These African Women Taught Us How to Lead Fearlessly

These African women are in high positions from the president to fearless leaders. Their fearlessness, grit, and perseverance are admirable. When young girls see women in powerful positions, it shows them that women can lead nations to victory. Let’s explore President Joyce Banda, Wangari Maathai, and Miriam Makeba aka Mama Africa’s lives and lessons.

Dr. Joyce Banda

(Source: Twitter)

Dr.Joyce Banda served as the Vice President of Malawi in 2009-2012 and President in 2012-2014. She is the first woman to serve as head of state in Southern Africa. Part of President Joyce’s career focused on Women. When she lived in Nairobi, she was very active in the women’s movement. She founded and directed multiple businesses, including the National Association of Business Women of Malawi, a garment manufacturing business, and the Joyce Banda Foundation. 

Her organization is dedicated to rural development and improving the lives of women and children. When Dr. Joyce became president, Malawi was one of the poorest countries. With her policies, the country's economic growth rate doubled during her first two years as president. 

Dr. Joyce has received multiple awards in her career for leadership. She received the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger in 1997 and was named Africa’s third most powerful woman in Forbes Magazine in 2011. 

Wangari Maathai

(Source: Environmental Africa)

Wangari Maathai is an environmental, political activist. Her legacy is filled with many firsts, as she was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Before this award, Wangari was also the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a Biological Sciences degree. 

She was the first woman to become chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and associate professor. Wangari was an active member of the National Council of Women of Kenya. She is known for her constant fearless fights for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation. She has addressed the UN and spoke on behalf of women at special sessions of the General Assembly for the five-year review of the earth summit. 

A woman of distinction, she’s received numerous rewards. Including the Sophie Prize, The Petra Kelly Prize for Environment, and The Conservation Scientist Award, to name a few. In Kenya’s ninth parliament, her work didn't stop as she served as Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources, and Wildlife.

Miriam Makeba aka Mama Africa

(Source: We Buy Black)

Miriam Makeba dedicated her life to the liberation of oppressed people all over the world. She was a singer and civil rights activist that was known as Mama Africa. Her most famous song, “Pata Pata,” eventually led her to be the first African woman to win a grammy. 

Alongside her music career, she fought against apartheid and helped shape the modern “Afro look”. The South African government exiled Miriam because she regularly spoke out against the racial segregation of apartheid. Miriam explained how she was hurt from being exiled, but persisted through the trials to fight for what she believes. She testified against apartheid at the United Nations in 1963 and endorsed the cultural boycott of South Africa. 

After her tireless fights and standing firm in her position, President Nelson Mandela and South Africa welcomed her home after the apartheid regime.  

Leading with grace and distinction, all of these women have meaningful stories. Their legacies show how women can be impactful and effective leaders. Creating monumental contributions to their countries, we learn that fearlessly leading with passion breeds results. 

We’re celebrating women all over the world. Sign up for our newsletter below for more updates and information.