It has been proven over centuries and across countries that women can be in power and handle it well. The raw numbers may not reflect it, but the tide is turning. In her entire history, Africa has recorded only seven female presidents – elected or interim.
1. Catherine Samba-Panza (June 26, 1954)
Samba-Panza has had a long career in politics in the Central African Republic. Since 2014, she acted as the interim president of the country, becoming the first woman to do so. In the previous year, she served as the Mayor of Bangui, the capital of the nation, and was selected by the National Transitional Council to create political equilibrium in the nation.
2. Rose Francine Rogombé (Sept. 20, 1942 -April 10, 2015)
From June to October of 2009, Rogombé was the short-term acting president of Gabon. She acted as a bridge for the previous president, Omar Bongo, and the succeeding president, Ali Bongo Ondimba. In her political career, she served as president of the senate, a councilor on the local level in her hometown of Lambaréné, and a senator on the federal level representing Lambaréné in 2009.
3. Agnès Monique Ohsan Bellepeau (Born 1942)
Ohsan Bellepeau served as acting president of Mauritius two times in the last three years. In 2012 and 2015, Ohsan Bellepeau became president when Anerood Jugnauth and Kailash Purryag resigned after internal political strife. She was also the first female vice-president of Mauritius, holding the positoin for both men. Before entering politics, she was a journalist.
4. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born October 29, 1938)
Sirleaf is the current president of Liberia and first elected female head of state in Africa. She has held positions in financial institutions and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Since 2006, she has become one of the most stable leaders in Africa, holding political office for almost 10 years without interruption.
5. Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri (September 18, 1937 – April 6, 2009)
Matsepe-Casaburri was a prominent South African politician that served as acting president of the nation in 2005 and Minister of Communications from 1999 until her death. She was a well-educated woman that obtained her doctorate’s degree in the 199os from Rutgers University while she was in exile in the U.S. Matsepe-Casaburri also was the first woman and the first Black person to chair the South African Broadcasting Corp.
6. Joyce Hilda Banda (born April 12, 1950)
Banda was the first female vice president and president of the country, Malawi. In 2011, she founded the People’s Party. Between April 2012 to May 2014, she served as president when her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, died in office. An educator and social activist, Banda pushed for gender equality as a member of Children’s Affairs and Community Services. Banda has founded many organizations since she left office.
7. Sylvie Kinigi (born 1953)
In the 1993, Kinigi became the first female Prime Minister of Burundi and the first woman to be an acting president. What makes her so important is that she rose to power during the Burundi Civil War, and created a temporary government to hold the nation together in the midst of chaos. Kinigi stayed in office from July 10, 1993 to Feb. 7, 1994.