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Women Who Changed the Face of Africa

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

An African woman is the pillar of strength in the society. Not only has the present woman evolved, but also become independent of traditions and customs. The “now” woman is confident, ambitious and competes favorably among her male counterparts driving success to the positions they hold. It has not been easy but some women have defied great odds to emerge as icons in their fields.


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

1. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

She is the first African woman to be elected as head of state. Ellen Sirleaf has served as the president of Liberia since 2006. She also holds a Nobel peace prize. Ellen is mostly remembered for instituting the Truth and Reconciliatory Commission in 2006. In 2010 she signed into law the freedom of information bill.

She negotiated with the United States, International Monetary Fund and World Bank for her country’s debt relief agreement. Under her leadership, Liberia has been seen to grow both economically and politically.


2. Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to win a Nobel peace prize. She is globally known for her efforts to create environmental awareness.

She was the founder of the Greenbelt Movement; a non-governmental organization whose efforts were aimed at planting more trees in Kenya, environmental conservation and women rights. Although deceased, her legacy lives on and she has been an inspiration to many Kenyan women.


3. Leymah Gbowee

Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist whose efforts to bring an end to the second Liberian civil war have been recognized by many. She led a women’s peace movement known as Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that was fundamental in bringing an end to the civil war. 

She worked alongside Ellen Sirleaf and in 2011, they were awarded Nobel peace prizes for their non-violent activism for women rights and safety.


4. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo is a Nigerian political leader who is known to have been the first African and female contestant for the presidency of the World Bank Group. She has served as finance minister in Nigeria for two terms. Currently she chairs Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and African Risk Capacity.

Dr. Ngozi has founded of Centre for the Study of Economics in Africa, an economic research Centre for scholars researching on economic aspects of Africa. Dr. Ngozi is a senior advisor at Lazard, a leading asset management and finance advisory firm. Her decorated career and numerous awards make her an icon among African women leaders.


5. Rebecca Enonchong

Rebecca Enonchong is a Cameroonian tech entrepreneur specializing in enterprise application solutions. She is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, with presence in over 50 countries worldwide. Her work is mostly centered on promoting technology in Africa and she has received numerous awards in recognition of her efforts.

Rebecca is listed as one of the 10 female tech founders to watch out for in Africa by Forbes. She also appears on power 60 list by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Women in Engineering. Despite her achievements, Rebecca is a mentor and adviser to several tech startups in Africa.

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