The second woman to be celebrated in this series is Getrude Matshe-Kanicki. Getrude is originally from Zimbabwe but is based in New Zealand where she relocated to in 2001.This woman wears many hats: She is an Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Author Rooney International Scholar, TED Speaker and Rotary Member.
As an Entrepreneur She started Medical Recruiters of New Zealand Ltd, GM Global Investments Ltd (Property) and Simzisani Ltd, a talent agency catering for the film and advertising industry. As philanthropist Getrude founded a not for profit organisation Africa Alive Education Foundation, an organization that supports HIV orphans in Zimbabwe.
Getrude has written several books including ‘Born on the Continent – Ubuntu’ and “It’s not what happens to you that matters!”. As someone who has been a TED Speaker she has a conference called HERSTORY circle that gives women a platform to speak and share their story.
We celebrate you our heroine Getrude, keep doing the amazing work that you do!
The first woman to be celebrated in this years Heroine series is Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.Dr Okonjo-Iweala has a Bachelors in Economics from Harvard University, as well as a PhD from MIT(Massachusetts Institute of Technology). She also has built an amazing career in international development. She has worked for the World Bank for 25 years and and selected to be the Minister of Finance in her country of origin Nigeria,(2003-2006,2011-2015). She was born in the southern Nigeria town of Ogwashi-Ukwu. She is a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States.Also a family woman, she has a daughter and three sons and a husband who is a neurosurgeon.
This remarkable woman also sits on the board of prestigious organisations such Twitter and Standard Chartered PLC. With the COVID pandemic, her leadership has been sought after and she has been appointed as WHO COVID-19 Special Envoy and AU COVID-19 Special Envoy.
Dr Ngozi highest achievements include the following:
-Becoming the first female and African Director General, World Trade Organization
-Being named by Forbes as one of Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World four years in a row
-She continues to inspire young women to follow their dreams and make history. We celebrate you our heroine, Dr Ngozi.
Today is that one day where the world focuses just on women, so I’m taking time out to celebrate myself as a woman and other phenomenal women making the world a better place.
2021 has started off on a high note in the woman kingdom with Firstly the first ever female vice president of the United States was inaugurated, Kamala Harris. Also, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation(WTO). With representation in these spaces, young women will have role models to look up to.
To celebrate women’s day and women’s history month, I’ll be doing a series highlighting phenomenal women that inspire me.
For the last part of my heroine series, I go back to my home country Zimbabwe, to celebrate a phenomenal woman who has inspired generations. This woman is none other than Charwe Nehanda Nyakasikana(Mbuya Nehanda). She stood at the forefront of the first Chimurenga(“Revolutionary Struggle”) to resist the Colonial Settlers when they initially arrived. She carries the title Nehanda because she was a spiritual leader as well, a spirit medium.
Cecil Rhodes arrived in the country with the British South Africa Company( BSAC). When the BSAC invaded the country, they possessed the land, imposed heavy taxation and forced labour on the indigenous people. This oppression now led to a rebellion. Mbuya Nehanda and other leaders such as Sekuru Kaguvi were responsible for organising and directing people to resist the invasion.
The resistance began in 1896 till they captured Mbuya Nehanda and sentenced her to death by hanging 1898. The defeat came as they ran out of resources and the BSAC had superior firepower. This first resistance of colonialism was not in vain, as there was a second Chimurenga(“Revolutionary Struggle”) which gave birth to Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
The story of this great woman’s, bravery, leadership and resistance to colonialism will be passed on to future generations. We celebrate you Nyakasikana; you continue to inspire Zimbabwean women to be strong leaders!
For the second part of my African heroine series,I am celebrating Wangari Muta Maathai(1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011), a political and environmental activist from Kenya. Although she is now late, she made a significant contribution to the African continent. This great woman was the first Africa woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize when she won in 2014. Also, she was the first woman in East Africa to have a Doctorate degree when she got her PhD in 1971 from the University of Nairobi.
Wangari studied Biology, getting her Masters from the University of Pittsburgh and also obtained a PhD. In 1977, she started the Green Belt Movement, an organisation that mobilised women in rural Kenya to plant trees, reverse deforestation, stop soil erosion while they make an income and have a source of fuel. By the early 21st century, the Green Belt Movement had planted about 30 million trees and had inspired similar projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
We celebrate this great heroine, continue to rest in power Wangari!
To start our women Celebration series, we begin our trip by going to Liberia, a West African country that gave the African continent its first female president. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history the day she became president. For the first time ever, a woman was president on the continent. This was quite a landmark achievement on a continent that struggles with a history of toxic patriarchy. Issues that affect women and girls in African nations range from child marriages, female gender mutilation, minimal Economic opportunities and other problems. Having a Female president brought hope and showed that one of the highest glass ceiling could be shattered.
Madam Sirleaf has impressive credentials, she studied Economics and Business Administration, and got a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University. Before becoming president she served in public office as a Finance Minister during the Doe regime. She clashed with the head of state during this time, and as a result she was imprisoned, nearly executed and finally exiled.During her time in exile, she was an Economist for international organisations such as the World Bank.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ran for presidency in 2005, was sworn into office on 16 January 2006 and remained in office till 2018. In 2011 she won a Nobel Peace Prize. Additionally, she won the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, recognizing the good changes that happened in Liberia during her presidency.