In 2009, a former secretary named Joyce Banda became the first female vice president of the country of Malawi. That itself is an amazing accomplishment, but Joyce is an amazing woman — she followed this up in 2012 by becoming the first female president of Malawi (and only the second woman to be elected president of an African country).
Committed to her citizens, especially the women of Malawi, Joyce has spent years working both in and out of politics to improve living conditions in her country. She is the founder of several organizations such as the Joyce Banda Foundation for Better Education, the Young Women Leaders Network, National Association of Business Women and the Hunger Project in Malawi. In 2006, she was given the International Award for the Health and Dignity of Women by the Americans for United Nations Population Fund for her dedication to the rights of the women of Malawi. Notably, even as president Joyce does not consider herself above her fellow citizens and she is willing to share in their struggles in real ways. When Malawi had to implement austerity measures in 2012 to try to get the country’s economy back on track, Joyce herself took a voluntary 30% cut in her salary.
Quotes from Joyce Banda:
- “Africa is changing…and we are doing better than most countries. America is still struggling to put a woman in the White House, but we have two, so we’re doing fine.”
- “It is only when a women is economically empowered that she can negotiate at household level with her husband about the number of children that body of hers can have.”
- “I had three children, in an abusive marriage. And then finally I said, no. I have to walk out. For the sake of my children… So for me when I talk about the importance of economic empowerment of women, it’s because I tried it.”
- “I want all of us to move into the future with hope and with the spirit of oneness and unity… I hope we shall stand united and I hope that as a God-fearing nation we allow God to come before us, because if we don’t do that then we have failed.”
Learn more about Joyce Banda here.