To Honor Women’s Day, Here are 9 Stories of Women Who Inspire The World Today

7Jillian Haslam, from living beneath a staircase in India to motivational speaker

Jillian Haslam’s story is almost as dramatic as a movie but unlike one, she actually faced the worst time of her life in her younger days. Her father a Captain in the British army stationed in India decided to stay on in the country even as the rest of the Haslam family left for England after India gained Independence in 1947. Out of a job and not being able to secure employment resulted in the decline of their finances to a state of poverty. According to Jillian “My parents had already lost their two daughters Carol and Mini, even before my birth. I still remember that my family slept on pavements, on the verandas of people’s houses and ate whatever was offered to them. Our condition was so pathetic that even the word poor sounded like a luxury to us.”

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Her family was forced to live under a staircase

After suffering a heart attack, her father became an invalid forcing the family to live outdoors under a staircase in Princep Street Kolkata.  To get money for food, her mother did odd jobs in people’s homes in the area. When her father recovered, he got a small job as a stenographer and moved the family to a shanty where they shared one toilet with 3000 people. The family’s luck changed when they moved to Delhi in 1989 where both Jillian and her sister acquired a job as secretaries in a private company. This was a stepping stone that saw Jillian rise in her working career till she finally made it to England in the year 2000 as the executive secretary to the Managing Director at ABN AMRO bank at a package of £50,000 per annum.

Today, Jillian is a social activist and has her own philanthropic organization helping children and women in healthcare and education. She is also a motivational speaker who is in much demand by corporates worldwide.  On returning to India to oversee one of her operations, she took time out to visit the very staircase where she lived beneath.

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8Zhou Qunfei – Factory worker to China’s richest women

Zhou Qunfei was born to a poor couple in China’s Hunan Province in 1970. Her father was a craftsman stricken with impending blindness but he encouraged her with her studies. Her mother expired when she was just 5 and the burden of the family fell on the shoulders if little Zhou. She supported the family by raising pigs and ducks and even worked in a glass processing factory so that she could complete her studies at Shenzhen University.

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She set up her own factory

In 1993 Zhou soon set up her own factory to develop watch glasses and won her first contract from TCL for $30,000. She was surprised when Motorola took an interest in her and supported her financially to develop glass for their cell phone model the Razr V3. This helped Zhou t expand into lens technology winning contracts form Apple and Samsung. Today her company Lens Technologies employs 75000 people and has made her officially China’s richest woman.

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9Kalpana Saroj

Kalpana Saroj is another woman from India who is inspiring for her story of determination and not giving up. Born to a Dalit entrepreneur in a village in Maharashtra, India (Dalits are an ethnic group in India repeatedly discriminated against with the stigma of untouchability because of the hierarchy of the caste system), she was married off at the age of 12 but after subsequent abuse and torture from the hands of her husband, she left school at 14 and made her way to Mumbai. She trained as a tailor and started a business with a government grant. After that, there was no stopping her where she expanded her business finally taking over a near-defunct company called Kamani Tubes and turning it around to be now worth $100 million.

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