Throughout history, Africa has experienced a range of momentous developments, the most fascinating, being the involvement of women in politics. African women are increasingly playing leading roles in shaping the continent’s political path, including by serving as heads of states.
We take a look at five of the most influential female politicians in Africa.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia
Born in October 1938 in Monrovia, Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She became President in 2006, trumping her predecessor Gyude Bryant. Sirleaf also served as the minister for finance under President William Tolbert between 1979 and 1980. She was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prizewith Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen in 2011. Forbes lists her as the 70th most powerful woman in the world.
Joyce Banda, Malawi
Listed as the 40th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, Joyce Hilda Ntila Banda was born in April 1950 in Malemia, Malawi. She became the President of Malawi in April 2012 following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. At the time of Mutharika’s death, Banda served as the vice-president of Malawi. Banda served as President until May 2014. She also served as a member of parliament and minister for gender, children’s affairs and community services.
Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, Uganda
Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe was the first female vice-president of Uganda between 1995 and 2003. Before her appointment, Kazibwe served as the minister for gender and community development. She also served as the minister for agriculture, animal husbandry, and fisheries. Currently, Kazibwe serves as the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. She was born in 1955 in Iganda, Uganda.
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Nigeria
Ahighly respected and powerful global leader, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was born in 1954 in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Nigeria. Iweala has served in several prestigious positions in Nigeria, including as the minister for foreign affairs and coordinating minister for the economy. She is remembered as the first female to serve as the minister for finance in Nigeria. Iweala also spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditorsthat led to the wiping out of $30 billion of Nigeria’s debt.
Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, South Africa
Ex-wife to the current President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma is a powerful female politician who has served in different capacities since South Africa Apartheid was abolished in 1994. Under the late President Nelson Mandela, Nkosazana served as the minister for foreign affairs, a position she retained when President Thabo Mbeki took over power in 1999. She was then moved to the ministry of home affairs by her ex-husband President Zuma. Currently, the 67-year-old politician serves as the chair of the African Union Commission.