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African Union

05/12/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/12/2021 05:49

Documenting Stories and Contributions Of African Female Leaders

Nominations are now open to recognize and celebrate exceptional African female leaders.
Deadline: 30th June 2021.
#AfricanWomenLead

About the Initiative

This initiative is aimed at recognizing and celebrating African women and girls in making a difference through demonstrated exceptional leadership at the grassroot or executive positions. The book aims to create a space for women to share their experiences, triumphs and to send a message of encouragement to the next generation of African women to claim their rightful place in history and create the 'Africa they want'. Each woman who is featured in this book will have an opportunity to write her own story or upon request, an AU-UN team will assist in the story telling process for women who seek support.

This initiative makes recogition of the continuous struggle for women across the African continent spanning several centuries, in the pursuit of parity and equal representation of women in leadership position. In recent years, progress has been recorded as African governments, public and private institutions implement gender-responsive actions and as African women and girls through resilience and commitment, advance their quest to be break the barriers and glass ceiling.

The objectives of the book is among others;

  • Honor the leadership and achievements of African Women and girls in various sectors and share their leadership experience.
  • Document the stories and achievements of women leaders and inspire African girls and women to see beyond the existing structural barriers and assure them that they can thrive in their chosen field.
  • Provide the evidence that Africa can prosper, be peaceful and integrated if it leverages on the potential of its women and girls. In so doing,
  • Mobilize stakeholders to create an enabling environment and support female leaders and their initiatives.

This initiative is led by the African Union Commission, Women, Gender and Youth Directorate, in collaboration with the United Nations through its agencies; the UN Women, UNFPA and UNHCR. It is also aligned with the International Women's Day 2021 celebrations held under the theme 'women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls'.



Nomination criteria

Nominees must be female citizens of African Union Member States. There is no age limit, the book will document the achievements of young and seasoned leaders across generations.

Nominees will be women and girl leaders from Africa that have demonstrated dedication, commitment and passion to their cause and made an impact in the following fields;

  • Finance, social mobilization, Governance, law, Peace and Security and Human Rights
  • Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, and Entrepreneurship
  • Creative industries (arts, culture, heritage, literature) and Sports
  • Health in general and women's and adolescent health specifically.
  • Humanitarian action, philanthropy,
  • Gender issues: gender equality and empowerment of women, GBV, SGBV and protection of women and girls
  • Social sciences, humanities
  • Science, Technology and Innovation, Engineering and Mathematics
  • Education
  • Environment and climate change
  • Infrastructure and Energy


Nomination submissions

Before you submit your nomination please read the nomination criteria carefully.

Nominations must be submitted by filling and emailing a completed form.

  • Self-nominations are welcome. Moreover, anyone can nominate an African woman, young or seasoned, who has shown stellar leadership in the above fields.
  • Nomination of women and girl leaders who have made a difference at grassroots level is encouraged.
  • Nominations of female leaders living in rural areas, refugees and displaced women as well as, women living with disabilities are encouraged.
  • Nominations will be adjudicated with consideration for geographic balance to ensure fair representation of all regions of Africa.
  • Nominations can be submitted in English, Arabic, Portuguese and French.
  • Nominations should be accurate, comprehensive and complete to inform the evaluation of the nomination.
  • Nominees should send the most recent photo that will be published in the compendium, Nominees personal information including email and phone number should be indicated in the submission temple.

To apply, download the forms using the link and complete. All forms should be submitted to [[email protected]]. For any inquiries write to [[email protected]]

Exclusion Criteria

Nominations maybe declined due to the following:

  • Nominations which do not focus on specific contributions, but rather list lifetime achievements;
  • Dossiers are not complete and /or all supporting document ( /s) are not included or not attached;
  • If their Member State is under AU sanctions in conformity with a decision taken by the AU relevant policy organ;
  • If they are employees of any an AU organ or employees of the Regional Economic Communities, UN System.
  • If the submission is not clear articulation of the achievement and impact.


Nomination Period

The Nomination call will be open till Wednesday, 30th June 2021 17:00 EAT. Due to the expected large number of applications, only successful nominees will be contacted after the selection process is finalized.



Review Panel

The final selection of nominees will be conducted by a nomination review panel consisting of experts from AU Member States, AU Commission, members of Civil Society Organizations and UN System. The selection committee composition shall have good regional and gender representation with no particular gender dominating beyond 70%.



African women and girls in leadership

Africa has progressive normative frameworks that guarantee gender equality in social, economic and political affairs. Through years of activism and legal reforms, many countries are seeing progress in terms of women's rights and status in societies. However, the continent is far behind from living up to the standards of our legal frameworks. Women and girls' potential has not been fully utilized in various sectors, among others because it is hampered by underlying structural inequalities that perpetuate harmful cultural practices, negative social norms and lack of bodily autonomy resulting in the sidelining of women.

Through its legal and binding treaties such as the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights and its Protocol on the Rights of Women (Maputo Protocol), the African Union has made gender equality and women's empowerment one of its priorities. The treaties have translated into political commitments at the level of Heads of State and Government, through the adoption of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa; the AU Gender Policy; and the AU Strategy for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment 2018-2028.

Women making up about 50 per cent of the African population, they remain largely underrepresented in leadership roles across financial, investment and entrepreneurial markets. As a result of these longstanding gender gaps, economic literature shows that the continent loses over 20 per cent of its GDP every year. Notwithstanding the various challenges, history proves that African women have been the backbone of the continent and continue to be so. Women's contribution to our economies is evident in agriculture, environment, climate change entrepreneurship, governance, ICT, health, arts, science and many other fields. African women's contribution is not documented enough because history has been told by men and has little reference on women's legacy. There are many unsung heroines who are making a difference in their fields at grassroots level, in their communities, and through years of struggle while few have gotten the space in public life including in politics and governance.

On the 26th of February 2021, African Union Ministers in charge of Gender and Women's Affairs, adopted the Common African Position (CAP) that seeks to advance women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life as well as the elimination of violence for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in Africa. The consensus was part of the strategy to ensure the continent and aspirations of African women and girls are well articulated at the global discourse at the United Nations 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) to be held from 15 to 26 March 2021.

The CAP built on existing commitments at the international and regional levels, in particular Africa's Agenda 2063; the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), the Programme for Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (PAICPD); Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (SDGs) as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA) and the AU Strategy for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment. It also restates the responsibility by governments to develop national policies and priorities in accordance with their international and regional obligations and commitments to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women.

Among the initiatives in place to support women in leadership positions, is the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) is a women's led movement, launched in 2017 with the support of the African Union Commission and the United Nations, through the Office of the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security and UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, and with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, to enhance the leadership of women in the transformation of Africa with a focus on peace, security, governance and sustainable development.

Among others, the initiative seeks to;

  • Establish and nurture an inclusive network comprising a diversity of women and young women in leadership from all sectors of society, including political, public, and private sectors; civil society, grassroots women, and traditional women leaders;
  • Enhance ownership of the network at national level through AWLN National Chapters amongst the women leaders through membership and mobilization of women from all sectors to advance women's rights at the community and society levels;
  • Promote solidarity amongst African women and cultivate strategic partnerships amongst existing and emerging networks, including global Networks with similar objectives to encourage women to make Africa's transformation their agenda;
  • Nurture women's leadership through exchange and documenting of lessons learnt and experiences and mentoring of young women leaders, through intergenerational dialogues and platforms.