LIST OF FEMALE PRESIDENTS IN AFRICA
The inclusion, representation and participation of women in national politics have increased over the years unlike in centuries back when women were not allowed to vote or run for political offices. The first woman, who was not from the monarchy, to get involved in national politics was Sirimavo Bandaranaike who became prime minister of Sri Lanka in 1960. Since then, the numbers have increased from three women becoming national leaders in the 1960s to a total of seven in the 1980s.
The representation of women in politics in Africa is gradually increasing, as women’s representation in politics, increased by fivefold to 22% between 1980 and 2015. As Samia Suluhu, Tanzania’s Vice President is set to take over as the Head of State, here is an overview of women who have been presidents/leaders in Africa;
1.Slyvie Kiningi, Acting President of Burundi (February- October 1983)
- Slyvie Kiningi became the first female acting President in Burundi and the first female president in Africa. She became the acting President of Burundi on October 27, 1993 after the assassination of President Mechior Ndabaye. She also served as the prime minister of Burundi, the first and only woman to hold the position in the country.
After her time as president, she worked with the United Nations Development Programme and has been an advocate for peace and democracy across the continent of Africa.
2. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia ( 2006-2018)
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected the President of Liberia in 2006. She was Africa’s first elected female Head of State. She served as president from 2006 to 2018, after winning the 2005 and 2011 Presidential elections.
During her time as president, she worked to promote women’s right and full participation in democratic processes, peace, reconciliation, social and economic development.
She is internationally known as Africa’s iron lady. She and three other women were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for their efforts in promoting women’s right.
3. Rose Francine Rogombe, Acting President of Gabon (June-October 2009)
She served as the acting President of Gabon from June 2009 to October 2009 after the death of President of Omar Bongo. She was the first female Head of State of Gabon.
She also served as a Secretary of State for the Advancement of Women and Human Rights during the 1980s.
4. Joyce Hilda Banda, President of Malawi (2012-2014)
She served as the President of Malawi from 2012 to 2014. She took office as President, following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. She was the first female President, first female Vice President and second Head of State of Malawi.
Before becoming the President of Malawi, she served as the Member of the Parliament, Minister of Gender and Child Welfare and as a foreign Minister.
In 2014, Forbes named her as the 40th powerful woman in the world and the most powerful woman in Africa.
5. Agnes Monique Ohsan Bellepeau, Acting President of Mauritius (March – July 2012 and May – June 2015)
Agnes Monique Ohsan Bellepeau served as the Acting President of Mauritius from March 31, 2012 – July 21, 2012. She was also the Vice President of Mauritius from 2010-2016. She was acting President of Mauritius from 31 March 2012 to 21 July 2012 when Sir Anerood Jugnauth resigned. She was again acting President from 29 May 2015 to 5 June 2015 when Kailash Purryag resigned.
6. Catherine Samba, Acting President of Central African Republic (2014-2016)
She is a Lawyer who served as the Acting President from 2014 to 2016 after President Michel Djotodia’s resignation. Prior to becoming president, she was the Mayor of Bangui. She was the first female Head of State in Central African Republic and the 8th female Head of State in Africa.
7.Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius (2015 – 2018)
She is a Mauritian politician and biodiversity scientist, who served as the President of Mauritius from 2015-2018. She is the first woman elected as president of the country and is the third woman to have served as Head of State following Queen Elizabeth II and Monique Ohsan Bellepeau.
She opened her own science center known as CIDP Research & Innovation where she is the Managing Director.
 Female Presidents in Africa: New Norms in Leadership or Reflection of Current Practice, Dorcas Ettang
Written by Oluwafemi Miracle Eniola