Some view Africa as a developing continent offering rich investment opportunities for the rest of the world, I see a Africa that is developing the next generation of world leaders. Today I want to focus on African women leaders. If I had to make a list of my top-pick of leaders who I see as game-changers and trailblazers, these women would be on my list:
Joyce Banda, Malawi, President of Malawi
As fourth President and first female President, Joyce Banda is the definition of a true leader. I had the honor to interview President Banda for AllAfrica.com as she shared highlights of her life and what it means to be a leader. During our discussion she spoke about her experiences and her future plans for her country. As the first women President, Banda’s leadership style has been majorly influenced by her life experiences and hardships. When I think of inspirational African women letters that set great examples of what it means to have a fortitude attitude while uplifting and encouraging others without showing fear, I think of President Banda.
Biola Alabi, Nigeria, Managing Director, MNET Africa
As Managing Director for multi-national cable and satellite content company, MNET Africa, Alabi is one of the most powerful women in African media. In 2012 the World Economic Forum named Alabi Young Global Leader, she has been at the forefront of the expansion of the AfricaMagic channels brand across the continent. Before becoming managing director Alabi served as director for international strategy at Sesame Street where her first project was working the Nigerian Sesame Street.
Isha Sesay, Sierra Leone, News Anchor & Journalist, CNN
Sesay files reports for “African Voices” and “ Inside Africa“, CNN International’s award-winning, weekly program that covers political, economic, cultural and social trends in Africa. Sesay is also an anchor on CNN International and a contributor to CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and HLN’s nightly news show “Evening Express.”
Leila Lopes, Angola, 2012 Miss Universe
On September 12, 2011, Lopes was crowned Miss Universe, becoming the first Angolan woman to win the position, the fourth African to win the title (Miss South Africa took the title in 1978, Miss Namibia won in 1992, Miss Botswana won in 1999) and the second Black African woman to win following Mpule Kwelagobe from Botswana in 1999. As the reigning Miss Universe, Lopes used the platform for advocacy for HIV and AIDS patients worldwide.
Leymah Gbowee, Liberia, Peace and Women’s Rights Activist
The peace activist was one of three female recipients who were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Gbowee helped organize and lead the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, an alliance of Christian and Muslim women, in public protest during Liberia’s tumultuous times. Now, through her organization Women Peace and Security Network Africa, Gbowee trains and empowers women in Africa to bring peace to their own countries. Gbowee is a recipient of multiple awards including the Blue Ribbon Peace Award from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School, Gruber Prize for Women’s Rights, the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, the Medal for Justice from New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Women’s eNews Leaders For the 21st Century Award.
“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).” – Ghana