These Are All The Female Presidents In Africa

Despite the deeply rooted patriarchal system in our culture, women have still managed to beat the system and are taking over some of the leadership roles traditionally designated for men, including the highest seat in the country.

Did you know that Africa currently has two female presidents and only a total of 10 African women have ever served as president of their countries?

Here is a look at female presidents in Africa, starting with the current women presidents and past presidents.

Samia Suluhu Hassan (Tanzania).

Photo by Ikulu Mawasiliano

President Samia Suluhu Hassan is one of the only two current female presidents of Africa. She is the 6th and current President of Tanzania having assumed office on the 19th of March 2021, following the death of her predecessor, John Pombe Magufuli who was at the time serving his second presidential term.

Born in 1960 in Zanzibar, Samia Suluhu first got involved in active politics in 2000 when she vied for public office and was elected as a special seat member to the Zanzibar House of Representatives and also appointed a minister. During the 2005 general elections, she was re-elected and re-appointed as a minister of a different ministry.During her early years in politics, Samia Suluhu faced a lot of sexism from her male colleagues since she was the only female high-ranking female minister at the time. She, however, didn’t let the prejudice bring her down but instead kept moving forward.

In 2010, Samia vied for a national parliamentary seat and won with an overwhelming 80% majority of votes. She was also appointed as the Minister of State for Union Affairs in the same year.

The late John Pombe Magufuli of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party appointed Samia Suluhu to be his presidential running mate during the 2015 general election, this made her the first-ever female presidential running mate of CCM. 

Magufuli won the 2015 general election and Mama Samia Suluhu became the first female vice president in Tanzania. The duo were re-elected for a second 5-year term in 2020, but Magufuli passed on a few months later after she was sworn in. 

Samia  Suluhu took over office after President Magufuli’s demise and is expected to serve the remainder of the late Magufuli’s term.

Sahle-Work Zewde (Ethiopia).

Photo by POEthiopia

President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia is the other only female president in Africa currently.

She assumed the presidential office on the 25th of October 2018, following her appointment by The Federal Parliamentary Assembly, becoming the first female president in the country.

Before becoming president, Sahle-Work Zewde had a long diplomatic career. She served as an ambassador to Senegal, with accreditation to Cape Verde, Mali, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea, between 1989 and 1993. She was the ambassador to Djibouti and France.

Besides her ambassadorial positions, Sahle-Work also served as the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

She served as the Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, and the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON).

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (Mauritius).

Photo by The Global Communique

Ammenah Gurib-Fakim is a Mauritian politician and biodiversity scientist. She served as the sixth president of Mauritius from 2015 to 2018.

In December 2014, she was selected to be the presidential candidate of the Alliance Lepep. Her nomination was approved by the then-prime minister and opposition leader of the country and she was unanimously voted in by the national assembly as president.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia).

Photo by Global Citizen

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a former President of Liberia. She was the first elected female president of both Liberia and the whole of Africa.

Sirleaf vied for the presidency for the first time in 2005 and won with a 59% majority. She was sworn in on the 16th of January 2006 as the 24th president of Liberia and the first female president of the country.

She ran for a second term during the 2011 general election and won. She served her second and final time until 2018.

Joyce Banda (Malawi).

Photo by DW

Joyce Hilda Banda served as the first female president of Malawi having served between April 2012 and May 2014.

Banda previously served as Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and as Vice-President from May 2009 to April 2012.

She became the president following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika and served until 2014. She vied for the presidency in 2014 but was defeated.

Women Presidents In Africa Under Acting Capacity.

Sylvie Kinigi (Burundi). Served as acting president from 27 October 1993 to 5 February 1994.

Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri (South Africa). Served as acting president for 4 days in September 2005 and again for 14 hours on 25 September 2008.

Rose Francine Rogombe (Gabon). Served as the interim president of Gabon from 10 June 2009 to 16 October 2009 following the death of the then-president Omar Bongo.

Agnes Monique Ohsan Bellepeau (Mauritius). Served as acting president between 31 March 2012 to 21 July 2012 and again from 29 May 2015 to 5 June 2015.

Catherine Samba Panza (Central African Republic). Served as acting president from January 2014 to March 2016.


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Written by Ethiotime1

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