Over the years, Africa has produced exceptional women and men who are working assiduously to make the world more equitable. Exerting their influence through policymaking, research, advocacy, among others, these outstanding personalities are making the world a better place for all and sundry.
On the back of this, Apolitical, a global platform for public servants and policymakers to stay informed about policy and the public service, has released its list of the world’s 100 most influential individuals in the area of gender equality.
The list features politicians, civil servants, academics, activists, among others who are shaping gender policy in 2019.
“It’s time to showcase the inspirational people who are pioneering change and shaping gender policy around the globe,” Lisa Witter, head of Apolitical, said in a statement.
“We hope that this list will highlight the people who are committed to making the world a better place for everyone.”
The list “both recognises high-profile icons and shines a light on the unsung heroes whose work is indispensable to creating a fairer world for everyone”, Apolitical said.
Released on Wednesday, the list was curated from nominations from thousands of gender experts from leading organizations, including the UN, the World Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Apolitical received more than 9,000 nominations this year.
Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates and the IMF’s Christine Lagarde were named among the top 20 influencers of gender policy this year.
Here are the Africans who made it to the top 20:
The Senegalese women’s rights activist is the special envoy on women, peace, and security to the African Union. She is the founder of the NGO Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), which works to ensure women have a seat at the table for conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa, a profile of her by Apolitical said. Diop’s efforts in this field are internationally recognised, and she has received numerous awards, including the United Nations General Assembly Prize in Human Rights in 2003. In 2011, she was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
63-year-old Mukwege, a renowned Congolese gynecologist and surgeon, has helped thousands of women and girls who have been victims of rape and sexual abuse at the hands of rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the beginning of the civil war in the early 90s. The human rights activist, Nobel Peace laureate and pastor founded the Panzi Hospital in the South Kivu province in 1999 to provide free and comprehensive care for female victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence during the conflict. Known as “Doctor Miracle” for his ability to repair horrific damage on women who have been raped, he is considered the world’s leading specialist in treating wartime sexual violence, his profile by Apolitical read. He has campaigned globally against the use of rape as a weapon of war and is a member of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council.
Uganda’s Byanyima is a champion of women’s rights, democratic governance, climate change, and peacebuilding and is currently the executive director of Oxfam International. Elected in Uganda’s Parliament for three terms, she led Uganda’s first parliamentary women’s caucus, helping enact gender equality provisions in the country’s post-conflict constitution. In 1985, during Uganda’s peace agreement, she helped broker peace while supporting women’s involvement in the process. She is the founder of the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), as well as, the co-founder of the Global Gender and Climate Alliance, her profile said.
The South African politician is the executive director of UN Women, where her focus has been on highlighting the rights and activism of rural women. She also founded the HeforShe campaign, which aims to mobilize a million men and boys to support gender parity. Mlambo-Ngcuka served as deputy president of South Africa from 2005 to 2008, the first woman to hold the position, and was actively involved in the struggle to end apartheid.