By Janice Johnson Pemida
It is often said that there is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise. These days, it is no longer uncommon to find females soaring high and occupying powerful and influential positions in the society. We are now having a new generation of women who are boldly becoming icons and game changers. Women are stepping into power in various field like politics, technology, Business, Engineering, Armed Forces, etc.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, Jayinspire Media has compiled a list powerful and influential African women who have made names for themselves just to inspire our readers to work harder towards actualization of their dreams regardless of their gender.
- Isabel dos Santos
Isabel dos Santos is an Angolan businesswoman, Africa’s richest woman and the eldest child of Angola’s former President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in fall 2017.
According to Forbes, in 2013 her net worth had reached more than three billion US dollars, making her Africa’s first billionaire woman. Her father made her head of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil firm, in June 2016, but Angola’s new president removed her from that role in November 2017.
Forbes research found that while president, Isabel’s father transferred to her stakes in several Angolan companies, including banks and a telecom firm, she purchased shares of Portuguese companies, including telecom and cable TV firm Nos SGPS. A spokesperson for Isabel told Forbes that she “is an independent business woman and a private investor representing solely her own interests.” She is aged 44.
- Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian Economist and the first female minister of Finance in the country. She served two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria (2003-2006, 2011-2015) and was previously Managing Director of the World Bank. According to Forbes, the Havard and M.I.T trained Ngozi Okonjo Iweal spent 21 years as a development economist at the World Bank.
She currently chairs the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the African Risk Capacity (ARC).In July 2017, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was named an independent non-executive director at Standard Chartered Plc in the United Kingdom. She is also a Senior Adviser at Lazard. She is aged 63.
- Folorunsho Alakija
Folorunso Alakija is a Nigerian businesswoman, one of the richest African women and also one of the richest black women in the world. In 2014 she temporarily unseated Oprah Winfrey as the richest woman of African descent in the world. She is a business tycoon involved in the fashion, oil and printing industries.
Folorunsho Alakija is executive vice chairman of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in Agbami oil field, a prolific offshore asset. Alakija is ranked by Forbes as the richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion as of 2015, she is listed as the second most powerful woman in Africa after Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the 87th most powerful woman in the world. She is aged 66.
- Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson is a Liberian politician and an eonomist who served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. She was the first woman to be elected head of state of an African country. Johnson Sirleaf was one of three recipients of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Peace, along with Ley Gbowee and Tawakku Karman for their efforts to further women’s rights.
In February 2018, she was awarded the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in recognition of her leadership of Liberia during the challenging period of transition after the country’s devastating years of conflict and for the positive changes that took place in Liberia under her administration. The award provided $5 million, disbursed over 10 years, followed by an annual $200,000 stipend for the rest of Johnson Sirleaf’s life. She is aged 79.
Rebecca Enonchong is a Cameroonian born technology entrepreneur and also the founder/Chief Executive Officer of AppsTech, a leading global provider of enterprise application solutions. She is also cofounder and CEO of I/O Spaces, an inclusive co-working space in the Washington DC metro area. She is best known for her work promoting technology in Africa.
Enonchong has been a recipient of various awards from organizations such as the World Economic Forum. She is Board Chair of Afrilabs, a panafrican network of over 50 innovation centers. She is also Board Chair of ActivSpaces (African Center for Technology Innovation and Ventures), an incubator in Cameroon, and She also sits on the board of Venture Capital for Africa (VC4Africa), of Salesforce.org and the African Media Initiative.
She is cofounder and President of Cameroon Angels Network and cofounder and Vice-President of African Business Angels Network. Ms. Enonchong currently serves as a mentor/advisor to several technology startups.
A recipient of numerous awards, Ms. Enonchong was named a Global Leader for Tomorrow (GLT) by the World Economic Forum of Davos, Switzerland. Forbes magazine listed Ms. Enonchong as a top female tech founder in Africa. NewAfrican magazine named her one of the most influential Africans in 2014 and 2016. Jeune Afrique magazine listed her as one of Africa’s 50 most influential women of 2017. She is aged 51.
There are many other very powerful and influential women we can learn from today. Some of which include Zambian born International economist Dambisa Moyo, American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, Award winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie, Second Ghanaian Female Justice Sophia Akufo, popularly known as Madam Akufo and Former director general of NAFDAC Dora Akunyili who unfortunately died in 2014 but not without leaving an indelible mark in Nigeria and Internationally. Read more about them and get inspired to soar higher.