15 Most Powerful African Women

Madame Figaro recently published  a list of the most powerful women in Africa. Le  Figaro is a French daily newspaper and the second-largest national newspaper of France. Madame Figaro is a supplement to the Saturday edition of the daily newspaper Le Figaro, covering fashion and feminist topics.

I am sure you must be dying to know who made it to the list. But before, we actually talk about the list. I will briefly highlighted the most interesting part of this article

Ms Dalila Kerchouche, a feminist and the author of this list started off by stating:

They are the key to change and any challenge despite the conflicts, inequalities, the difficulties … From politics to sports, from fashion to physics, these Africans women embody an uninhibited and dynamic continent. Examples to follow.

Expressions like « Beautiful Africa » and “to hell with fatality” are common in this article. Africa is painted as an economical prodigy and the women of the continent are depicted as being charismatic, energetic, modern.

Ms Kerchouche predicted that African women will give  the tempo for the tomorrow’s femininity. She argued that be it work or family, African women take these challenges head-on.

Extreme poverty is declining this decade and  fertility rates are falling throughout the continent.

Who hold the key to change? Women.

Their economic weight has increased their social and political power. Clearly Africa is rising and, for once, African women are at the forefront in all areas.

I love this little paragraph because it represent the readers and the writers of this blog:

African women are the spearhead of a new urban middle class, educated and proud of their Africanity. This youth very much connected, nomadic and polyglot, who lives in the great capitals, no longer dreams of emigrating to Europe but wants to take advantage of opportunities at home and, more importantly, develop the country…

You can say that again. I hope you recognized yourself because I did.

Now, on to the list:

1. Leymah Gbowee – Liberian peace activist and winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize 

2. Dambisa Moyo – Zambian economist and author of Dead Aid

3. Marguerite Barankitsé – Burundian humanitarian also known as ‘Mama Shalom’

4. Charlize Theron-  South African actress and humanitarian

5. Adama Paris – Senegalese fashionista and creator of Dakar Fashion Week

6. Bethlehem Alemu– Ethiopian entrepreneur and owner of Sole Rebel

7. Rokia Traoré – Malian Mandigue Diva

8. Ory Okolloh – Kenyan Policy Manager of Google and activist

9. Francisca Nneka Okeke – Nigerian Physics genius

 10. Magatte Wade – Senegalese business mogul

11. Lindiwe Mazibuko – South African Leader of the Opposition party, Democratic Alliance

12. Tirunesh Dibaba – Ethiopian long-distance runner

13. Marguerite Abouet, Ivorian comic artist known as Tintin d’Abidjan

14. Marie-Cécile Zinsou –Beninese founder of the Zinsou Foundation

15. Liya Kebede – Ethiopian supermodel and maternal health advocate

For a continent of 54 countries, the greatness of African women cannot be truly captured but we appreciate that we can pick these women to represent our beauty, our brains and our love for Africa.

What do you think of this list? Do you agree? How many of these women would make your top 15?

Share your answers in the comment box below.


  1. I think Olivia Mukam needs to be on this list I do know she has been on http://www.thenextwomen.com/2013/01/28/olivia-mukam-founding-cameroon-s-first-social-entrepreneurship-program or this website http://yaounde.usembassy.gov/lns_03062012.html. Please read about her and tell me what you think.She is doing great things for my country Cameroon.She is an inspiration not only in Cameroon. I do love the list but Marie-Cecile is she born in Benin? Was she just raised there or married to Beninois. Please forgive my ignorance but you said Most powerful African women.I am just curious.You asked questions at the end so i am asking

  2. hey Julia, the problem with these kind of lists is that we don’t really know the criteria that are used to put it together. So it’s really hard to object or argue!
    Marie-Cecile is metis, so one of her parents are “beninois” (can’t remembber how to say this in english). which one I don’t know?
    But seriously, if you check the Forbes lists for example, you will see that they tend to focus on english speaking African countries. So I was actually happy to see a good mix in this list. (no portugese speaking though).
    My questions was more like, if you had to do a list like that, who would be in it?

  3. I am okay with this list however I wish at least one female African musician was included, music moves African women and we have so many African women doing African music.They are bringing back sanity to our music industry, in this age where the west has taken over.We should celebrate them.Thanks

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