Friday, February 5, 2016

5 African Women Who Made Change Happen

We all know the great achievements in man from human history: Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to step on the moon, Nelson Mandela becoming the first black President of his country and ending apartheid, Charles Darwin printing his theory of evolution and many more. But where are the stories of the women who have contributed towards making the world a better place? From Marie Curie to Amelia Earhart, women have often been pioneers just as much as men and often in circumstances that go against them. 

In reflection of that, here are just five powerful women from Africa who have made great change in their communities and in the world. If you can think of anymore pioneering African women, please comment below!

1. Wangari Muaathai

Kenyan born Wangari Muaathai was the first woman in East or Central Africa to receive a doctorate degree, and became a scientist, professor, environmental and political activist. She founded the Green Belt Movement which is a community initiative that empowers women through education and environmental stewardship. In 2004 she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on sustainable development and democracy. 

"It's the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees."

2. Obiageli Ezekwesili

Obiageli Ezekwesili is the Nigerian co-founder of Transparency International, a global anti-corruption body inspired by her years in the accountancy industry. She is notorious for speaking up against government decisions, especially when the Chibok schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in April 2014. Enraged by the slow reaction of the Nigerian government, she co-founded the Bring Back Our Girls campaign with 3 other women to bring the issue to the world. Since the incident, Obiageli has held several rallies to raise awareness of the cause.

"Do our children now have to choose between getting an education and dying? Some of us cannot move on and accept that kind of society."

3. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became the first ever female elected head of state in January 2006 when she became the President of Liberia. During her presidency she has signed a Freedom of Information Bill which was the first of its kind in West Africa, and established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed during Liberia's civil war. She is well known to be a champion of women empowerment and is always reaffirming her belief that the world needs to unite against dictators, corruption and poverty. In 2011, President Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her role in promoting peace, democracy and gender equality.

"The people of Liberia know what it means to be deprived of clean water, but we also know what it means to see our children to begin to smile again with a restoration of hope and faith in the future."

4. Leymah Gbowee

Leymah Gbowee was a Liberian feminist activist who is best known for leading a peaceful movement in her country to bring Muslim and Christian women together in 2003 to end the 14 year civil war. This achievement ultimately lead the way for Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to become Africa's first female head of state. She showed the world that women can be agents of peace and help build better communities.

"I'm now on a journey to fulfill the wish, in my tiny capacity, of little African girls."

5. Madam Efunroye Tinubu

Madam Efunroye was born in the 19th Century in Yorubaland (an area now known as Nigeria). She was well known for being a staunch campaigner against the British Government who then held sovereignty over the country and against slavery. Madam Efunroye became the first ever iyalode (queen of ladies) of the Egba clan, a title which is bestowed on the most prominent and respected figure in a town, due to her extensive business empire. She was well known for trading in salt and tobacco obtained from Europeans at Lagos Port and soon no trader in Lagos or the surrounding regions could rival her. A market square that was named after her in Lagos, Ita Tinubu (Tinubu Square) remains a bustling trading square to this day

"We are very proud to be descendants of Madam Tinubu, she was a great woman who deserves national honours for what she did for this country."

These women went against all odds to carve out real change for themselves, their communities and their countries - and you can take inspiration from them too. Of course not everyone will be able to achieve these dizzying heights, but we can all do our bit to play our part in improving our communities. Small actions often make the biggest difference!

By donating to Ripples Foundation today you can help us continue to provide support to rural African women and their children, who with the right tools at their disposal have as much chance as anyone to make change happen in their communities. 
To donate online, please visit . All donations are welcomed no matter how small, and every penny will be used to micro-finance women's enterprises, provide medical services to rural villagers or educate youths through skills training. Together we can create a brighter future for Africa.

You can make change happen.
Alysha Bennett Web Developer

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