Two Kenyans named among Top Global Women
Every day, all around the world, women work to improve the lives of those around them. Their families and their communities may know how important their work is, but all too often, their work goes unrecognized by those who benefit from it throughout the rest of the world. In honor of International Women’s Day, the Diplomatic Courierhonors the Top Global Women who have worked to improve the world. All of these women were nominated by other women, and while some may be famous and others are not so well-known, all of them are deserving of this honor, and much more.
Adela Navarro Bello
- Director of the magazine Zeta in Tijuana, Mexico
- Adela’s magazine is one of the few that constantly reports on organized crime, drug trafficking, and corruption in Mexico’s cities, despites the death threats and violence against her and her co-workers.
- Member of the Seimas (Parliament)
- A humanitarian leader, Agne has been at the forefront of breast cancer awareness programs and advocating for treatment and research in Lithuania. Through the “Pink Bus” project, Agne has facilitated doctors to travel to the most remote locations in Lithuania to do mobile breast cancer exams and advocate awareness.
Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel
- Women rights advocate
- Saudi Arabia
- Princess Ameerah is the wife of King Abdullah’s nephew, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, and has emerged as a passionate advocate for women’s rights in her country. She speaks out on issues affecting women, including speaking against the perception that women in the Middle East are second-class citizens; she also advocates for women’s right to drive and an evolution in the laws and civil society that currently restrict Saudi women.
- Chancellor of Germany, Chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union
- Committed to guiding Europe through the current financial crisis, Angela Merkel is the first female leader of a major continental European power.
- Founder of the Institute for Women in Technology
- United States
- Although it was initially an experimental research and development organization, Anita’s Institute for Women in Technology now runs a variety programs designed to increase the role of women in developing new technologies worldwide.
- Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for the European Pressphoto Agency & The Associated Press since 2002
- Anja worked in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Israel, Kuwait and Turkey after spending the first ten years of her career photographing the wars in former Yugoslavia.
- Journalist and human rights activist, deceased
- Anna was one of the primary reporters writing about Chechnya and the conditions there. Her most recent award was from the National Endowment for Democracy in 2007; the Democracy Award to Spotlight Press Freedom. She was assassinated in 2006.
- Deputy Secretary General for the Southern Sector, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)
- South Sudan
- Anne has worked throughout South Sudan to provide development and reconstruction assistance to women. She has advised South Sudanese women on how to identify leadership roles within their political party before and after elections, and how to build strategic alliances around women.
- Founder and CEO of Interfaith Vision Foundation Cameroon (IVFCam); City Councilwoman, Douala
- Stella’s work has been crucial in protecting the rights of women, particularly widows, including giving women and children the legal right to retain their possessions. Throught the Rural Women’s Empowerment Fund, IVFCam assists women in procuring farm tools, seeds and farm land to improve their livelihoods.
- President of Kosovo, April 7, 2011 to Present
- At only age 36, Atifete has risen to be the young country’s first woman president as well as the first female president in the Balkans. She has declared that one of her main goals as president will be to secure her nation’s membership in the European Union and the United Nations.
Aung San Suu Kyi
- Democracy champion, opposition party leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner
- When a pro-democracy movement coalesced in autocratic Burma, Aung became the leader of the opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). She was targeted and placed under house arrest for 21 years, and was awarded several honors in absentia, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
- Journalist and political commentator
- Ayala has been the author of prominent international stories like “Bar-On-Hebron”, a piece which condemned the Israeli political system. She was the first woman to receive the “Queen of the Desert award for women empowerment”.
Barbara Jane Liskov
- Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- United States
- In 1968, Barbara became the first woman in the U.S. to be awarded a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Her work in the design of programming languages and software methodology led to her being awarded the highest distinction in computer science, the Turing Award, in 2008; she was only the second woman win the award.
- CEO of Zoetica, and co-author of The Networked Nonprofit
- United States
- Beth has the longest running information blog for non-profits, and has been voted as one of Business Weeks’ “Voices of Innovation for Social Media”.
- Host of PBS’s To the Contrary
- United States
- Bonnie is the host and founder of the PBS’s all-women weekly news analysis program, To The Contrary. The non-partisan show focuses on women’s advancement and issues affecting women, families, and communities.
- CEO of ICICI Bank Limited
- Along with being the Managing Director and CEO of India’s second largest bank, and being named CNBC Asia’s 2012 Indian Business Leader of the Year, Chanda is involved in promoting Indian business to the international economy. She is part of the U.S.-India CEO Forum and a member of the Board of Governors of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), among others.
- Co-founder and Chairman of HTC
- Cher has been recognized as one of the most influential women in technology, a field often lacking in women’s involvement. Her company currently manufactures more than one out of every six smartphones on the market, and she is credited for making the gamble of being the first to offer Google’s Android platform.
- Global Affairs Anchor of ABC News, host of CNN’s forthcoming show, Amanpour
- United Kingdom
- Christiane is a board member of the International Women’s Media Foundation. Born in London but raised in Tehran, she has reported from conflict areas ranging from the Iran-Iraq War, Eastern Europe during the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, and the Persian Gulf War.
Dr. Christine Martey-Ochola
- Co-founder of the Sub-Saharan Africa Chamber of Commerce
- Honored by U.S. President Obama as a Champion of Change, Christine is dedicated to helping small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa and the United States trade and invest in each other
- President of Lithuania, July 12, 2009 to Present
- As Lithuania’s first woman head of state she is often referred to as the “Iron Lady” or “Steel Magnolia”. She strongly criticized the EU budget as being outdated and submitted a budget that would enhance the EU’s growth and help with unemployment.
- President of Brazil, October 31, 2010 to Present
- Dilma is the first woman to be elected President of Brazil, and she holds the distinctions of also being the first economist to be President, as well as the first woman to be Chief of Staff, appointed by former President Lula da Silva. A former Marxist revolutionary under the military dictatorship, she is committed to expanding Brazil’s economic growth through capitalism, as well as continuing the social welfare programs enacted under President Lula da Silva.
- Executive Director, Femmes et Droits Humains (“Women and Human Rights”)
- Djingarey and other human rights trainers formed F&DH in 2000 to build the capacity of women at the grassroots level; F&DH created a program called “Learning, Acting and Making Change” in order to train, support, facilitate and build the capacity of women to participate and be elected to political positions in local governance and in the national legislature.
Edna Adan Ismail
- Founder and director of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital
- Former foreign minister and first lady of Somalia, Edna saw her nation’s health care system totally destroyed by the civil war that granted it independence from Somalia. She began her hospital in the region in order to train highly-qualified health care professionals, dispatch midwives throughout the country, and fight the endemic of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
- Founder and director of the Center for Anti-Corruption Research and Initiative Transparency International Russia
- Since 1999, Elena has focused on anti-corruption strategies for transition democracies, including her home country Russia, and helping to draft freedom on information legislation.
- President of Liberia, Janurary 16, 2006 to Present; Nobel Peace Prize winner
- As the 24th President of Liberia, Ellen is the first woman to lead a state in modern Africa. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her efforts to bring stability back to her country.
Dr. Eman Al Hussein
- Professor of Al-Balqa University
- Eman is a professor of Education at Al-Balqa University and Vice-Chair of the Arab Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI), an International Republican Institute (IRI) initiative based in Amman, Jordan. She has worked to organize several workshops for women legislators in Jordan to train them in issues such as constituent services and legislative duties.
- Vice President of the Senate, May 6, 2008 to Present
- A former member of the European Parliament and Italian Minister of International Trade, Emma is an outspoken advocate for civil rights and women’s rights. She caused an international stir last year, when she spoke out against the machismo culture in Italy and the sexism of then-Prime Minister Silvo Berlusconi.
Frances E. Allen
- Former IBM Fellow; STEM mentor
- United States
- The first woman to win the prestigious Turing Award as well as the first woman to be named an IBM Fellow, Fran spends her days now encouraging young women to pursue scientific careers and in mentoring young women from cultures where women are encouraged to discount their achievements.
- City Manager of Victoria, British Columbia
- Gail was the first woman appointed as a city manager in Canada when she was named the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Winnipeg in 2003, replacing a Board of Commissioners. She has been named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, three times over.
- Member of Parliament in the Argentine National Congress
- Representing the province of Buenos Aires and a lifelong advocate of human rights, Gladys discovered a passion in encouraging women to participate in politics. She has created networks for women civil society leaders and elected officials, as well as started a campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence.
- Press freedom advocate, dditor of The Namibian
- Gwen fought for journalistic principles over profits and press independence – through death threats, imprisonment, fire bombs, and harrassment – for Namibia both before and after the country’s independence from the South African apartheid regime through her role as editor at The Namibian and as co-founder of the Media Institute of Southern Africa. She was awarded the Courage in Journalism Award in 2004 and was honored as a World Press Freedom Hero in 2000.
- News service reporter and member of the White House Press Corps, retired
- United States
- Helen, now retired, was the “First Lady of the Press.” She was the first woman to be an officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and the first female member of the Gridiron Club. She was an icon in Washington, DC, covering every President of the United States from Eisenhower to Obama.
- CEO of Newton Investment
- United Kingdom
- Helena became the CEO of Newton Investment at 35, and is the founder of the 30% Club, a group of Chairmen of UK companies working to bring more women onto the boards of corporations. She is working to revitalize the financial industry in the wake of several years of fiscal crises, all while being the mother of nine children.
Hina Rabbani Khar
- Foreign Minister of Pakistan, July 19, 2011 to Present
- Hina became Pakistan’s first female Foreign Minister, as well as the youngest, last year, but it was not the beginning of her political career. She was elected to the National Assembly twice, in 2002 and 2008. From 2004 to 2008, she was the Minister of State for Economic Affairs, and from 2008 to 2011, she was the Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs, becoming the first woman to present the Pakistani budget in the National Assembly.
- Photojournalist, deceased
- Homai was the first woman in India to pursue a career in photojournalism, photographing leaders including Gandhi and Nehru. She worked on stories for The Illustrated Weekly of India. She passed away in January 2012 after not taking a picture for 40 years, due to her belief that photojournalism has become a way for “people to make a few quick bucks”.
- Chairwoman of the Movement of Afghan Sisters
- Humaira is responsible for overseeing the activities of the Movement of Afghan Sisters (MAS) in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces and coordinates closely with government, community, and civil society organizations to encourage women’s participation in politics. She has spent years promoting women’s rights, including providing educational and social support during the Taliban years.
- President of the 2012 Global Summit of Women, co-chair of Corporate Women Directors International
- Since the 1980s, Irene has been committed to promoting women internationally to decision-making positions in corporations as well as politics. She is also a leader in the Asian-American community.
- Prime Minister of Slovakia, July 8, 2010 to Present
- Called the “Pheonix of Bratislava,” Iveta’s campaign for the Prime Ministership was remarkable in that she presented it as a clash between failed tradition and a new, optimistic modernity that would be led with a feminine touch. She became the first woman Prime Minister in 2010, leading a center-right coalition.
- Local Councilor, constitutional advocate
- Jamila was the recipient of the Arab Women’s Leadership Institute’s Pacesetters Award, which is awarded to AWLI Members who have advocated for an issue in government, either nationally or locally, and either in the legislature or ministry. She was very active in encouraging Moroccans to vote in favor of the constitutional referendum.
- Vice President, Philanthropy and Society, The Aspen Institute
- United States
- While Jane wears many hats, at The Aspen Institute she works to inform and enhance the effectiveness of philanthropy in society. She is also co-founder of the North American Forum, a dialogue among thought leaders from Mexico, Canada, and the United States, as well as co-founder of the Global Philanthropy Program, a network of over 750 individual donors who are committed to international causes.
- Journalist and women’s rights advocate
- Jila is an Iranian journalist who founded the online news website Kanoon Zanan Irani (“Focus on Iranian Women”) and has published a book titled, Journalists in Iran. Jila has been the target for beatings, imprisonment, and arrest several times for covering peaceful women’s rights protests, and was finally sentenced in 2010 by the Revolutionary Court to a 30-year writing ban plus one year imprisonment, which she has not yet been called to serve.
- Prime Minister of Iceland, February 1, 2009 to Present
- Jóhanna, as the world’s first openly-gay leader, is committed to a feminist revolution in Iceland. Nearly half the country’s legislature is now female, as are four of its ten cabinet members. She has also supported high-profile campaigns against rape and domestic violence. Prostitution and strip clubs have been banned. A law legalizing same-sex marriage passed unanimously, allowing Jóhanna to marry her longtime partner in 2010.
- Blogger, entrepreneur
- A prolific blogger and respected commentator on developments in African technology, Juliana co-founded the website Ushahidi.com, which crowd-sources information about crisis areas and collates it into live maps, allowing the media to cover crisis areas more effectively.
- Entrepreneur, former presidential candidate
- Kah works to find solutions to systemic challenges that inhibit women’s economic advancement in Cameroon, and was a presidential candidate in 2011. She started a consulting firm, Strategies, and launched a program that encourages women to collectively advocate for improved conditions, in business and life.
- Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, May 26, 2010 to Present
- Trinidad and Tobago
- As a former social worker, Persan-Bissessar strives to bring her compassion for every day people to a wider scope by decreasing the country’s growing murder rate, boosting pensions, and decreasing the growing poverty rate for Trinidad and Tobago.
- Cancer survivor and women’s health advocate
- Founder of the Gynaecological Awareness Information Network (GAIN), she is an advocate for education and research into women’s gynaecological cancers, bringing awareness to an otherwise highly taboo issue.
- Presenter of From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4 and former chief news correspondent for BBC News
- United Kingdom
- Kathryn’s career began when she reported on the 1980 Iranian Embassy Seige in London – unscripted and from behind a car door – to one of the largest news audiences ever. After, she was dispatched to report on disasters and conflicts all over the world, from the Tiananmen Square protests to the Rwandan Genocide, escaping death multiple times. She is the author of several books, including Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War, published in 2003.
- Executive Director for Ripples to Waves: Program on Social Entrepreneurship and Development
- United States
- As Executive Director for Ripples to Waves: Program on Social Entrepreneurship and Development at the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, Kavita is a respected scholar and advocate for human rights and open and civil societies.
- CBS television correspondent in Egypt
- United States
- Lara was covering Egypt’s revolution last year when she was ripped away from her bodyguard and sexually assaulted by a mob. She has since spoken out about the attack, exposing the threat of sexual assault that women journalists face – often as retribution for stories they write – but keep silent about because they fear the stigma could endanger their careers.
- Peace Activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner
- As head of the Women for Peace movement, Leymah is credited for uniting Christian and Muslim women against the warlords that were perpetuating a long civil war. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work.
- President of Lucky Duck Productions
- United States
- Linda has worked as a network news correspondent, anchor, writer, and producer. She now is the president of her own production company, Lucky Duck Productions, which produces a news program for children and teenagers, and has won an Emmy, two Peabodys, and various other awards, proving that a woman can rise to the top in the male-dominated media industry.
- Former U.S. Secretary of State, 1997 to 2001
- As the first woman to become U.S. Secretary of State, Madeline was the highest-ranking woman ever in the U.S. government, paving the way for the Madam Secretaries following her. She is currently serving as a top advisor for U.S. President Barack Obama in a working group on national security, and as a Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Marissa Ann Mayer
- Vice President of Location and Local Services at Google
- United States
- One of the youngest women to ever make the Forbes 50 most powerful women in the world list, Marissa’s career at Google is notable not only because of how she has become a public face of the company, but also because she was the first female engineer and one of the first 20 employees to be hired by the internet giant.
Mary Lou Jepsen
- Co-founder of One Laptop Per Child; Founder of Pixel Qi
- United States
- Working with Nicholas Negroponte, Jepsen developed the world’s most environmentally friendly laptop ever, which was revealed to the world by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Today she works in her own company developing low power computer screens used in e-readers worldwide.
- Human rights activist
- As head of the foreign relations office for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Maryam has been a passionate critic of the human rights abuses committed by Bahrain’s government and cooperating GCC governments since the Arab Spring protests spread to her country last year. After participating in the initial demonstrations, she left Bahrain for a speaking tour, and has not returned for fear of arrest. She has become the public face of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and has met with leaders including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to advocate for a change in policy.
- Every day, Mina challenges not only gender stereotypes, but also cultural norms of respect for authority as a practicing journalist in Afghanistan. As she focuses on controversial issues, such as police abuses and government neglect of society’s most vulnerable, she is bringing investigative journalism and accountability to an Afghan society unaccustomed to such confrontational – and some say, disrespectful – uses of civic dialogue.
- Member of Parliament
- Mu is considered the most prominent woman in Cambodia’s leading political opposition, the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), as it battles to improve social programs and improve outlets for political participation. She is a former Nobel Peace Prize nominee, former Minister of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs, and has been a human rights advocate for more than 25 years.
- Director of the Department of Solidarity Economy and Support for Micro and Small Businesses (SESAMPE)
- Nelsa works to develop a more feminine leadership model as well as a new kind of supply chain (“fair chain”) to improve the lives of low income workers by bringing them into ownership and management responsibilities through her role as director of Rio Grande do Sul’s SESAMPE.
- Minister of Finance of Nigeria, July 2011 to Present
- Prior to becoming Minister of Finance, Ngozi was the Managing Director of World Bank (2007-2011) and has also held the position of Foreign Minister of Nigeria between 2003 and 2006. She is the first woman to hold either of those positions.
- President of India, July 25, 2007 to Present
- The 12th President of the Republic of India, Pratibha is the first woman to hold the office. Throughout her life of public service, she has been a champion for women and the lowest economic classes, building schools for women and handicapped children, pioneering development programs, and acting on water pollution in rural areas.
Rania Habiby Anderson
- President of Meridian Consulting, LLC; Founder of TheWayWomenWork
- United States
- As the founder of TheWayWomenWork, a website that shares career advice and success stories with professional women and female entrepreneurs globally, Rania seeks to influence professional and entrepreneurial women from across the globe by helping women in emerging economies attain success.
- In one of the world’s worst human trafficking hotspots, Rosi is a fierce and vocal enemy of all kinds of human trafficking, from sex slavery and prostitution to forced labor. She is fighting to create legislation that would bring all areas of Mexico under stricter control to push back against the violent cartels and culture of corruption that allows trafficking to flourish.
- National Coordinator, MDC Women’s Assembly
- Sally is a passionate human rights trainer and advocate, who is an expert on gender issue advocacy as well as experience in community training on gender, HIV/AIDS, as well as women and youth participation in political decision-making processes. She is also involved in resource mobilization, psychosocial support, and repatriation services for internally displaced people and survivors of political violence in Zimbabwe.
- Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs, U.S National Security Council
- United States
- Samantha is currently a Special Assistant to U.S. President Obama, as well as the founding Executive Director and the Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She champions the idea that nations have a moral obligation to prevent genocide, her dedication to preventing and human rights violations and atrocities is undeniable.
- President and founder, Bangladesh Women Chamber Of Commerce and Industry
- As a successful businesswoman with longstanding experience in the private sector, Selima realized that there was a need for an institution in Bangladesh in which women could organize and network. Selima reached out to fellow women entrepreneurs, the government, and development partners to advocate for the creation of a women’s chamber of commerce. Selima spreads her knowledge to other entrepreneurs around the world.
- Women’s rights advocate, writer
- Shahla was the founder of Zanan (“Women”), Iran’s first independent journal to focus on women’s rights after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Although the journal was closed by the Iranian government in 2008, Shahla attempted to break through the stigma of covering “feminist” topics of women’s rights and government reform of laws affecting women.
- Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, November 23, 2011 to Present
- A former Parliamentarian, journalist, and a friend of Benazir Bhutto before her assassination, Sherry was the first Pakistani to be recognised with an award for independent journalism by the UK House of Lords in its Muslim World Awards Ceremony in the year 2002. She presented her diplomatic credentials to U.S. President Obama on January 18, 2012.
- COO of Facebook
- United States
- From Harvard to the World Bank to Facebook, Sheryl has earned the title of one of the world’s most powerful businesswomen. She has used that attention to bring awareness to the difficulties women face in gaining credibility in positions of power.
- Former Judge; current human rights advocate, lawyer, and author of Iran Awakening
- The first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin has been named one of the most powerful women in the world for her efforts to strengthen the legal rights of women and children in Iran. Formerly a judge, she was stripped of her position after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but she continues to work as a lawyer in her beloved home country.
- Chairperson of the National Advisory Council, March 29, 2010 to Present
- In September 2010, on being re-elected for the fourth time as the President of the Indian National Congress party, she became the longest serving president in the 125-year history of the party. Although Sonia is actually the fifth foreign-born (Italian-Indian) person to be leader of the Congress Party, she is the first since independence in 1947.
Sonia Segura Varsoly
- Deputy of Central America Parliamentart (PARLACEN)
- As an elected member of PARLACEN, Sonia works to strengthen democracy, promote unity, and develop a modern society that cultivates cooperation and prosperity among Central American countries. Sonia was widowed during her country’s civil war, and the experience has led her to work to secure women’s rights to property, equal wages and fight violence against women.
Suzan Sabancı Dinçer
- Chairman and Executive Board Member of Akbank
- Described by The Financial Times as possibly the most powerful businesswoman in Turkey, Suzan founded Akbank’s International Advisory Board as a platform to discuss the intersection of global and Turkish economic developments. She is highly involved in several other influential organizations, including Chatham House and the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders program.
- Chair of the Arab Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI); Entrepreneur
- United States
- As the first Chair of AWLI, a program under the International Republican Institute, Tami has overseen its development into an institution that has conducted trainings for hundreds of women in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. Other notable work includes her advocacy and leadership in the Longaberger Company’s broad fundraising and awareness-building program in partnership with the American Cancer Society.
- President of Finland, March 1, 2000 to Present
- Tarja is the first woman to hold the Presidency of Finland, and previously she served in parliament for 6 years. As a pioneer for civil rights, Tarja served as the chairmen of SETA, a major LBGT rights advocacy group.
- Journalist, pro-democracy activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner
- Tawakkol’s tireless campaigning for Yemeni President Saleh to resign in the wake of Arab Spring protests and her leadership of advocacy organization Women Journalists Without Chains brought international attention to the plight of the Yemeni people. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work.
- Entrepreneur and philanthropist
- United States
- Tory is a fashion entrepreneur and founder of the Tory Burch Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides economic opportunities and micro-loans to women and their families, particularly single mothers working below the poverty line as self-employed entrepreneurs.
- Head of the Honorary Council of the Beijing Cultural Development Center for Rural Women
- Throughout her service, Wu has worked to improve the rights of women in China, who are often treated as second-class citizens or servants, and therefore vulnerable to human trafficking. She shares her ideas on encouraging women’s development with women leaders throughout the world.
- Secretary General of the Development Center for Rural Women
- Xie was alarmed by the number of illiterate women in China’s rural villages, and has worked to establish a number of initiatives, including a non-profit school for rural girls, a migrant women’s club for city workers, microcredit programs, gender awareness education, and a suicide prevention program. Source:diplomaticourier.com