TUESDAY marks International Women’s Day, a day set aside to recognise women for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.
This year’s commemoration is being held under the theme: ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,’ and call for climate action for women.
Over the years, various women from across the world have defied gigantic odds to make worthwhile achievements in many fields, leaving an indelible mark in the books of history.
In Africa particularly, various women have made a name for themselves in different fields, becoming an inspiration for the continent’s hundreds of millions of women.
Here’s a look at some outstanding African women who have excelled in various fields;
Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania
Samia Suluhu Hassan is the current President of Tanzania, a position she has held since March 2021.
She is the first woman and the sixth person overall to serve as president of Tanzania.
She previously served as vice-president from 2015.
Prior to that, she served as the member of Parliament for Makunduchi constituency in Zanzibar from 2010 to 2015, and was also the Minister of State in the vice president’s office for Union Affairs during the same period.
Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
Amina J. Mohammed has served in the role of Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations for more than five years, having been appointed in January 2017.
Prior to first assuming her role, Mohammed served as Minister of Environment in the Nigerian government and Special Adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning. Before joining the UN, she worked for three successive administrations in Nigeria, serving as Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals, providing advice on issues including poverty, public sector reform and sustainable development, and coordinating poverty reduction interventions.
The 60-year-old was confirmed for a second term in her role in January 2022.
According to the UN, in her first term, her leadership helped advance the conceptual shift from the UN that member states called for in adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Under her leadership, the UN Sustainable Development Group was strengthened to enhance global leadership and oversight for the development and the global agency established a strengthened UN Resident Coordinator system as the foundation of a more effective development system.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is currently serving as the seventh Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), she took office on 1 March 2021.
The 67-year-old is the first woman and the first African to serve as Director-General of the body.
A woman of many firsts, she twice served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and briefly acted as Foreign Minister in 2006, the first woman to hold both positions.
Okonjo-Iweala is a global finance expert, an economist and international development professional with over 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America.
Martha Koome, Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya
Martha Koome was sworn in as the 15th Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya in May 2021, becoming the first-ever woman to hold the position.
Prior to her latest appointment, Koome served as the head of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal.
She is acclaimed for her work in human rights advocacy, with a special focus on women’s and children’s rights.
She was announced as a runner-up in the 2020 UN in Kenya Person of the Year Award.
Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General, La Francophonie
Louise Mushikiwabo has served as the Secretary-General of La Francophonie since January 2019.
She has previously served in the Rwandan cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and the East African Community, as well as Minister of Information.
When Rwanda sat on the United Nations Security Council in 2013 and 2014, she particularly distinguished herself by the eloquent presentation of Rwanda’s position on various issues.
Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia
Sahle-Work Zewde is the current President of Ethiopia, having been elected in October 2018.
She is the first woman to ever serve in that position.
She previously served in various ambassadorial positions, including in Senegal, France, Tunisia, Morocco, among others.
The 72-year-old also served within the ranks of the United Nations as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), becoming the first African woman to become an SRSG.
Other than that, she was the first dedicated Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) at the level of Under-Secretary-General.
Salima Rhadia Mukansanga, Football Referee
Salima Rhadia Mukansanga became the first woman to referee a match at the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) when she took charge of the group stage match between Zimbabwe and Guinea at the 2021 tournament.
The 35-year-old had already etched her name in Africa’s history books when she served as the fourth official during the Malawi versus Guinea fixture.
Her feat was seen as a major breakthrough for the continent’s sports-loving women who seek ways of being more involved in the sector.