To wrap up the international Women’s History Month, Here’s a quick spotlight on our African Wonder Women.
They have evolved powerfully by no small feat and we can’t help but celebrate the beautiful sacrifices that have brought them this far.
Our African Wonder Women
Multiple awards winning fashion designer, Princess Folaji Fasanya-Omoyeni, is an IT consultant, a creative entrepreneur and social entrepreneur, and Chief Executive Officer / Creative Director of a UK-based clothing line, Ffolaji London.
Ibukunoluwa Abiodun Awosika (born Bilkisu Abiodun Motunrayo Omobolanle Adekola on December 24, 1962) is a Nigerian business woman, motivational speaker, and an author. She was former Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria. She was appointed a member of Binance Global Advisory Board in September 2022.
Ibukun Awosika is a successful and renowned entrepreneur that has built and transformed businesses in Africa. Ibukun has shown that “What a man can do, a woman can do even better” by succeeding in the furniture industry; an industry dominated by the male. She is passionate about helping other female entrepreneurs.
Chief Folorunso Alakija: Folorunsho Alakija (born 15 July 1951) is a Nigerian billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist. She is involved in the fashion, oil, real estate and printing industries. She is the Group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited, Digital Reality Prints Limited and the executive vice-chairman of Famfa Oil Limited.
Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija is a dynamic Nigerian businesswoman and philanthropist. She oversees several business endeavours such as: FAMFA Oil Limited, her family’s oil exploration and production business as the Vice Chairman, seeing to its strategic planning and day to day administration. She is the Vice Chairman of Dayspring Property Development Company Limited, a real estate company with investments in different parts of the world. She is also the Vice Chairman of Digitalreality Print Ltd, a world-class printing company. She has served her country Nigeria, as a member of several committees. She is an acclaimed public speaker and the first female to be appointed as Chancellor of a public university in Africa. She is a prolific writer and has authored several inspirational books, including her autobiography. She is a board member of the Commonwealth Business Forum. She is a recipient of many awards in various capacities both locally and internationally.
Toyin Sanni is Founder and CEO of the Emerging Africa Group, a Financial Services Group comprising investments in Investment Banking, Financial Technology, Venture Capital and Microfinance Banking, Co-Founder of the Africa Investment Roundtable as well as Board Chair at Layer 3 Limited and Vice-Chair, Fundall Limited, both of which are innovative technology companies.
A prominent Investment Banker, Public Personality /Speaker and Influencer, she derives satisfaction from grooming future leaders (through capacity building initiatives such as a highly rated Executive Mentorship program) and from preferring capital solutions for financing & investing challenges of African governments, businesses & individuals.
Chief Nike Monica Davies-Okundaye spent the early part of her life in Osogbo, which is recognised as one of the major centres for art and culture in Nigeria. During her stay in Osogbo, indigo dying and Adire production dominated her informal training. She was brought up amidst the traditional weaving and dying practice in her native village of Ogidi in present day Kogi State. Chief Nike’s artistic skills were nurtured at a young age by her parents and great grandmother who were musicians and craftspeople.
The dynamism of Nike’s compositions, coupled with the complexity and firm structure, emerge in her textile designs particularly for the adire and batiks. Nike brings to her adire a vivid imagination as well as a wealth of history and tradition regulating the production of adire. Adire is the traditional Yoruba hand painted cloth. Traditional adire designs are a myriad, full of meaning and history, which are combined into larger overall patterns with names that are universally recognised in the Yoruba culture.
Nike Davies-Okundaye, affectionately known as Mama Nike, is one of the most renowned pillars of African arts and culture. Having produced endless innovative designs and accrued a vast knowledge over her five-decade-long career as a Batik and Adire artist, she has showcased her work in over 100 international exhibitions, led lectures and workshops at Ivy League Universities, sat on the Nigerian Tourism Board, and won awards including the Ordine Della Stella Della Solidarietà Italiana—one of the highest national honors in Italy. Most importantly, Davies-Okundaye, through her work with Adire, acts as a beacon of courage and hope for African artists and women. Looking back at her career, the artist notes, “we have used textiles to change so much.”
Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iwela took office as WTO Director-General on 1 March 2021. She is a global finance expert, an economist and international development professional with over 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America. Dr Okonjo-Iweala was formerly Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. She was previously on the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc. She was appointed as African Union (AU) Special Envoy to mobilise international financial support for the fight against COVID-19 and WHO Special Envoy for Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. She is a skilled negotiator and has brokered numerous agreements which have produced win-win outcomes in negotiations. She is regarded as an effective consensus builder and an honest broker enjoying the trust and confidence of governments and other stakeholders.
She is renowned as the first female and African candidate to contest for the presidency of the World Bank Group in 2012, backed by Africa and major developing countries in the first truly contestable race for the world’s highest development finance post. As Managing Director of the World Bank, she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia. Dr Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008-2009 food crisis and later during the financial crisis. In 2010, she was Chair of the World Bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low interest credit for the poorest countries in the world.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been listed in the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World (Forbes, 2022, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011), as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (TIME, 2014 and 2021), one of the 25 most influential women (Financial Times, 2021), Minister of the Decade, People’s Choice Award by Nigeria’s This Day newspaper (2020), one of Transparency International’s Eight Female Anti-Corruption Fighters Who Inspire (2019), one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders (Fortune, 2015), the Top 100 Global Thinkers (Foreign Policy, 2011 and 2012), the Top Three Most Powerful Women in Africa (Forbes, 2012), the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa (Forbes, 2011), the Top 100 Women in the World (The UK Guardian, 2011), the Top 150 Women in the World (Newsweek, 2011), and the Top 100 most inspiring people in the World Delivering for Girls and Women (Women Deliver, 2011). She has also been listed among 73 “brilliant” business influencers in the world by Condé Nast International.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala is married to neurosurgeon Dr Ikemba Iweala. They have four children and five grandchildren.
Onyeka Onwenu is a Nigerian singer/songwriter, actress, human right activist, social activist, journalist, politician, and former X Factor series judge. Dubbed the “Elegant Stallion” by the Nigerian press, she is a former chairperson of the Imo State Council for Arts and Culture. Onyeka Onwenu was born on May 17, 1952 to D. K. Onwenu in Arondizuogu, Imo State. Her father was a politician but she lost him to autocrash when she was just four years old. She is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, actress, journalist, and politician. Onwenu attended Wellesley College of Massachusetts, USA and possess a BA in International Relations and Communication, and a Master’s degree in Media Studies which she obtained from The New School for Social Research in New York.
Dubbed the “Elegant Stallion” by the Nigerian Press, this multitalented Artiste is a Singer/Songwriter, Actress, Social Critic and Politician. She worked for many years at the United Nations in New York before returning to Nigeria in 1980, where she completed her National Service, at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), in Lagos. In under one year at the NTA, Onyeka made an impact as an articulate, incisive and fearless Television Reporter.
In 1984, she wrote and presented the internationally acclaimed BBC/NTA documentary called “Nigeria, A Squandering of Riches”. It became the definitive film about corruption in Nigeria as well as the intractable Niger Delta agitation for resource control and campaign against environmental degradation in the oil rich region of Nigeria.
But it was in 1981 that Onyeka took her first and mighty step towards music, with the release of her first album “Endless Life”, produced by Sunny Okosun. It was an instant success. Onyeka followed it up with “For the Love of You”, In the Morning Light, One Love, Dancing in the Sun, Onyeka, Greatest Love, My Everything God and most recently, “The Legend”. Also called the Queen of African Pop, Onyeka stands out as the only musician to have crossed Pop with Juju music and Highlife, seamlessly combining English and local languages to deliver “developmental” songs of great social value. In her “Dancing in the Sun” album is a duet with King Sunny Ade which was hailed for its innovativeness and freshness of idea. The reaction to “ Madawolohun (let them say)” was tremendous, Onyeka’s fan demanded for more. She responded with two more duets “wait for me” and “Choices”, written by Onyeka Onwenu and produced by Lemmy Jackson. Unlike Let them Say which was a love song, Wait for me and Choices carry strong social messages.
The themes were family planning, sex and birth control – topics which were taboo in the Nigerian Society but very important for a healthy and virile Nation. Onyeka continues to write and sing about such issues as Health (HIV/Aids), peace and mutual coexistence – respect for human rights. Her latest effort titled “Inspiration for Change” centers on the need for an attitudinal turn around in Nigeria.
Mosunmola Abudu, ‘Mo Abudu’, was born in Hammersmith, West London. Her father died in 1975 when Mo was just 11 years old. Her mother, whom Mo cherishes as one of her greatest pillars of support and inspiration, recently celebrated her 80th birthday. Mo’s family roots are in Ondo Town, in the south-west of Nigeria. She is the eldest amongst three sisters. Mo moved to Nigeria at the age of seven to live with her grandparents and returned to England at age 11. Mo is the mother of two, a daughter – Temidayo, a son – Adekoyejo and grandmother to TJ and Ireoluwa.
Mo Abudu began her career in Human Resources in 1987 at The Atlas Recruitment Consultancy Firm in the UK. In 1993, she returned to Nigeria where she was headhunted to ExxonMobil to manage the HR and Administration division of the company. By 2000 Mo recognised the need for a highly talented pool of professionals in Nigeria and started her own Human Resource firm – Vic Lawrence & Associates (VLA), the name being a moniker of her parents’ names. While involving herself in a number of business activities, Mo conceptualized and developed the Protea Hotel, Oakwood Park, as the first new-build hotel of its type ever in Nigeria.
Mo Abudu launched her media career with Inspire Africa, an edutainment company designed to inspire, educate, motivate and entertain. The company’s anchor project was Africa’s first syndicated talk show, Moments with Mo, presented and produced by Mo. The show started airing in 2006 and later evolved to include a number of syndicated offshoot series, Moments Z and Moments in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.
Mo Abudu has received two honorary doctorates, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Babcock University in 2014 and one in 2018 for her contributions to the broadcasting industry in Nigeria by the University of Westminster in London.
Abudu is highly sought after for her knowledge of the African and global creative industry. She has spoken at the Wharton School of Business, Cambridge University Judge School of Business, NYU, Oxford University and Harvard University. Throughout the years, Abudu has been a recipient of numerous awards and international recognitions.
With offices in Lagos, London and Los Angeles, Mo Abudu is excited about pitching stories to a diverse range of international streaming platforms and broadcasters. To quote her, “As Nigerians and Africans, we should see ourselves as world citizens and our storytelling, locations and networks should extend to every corner of the globe.”
Mfon Ekpo is the CEO of The Discovery (Training and Development) Centre, a founding partner and an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team.
A certified Human behaviour consultant, She has served as a member of the President’s Advisory Council and is a two-time recipient of the ‘Golden Quill’ award by the National Academy of Bestselling Authors in Hollywood for co-authoring two bestselling books with renowned leading experts such as Brian Tracy and Robert Allen amongst others. An astute professional with multiple degrees in Maritime Law, Business law, Journalism, Neuro-linguistic programming, Project management and Negotiation, Mfon is an international speaker and a coach to top business CEO’s, industry and thought leaders.
Mfon is a Mandela Washington Fellow in the pioneer set of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative and served as the Chairperson of the Advocacy Committee on the Regional Advisory Board for West Africa. She was appointed an Honorary Citizen and a Goodwill Ambassador for the State of Arkansas in the United States of America in 2014. In 2017, she was named one of the most influential women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa. She was also shortlisted by the British Council Awards for Social Impact in Nigeria in recognition of the tangible socio-economic impact of her training and coaching programmes and the globally acclaimed intensive seminar “The Blueprint of How”, helping people across Africa, Europe and The United States of America translate their ideas into viable and sustainable impact-driven initiatives and businesses.
She is a board member at WENTORS an organisation that is dedicated to covering the disparity of women having a foothold in the tech ecosystem across the world through mentorship aimed at raising a generation of vast, well-rounded, innovative and exceptional young ladies who make an impact, institute positive changes, possess cutting-edge skills in their fields and equally desire to, someday, wentor the coming generation of world changers.
She is an advisor to leaders around the world and a Mentor on the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP)
Tara Fela-Durotoye (born 6 March 1977) is a Nigerian beauty entrepreneur and lawyer. A pioneer in the bridal makeup profession in Nigeria, she launched the first bridal directory in 1999, set up international standard makeup studios and established the first makeup school in Nigeria.
She is the founder and CEO of House of Tara International and creator of the Tara Orekelewa Beauty range, Inspired Perfume and the H.I.P Beauty range.
As at 2019, her brand House of Tara, had 270 products, 23 stores, 14 beauty schools and 10,000 representatives all around Africa.
In 2007, Tara Fela-Durotoye was awarded the Africa SMME Award and the Entrepreneur award in South Africa and in 2013, Forbes listed her as one 20 Young Power Women In Africa. In 2020, the magazine Forbes listed her among “Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women”.
She is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School Chief Executive Programme, INSEAD Abu Dhabi, Yale University, The Stanford SEED Transformation Programme, and the Harvard Kennedy School having completed the Global Leadership and Public Policy in the 21st century, She is a member of the France/Nigeria Investment club which was incorporated in 2018 by the French President Emmanuel Macron.
Alice Banze: is a trained social scientist and activist for human womenâ € ™s rights who has worked in various disciplines, advocacy and media, governance, gender and women rights focusing on community development.
She has senior management level professional with 15 years programme experience, 10 with Oxfam Great Britain and 5 with highly reputable development INGOs. Alice has excellent leadership, interpersonal and people management skills. She values honesty, hard work and commitment. She is a self-starter with a passion for excellence driven by a â € œcan doâ € attitude and belief that a different and better future is possible. Together We Can End Gender Based Violence.
Working as a Gender Environment and Climate Change Advisor, Alice has been working with others towards the integration of CC issues within the SADC Protocol. She has been supporting the work on the update of the Barometer for Mozambique and Angola. Recently she judged the Climate Change and Faith Based Organizations Categories at the GL SADC Gender Protocol Summit and Awards, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Previously, she was the Oxfam acting Pan Africa Gender Justice and governance lead, Regional Gender Justice Coordinator based at the Oxfam Great Britain regional office in Pretoria, South Africa. Alice has a solid track record of relationship building and program management from CSO, INGOs and Networks. She is an articulate organisational gender representative to donors, civil society, government and media. She has sound development and humanitarian program management knowledge and experience. She has in-depth understanding of underlying causes of poverty, gender injustice and Inequality and its intersection with Health issues including HIV and Aids, sexual and reproductive health in the African and Asian We can Campaign context, including in conflict situations.
Alice has a Degree in Social Sciences from Eduardo Mondlane and Pretoria Universities (Maputo, Mozambique). She has undergone further training in research skills, methods and methodologies on the Feminization of Poverty Research project as a partner investigator; The Centre of Research Studies, Canberra Australia. Strategic Planning and Change Management at Regenesys Business School at Sandton, South Africa. She is currently undertaking French Lessons.
Alice was the Gender, Environment and Climate Change Advisor to the Minister of Environment in Mozambique, implementing the Gender, Environment and Climate Change Strategy with focus on empowerment of women and communities on the best way of use and of Natural Resources to adapt to the Climate Change negative impacts. Current Alice works as the Lusophone Executive Director for Gender Links managing Angola and Mozambique Lusophone Countries.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the Former President of Liberia who served as Africa’s first elected female head of state and the 24th president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in Africa. Sirleaf was born in Monrovia to a Gola father and Kru-German mother. She was educated at the College of West Africa. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Nobel Peace Laureate; a leading promoter of peace, justice and democratic rule; a voice for freedom; and advocate for health for all.
First Female President of Liberia & Nobel Peace Laureate
Internationally known as “Africa’s Iron Lady,” Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a leading promoter of freedom, peace, justice, women’s empowerment and democratic rule. As Africa’s first democratically-elected female head of state, she has led Liberia through reconciliation and recovery following the nation’s decade-long civil war, as well as the Ebola Crisis, winning international acclaim for achieving economic, social, and political change. Recognized as a global leader for women’s empowerment, President Sirleaf was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for Peace in 2011. She is the recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom—the United States’ highest civilian award—for her personal courage and unwavering commitment to expanding freedom and improving the lives of Africans. Her many honors also include the Grand Croix of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest public distinction, and being named one of Forbes’s “100 Most Powerful Women in the World.”
And in 2017, former President Sirleaf was awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which celebrates excellence in African leadership. The Ibrahim Prize recognizes leaders who, during their time in office, have developed their countries, strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, and advanced sustainable development. Sirleaf was the first female recipient.
President Sirleaf was elected President of the Republic of Liberia in 2005, two years after the nation’s bloody civil war ended. Her historic inauguration as Africa’s first democratically elected head of state took place on January 16, 2006. Prior to the election, she had served in the transitional government, where she chaired the Governance Reform Commission and led the country’s anti-corruption reform. She won reelection in November 2011.
During her two terms as president, Johnson Sirleaf has focused on rebuilding the country, attracting over $16 billion in foreign direct investment. She has also attracted more than $5 million in private resources to rebuild schools, clinics and markets, and fund scholarships for capacity building. She successfully negotiated $4.6 billion in external debt forgiveness and the lifting of UN trade sanctions, which have allowed Liberia to once again access international markets. She increased the national budget from $80 million in 2006 to over $672 million in 2012, with an annual GDP growth rate of more than 7%.
In June 2016, President Sirleaf was elected the first female Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a twelve-month term. In May 2012, she was appointed co-chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The panel is tasked with crafting a roadmap for global recovery and sustainable development.
President Sirleaf began her career in the Treasury Department in Liberia in 1965. In 1979, she rose to the position of Minister of Finance and introduced measures to curb the mismanagement of government finances. After the 1980 military coup d’état, she became president of the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment, but fled Liberia that same year, escaping an increasingly suppressive military government. Johnson Sirleaf has also served as vice president of Citicorp’s Africa regional office in Nairobi, as senior loan officer at the World Bank, and as a vice president for Equator Bank.
Prior to her first campaign for the presidency, Johnson Sirleaf served as assistant administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and as director of its Regional Bureau of Africa, with the rank of assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, a post she resigned to contest the 1997 presidential elections. After coming in second, she went into self-imposed exile in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). While in exile, she established a venture capital vehicle for African entrepreneurs and founded Measuagoon, a Liberian community development NGO.
President Sirleaf has been awarded honorary doctorates by more than 15 institutions, including: Tilburg University (Netherlands), the Nigerian Defence Academy, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Harvard University, Rutgers University, Yale University, Georgetown University, the University of Abeokuta (Nigeria), the University of Minnesota, Furman University of South Carolina, Brown University, Indiana University, Dartmouth College, Concordia University, Langston University, Spelman College and Marquette University.
In addition to her Nobel Prize, President Sirleaf is the recipient of numerous honors, including: the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace Disarmament and Development (2012), the African Gender Award (2011), Friend of the Media Award (2010), FUECH Grand Cross Award (2009), FAO’s CERES Medal (2008), Golden Plate Award (2008), International Women’s Leadership Award (2008), International Crisis Group Fred Cuny Award for the Prevention of Deadly Crisis (2008); James and Eunice K. Matthews Bridge Building Award (2008), American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award (2008), National Civil Rights Museum Annual Freedom Award (2007), National Democratic Institute Harriman Award (2007), Bishop T. Walker Humanitarian Award (2007), Gold Medal of the President of the Italian Republic (2006), Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger (2006), National Reconciliation Award (2006), International Woman of the Year (2006), and International Republican Institute Freedom Award (2006).
President Sirleaf has been ranked among the top 100 most powerful women in the world (Forbes, 2012), the most powerful woman in Africa (Forbes Africa, 2011), one of six “Women of the Year” (Glamour, 2010), among the 10 best leaders in the world (Newsweek, 2010) and
top 10 female leaders (TIME, 2010). In 2010, The Economist called her “the best President the country has ever had.”
Born Ellen Eugenia Johnson, President Sirleaf is the granddaughter of a traditional chief of renown in western Liberia and a market woman from the southeast. U.S. educated, she holds a master’s in public administration (MPA) from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She also earned a degree in accounting at Madison Business College in Wisconsin and received a diploma from the University of Colorado’s Economics Institute.
President Sirleaf has written widely on financial, development and human rights issues, and in 2008 she published her critically acclaimed memoir, This Child Will Be Great.
Oluwatobiloba Ayomide “Tobi” Amusan (born 23 April 1997) is a Nigerian track and field athlete who specialises in the 100 metres hurdles and also competes as a sprinter. She is the current world, Commonwealth and African champion in the 100 m hurdles, as well as the meet record holder in those three competitions. Amusan became the first ever Nigerian world champion and world record holder in an athletics event when she won the 2022 World Championships 100 m hurdles gold medal, setting the current world record of 12.12 seconds in the semi-final, followed up by a wind-assisted 12.06 s in the final. She won back-to-back Commonwealth and African titles in 2018 and 2022 in the 100 m hurdles and is also a two-time African Games champion in the event.
In general, Meaza Ashenafi was chosen as a pioneer woman most importantly because she is the first woman to be appointed as the President (chief justice) of the Supreme Court in Ethiopia’s history. However, her accomplishments before this appointment are more than enough to call her not only a pioneer woman but also a pioneer citizen. Being amongst the first group of women to join law school in Ethiopia and being part of the few women selected to participate as an expert in the drafting of the current Ethiopian constitution were her earliest accomplishments. She established and led the first professional association that advocated for women’s rights and the first women’s bank that aimed to empower women financially. When officials contacted her to propose the appointment, Meaza is quoted as saying, “I told them, if they want business as usual, I’m not the right person for this job.” (Aljazeera, 2015). That’s why I believe, besides her enormous accomplishments, Meaza’s character as an individual and her commitment to promoting justice without shying away from big responsibilities and challenges reaffirms her selection as a pioneer woman.
Ifedayo Khadijah Durosinmi-Etti known as Ife Durosinmi-Etti, (born 6 December 1988), is a Nigerian business executive, author and young global leader.
Ifedayo Khadijah Durosinmi-Etti is an author, entrepreneur, and Young Global Leader with over 10 years of management and leadership experience working in the fashion, marketing, manufacturing, and most recently, the tech industry. A Biochemistry graduate of Covenant University with an MBA in Global Business from Coventry University UK, she is the managing partner of Herconomy, a Social Enterprise and Cooperative of like-minded women, focused on connecting women to various opportunities such as scholarships, grants, fellowships, and job opportunities. In recent times, she has broken several glass ceilings by being part of the Africa Startup Initiative (ASIP) Accelerator Programme and becoming a recruitment partner with Amazon. She is a recipient of the Women’s Advocacy Award from the West African Leadership Organisation for her exemplary leadership and dedication to socio-economic development in West Africa. An alumnus of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, she was named a Peace Scholar by the Dutch Ministry of foreign affairs and appointed as a Youth Advisory Group Member for Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE), a global coalition formed by the World Bank, aimed at providing catalytic support to employment and productive work for 150 million youth by 2030.
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Nigerian-British feminist activist, writer and policy advocate. She was first lady of Ekiti State, Nigeria as wife of Ekiti State governor Kayode Fayemi from 2018 to 2022. She previously served as first lady from 2010 to 2014 during her husband’s first term in office.
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi was appointed as Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the African Leadership Centre in 2017. She is a leading practitioner on the Centre’s Practice of Leadership programme.
Bis is a feminist thinker and activist, writer, social entrepreneur, policy advocate and social sector expert. She is currently Principal Partner at Amandla Consulting, specialising in leadership development for women, and runs an online community called Abovewhispers.com, in addition to her role as a UN Women Nigeria Senior Consultant.
She served as the Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), an international development organisation for African women based in London from 1991-2001, where she established the African Women’s Leadership Institute that has trained over 6,000 African women leaders.
She co-founded the African Women’s Development Fund, (AWDF) – the first Africa-wide grant-making foundation for women and served as the first Executive Director from 2001-2010.
She has designed and implemented policy, advocacy, grassroots empowerment, and social inclusion programmes across many African countries. She has also led campaigns to successfully pass legislation to promote and protect women’s rights.
Bis is the author of ‘Speaking for Myself: Perspectives on Social, Political and Feminist Activism in Africa’ (2013), ‘Speaking above a Whisper’ (2013) and ‘Loud Whispers’ (2017). She also co-edited ‘Voice, Power and Soul’, with Jessica Horn (2008) – a compilation of images and stories of African Feminists.
Sitawa Wafula is a blogger and nomadic mental health crusader. She’s using her personal journey as a rape survivor living with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar disorder to provide people in Africa with information and support to handle mental health conditions and deal with everyday life.
Irene Umba Zalira is a women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health advocate. She is a savvy leader with a passion for women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health, Umba discovered her leadership potential and the power of her voice as a 2014-2015 GHC fellow. She is now a senior leader at Theatre for a Change in Lilongwe, where speaks publicly about topics such as protecting sex workers’ rights. Umba is also the co-host and creator of the podcast Feministing While Malawian, a platform for discussing topics including disrupting the patriarchy, expanding access to contraception, and young women’s voices.
Zandi Hamilton is a Mental Health Advocate, Certified Life Coach and founder of ‘Beyond The Shade’, with a background in IT. Driven by personal experiences and of those close to her, Zandi is passionate about raising mental health awareness to the ethnic minority communities.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria in 1977. She grew up on the campus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where her father was a professor and her mother was the first female Registrar. She studied medicine for a year at Nsukka and then left for the US at the age of 19 to continue her education on a different path. She graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in Communication and Political Science.
She has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree in African History from Yale University. She was awarded a Hodder fellowship at Princeton University for the 2005-2006 academic year, and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University for the 2011-2012 academic year. In 2008, she received a MacArthur Fellowship.
She has received honorary doctorate degrees from Eastern Connecticut State University, Johns Hopkins University, Haverford College, Williams College, the University of Edinburgh, Duke University, Amherst College, Bowdoin College, SOAS University of London, American University, Georgetown University, Yale University, Rhode Island School of Design, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, Skidmore College and University of Johannesburg.
Ms. Adichie’s work has been translated into over thirty languages.
Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), won the Orange Prize. Her 2013 novel Americanah won the US National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013.
She has delivered two landmark TED talks: her 2009 TED Talk The Danger of A Single Story and her 2012 TEDx Euston talk We Should All Be Feminists, which started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014.
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017.
Her most recent work, Notes On Grief, an essay about losing her father, was published in 2021.
She was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015. In 2017, Fortune Magazine named her one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. She is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Ms. Adichie divides her time between the United States and Nigeria, where she leads an annual creative writing workshop.
For a detailed bibliography, please see the independent “The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Website” maintained by Daria Tunca.
Kindly join us as we honor and celebrate these phenomenal women today and always for shining their light in Africa and the world over.