Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Joyce Banda among five others were recently listed as Africa’s ruling ladies by CNN.
The series focused on power women who are taking center stage in Africa’s politics and occupying positions of power across the continent.
Here is what CNN had to say about three of them:
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is Nigeria’s finance minister and gained world wide prominence with her candidacy bid to head the World Bank earlier this year.Born in 1954 in a village in Nigeria’s Delta State, Okonjo-Iweala went to the United States in 1972 for studies at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.In 1982, she started her career at the World Bank, working her way up to become a senior executive. A respected economist, she became Nigeria’s first female finance minister in 2003 and the country’s first female foreign minister in 2006.She was a key figure in President Olusegun Obasanjo’s cabinet between 2003-06 and helped to broker a deal with the Paris Club to write off $18bn of Nigeria’s debt. She also cracked down on corruption during her tenure.Okonjo-Iweala returned to the World Bank in 2007 to become its managing director before being re-appointed as Nigeria’s minister of finance last year.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia
The first woman to be democratically elected as head of state in an African country, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been the president of Liberia since 2006.Faced with the Herculean task of rebuilding a country devastated by 14-years of civil war, which killed an estimated 250,000 people, Johnson Sirleaf declared a zero-tolerance policy against corruption and made education compulsory and free for all primary-age children.An economist by profession, she also used her contacts in the international business world to persuade Liberia’s creditors to forgive some of the West African country’s crushing foreign debt.The 73-year-old Harvard graduate, whose political resilience and tough reputation have earned her the nickname “Iron Lady,” was one of three recipients of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Peace, in recognition of her efforts to further women’s rights.
Joyce Banda, Malawi
Joyce Banda was sworn in as president of Malawi in April, becoming the first female head of state of the landlocked country in southeastern Africa.A longtime women’s rights activist, Banda studied briefly in the United States and eventually founded several organizations, including the Joyce Banda Foundation, which educates girls and provides care for orphans, many of them HIV-positive.She also created the Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project.Banda was awarded the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger in 1997 for founding the National Association of Business Women of Malawi, aimed at making women economically self-reliant.You can view the full list of all 8 women here.
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