THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Some of Africa's top women achievers
The Guardian, UK
March 08, 2013

The Guardian web site recently asked their Internet audience to name women from across the continent who they feel that deserve recognition.

Here is the top 25 . . .

Joyce Banda (Malawi)
The first woman to be president of Malawi and an award-winning gender activist. Since coming to power, Banda has won praise for moves such as cutting her salary by 30% and auctioning the presidential jet bought by her predecessor.

Graça Machel (Mozambique)
A renowned humanitarian and activist, recently appointed president of the School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London. Machel is an advocate for the rights of women and children. She has been made a British dame for her humanitarian work and helped formulate an influential UN report on the effect of armed conflict on children.

Fatou Bensouda (Gambia)
The first woman to become Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. Bensouda from the Gambia, began her international career as a legal adviser at the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda.

Nana Oye Lithur (Ghana)
Ghana’s minister for gender, children and social protection is also an acclaimed human rights lawyer. She has strenuously campaigned for the equality of same-sex relationships in Ghana. Her advocacy centre has been credited with helping hundreds of poor people gain access to justice.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (South Africa)
The South African ANC stalwart won a fiercely fought contest to become first woman to lead the African Union. She has a reputation as a no-nonsense, “can do” politician.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria)
When she became Nigeria’s finance minister Okonjo-Iweala says she was nicknamed Okonjo-Wahala, or “trouble woman”, because of her crackdown on corruption. She has worked for the World Bank, and has been touted as a future president. Her country publishes government budgets in newspapers and online to improve transparency and allow Nigerians to hold authorities to account.

Mary Crockett (South Africa)
A pastor who became instrumental in setting up hospices for people with Aids in South Africa, which has more people living with HIV than any other country. Crockett talks openly about the transmission of HIV during her sermons, and has remained steadfast in her work despite criticism from religious conservatives.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)
The celebrated author won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for her first book, Purple Hibiscus, and the Orange Broadband prize for fiction for her second, Half of a Yellow Sun, which has been made into a film.

Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
The Nigerian author of The Spider King’ Daughter started writing when she was just 10. Onuzo signed with a literary agent at 18 and had her first book published when she was 21.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu (Ethiopia)
An Ethiopian businesswoman who hopes to make her ethical footwear brand global. soleRebel makes sandals and shoes from reclaimed tyres and other recycled materials.

Isoken Ogiemwonyi (Nigeria)
A young Nigerian fashion designer who is hoping to transform the country’s retail industry. Ogiemwonyi created the fashion label Obsidian. She helped set up a monthly shopping event in Lagos called Le Petit Marche to give fellow designers a platform to display their work and expand their businesses.

Oumou Sangaré (Mali)
A much-loved musician, Sangaré made a big impact on the Malian music scene with her first album Moussoulou (Women) in 1991, which addressed issues such as polygamy and female sexuality. She is also a campaigner for women’s rights and a United Nations goodwill ambassador.

Leymah Gbowee (Liberia)
The joint winner of the 2011 Nobel peace prize, who led the women’s movement to help end war in Liberia. She risked her life to lead thousands of women each day in prayer, fasting and peaceful protest against the conflict in the country, prolific gang rapes and the use of child soldiers.

Esther Gatuma (Kenya)
Gatuma helped start Woman of Paradise, an organisation that aims to eliminate genital mutilation in Kenya. Gatuma has also been part of an advocacy programme campaigning to prevent post-election violence in 2013 similar to that in 2007-8 that saw the deaths of hundreds of Kenyans.

Saran Kaba Jones (Liberia)
Kaba Jones and her organisation FaceAfrica are working to help solve Liberia’s water crisis by building water pumps in villages and small communities. They have provided tens of thousands of Liberians with access to clean safe drinking water, which she sees as an essential start to breaking the poverty cycle.

Precious Moloi-Motsepe (South Africa)
A medical doctor turned businesswoman, Moloi-Motsepe is the driving force behind African fashion week. She also promotes emerging talent in South Africa through African Fashion International. The Motsepe Family Foundation was established to help support young people in a range of disciplines from sport to music. The foundation also funds health and educative initiatives.

Juliana Rotich (Kenya)
Rotich is a Kenyan blogger who co-founded Ushahidi. By crowdsourcing information the site can be used as a tool for reporting violence around the world. Ushahidi’s live maps were used to collect information on the violence that erupted after the Kenyan presidential elections of 2007, and has since been used to improve information flow and transparency in disaster situations in Haiti and Congo.

Lorna Rutto (Kenya)
The co-founder of Ecopost, a company that makes an eco-friendly alternative to traditional timber. Her company employs hundreds of young Kenyans to make durable fencing posts and lumber from waste plastic materials, and is expected to create 100,000 positions over the next 15 years.

Jepchumba (Kenya)
An artist originally from Kenya, Jepchumba founded the site African Digital Art to showcase work from around the continent. The site features diverse range of artists, and includes everything from animation to short films and graphic/art design.

Winnie Byanyima (Uganda)
Oxafam International’s recently appointed executive director is also an aeronautical engineer, a former African Union diplomat and an ex-MP in Uganda. Byanyima has also worked at the UN Development Programme, and is considered an authority on gender issues, climate change and economic policy making.

Jolly Dusabe (Uganda & Rwanda)
Originally a biologist in Uganda, Dusabe is running a rural support programme in Rwanda. Her team helps farmers become more sustainable by developing new practices to combat soil erosion and make the best use of water and land.

Ola Orekunrin (Nigeria)
Orekunrin works in Nigerian healthcare industry. At 25 she is a medical doctor, a helicopter pilot and managing director of West Africa’s first air ambulance service, Flying Doctors.

Pat Featherstone (South Africa)
Featherstone started Soil for Life in Cape Town, a non-profit organisation that teaches people to grow their own food. Staff and residents create gardens together, with the aim of tackling local food insecurity, poverty, waste management, social degradation and unsustainable environmental practices.

Hope Chigudu (Uganda & Malawi)
A Ugandan feminist campaigning for gender equality, Chigudu has spent more than 30 years working to improve the status of women, specifically through policy reform and legislation. A skilled organiser, Chigudu has helped form women’s groups to lobby for the rights of minorities, such as sex workers.

Mariéme Jamme (Sengal)
Jamme, a businesswoman from Senegal, is the founder of Spot One Global Solutions, which helps companies establish themselves internationally. She also organises TEDx Accra and Dakar, and supports young Africans in business.

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.