Over the years, great women have claimed rightful places in leadership in their own ways. These women have continued to spur development in different fields. They have set the bar higher for women across the continent and the globe at large.
Here are seven quotes by prominent African women whose work underlines Africa’s progress, its success, challenges, and the continent’s zeal to continue moving forward.
“If you followed the media you’d think that everybody in Africa was starving to death, and that’s not the case; so it’s important to engage with the other Africa.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author whose books give a different perspective of what Africa is and what it can be. She has written books like ‘Purple Hibiscus’, ‘Half of A Yellow Sun’, ‘Americanah’ and ‘The thing around your neck’, a collection of short stories.
“It is no country’s destiny to be poor.”
Luisa Diogo, the first female Prime Minister of Mozambique, was at the forefront to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and advocated for increased healthcare access in her country. Moreover, she also is a strong supporter and promoter of gender equality and sits on the Council of Women World Leaders to promote political participation of women.
“If someone hasn’t felt how it feels to eat last, to work more and to earn less, how do you expect them to support you?”
Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe is a Ugandan feminist and activist within the human rights, women’s, civil society movements and the development sector. She has worked in various capacities including consultant in areas concerning women’s rights, gender and sexual diversity, progressive social movements, transformational leadership, democracy, governance, and entrepreneurship.
“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference.”
Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan activist. She was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As an elected member of Parliament and former assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Maathai pursued her political passions such as environmental and gender justice. She created the Green Belt Movement which still continues to propagate her environment ideologies.
“The one thing I have never been afraid of is standing before important people and speaking my mind. I represent women who may never have the opportunity to go to the UN or meet with a president. I’m never afraid to speak truth to power.”
Liberia’s Leymah Gbowee received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her contribution in putting to an end the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003 through a women’s peace movement.
Gbowee shared the prize with fellow Liberian, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Yemen-native Tawakkol Karman. Gbowee and Sirleaf became the second and third African women to win the prize, preceded by the late Wangari Maathai of Kenya. Through the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, Leymah advocates and provides educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women, and youth in West Africa.
“Solidarity between women can be a powerful force of change, and can influence future development in ways favourable not only to women but also to men.”
Nawal El-Saadawi is an internationally renowned Egyptian writer, novelist, medical doctor and fighter for women’s rights. Her writing has influenced five generations of women and men in Egypt, in other Arab speaking countries as well as in many other societies. Her writing inspired dissidence, rebellion and revolution.
“We Africans have to be able to deal with our problems. Help from outside is alright, but we have to learn to be responsible for our own attitudes.”
Hailing from Benin, Angelique Kidjo is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and activist. She is well known for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos. In 2002, Angelique Kidjo was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF. In this position, she has used her voice and her influence to reach people worldwide to discuss some of the major issues affecting the people of Africa, the spread of HIV, poverty and hunger, and conflict and war. Her organization, the Batonga Foundation, helps to fund and support education for young girls in Africa.