Theodora Wood (b. 1947) is a judge and former
police officer from Ghana. She was the first woman to serve as Chief Justice in
the country, a position which she occupied for ten years.
She studied at the Ghana Law School, as
well as the Police College, and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2002. She
is also a member of the Council of State and a board member of the
international human rights organisation Global Justice Center.
Masika Katsuva (1966-2016) was an activist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
After suffering numerous sexual assaults, from her husband as well as from soldiers
and members of the militia, she started acting to help countless rape victims.
She founded a help centre in her country in 1999, providing shelter and
medical help for rape victims. The centre is still active and has helped over
16000 women to date. She had also personally adopted 18 children born to sexual
Ama Ata Aidoo
(b.1942) is a
poet and playwright from Ghana. She has previously served as the Minister of
Education in her country.
Her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, was published in 1964, and made her the
first published African female dramatist. Her novels frequently feature strong
female characters who break common societal stereotypes. In 2000 she founded
the Mbaasem Foundation, which supports African women writers.
Nabawiyya Musa (1886-1951)
is one of the leading Egyptian feminists of the 20th century. She
was a dedicated advocate for female education and sexual empowerment in her
country, going against traditional norms.
In 1907, she was the first girl in Egypt to
finish high school. She went on to become a teacher and promoted equal
opportunities in education, eventually becoming a lecturer at the newly-founded
Egyptian University. Her advocacy also focused on ending sexual violence
against women and empowering them to be a part of the workforce and Egyptian
Musimbi Kanyoro (b. 1953)
is a human rights advocate from Kenya. She is the President and CEO of the
Global Fund for Women, positions she has held since 2011.
She studied in
her native Kenya and in the United States. In 1998 she became the first woman
to serve as World Secretary General for the YWCA, an organisation which seeks
to empower women and girls worldwide. She is involved in many other human
rights organisations, such as the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice
and the World Health Organization.
Lotfia Elnadi (b.
1907-2002) was the first woman not only in her native country of Egypt, but in
the whole Arab world and the continent of Africa, to earn a pilot’s license.
She achieved this in 1933.
flight lessons while keeping it a secret from her father, who expected her to
follow a traditional path in life of becoming a housewife. Instead, she made
international headlines for her achievement, and inspired generations of other
women to take up aviation.
Marguerite Barankitse (b. 1957) is a prominent
human rights activist from Burundi. She received numerous international awards
for her work focused on improving the lives of children and combatting ethnic
she created Maison Shalom, or the House of Peace, which over the years grew to
house more than 20 thousand orphaned children of all ethnic origins. Later, she
founded the Community Center Oasis of Peace, where she offers, among others,
psychological support to rape victims or vocational training.
Kalima (1972-2018) was a politician from the African nation of Zambia. She
served on the National Assembly for Kasenengwa, as well as in the role of
Minister of Gender.
Throughout her political career, she was concerned with issues of human rights
and gender equality in particular. She also worked to outlaw child marriages in
Ahmed Ibrahim (1933-2017) was an author and women’s rights activist from Sudan. She won
the UN Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Human Rights in 1993.
Her activism began very early, in her school
days, when she created a newspaper called Pioneer
Girls. She conducted the first women’s strike in Sudan when her school
decided to replace science classes with so-called ‘family science’ lessons.
Throughout her career, she worked to obtain the right to vote for Sudanese
women, as well as gender equality in the workforce.