Africa’s wonder women – PHOTOS
To celebrate women’s month, we have complied a list some powerful and influential women in Africa.
Whether in media or mining, banking or politics, these women are forces to be reckoned with, and role models to many.
Of course, this is by no means an official or an exhaustive list.
Khanyi Dhlomo South African. Media Mogul
One of South Africa’s most respected media moguls. She owns Ndalo Media, which publishes Destiny Magazine and Destiny Man, two thriving high-end magazines that combine business and lifestyle content to cater to successful, professional, stylish and intellectually curious men and women.
Basetsana Kumalo, Media Mogul
Basetsana Kumalo (38) was a beauty queen who won Miss South Africa (and was a Miss World runner-up) in 1994, but she is far better known today as an astute businesswoman. During her reign as Miss South Africa, Kumalo met producer Patience Stevens, with whom she started a TV company, Tswelopele Productions. Kumalo was just 20 at the time.
Tswelopele is now one of the top 300 empowerment companies in South Africa. In 1999, it merged with Union Alliance Media and listed on the JSE, making Kumalo one of the youngest black women directors in the mainstream economy.
Ory Okolloh Kenyan. Google’s Policy Manager for Africa
A Harvard-trained lawyer, activist and blogger, Kenyan-born Ory Okolloh spearheaded the founding of Ushahidi, a revolutionary crowd sourcing utility that enables citizen journalists and eyewitnesses all over the world to report incidences of violence through the web, mobile E-mail, SMS, and Twitter. Earlier this year, Okolloh assumed a new position as Google’s policy manager for Africa, and she is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential women in global technology.
Chimamanda Adichie Nigerian. Writer
One of Africa’s leading contemporary literary voices, the Award-winning Nigerian writer has been heralded as a rebirth of the African literary greats – the likes of Chinua Achebe, Camara Laye and Cyprian Ekwensi. In 2006 her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the coveted Orange Prize, and Chinua Achebe (widely regarded as the father of African literature) said of Adichie: She’s “endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers…”
Yolanda Cuba South African. Corporate Executive
When Yolanda Cuba was only 29, she was appointed CEO of Mvelaphanda Group, a conglomerate listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. She stepped down r, but still remains one of South Africa’s most respected and sought-after business leaders. She serves on the boards of South African blue-chips like ABSA, Steinhoff and Life Healthcare.
Dambisa Moyo Zambian. Economist
The Zambian-born economist and New York Times international best-selling author. Her most recent book is Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working. She is one of Africa’s most vocal advocates for the abolition of foreign aid. In March 2011, during the annual Observance ceremony in commemoration of the Commonwealth Day in Westminster Abbey, Moyo addressed an audience of some 2,000 guests including Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister David Cameron. She sits on the board of Barclays Bank, SABMiller and Lundin Petroleum.
Wendy Luhabe, Corporate Executive
A formidable and familiar face in South Africa’s boardrooms, Wendy Luhabe, 55 is probably the most powerful and visionary businesswoman in the country, as well as a social entrepreneur and author. Luhabe, who epitomises the self-made woman, has spent much of her career working to empower previously disadvantaged people, especially women.
Luhabe worked her way up at luxury brands Vanda Cosmetics and BMW. In 1992, she began her first foray into social entrepreneurship, founding a consultancy called Bridging the Gap, which helped prepare previously disadvantaged people for the business environment. She broke new ground in 1994 by founding women’s investment group Wiphold, which enabled tens of thousands of women to invest for the first time and was the first women-owned company to list on the JSE. She also started a private equity fund for women-owned businesses. She has been chair of, among others, the Vodacom Group, the Industrial Development Corporation and the International Marketing Council, and is the chancellor of the University of Johannesburg.
Graça Machel, Former First lady
Graça Machel is the only woman ever to be the first lady of two countries. She was born in rural Mozambique. As a schoolgirl, she won a scholarship to study in Portugal. When she got home, she joined the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo), which was to become Mozambique’s post-liberation ruling party. She became a schoolteacher and when Mozambique achieved independence in 1975, she was its first Culture and Education minister. In 1994, the UN secretary general asked Machel to investigate the impact of armed conflict on children. Her 1996 report was groundbreaking and proposed comprehensive actions to protect children affected by armed conflict.
She is a member of the Group of Elders, an independent group of global leaders, started by Mandela and chaired by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who work together for peace.
Thuli Madonsela, Public Protector
South Africa’s courageous public protector since 2009, Madonsela has stood firm as she fulfils her mandate to strengthen constitutional democracy and promote good governance. Her work ethic and dedication to truth has brought credibility back to her office after it was tainted by the Oilgate scandal during the tenure of the previous incumbent, Lawrence Mushwana.
Madonsela has been involved in community and social justice issues since the 1980s and in her early career was a teacher and union organiser. As a human rights lawyer and expert on equality and policy, she was part of the team that drafted the country’s constitution in 1996.
Phuti Malabie, Corporate Executive
The Wall Street Journal named Phuti Malabie one of its Top 50 Women to Watch in 2008. Charismatic, glamorous and ambitious, Malabie at just 40 is already a seasoned executive and CEO of Shanduka, a black-owned and managed investment company started by businessman and politician Cyril Ramaphosa.
Malabie has said that her drive comes from her privileged upbringing. Her father was a prominent businessman and she went to a private school, getting a standard of education she knew was not available to many black girls at the time. After school, she went to university in Britain and the United States.
Elsie Kanza Tanzania. Economic Advisor To Tanzania’s President
Kanza is currently an assistant and an economic advisor to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. She’s been selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader.
Gill Marcus, Reserve Bank Governor
Gill Marcus is the ninth governor of the Reserve Bank – and the first woman to do the job.
Marcus worked for the ANC’s information department and became editor of its weekly bulletin. When the party was unbanned 20 years later, she moved back to South Africa and was asked by the party to start an information department here. She became the ANC’s media interface at this crucial time of political upheaval. In 1994, she travelled South Africa with Nelson Mandela. She was elected a member of parliament that year and chair of the joint finance committee. She became deputy minister of Finance in 1996 and deputy governor of the Reserve Bank in 1999. In 2009, she became governor.
She was chair of the Absa Group, a non-executive director of Goldfields and professor of policy, leadership and gender studies at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. She supports the Johannesburg Children’s Home and Children of Fire (a burns charity) and is chair of the Rhodes Scholarship Fund.