Be the Change. Be Inspired. Be You.
Recognizing (40) African women with powerful, inspiring, and influential voices.
Introducing Africa’s leading women!
At the AWP Network, we aim to encourage more African women with powerful voices who will continue to create programs and policies that support the development and growth of African women and girls.
- Sahle-Work Zewde (Ethiopia): is Ethiopia’s first female president and currently the only female head of state in Africa. Zewde will serve as president of the federal republic of Ethiopia for the next six years. She was the first woman appointed to head the United Nations Office to the African Union. She has also served in ambassadorial roles for Ethiopia to Senegal, Djibouti, France, the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
- Arikana Chihombori-Quao (Zimbabwe): is a physician, speaker and the African Union Ambassador to the United States. Chihombori-Quao plays an active role in reinforcing African Union strategic partnerships with the United States, which is grounded on shared values and mutual interests.
- Okwui Okpokwasili (Nigeria): is winner of the 2018 MacArthur Foundation Genius Award. An artist, performer, choreographer, and writer, Okpokwasili’s multidisciplinary performance pieces draw viewers into the interior lives of women of color, particularly those of African and African-American women, whose stories have long been overlooked and rendered invisible.
- Louise Mushikiwabo (Rwanda): was elected secretary-general of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF). Mushikiwabo will oversee the activities of the global body that brings together 58 countries and regional governments, representing 274 million French speakers around the world. Prior to this role, she served as Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
- Winifred Byanyima (Uganda): is an aeronautical engineer, diplomat and the current executive director of Oxfam International. Byanyima founded the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), a leading NGO in Uganda.
- Meaza Ashenafi (Ethiopia): is a lawyer and human rights activist who was recently appointed the first woman President of Ethiopia’s Federal Supreme Court. Ashenafi is founding Executive Director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and the founding chair of Enat Bank.
- Bridgette Radebe (South Africa): is founder of Mmakau Mining, a mining firm that initiates explorations and helps to produce platinum, gold, and chrome. Radebe is also President of the South African Mining Development Association and a member of the New Africa Mining Fund.
- Vera Songwa (Cameroon): is the first woman appointed Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa (ECA). The ECA is one of the United Nation’s five regional commissions, and its mandate is to promote the economic and social development of African states.
- Uzoamaka Aduba (Nigeria): is an award-winning actor and one of only two actors to win an Emmy in both comedy and drama categories for the same role.
- Genevieve Nnaji (Nigeria): is an award-winning actor, writer and director whose film, “Lionheart” was acquired by Netflix, making it the first original Nigerian movie to be acquired by Netflix. She is also recognized as the first actor to win the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a leading role.
- Ramla Ali (Somalia): will make history by becoming the first person to represent Somalia at a major boxing event. Ali is a national champion who inspires other African and Muslim women to take up boxing. Ali has won the Elite National Championships, the English Title Series and the Great British Elite Championships, three major amateur tournaments, making her the best amateur boxer in her weight division. She has won titles around the world, boxed for England at a European Championship and recently became a Nike athlete.
- Simidele Adeagbo (Nigeria): is Africa’s first female skeleton athlete. She was the first African woman to compete in skeleton at the 2018 Winter Games. She is also a 2018 Obama Foundation Leader.
- Bibi Bakare-Yusuf (Nigeria): is co-founder and publishing director of one of Africa’s most beloved indie presses, Cassava Republic. Bakare-Yusuf was selected the 2018 Brittle Paper African Literary Person of the Year, the award recognizes individuals who work behind the scenes to hold up the African literary establishment.
- Stella Nyanzi (Uganda): is a queer feminist writer, human rights activist, academic and research fellow. Nyanzi is a leading voice in Ugandan politics and has been daring in her critique of Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. Last month, she was arrested and charged with cyber harassment and offensive communication under the country’s Computer Misuse Act of 2011 after she published a provocative poem on her Facebook page, the day after the president’s 74th birthday. She also founded Pads4GirlsUG, a campaign to provide free sanitary pads to girls in her local community.
- MiMi Mefo Takambou (Cameroon): is an activist and a journalist who was jailed for covering the violence in Cameroon. The violence was caused by English-speaking separatists fighting the largely French-speaking government. Takambou covered an American’s death but was jailed by the government of Cameroon for writing “fake news.” She had cited social media reports that claimed the Cameroonian military shot Charles Wesco.
- Margaret Mary-Wilson (Nigeria): is Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President at UnitedHealthcare Global. Mary-Wilson is a 2018 ‘Women Worth Watching’ award winner and she received the ‘Mark of Excellence’ award for her work in global health transformation at the 2018 Africa Diaspora Awards. She proudly supports African LGBTQ, a nonprofit organization established to empower and educate abused and endangered LGBTQ individuals of African descent across the globe.
- Stella Williams (Nigeria): is founder of NiWard, an organization focused on transforming Nigeria’s rural agricultural sector. NiWard provides a collaborative platform for women farmers, women scientists and women researchers to fight hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. Williams is a retired Professor of Agricultural Economics at Obafemi Awolowo University in Osun State.
- Fatima Kyari Mohammed (Nigeria): is Permanent Observer for the African Union. Prior to this role, she was a Senior Special Adviser to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, where her work focused on peace and security, regional integration and organizational development.
- Phuti Mahanyele (South Africa): is the Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital and the former CEO of Shanduka Group. Mahanyele mentors young professionals and is focused on re-enforcing the values of dignity in young people.
- Lola Shoneyin (Nigeria): is founder and convener of the Ake Arts and Book Festival – an annual literary, cultural and arts event, which takes place in Abeokuta. The festival provides new and established writers from across the world to promote, develop and celebrate their creativity on the African continent. Shoneyin is also a poet and author of “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives.”
- Habiba Ali (Nigeria): is a pioneer in the renewable energies field. She is the founder, managing director and CEO of Sosai Renewable Energies, an innovative company that brings reliable and affordable renewable energy products to those who need it most. Her sustainable energy solutions provide communities with unforeseen economic growth, increased capacity and the potential for greater business development.
- Farida Nabourema (Togo): is an activist, an award-winning writer and human rights defender who co-founded the “Faure Must Go” movement to give a voice to Togo’s political opposition.
- Panashe Chigumadzi (Zimbabwe): is winner of the Brittle Paper Award for Essay and Thinkpiece. Her work, “History Through the Body or Rights of Desire, Rights of Conquest,” was published in Johannesburg Review of Books, in it she integrates stories of race, gender, sex, land and power in South African literature. Chigumadzi is also author of “These Bones Will Rise Again.”
- Lauren Atkins (South Africa): is founder of New York’s first web series festival. Currently in its fifth year, the event brings together a diverse group of people from around the world to showcase the best of the web.
- Pamela Adie (Nigeria): is executive director of Equality Hub, an organization working to advance the rights and elevate the voices of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women in Nigeria through visual storytelling. She is also a 2018 Obama Foundation Leader.
- Emma Nyra (Nigeria): is an award-winning recording artist and founder of Nyra Nation. Nyra is focused on increasing the pipeline of female artists in Nigeria’s male dominated music industry. To date, she has collaborated with other female artists to include Cynthia Morgan and Victoria Kimani.
- Tomi Otudeko (Nigeria): is founder of Itanna, an intensive training program for tech-enabled Nigerian startups. Itanna focuses on developing and supporting Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. Otudeko is also Head of Innovation and Sustainability at the Honeywell Group.
- Odunayo Eweniyi (Nigeria): is co-founder of Piggybank.ng, a company that securely makes saving money possible by combining discipline plus flexibility to enable customers grow and reach their savings target. Eweniyi also founded PushCV.ng.
- Melissa Bime (Cameroon): is winner of the 2018 Anzisha Prize and the founder of INFIUSS, an online blood bank and digital supply chain platform that ensures patients in 23 hospitals in Cameroon have life-saving blood when and where they need it.
- Best Ayiorworth (Uganda): is a social entrepreneur and the founder of Girls Power Micro-Lending Organization (GIPOMO), an initiative aimed at giving business loans to women in order to empower them to support their daughters’ education.
- Lotanna Igwe Odunze (Nigeria) is an entrepreneur, talented artist and a rape survivor. Odunze was sued by her rapist in Superior Court of the District of Columbia for defamation of character. The case was dismissed with prejudice. Odunze represents a growing number of young women in Nigeria who advocate for civil rights, justice and equality.
- Horore Bell Bebga (Cameroon): is an entrepreneur and founder of Likalo2, a media company and a digital training center. She is also convener of African Women Entrepreneurs and Digital Training for Women & Girls. Bebga is 2018 winner of the Pan African CEO Magazine award, an award that recognizes leaders in the ICT sector.
- Juliet Kego Ume-Onyido (Nigeria): is an engineer, advocate, poet and founder of Whole Woman Network. Kego supports and advocates for the rights of women and girls in Nigeria.
- Nyari Mashayamombe (Zimbabwe): is an advocate and women rights activist. Mashayamombe is also the host of IDentities, a show discussing Zimbabwe’s political landscape. In addition to this, she is founder of Tag A Life International, an organization focused on fighting gender inequalities and promoting girls leadership.
- Honey Ogundeyi (Nigeria): is a tech entrepreneur and founder of Fashpa Online, a global marketplace to discover Fashion, Jewellery and Art from Africa and the diaspora.
- Mercy Makinde (Nigeria): is founder of the Amazing Amazon Women Empowerment Initiative, an organization fighting for the rights of marginalized groups and working to end domestic violence and sexual abuse in these communities.
- Oluwatoyin Alake (Nigeria): is an IFC-Milken Institute Fellow and equities product manager at the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In her role, she is responsible for products traded on the exchange with a focus to improve the depth of the Nigerian Capital Markets through the creation of investment vehicles as well as the facilitation of efficient pricing, transparency and liquidity.
- Weird MC (Nigeria): is a social entrepreneur and an artist known for her English and Yoruba Lyrics. Weird MC has continuously spoken of how she was discriminated against by her male counterparts in Nigeria’s hip-hop industry. She continues to be a voice for women in Nigeria’s music space.
- Latifat Balogun (Nigeria): is founder of Hatlab Ice Cream, a company specializing in the production and retail of traditional Italian ice cream in Nigeria. HatLab was awarded the International Gold Star for leadership and commitment to quality and the business is expanding beyond its current position in three states with an eye on the international market.
- Francesca Onomarie Uriri (Nigeria): is a social entrepreneur and the founder of Leading Ladies Africa, an organization that supports the career growth and development of African women. She currently serves as the Head of Communications in West Africa for Uber.