President Joyce Banda was elected Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second from 2012 to 2014.
Joyce Banda was born in 1950 in Malawi. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from Atlantic International University, an online university based in the United States. Before focusing on politics, Joyce Banda founded and directed various businesses and organizations, including a garment-manufacturing business, a bakery, the National Association of Business Women of Malawi, the Young Women Leaders Network, the Hunger Project, and the Joyce Banda Foundation, an organization dedicated to rural development and improving the lives of women and children
Before her presidency in 2012, she served as Minister of Gender, Child Welfare, and community services (2004-2006), Foreign Minister (2006-2009), and the first female Vice President of the Republic of Malawi (2009-2012). As Minister of Gender and Child Welfare, she led the enactment of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill.
On the international scene, President Dr. Banda was instrumental in the formation of the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE), currently running in 41 countries in Africa; the Council for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa (CEEWA); and the American & African Business Women’s Alliance (AABWA), of which she served as First President.
President Banda was concurrently a Visiting Fellow at the Wilson Center and a board member of several development organizations, including the Executive Advisory Committee of UNIFEM, the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the program in Global Health and Social Change at Harvard Medical School. Currently, Joyce Banda is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development. She was voted CNN’s Leading Woman of the Year in Politics (2014). In 2014, President Banda was recognized as the 40th most powerful woman in the world, and the most powerful woman in Africa by Forbes. President Banda has championed women’s rights in Malawi and beyond.
Image via UN Women/Ryan Brown