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Unsung Heroines: Celebrating the Resilience and Achievements of African Women on International Women's Day

Mar 18, 2024 02:00PM ● By Okechukwu Nzeribe

International Women's Day has been set aside every year to celebrate the contributions and impact of women in various social-political areas all across the globe. All across the world, women have been making great strides in various fields of endeavor achieving remarkable breakthroughs whether in Politics, Science and Technology, Education, etc.

Africa is not short of remarkable women who against all hurdles have made a significant impact on their communities, country, and the continent. In March as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us celebrate these heroines who have risked much to make their mark on the global stage.

Mamokgethi Phakeng


Dr. Mamokgethi Phakeng from South Africa made history as the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education and the second black woman to be named Vice Chancellor at the University of Cape Town.

Founder of Adopt-A-Learner NGO and Mamokgethi Phakeng Scholarship, her goal is focused on providing mentorship to learners to open them to the opportunity to further their education. Through her scholarship platform, she is empowering the next generation of women in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). She has remained a champion of education and the need to make it accessible to all.

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Jaha Dukureh


A strong advocate against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Jaha founded the “Safe Hands For Girls” nonprofit organization whose goal is to bring an end to FGM, and child marriages and to offer support to victims who have experienced these traumas.

A victim of FGM herself, Jaha experienced firsthand the brutality associated with FGM at an early age, she would later on be married off at the age of 15 where she spent the next years of her life subjected to various forms of abuse from her husband.

Born in Zambia, Jaha has continued to spread the dangers of FGM both at home and on the global stage. In 2018 she was recognized as UN Women’s first Goodwill Ambassador for Africa. She also held notable recognition on other platforms like the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine, and the 100 Most Influential People by Times Magazine and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Unity Dow


Women’s rights activist, Writer, and Lawyer, Unity Dow was born in a traditional Botswana system that designated specific roles to be performed by men and women. Due to her parent’s influence especially in education, Dow was able to mold her life away from the usual stereotypes and achieve great feats in her educational pursuit leading her to become the first Female High Court Judge in Botswana and the first woman to open an all-woman law firm.

As a legal luminary, she was able to put an end to the gender discriminatory practices whereby children could not gain nationality from their married mothers. She was also instrumental in ensuring that the rights of the Basarwa Indigenous People to live and hunt on their ancestral lands were recognized by the government. 

Aside from her law practice, Dow is also the author of several books that focus on violence against women, child sexual abuse, and inequality among genders. Some of her works include Far and Beyond (2020), The Heavens May Fall (2006), Juggling Truths (2003), The Screaming of the Innocent (2002)

As we recognize International Women's Day, we must continue to recognize and celebrate the many women whose resilience and achievements have continued to make for a better society.  

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 Okechukwu Nzeribe works with the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, in Anambra State, Nigeria, and loves unveiling the richness of African cultures.  [email protected]

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