Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu Hassan, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala who is the current Director General of the World Trade Organization and Nigerian media mogul Mosunmola Abudu are the only African women featuring in the list of the World’s Most Powerful 100 Women by Forbes.
68-year-old Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala is the top-ranked African woman at position 91. She has been serving as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization since March 2021. Notably, she is the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization as Director-General.
Samia Suluhu Hassan (62) who is ranked 95th has been president of Tanzania since March 2021. She became president following the death of President John Pombe Magufuli. She is the first female president of Tanzania.
Mosunmola Abudu (58) is the youngest of the African women on the Forbes list. She is a media mogul, philanthropist and a former human resources management consultant. The Hollywood Reporter previously ranked her among the 25 most powerful women in global television.
Despite the poor representation in platforms such as these ones, the continent has demonstrated a commitment to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. Almost all countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; more than half have ratified the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Other milestones include the African Union’s declaration of 2010–2020 as the African Women’s Decade.
Although Africa includes both low- and middle-income countries, poverty rates are still high. The majority of women work in insecure, poorly paid jobs, with few opportunities for advancement. Democratic elections are increasing, and a record number of women have successfully contested for seats. But electoral-related violence is a growing concern.
The United States has 50 women named in the Forbes’The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. US Vice President Kamala Harris (58), Philanthropist Melinda Gates (58) and businesswoman Karen Lynch (59) are among the famous Americans on the list. Others are Jane Fraser (55), Oprah Winfrey (68) and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (82).
Forbes says “the list was determined by four main metrics: money, media, impact and spheres of influence. For political leaders, we weighed gross domestic products and populations; for corporate leaders, revenues and employee counts; and media mentions and reach of all. The result is a collection of women who are fighting the status quo.”
The disparity between Africa as a continent with the countries in the West like the US which has produced 50 women is an indicator that there is still space for improvement in the continent for the inclusion of women in decision-making both in the public and private sectors.
Iranian woman Jina “Mahsa” Amini also made it to the list at position 100, albeit posthumously. Her death in September sparked the unprecedented women-led revolution in Iran.
Cover Photo: Ikulu Tanzania