics.

Donc on va travailler sur le sport et les femmes, le sport et la santé, la lutte contre le cancer, l’inclusion par le sport, l’expertise et la diplomatie.

— Laura Flessel in an interview with Paris Match

French President’s Senegalese-born press secretary Sibeth Ndiaye

Many agree that Macron owes much of his recent success to the work of Ndiaye – and she will likely continue to play an important role in his term as president.

Sibeth NDiaye
Sibeth NDiaye, Macron’s Press Relations Officer. PIcture from glamourparis.com

Source: mg.co.za

37-year-old Sibeth Ndiaye is making a name for herself as the communications advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron. Born in Dakar, she quickly found herself in the world of politics after moving to Paris and becoming involved with the National Union of Students of France (UNEF) while studying health economics at Paris-Sorbonne University. She joined the French Socialist Party in 2002, ultimately becoming the secretary in charge of early childhood.

Although Macron’s wife Brigitte is widely known as his main confidant, Ndiaye was also heavily involved in his PR campaign throughout the election, granting or denying the media access to the presidential candidate for interviews and managing his image in what turned out to be one of the most divisive French elections in recent history. Ndiaye was even ranked ninth out of the fifteen most important personalities who were closest to Macron during his campaign.

In a recent interview with weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique, Ndiaye said she did not officially become a French citizen until June 2016 – and that was

“after a long hesitation.”

When questioned over her status as a role model for young African women who are considering a career in politics, she was reluctant to accept the title.

“I do not see myself as a role model at all. My professional career was built upon encounters with people who trusted me …this leads me to believe that my success is because of my contact with the right people, people who do not see skin color, social origin or education background.”

Read the full article.


 

Nyansapo Fest – Paris mayor vows to halt black feminist festival, then backtracks

Source: France 24

Nyansapo Fest – Paris mayor vows to halt black feminist festival, then backtracks

It’s an embarrassing turnaround for the mayor who appears to have leapt to the position of far-right groups instead of checking the facts of the situation.

The Nyansapo Fest, which is organised by the Mwasi Collective, is set to take place in northern Paris between 28 and 30 July.

In recent days, the festival organisers have been lambasted by certain social media users– especially those from far-right and white nationalist circles– due to the fact that certain sessions will only be open to black women. On Sunday, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo jumped into the discussion, tweeting that the festival was discriminatory and that she would take firm and immediate action to ban it.

However, only a day later, Hidalgo took to Twitter to announce that the festival would go ahead after all. This prompted ridicule on social media, with the number one hashtag in France stealing a line from her most recent tweet, “Following my firm intervention…”

Festival : à la suite de mon intervention ferme hier auprès des organisateurs, une solution claire a été établie.

“Festival Nyansapo: Following my firm intervention yesterday with organisers, a clear solution was established,” Hidalgo tweeted.

So what happened?

The Nyansapo festival has divided its events into four categories– those open exclusively to black women (which account for 80% of activities), those open to both black women and black men, those open to women of colour and those open to everyone. The majority of events are reserved for black female participants.

The organisers say it is important to restrict access to certain sessions so that black women can engage in open, honest conversations about their unique struggles, without judgement from others.

Read the full article.

Karima Delli MEP one of the 40 MEPs who matter

Karima Delli
Karima Delli, MEP France

Source: Politico

Karima Delli isn’t your typical European Parliament committee chair.

She takes over the Greens’ only top job this week covering transport — a woman, in her 30s and with an Algerian background — and is used to facing-off against National Front leader Marine Le Pen in northern France.

“In electing a young woman you are sending out a very strong signal to European citizens,”

Delli said from the chair’s seat immediately after being confirmed in committee [in January].

At 37 she isn’t the youngest MEP, but she will be the youngest chair. Delli replaces Michael Cramer, a German Green with a penchant for cycling and rail who plans to step down as an MEP in 2019 and in 2014 agreed to switch the chair half-way through the term. A tight internal vote was held this month to determine who would stand.

As part of her priorities, Delli says she wants to prioritize social issues and deploy transport in the fight against climate change. A source close to Delli said she also hoped to bring a different style to committee leadership.

Delli is the ninth child from a family of 13 and grew up in the industrial city of Roubaix, not far from the Belgian border. Her father worked in a textile factory while her mother cared for the family. A former parliamentary assistant to a Green senator in France, she has a record of activism.

Her election to the European Parliament in 2009 came as a surprise. Delli was fourth on the Paris list for the Greens but benefited from an unexpected boost in support for the party in the French capital. Her first committee gig was in employment affairs where she focused on social housing and workers’ rights.

In 2014 she was re-elected, this time as first on the list from the northern Hauts De France region. It is here that she competed directly against Le Pen for votes.

A transition to transport policy came as part the European Parliament’s response to the Dieselgate scandal. Delli helped lead the push to collect over 150,000 signatures calling on the European Parliament to launch its own investigation. She’s been a vice-chair of the committee of inquiry since its inception.

See Politico’s full list here.

Karima Delli