International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8th.  Throughout the world, women are celebrated for their achievements.  ElleAfrique asked its readers to nominate African women in the diaspora or in Africa who are working tirelessly to improve the political, economical and social landscape for women.  Here were the nominees:

Winnie Byanyima – Ugandan born, Winnie Byanyima, has been championing women’s rights for a long time.  She describes herself as a ‘a grass-roots activist, human rights advocate and senior international public servant.’  Following her career as a flight engineer for Uganda Airlines, Ms. Byanyima entered politics in the Ugandan Parliament and served for eleven years.  Amongst her many roles, such as founder of the Forum for Women in Democracy, co-founder of the Global Gender and Climate Alliance and member of the Executive Board of the International Centre for Research on Women, she is now the Executive Director at Oxfam International, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to ‘help create lasting solutions to the injustice of poverty.’


Nimko Ali – A Somali social activist and co founder of Daughters Of Eve, a United Kingdom based not for profit organization that works to protect girls and young women who are at risk from female genial mutilation (FGM).  As a survivor of FGM herself, she has made it her mission to protecting young girls against the practice.  It is estimated that there are between 100 million and 140 million girls and women who have been subjected in FGM.  Through ‘protection, prevention, provision and participation’, Daughters Of Eve aims to eradicate FGM.


Rainatou Sow – Rai is a Guinean woman who founded Make Every Woman Count.  Existing primarily online, Make Every Woman Count is a ‘virtual information hub that was founded in 2010 and that promotes ‘African women’s participation in all aspects of development discourse’.  As an organization, Make Every woman Count wants to ensure that African women and girls voice is acknowledged and heard across the board so that they can fully participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent.
Rai hold a Master’s degree in international Relations and in Law and has worked with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), World Health Organisation, Unicef, and Women International League for Peace and Freedom.


Betty Makoni – A Zimbabwean gender activities who founded the Girl Child Network in 1999.  The Girl Child Network cares for Zimbabwe’s young sex abuse victims.  The organizations has rescued more than 35,000 girls and provided mentoring to at least 60,000 girls around Zimbabwe.  Due to its success, the program has be replicated in countries such as Kenya, Uganda and United Kingdom.  Ms. Makoni is also the recipient of the 2009 CNN Hero award and author of the book ‘Never Again’.  Her favorite color is purple.



Saran Kaba Jones – Saran is from Liberia and a clean water advocate, social entrepreneur and founder of FACE Africa.  FACE Africa was established and incorporated as a non profit organization in January 2009.  Since its inception, FACE Africa has raised funds and won grants for clean water projects in Liberia.  FACE Africa mission is to ‘bring clean drinking water in the most remote areas in Sub-Saharan Africa.’  To date, FACE Africa has been credited with over 50 community WASH projects benefiting over 25,000 people in rural Liberia.  Amongst her many roles, Saran also serves as an International Goodwill Ambassador for the county of River Cess, Liberia since 2012.


Wanjiru Kihusa – Wanjiru is  is a Kenyan blogger, social media enthusiast, wife, sister, friend and proud champion of #StillAMum campaign after having suffered 2 miscarriages.  Her mission is to have the difficult conversations around miscarriages, create awareness, celebrate the women that have lost babies and affirm that they are still a mum.



Esther Kalenzi – Esther journey began in 2012 when she set up a Facebook page asking her friends to donate anything they had to be donated to kids during Easter Weekend.  This was the beginning of 40 days over 40 smiles foundation.  Helping vulnerable kids is Esther’s passion.  Through her organizations, she and her team of volunteers have been able to implement various programs centered around nutrition, health and sanitation, literacy and vocational training assisting many in breaking the cycle of dependency.

esther kalenzi

Stella Mpanda – Mrs. Mpanda is a veteran registered and certified nurse midwife with over 30 years experience.  Her background as a nursing and midwifery lecturer and her understanding of the challenges and complexity of Tanzania’s health systems, has placed her among highly respected professional in the world of maternal and newborn health.  She now serves as the Country Director of Child Birth International Organization, an organization dedicated to improving maternal/newborn health and providing youth reproductive health services.



Join us in celebrating these outstanding women!

*Article witten by Nellie Umutesi Vigneron