The XX Factor

Mother of the Uighur Movement

If ever you think you have too much to do or you’re fretting about your “work/life” balance, peek into the life of Rebiya Kadeer, the Uighur activist who did or didn’t set off the latest protests against the Han Chinese. She started off as a laundress and somehow became the Uighur community’s most successful business person by importing steel from Kazakhstan. She was a favorite of the local Chinese leadership until she started pushing back against Chinese government repression of Uighurs. She’s Muslim, wears her hair in thick long braids, wears a business suit and carries two cell phones. She’s also the Enjoli woman of the year. Many of today’s profiles call her the “mother” of the Uighur movement, and it takes several paragraphs before they mention-and this is my favorite detail-that she has 11 children. Take that, Kate Gosselin.

Photograph of Rebiya Kadeer by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.