AFRICANGLOBE – This liist was compiled by Zimbabwean TV Personality / Producer and Entreprenuer Farai Gundan
As Africa continues to rise, so do African women. With the upward economic, social and political trajectory of the continent, a new breed of African women continues to emerge. So much so, that the African Union christened the years 2010 to 2020 as the “African Women’s Decade”.
For the first time in history, the African Union voted an African woman to its helm. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa‘s Minister of Home Affairs and a medical doctor, will lead and usher the 54-nation organization into a new era of possibilities for the continent. In her keynote address honoring her as the first female chair of the African Union, Dlamini-Zuma said: “African women make up over fifty percent of the continent, and let’s not forget that they produce the other fifty percent–men.”
Additionally, this year Africa welcomed its second female head of State and Malawi‘s first female president, Her Excellency President Joyce Banda. In August, we published our 2012 annual list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women and of the 100 women selected, 11 were Black, of whom 3 were Africans: Presidents Joyce Banda and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Nigerian Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. To solidify the African Union’s “African Women’s Decade” theme, Nigerian oil tycoon, fashion designer and philanthropist Folorunsho Alakija became the first woman on the annual ranking of the 40 richest Africans, with a net worth estimated at $3.3 billion.
African women are unconflicted about themselves, who they are and the role they play, not only within their families but in their countries and the world at large. These are African women changing the face of the continent, hopping on planes from one to another of its major cities – Lagos, Dakar, Nairobi, Accra – cutting big deals and preferring to see Africa’s much storied deficits as HUGE investment opportunities.
Divine Ndhlukula did it with her Harare-based Securico firm, one of Zimbabwe’s largest security companies. The winner of the prestigious Legatum Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, Securico is an industry leader in providing custom guard services and cutting-edge electronic security solutions. Or Chairperson of Africa Fashion International, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, whose mission is to create global demand for African designers and brands. To that end, her company, in partnership with Mercedes-Benz, hosts fashion weeks throughout South Africa as the premier gateway to African fashion.
These African women are comfortable in any setting, corporate or traditional. They are able to hold their own in chic Parisian, Dubai or Wall Street circles but totally at home in some of Africa’s great cities: Yaounde, Cameroon; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Cape Town, South Africa; Harare, Zimbabwe. It is the way they embrace this duality of outlook and perspective that defines this new breed of African women.
Last year readers were introduced to a remarkable group of the 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa, heralding a new wave of African women taking control of their economic, social and political destinies. Here are the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa for 2012, all under age 45, shaping the narrative of the continent’s rising.
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.
Cina Lawson, Togo, Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Togo
Lawson is currently the Minister of Post and Telecommunications of Togo. Prior to her appointment, Lawson was a Manager of Corporate Strategy and Business Development at the France Telecom/Orange Group in New York City and Alcatel-Lucent in Paris. Lawson began her career in telecommunications at the World Bank in Washington DC where she focused on regulatory reforms for developing nations. She is a graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and was named a 2012 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Juliana Rotich, Kenya, Co-Founder Ushahidi
Rotich is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Ushahidi, a Nairobi-based tech company that specializes in developing free and open source software that aggregates and curates crisis data on a real-time basis and collates the data into live, interactive maps. She was named one of the “Top 100 Women” by the Guardian newspaper, “Top 2 Women” in Technology and “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2011 by The World Economic Forum. Rotich is a technologist and a TED Senior Fellow.
Patience Mthunzi, PhD. South Africa, Senior Scientist, CSIR
Born in Orlando West, Soweto, Dr. Mthunzi is currently South Africa’s only Senior Scientist for the Biophotonics Research Group within the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) National Laser Center in biophotonics – a field of study that enables microscopic study of biological molecules, cells and tissue using laser. Unable to study biophotonics in South Africa, she became the first South African PhD student at the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Dr. Mthunzi was recently awarded one of the country’s highest orders, the Order of Mapungubwe, for her contribution in the field of biophotonics.
Maud Chifamba, Zimbabwe, 14-year old University Accounting Student
At 14-years old, Chifamba made history this year when she became the youngest student (male or female) in Zimbabwe and possibly the whole of Southern Africa to enroll at university. The young genius was admitted to the University of Zimbabwe where she will study towards a Bachelor of Accountancy Honors Degree. An orphan, Chifamba’s mother passed away last December, days after she sat for her final exams, and her father nine years ago when she was five years old. Despite this and abject poverty (her two brothers were unable to pay her fees for regular school), Chifamba home schooled herself and broke academic records earning a four-year scholarship of nearly USD$10,000.
Florence Iwegbue, Nigeria, Attorney & Co-Founder, LiveWello
A life-changing event, the diagnosis of her son with Autism gave birth to LiveWello™, social network targeted at health. A U.K-trained attorney, Iwegbue and her physician husband, a self-taught software developer, built LiveWello to support their Autistic son’s health while harnessing the best elements of their African culture: village life. By building a health app that was social in nature, they were able to collaborate with their son’s health providers, their health coaches and the rest of their family back home in Africa, to collectively manage his health. Now Iwegbue is helping other people manage their own health with the social network app she built.