History shows the continent has been home to some of the world’s most powerful African women. As we highlight the women running Africa, here is a look at memorable quotes from the continent’s heads of state, thought leaders and organization officials.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is globally-recognized for her role in stabilizing Liberia as the country’s president shortly after civil war. In an excerpt from her book, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President, Nobel Peace Prize winning author offers inspiring words to rising leaders.
“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
Catherine Samba-Panza, President of Central African Republic
When her country spiraled into deadly sectarian violence in 2013, government leaders looked to replace the current president with an interim leader who could provide a unique perspective to peace talks. In January 2014, Catherine Samba-Panza, the Mayor of Central African Republic‘s capital city, was elected to the presidency. In an interview withThe Guardian shortly after she was sworn in, the former corporate lawyer talked about her advocacy work for African women.
“The majority of my sisters and daughters in the Central African Republic don’t know their rights so they can’t defend them. But we who know our rights can help them. We must always help them: the battle is always to promote and protect the rights of women. “
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ex-Finance Minister of Nigeria
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala may arguably be one of Africa’s most recognized female leaders. Shortly before moving back toNigeria to join government as the Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala was a Managing Director at the World Bank. In this 2008 TED talk, she speaks to Africa’s shift from encouraging foreign aid to increasing foreign investment.
“Africans…their tired. They’re tired of being the subject of everybody’s charity and care. We are grateful, but we know that we can take charge of our own destinies if we have the will to reform.”
Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission
As the head of the African Union, the South African political leader has stood as the face of the continent in political platforms around the world.
“It’s in [the West’s] advantage to know what’s happening in Africa because if they don’t come to the party eventually the party will happen without them.”
Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy, Vice President of The Gambia
Though Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy serves as second-in-command for one of Africa’s smallest countries, there is no ignoring her big voice. In an address delivered during the 2011 UN General Assembly, Saidy reminded world leaders that the continent should be approached as a diverse place and not a country.