LONDON-based publication New African Woman has put out its first list of Africa’s top female game-changers.
Themed “changing the game”, gender equity, women empowerment and entrepreneurship were some of the key issues its picks spotlighted at the award ceremony in the the English capital.
All the women honoured were said to have been recognised for the instrumental role they played in shaping their societies, with the awards also paying tribute to individuals who have made significant contributions in various fields within and outside the continent.
Here are its top 11:
African Woman in Politics and Public Office: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission
As the first woman ever to lead the continental organisation Dlamini-Zuma has put women issues at the forefront of all high level policy discussions and central to all initiatives that have been led by the AU Commission. The AU declared in 2015 “The year of Women’s Empowerment” a passion for this activist and politician, who introduced universal access to free basic healthcare during her tenure in the cabinet of Nelson Mandela. As South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, her focus centred on the promotion of human rights stability and peace collective development in Burundi and the DR Congo.
African Woman of the Year: Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi
Moleketi is the special envoy on gender at the African Development Bank who has contributed extensively to gender equality and woman empowerment in banks and several other institutions. Her work has notably addressed the key question of how to strengthen economic inclusivity in Africa as a strategy to boost growth and ensure its sustainability. Previously she served as the former director of the United Nations Development Programme UNDP and as a board member of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, appointed by the Secretary General of the UN.
African Woman on the Rise: Zuriel Oduwole
Education activist Zuriel Oduwole is best known for her work on advocacy for the education of girls in Africa. Her initiative has led her to be the youngest person to be profiled by Forbes Magazine. In 2014, at age 12, Oduwole was the world’s youngest filmmaker, self-producing work screened commercially, after her film showed in two movie chains.
African Woman Award in Civil Society: Obiageli Ezekwesili
Oby has been a key champion in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign over the abduction of the Chibok girls. Despite the girls still being missing she remains resolutely steadfast in the belief they will one day come home, and making sure they are not forgotten. She is a former World Bank Vice President and co-founder of Transparency International, plays other roles in social activism and has been a vocal denouncer of social ills and human injustice. She is also the economic advisor for the Open Society, where she advises nine reform-committed African heads of state including Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.
Woman in Education: Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg
Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg is the director of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development programme, designed to equip top female agricultural scientist across sub-Saharan Africa in accelerating agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills. Wanjiru is also the Founder and past Executive Director of Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator with a mission to contribute to nurturing transformative leadership in girls and young women.
African Woman in Business: Olajumoke Adenowo
Olajumoke is referred to as the face of architecture in the Nigeria and is called “Starchitech” by CNN. She started off her career as a chartered architect where she worked with leading Nigerian firms and at Femi Majekodunmi Associates where she had the privilege of designing the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja. She later started her own multiple award winning Architecture and Interior Architecture firm, AD Consulting. She directly pushes for gender equality via her own radio talk “Voice of Change”. Ms Adenowo was also nominated at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards in the West Africa Business Women of the Year category.
African Woman in Science, Technology & Innovation: Winnifred Selby
At just 20 years old Selby is the co-founder of the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative - producing 60 to 100 bicycles a month. Designed in-house, Afrocentric Bamboo bikes are sturdy, affordable – $100 for the local market – and made for the high terrain and rough roads of rural Ghana. The frames are built in one piece, making them stronger and more economically viable than other models, since users save on needing to replace fiddly spare parts. She primarily employs women who train each other. Her work has also seen her awarded the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award.
African Woman in Finance and Banking: Arunma Oteh
Arunma Oteh is the former director general of the Securities Exchanges Commission of Nigeria and was recently named Vice President and Treasurer at the World Bank. As Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria she led the transformation of the country’s capital markets industry into a major global presence. At the World Bank, she leads a large and diverse team responsible for managing more than $150 billion in assets.
New African Woman Award for Media: Mo Abudu
Mo Abudu is the first African woman to launch a Pan-Africa TV channel. She launched her media career with the creation of her own talk show “Moments with Mo”- the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television. Soon after she developed Ebony Life Television - “Africa’s first Global Black Multi-Broadcast Entertainment Network”. She has been honoured as “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Women Week in New York and listed as “One of the 25 Most Powerful in Global TV” by the Hollywood Reporter.
African Woman in Sport: Almaz Ayana
Ethiopian long-distance runner Almaz won the 5000m course with a world-leading personal best of 14:14:32 during the 2015 Championship in Beijing, among others. She also won the African Championships in Marrakech, the 2014 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, which made her the third fastest female athlete over that distance. In 2014 Almaz won her first senior title over 5000 metres at the 2014 African Championships in Marrakech, defeating favourite Genzebe Dibaba in a championship record time of 15:32.72.
African Woman in Arts and Culture: Amma Asante
BAFTA award-winning director, Amma Asante, is the Ghanaian woman behind the British production, “Belle” which sparked off a debate about Britain’s slave history. Her next film will again dissect the complexity of race relations, where she depicts the controversial marriage between Botswana’s first president Seretse Khama and British clerk, Ruth Williams. In 2004 Asante wrote and directed “A Way of Life”, which won numerous awards.
The awards are held under the high patronage of the African Development Bank.