International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women who have made immense contributions to the world. Although countless women worldwide have left their mark, we will highlight five African women that have changed history, some of whom feature in the African Lovin' deck.
Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The environmental activist was born in 1940 in Nyeri, Kenya. In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, encouraging women to plant trees to combat soil erosion and deforestation in Kenya. The movement quickly gained ground, and Maathai became an important voice in the fight against environmental degradation and climate change. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for promoting sustainable development, democracy, and peace in Kenya.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Liberian politician and economist who was born in 1938 in Monrovia. She became the first African female president when she was elected President of Liberia in 2005, a position she held until 2011. Sirleaf prioritized development and rebuilding following the country's civil war during her tenure. In 2011, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting peace and reconciliation in Liberia and for championing women's rights.
Nawal El Saadawi
Born in Egypt in 1931, Nawal El Saadawi has significantly impacted history. As a feminist, author, and physician, she dedicated her life to advocating for women's rights and speaking out against oppression. One of her famous books, "Women and Sex," challenged societal norms and sparked conversations about women's sexuality in Egypt. Saadawi was also the founder of the Arab Women's Solidarity Association, through which she fought against female genital mutilation and other harmful practices. Although her activism led to numerous arrests, she remains influential in the fight for gender equality in North Africa.
Professor Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti
Professor Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a pioneer advocate for women's education and empowerment. Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1900, she played a crucial role in Nigeria's struggle for independence from colonial rule. She founded the Abeokuta Women Union, which fought for women's rights and contributed to developing the Nigerian civil society. Ransome-Kuti was also the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria and the first woman to hold a government position when she became a Western House of Assembly member.
Born in 1932 in Johannesburg, Miriam Makeba, also known as "Mama Africa," was a singer and activist who used her musical prowess to fight against apartheid in South Africa. Her career began in the 1950s, during which she became known for her distinctive voice and her fusion of traditional African music with jazz and pop. However, in 1960, she spoke against apartheid at the United Nations, a move that didn't sit well with the South African government. Her citizenship was eventually revoked, but despite remaining stateless, she continued using her music to raise awareness about apartheid and other issues affecting Africa. As a result, she became an international icon, and her legacy as a trailblazer for African women in the arts is still being felt today.
Which women in your country or ancestry made the world a better place, feel free to celebrate them below