Superwomen is what comes to mind when you describe these African women. They are bold, daring, influential and willing to disprove all myths that most traditional societies hold against women. They are inspiring the newer generations and showing them that nothing is impossible. Here is the list of the top 10 most influential women in 2019.
10. Lupita Nyong’o
- Country: Kenya
She is an Oscar-winning actress who came to fame due to her role in the “12 Years A Slave”; being the first Kenyan actress to do so. Thanks to that movie, she has been featured in several blockbuster films such as Star Wars, The Jungle Book, Black Panther and Us.
Lupita has been an inspiration for African women interested in venturing into the entertainment industry. She has also received widespread acclaim for embracing her natural beauty; something most African women struggle to embrace.
9. Salwa Akhannouch
- Country: Morocco
Salwa’s influence emanates from her entrepreneurial prowess. She is the head of Akwa Group which specializes in fashion brands. She also owns exclusive franchise rights in Morocco for brands like Zara and Gap.
Through her enterprises, she has a 50% holding stakes in Morocco Mall, a prestigious mall that covers 200,000 square metres. The mall attracts over 50 million visitors every year.
Tip: You can read about the biggest malls in Africa here.
8. Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
- Country: Ethiopia
She is the founder of soulRebels; a social enterprise that not only generates profits but maintains a clean environment through recycling of materials to make shoes. soulRebels has also help relieve the acute unemployment crisis in Ethiopia and alleviating poverty.
Her ingenious entrepreneurship has led her to establish international stores in many parts of the world, including Switzerland, Taiwan, and Singapore.
7. Caster Semenya
- Country: South Africa
Caster Semenya is a world-renowned athlete, winning several international medals in athletics; including the most prestigious 800m Olympic Gold medal.
She has survived all odds when it comes to controversies surrounding her rather successful and exemplary performance in athletics. Some even went to question her sexuality because of the strong competition she brings in the athletic races.
6. Divine Ndhlukula
- Country: Zimbabwe
She is one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated women entrepreneurs; entering the male-dominated field by offering customized security services through her company Securico Security Services.
Divinw has won over 18 Awards both local and international with regard to leadership, entrepreneurship, mentoring, and philanthropy.
5. Ama Ata Aidoo
- Country: Ghana
Ama is an accomplished author, poet, playwright and academician. Her work has inspired African women and men in the world of literature, drama and poetry. She has served in many universities straddling Africa, America and Europe.
She has over a dozen pieces of literary works in her name; The Dilemma of A Ghost being her first piece and Diplomatic Pounds & Other Stories being her latest.
4. Folorunsho Alakija
- Country: Nigeria
She is Nigeria’s richest woman. If you want to be rich and successful, Folorunsho is the woman to look up to. Her first company was a fashion label whose customers included the wife of former president Ibrahim Babngida.
Alakija’s current source of wealth comes from oil exploration and trading. She is vice chair of Famfa Oil with a stake in Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset.
3. Sahle-Work Zewde
- Country: Ethiopia
Sahle made history as Ethiopia’s first female president. This is a big deal as she has broken the ceiling to inspire not only Ethiopian women, but African women at large.
She was unanimously elected by Ethiopia’s Federal Parliamentary Assembly to take up this coveted position. She had previously worked in diplomatic circles as UN Special Representative to the African Union (AU).
2. Fatou Bom Bensouda
- Country: Gambia
Most Kenyans remember her as the ICC prosecutor who was handling the 2007 post election violence case. What most people don’t know is that she is the first and only woman to be appointed as Prosecutor General of the International Criminal Court.
Bensouda also served as Gambia’s first female Attorney General and Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. Prior to her appointment at ICC, she worked as Legal Adviser and Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
1. Dr. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Country: Nigeria
Dr. Adichie is a writer, novelist and acclaimed feminist renowned for her speech “We Should All Be Feminists”, delivered on TED program. She was inspired by Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and considers him her literary mentor.
Some of her great literary works include Purple Hibiscus, Half of A Yellow Sun, The Thing Around Your Kneck, among others. For those interested in that motivating speech, you can watch it here.