The BBC has released a list of influential and inspiring women for the year 2023. The women were selected from across the world and they cut across various fields and professions/trade.
Prominent among them include attorney and former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, Ballon d’Or-winning footballer Aitana Bonmatí, and AI expert Timnit Gebru. Others include feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Hollywood star America Ferrera, and beauty mogul Huda Kattan.
Of the 100 women on the list, 13 of them come from Africa. Below are the women from Africa who made the list.
1.Jennifer Uchendu, Nigeria
Jennifer Unchendu is a Nigerian mental health advocate. Her recent work has focused on exploring the impacts of the climate crisis on the mental health of young Africans. She is the founder of The Eco-Anxiety Africa project (TEAP), which focuses on validating and safeguarding climate emotions in Africans through research, advocacy, and climate-aware psychotherapy.
3. Zandile Ndhlovu, South Africa
Ndhlovu is South Africa’s first black female freediving instructor. Her mission is to make access to the ocean more diverse. This led her to start The Black Mermaid Foundation, which exposes young people and local communities to the ocean. She hopes the foundation will help new groups to use these spaces recreationally, professionally, and in sports, BBC wrote.
4. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Uganda
Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is a Uganda veterinarian and conservationist. She works to save the country’s endangered mountain gorillas, whose habitat is being eroded by climate change, according to the BBC. What is more, she owns Conservation Through Public Health, an NGO that promotes biodiversity conservation. Through her NGO, she helps people, gorillas and other wildlife to co-exist, while improving their health and habitat.
5. Esi Buobasa, Ghana
Esi is a fishmonger by profession. She is from Fuveme, a Ghanaian village washed away by the sea. Having experienced first-hand the impact of climate change, she set up an association aimed at helping fisherwomen in the region, as their source of income is threatened by coastal erosion. The group has about 100 women.
6. Neema Namadamu, Democratic Republic of Congo
Neema Namadamu is a disability rights activist. Her NGO, The network Hero Women Rising, uses education and technology to amplify women’s voices and teach them to advocate for their rights. She became disabled at the age of two and also became the first graduate from her family to graduate from university. She went on to become a member of parliament.
7. Ulanda Mtamba, Malawi
Ulanda campaigns against child marriage. According to the BBC, she “grew up in a community in Lilongwe, Malawi, which gave very little support towards women’s education, with many girls pressured into dropping out of school to marry before the age of 18.”
She challenged the community status quo to become not only a degree holder but a post-graduate degree holder.
8. Vee Kativhu, Zimbabwe/UK
Vee Kativhu is a content creator and YouTuber from Zimbabwe. With degrees from Oxford and Harvard universities, she is behind Empowered by Vee, a platform through which she seeks to make higher education more accessible for unsupported or under-represented students around the world.
9. Shamsa Araweelo, Somalia/UK
Shamsa is an anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) campaigner. She is determined to end FGM through education and raising awareness through her powerful and direct online videos. With more than 70 million views on TikTok, she wants to ensure that no one remains uninformed, according to the BBC.
10. Paulina Chiziane, Mozambique
Paulina Chiziane became the first woman to publish a novel in Mozambique. Her work has been translated into various languages, including English, German and Spanish.
11. Susan Chomba, Kenya
Chomba is a scientist who concerns herself with protecting forests, restoring landscapes, and transforming Africa’s food systems. She is currently a director at the World Resources Institute (WRI).
12. Wanjira Mathai, Kenya
Wanjira Mathai is an Environmental adviser. She took after her mother, Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. She is credited with leading the Green Belt Movement, an indigenous grassroots organization in Kenya that empowered women through the planting of trees.
She is currently the managing director for Africa and Global Partnerships at the World Resources Institute and the chair of the Wangari Maathai Foundation. Also, she serves as Africa adviser to the Bezos Earth Fund, as well as to the Clean Cooking Alliance and the European Climate Foundation.
13. Najla Mohamed-Lamin, Western Sahara
Born and raised in Saharawi refugee camps in south-west Algeria, Mohamed-Lamin’s parents are from Western Sahara. She studied abroad after she crowdfunded her tuition fees and graduated in sustainable development and women’s studies before coming back to the camps to help more than 200,000 Saharawi refugees deal with water and food insecurity, BBC said.