2018 Participants


DORCAS MAKGATO-MALESU, Minister of Nationality, Immigration, and Gender 

Ms. Makgato has served as Minister of Health and Minister of Trade and Industry. Earlier, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Export and Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) where she identified barriers to investment and lobbied the Botswana Government to make changes for an improved investment climate, involving greater engagement and interaction with critical stakeholders and the private sector. She used her role as the authority’s CEO to overhaul the organization’s working structures and improve its practices which led the company to become one of Africa’s most admired investment promotion authorities. Before joining BEDIA Dorcas Makgato worked for Barloworld. She was also the Executive Director of the Nashua Franchise and was responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the company. Before joining Barloworld she was Head of the Commercial and Human Resource Divisions of the National Airline, Air Botswana. 


RASMATA NADEMBEGA COMPAORE, Mayor, District 12, Ouagadougou 

A member of the Movement of People for Progress, Rasmata Compaore was elected Mayor of District 12 in Ouagadougou in 2016. She has been a long-time champion of the health and sexual rights of women and of family planning. 


EDITH KAHBANG (“KAH”) WALLA, President, Cameroon People’s Party 

A Cameroonian political Leader, activist, and entrepreneur, Kah Walla is internationally recognised for her expertise in leadership and strategy, her understanding of Africa’s development issues and her strong stance for its women and youth. Part of Africa’s new generation of political leaders, Kah proposes bold, innovative solutions for the continent’s problems based on over 20 years-experience working on economic, social and political issues in over 25 countries across Africa. She has worked with actors at grassroots, national, continental, and international levels. Kah has founded various organizations: STRATEGIES!, a 23-year old leadership and management firm based in Cameroon working on 5 continents; and Cameroon Ô’Bosso, a 9-year old citizenship movement helping ordinary Cameroonians build voice to influence national policies. She is president of the Cameroon People’s Party, working daily to bring democratic change to a country that has not changed presidents in the last 34 years. Key successes include providing management solutions for Africa’s regional organizations (NEPAD, PAP, ICLGR, etc.), and building women’s and youth leadership in entrepreneurship, civic engagement and public management. In 2011, Kah took her problem-solving skills to the highest level in Cameroon and became the first woman ever to run for the presidency of the nation. She is today one of the key leaders building the future of Cameroon. Kah’s exceptional leadership and her quest for progress in Cameroon and Africa have earned her several international recognitions: Vital Voices Global Leadership Vanguard Award (2015), DVF Award (2014), named one of 150 women who shake the world by Newsweek and Daily Beast (2011) and one of Africa’s 100 most influential leaders by New African Magazine (2011). 


ELISABETH KADE, Former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Gender Minister 

Elisabeth Kade has spent a career working to advance labor and employment opportunities and practices, and protecting women and children. Until recently, she served as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, African Integration, and International cooperation for the Government of Chad. Previously, she was Minister for Family, Protection of Early Childhood, and National Solidarity; Technical Advisor to the Presidency of the Republic in charge of the Civil Service, Employment, and Labor; and Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Service and Labor. 


MAYA MORSY,  President, National Council of Women 

Maya Morsy’s career spans more than twenty years of dedicated service to the advancement of women and defense of their fundamental rights. Since 2016, she has served as President of Egypt’s National Council for Women, an organization which helps formulate and monitor national plans for the advancement of women and provides policy advice related to the development and empowerment of women. Dr. Morsy launched the first nationwide campaign on women’s empowerment “Taa Marboota: The secret of your power” with the aim of utilizing the power of media and communications to address misconceptions, redefining gender roles, and fostering women’s participation in all spheres of life. Previously, Morsy has worked for the United Nations Development Programme; the United Nations Fund For Women; and the Ministry of Education in Egypt. Morsy has contributed to many pioneering initiatives, including the formulation of the Arab Strategy for Women, Peace and Security, the Regional Strategy for Combating Violence against Arab Women, and the Arab Plan of Action for the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. She has also advised and assisted authorities in a number of Arab countries in the development of gender-responsive national plans and budgets. 


MARIAM JACK DENTON, Speaker, National Assembly 

Mariam Jack Denton started her legal career as State Counsel Attorney General’s Chambers, became the Principal Legal Adviser for the Central Bank of The Gambia, and in 2017 was elected the Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly of The Gambia. A pioneer and committed gender activist, Mariam Jack Denton works to enhance democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights as guaranteed in the Constitution of The Gambia. She has worked on cases dealing with civil right violations, defending private individuals and journalists amongst others. She is a founding member of the Forum for the Advancement of Gambian Women and Children and has worked in a number of capacities to protect the rights of and eradicate poverty for women and children. 


OTIKO AFISA DJABA, Minister of Gender and Social Protection 

Otiko Afisah Djaba studied Information Systems in the UK, communications in Eygpt, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrated Development Studies at the University for Development Studies in Ghana. She was the National Facilitator for the Campaign for Greater Discipline under Former Vice President Aliu Mahama in 2004. She worked as a Consultant in Children’s Rights and rural women’s development for Plan Ghana in extremely deprived rural communities in Sissala districts and in Wa. In 2008 she was the NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Bole-Bamboi constituency, and is currently the Women’s leader of the New Patriotic Party and has held the position since 2010. She is a polyglot, and speaks eight Ghanaian dialects. 


NANFADIMA MAGASSOUBA, Former Minister of Social Action and Member of Parliament 

Nanfadima Magassouba has served as a Member of the National Assembly; Minister of National Solidarity for the Promotion of Women and Childhood; Advisor to the Prime Minister in the office of strategy; President of the Forum of Women Parliamentarians of Guinea; and President of the Commission of the Delegations to the National Assembly. She has nearly three decades of experience working in trade unions and NGOs, including as: secretary for women's issues of the national office of the free trade union of teachers and researchers of Guinea; secretary for women workers at the national executive bureau of the National Union of workers of Guinea; President of the Inter-Union of women workers of Guinea; President of the National Coalition of Guinea for rights and citizenship of women; Vice President of the Council National organizations of civil society; among other positions. 

MAKALE TRAORE, Former Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reform 

Holder of a doctorate in International Economic Law, Makalé Traoré also trained in financial management of companies, in the use of banking services, in negotiation techniques, in IT, in leadership in the prevention of conflicts and the consolidation of peace, and in internal mediation. She leads in multiple fields, including: higher education; entrepreneurship, with the creation of an IT company; real estate development and management; and politics. She has served as a member of the executive board of the Union of Republican Forces; Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reform until the military coup of December 22, 2008; in 2010, presidential campaign director for Alpha Conde; and she directed the National Council of Transition (Parliament) during the military transition.Since 2010, Traoré has served as President of the Network of African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians of Guinea and as President of the Coalition of Women and Girls of Guinea for Dialogue Peacebuilding and Development. She has been awarded: Guinean woman of the year 2010; Outstanding Female Leadership Award in 2011; fifth favorite Guinean in 2015. 


OUMOU SALL SECK, Mayor of Goundam (Timbuktu) 

First elected mayor of the urban commune of Goundam, Timbuktu region, in July 2004, Oumou Sall Seck is committed to the reconstruction of Mali, with particular attention to the place of women in society and politics. She was re-elected in 2009, but was unable to serve in 2012-2013 due to the country’s occupation. During this time, she fought for Mali’s security, for reconciliation and dialogue, and cross-border and interregional cooperation. She represented the government during peace negotiations with the rebels and is a regular consultant to international organizations facilitating the political reconciliation process in Mali. Sall Seck is a founding member of the Treaty of Union Movement. 


ASMAA MORINE AZZOUZI, President, Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Morocco 

An entrepreneur with 20 years of experience, Asmâa Morine is the CEO of Cais-Consulting, which offers comprehensive support services for residents and non-residents wishing to invest in Morocco. She has also been the president of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Morocco since 2015. She is also a member of several professional associations and think tanks, and serves as vice president of the Business Intelligence Club of Morocco in Paris. Asmâa believes in women and their ability to succeed. 


VALENTINE RUGWABIZA, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Rwanda 

Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza has worked for more than 25 years on African and global development issues both from corporate and public sector; as senior diplomat, national and international public servant and corporate manager in national, regional and multilateral organizations. She is a Cabinet Member since 2013 and has held different portfolios as Minister with the Government of Rwanda. In October 2016, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza was appointed the Rwanda Permanent Representative to the UN and remains a Member of Cabinet of the Government of Rwanda. Prior to this, she was the Minister in the Ministry of East African Community from July 2014 to October 2016. She also served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board and Member of Cabinet from October 2013 to July 2014. Between 2005 and 2013, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza served as the Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Prior to joining the WTO, she served as Rwanda Permanent Representative to the UNOG and all specialized agencies based in Geneva as well as Rwanda Ambassador to Switzerland. Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza is a founding member of Imbuto Foundation, the Rwanda Private Sector Federation, the Rwanda Women Entrepreneurs' Organisation and the Rwandese Women Leaders' Caucus. 


HIBAAQ OSMAN, Founder & CEO, El-Karama 

Hibaaq Osman is the founder of Karama, a growing movement to end violence against women, and deliver sustainable, inclusive peace and democracy in the Arab region. Hibaaq has made it her mission to elevate the voices of women across Africa and the Middle East, raising their profiles and developing their skills as peacemakers and leaders. Karama’s guiding principle is ensuring that policies affecting women in the region are not simply responsive to the needs of women on the ground, but are led by women and real representatives of the community. The aim is to put women in the Arab region at the center of humanitarian response, conflict prevention and resolution, and promoting women’s participation in public life. Hibaaq’s history of promoting women’s leadership stretches back to the creation of the Strategic Initiative for the Horn of Africa and the Maana network in Yemen. Working at grassroots-level, Karama’s recent work has led to the establishment of groups that have made a positive and lasting impact for women’s rights and human rights. Organisations such as Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace and the Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace continue to work on women’s rights and the participation of women in conflict resolution on a national basis, while the Arab Regional Network for Women, Peace and Security has become one of the most respected voices in its field for women across North Africa and the Middle East. 

2017 Participants



Mrs. Hafida Benchehida has been the Senator of the Republic of Algeria since 2013, and was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee until 2015. She is also a founding member of the Algerian Women’s Parliamentarian Network, and as of January 2016, she is the Deputy Chairperson for legal and administrative affairs and the Human Rights Committee in the Senate. She is also the first Propaedeutics in medicine from Neuchâtel and second Propaedeutics in medicine from Lausanne. She is also the founding member of the Arab Women Parliamentarian Network. She is the spouse of a diplomat and has lived in Geneva, Madrid, Havana, and New York. Mrs. Benchehida has been an official interpreter for the UN, UNIDO, World Bank, IMF, G8, G15, OIC, OPEP, AU, EU, ADB, FAO, and others. In addition, she has been the official interpreter for the President of Algeria during state visits to Spain, Portugal, UK, USA, Brazil, Chile, NATO, Venezuela, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran South Africa, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Hafida Benchehida graduated cum laude in parliamentary translation for 4 languages from the University of Geneva, with two additional translator and interpreter diplomas.

FAFA BENZEROUKI SID LAKHDAR, Chairwoman of the National Human Rights Council, Former President of Algiers Administrative Court

Ms. Fafa Benzerrouki Sid Lakhdar is the current Chairwoman of the National Human Rights Council in Alger. She began her career in the justice sector in October 1975 as a judge at the court of Ain Temouchent. In June 1976, she was appointed President of the Algiers Court, the first woman to hold this post. In 1996, she was appointed to the Supreme Administrative Chamber, then as Section President of the State Council in June 1998, on March 25, 2010 she was appointed president of the first administrative tribunal in Algeria, to be elected in 2014 member of the administrative tribunal of the League of Arab States.


CATHERINE SAMBA-PANZA, Former Interim President of the Central African Republic

Catherine Samba-Panza was the interim President of the Central African Republic from 2014 to 2016. She was the first woman to hold the post of head of state in CAR, as well as the eighth woman in Africa to do so. She was born in 1954 in Fort Lamy, French Equatorial Africa, and at present Yamena (Chad). She moved to the Central African Republic at the age of 18. Prior to her political career, Ms. Samba Panza was a prestigious business woman and a corporate lawyer. During the 2012–13 conflict, she was appointed Mayor of Bangui by the National Transitional Council (CNT).  She was trained in law at Panthéon-Assas University in Paris.

Ivory COast


Dr Raymonde Goudou Coffie has been the Minister of Health since November 2012, having been reappointed in January 2016. Before assuming her position of Minister of Health, she was the Minister of Sports and Recreation technical advisor in charge of projects and resource mobilization from 2000 to 2002 and from June 2011 to November 2012 she took charge of the Ministry for Family, Women and Children. She has been involved in humanitarian work, and is a longtime member and past president of the Inner Wheel Club of Abidjan (created for Rotarians’ wives). She is a member of the Board of Roll Back Malaria from 2013 to 2016 and since January 2016 she is a member of the GAVI Alliance Board representing the francophone and Lusophone constituency. She is married and the mother of two. She is a pharmacist by profession, obtaining her State Diploma of Doctor of Pharmacy at the University of Caen in France in 1984.


VITORIA DIAS DIOGO, Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Security

Vitoria Dias Diogo is the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Security in the Government elected in October 2014. She was previously Minister of Public Service of the Republic of Mozambique between 2007 and 2014. From 2000 to 2005, she held the position of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism. She is a linguist by profession. She has extensive experience in both public and private sectors, having led successful reform programs on public administration and human resource development that improved service delivery and lowered corruption. She has a bachelor’s degree in Portuguese Teaching at Eduardo Mondlane University, and a MA from the University of Salford in England.


NETUMBO NANDI-NDAITWAH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations and Cooperation

Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwahwas appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations in 2015. She has been a Member of Parliament of the Republic of Namibia since 1990, and she is also a member of SWAPO Party Political Bureau, Central Committee and Secretary for Foreign Relations of the Party. She is also a member of the Executive Committee/ and Central Committee of the SWAPO Party Women’s Council. She has had a lifelong career in politics, starting in 1966 when she joined South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO). She has a master’s degree in diplomatic studies, a post-graduate diploma in International Relations from Keele University, UK and a diploma on the work and practice of young communist from Lenin High Consumer School, Moscow, USSR.


MARIAMA GAMAETIÉ BAYARD, Nigerien Politician, Former Presidential Candidate, Women's Rights Activist

Ms. Mariama Gamaetié Bayard is a Nigerien politician. She ran for presidential elections in Niger in 2011, becoming the first woman to run for the presidential position in Niger. As of 2015, she is president of RACINN Hadin'Kay political party. Ms. Bayard worked for the United Nations as deputy representative of the UN Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau from 2004-2005, as director of the political department of the UN activities in the Ivory Coast (2005-2007), for the Integrated United Nations office in Burundi (2007-2008) and the UNDP Center in Dakar, Senegal (2008-2009). She completed her secondary education in 1976 at the Lycée Kassaï in Niamey. She then pursued economics and sociology at the University of Montpellier in France, and received a PhD in International Relations at the Institute of International Relations in Cameroon.


SYLVIA BLYDEN, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs

Ms. Sylvia Blydenis a Sierra Leonean journalist, political commentator, newspaper publisher, and the current Sierra Leone minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs. She served as Special Executive Assistant to Sierra Leone's president Ernest Bai Koroma from 2013 to 2015. Sylvia Blyden is the founder, CEO, and publisher of Sierra Leonean newspaper Awareness Times. She is the only female news publisher in Sierra Leone. In 2002, she was Sierra Leone’s youngest National Political Party Leader at the age of 30, and the third Sierra Leonean woman to lead a fully registered political party. Sylvia Blyden remains the youngest ever Sierra Leonean to be awarded the Officer of the Rokel insignia in recognition of her service to the nation. Born and raised in the capital Freetown, she is a graduate of Fourah Bay College.

ISATA KABIA, Minister of State II, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone

Hon. Isata Kabia has served as Minister of State II at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for over a year. She is in charge of African Integration and Diaspora Affairs.Prior to that she was a Member of Parliament (MP) since 2012. She was the first female member for that constituency. She worked for the Diaspora Office from 2009 to 2011. She is passionate about health, education and women’s rights, recognizing these issues as fundamentals towards real development. She is very much involved in educational issues within her constituency and currently advocating for additional primary schools in her area.


THULISLE MADONSELA, Former Public Protector

Adv. Thulisile (Thuli) Nomkhosi Madonsela is the Chief Patron of the Thuli Madonsela Foundation and is currently a Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow for the year 2017. Upon her return to South Africa, she will take up a chair in social justice at the Law Faculty at Stellenbosch University (SU). Adv. Madonsela is the former Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa serving as the head of this Chapter Nine Institution for a seven-year term. In that time she was conferred with four honorary doctorates of law from Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare. She has received various awards and recognition during and since her time in office as the Public Protector. She was also named amongst Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2014 and as Forbes Africa’s Person of the Year in 2016. Born in Johannesburg to a working class family in 1962, Adv. Madonsela was raised in Soweto, completing schooling and then achieving a BA in Law from the University of Swaziland in 1987, followed by a LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1990. She has two children.

XOLELWA MLUMBI-PETER, Chief Director of Africa Multilateral Economic Relations, Department of Trade and Industry

Ms. Xolelw aMlumbi-Peter is the Chief Director of Africa Multilateral Economic Relations, Department of Trade and Industry, having worked there since 2005. She is responsible for policy development, trade data analysis, trade negotiations and reshaping the regional integration agenda. Prior to this position, she was Chief Finance Officer of Bela Bela Municipality from 2002-2005. Ms. Mlumbi-Peter received her degree in Economics with Honors from Rhodes University, and received further training in Trade Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

2016 Participants


SHITAYE MINALE, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives

Ms. Shitaye Minale is the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in Ethiopia, Chairperson for Women Parliamentary Caucus, a member of the Pan African Parliament and a Member of the Monetary and Finance Committee. Previously, she was the Vice President of the African Parliamentary Union and Vice President of the Global Power Women Network Africa. Her background is in education and pedagogical studies. She has a bachelors degree in pedagogical science from Bahir Dar University and an advanced degree in curriculum and instruction from Addis Ababa University.

MEAZA ASHENAFI, Judge and Human Rights and Women’s Rights Expert

Ms. Meaza Ashenafi currently serves as an adviser on Gender and Women’s Rights in the Capacity Development Division of UNECA. From 1994-2004, she was the founder and first Executive Director of Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), an internationally acclaimed organization known for its pioneering work in defense and protection of women’s rights in Ethiopia. Ms. Ashenafi has served on the African Union’s African Women’s Committee for Peace and Development, Equality Now, and Mo Ibrahim Africa Governance Index Advisory Council. She has degrees in law, international relations and gender studies from Addis Ababa University and the University Connecticut.


JULIA DUNCAN-CASSELL, Minister of Gender and Development

Ms. Julia Duncan-Cassell has been the Minister of Gender and Development in Liberia since early 2012. She has played a cirtical role in shaping and coordinating the Government of Liberia’s National Gender policy, through the enabling of Gender Mainstreaming as a goal of achieving gender parity and equality. Previously, Ms. Duncan-Cassell served as a Superintendent for 6 years to the Grand Bassa County and was Chair of the Superintendent Council. She has worked in banking in the United States. She received her degrees in business from Texas A&M University and University of Phoenix in California. 

GLORIA M. SCOTT, President of the Constitutional Review Committee Liberia and former Chief Justice of Liberia

Ms. Gloria Scott is the current Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee. She is also an adjunct professor at the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law, where she teaches legal ethics, insurance law and estate & trust, as well as a practicing lawyer. She was previously the Chief Justice of Liberia from 1997-2003. 


AMINATA TOURÉ, Former Prime Minister of Senegal

Dr. Aminata Touré is a politician who served as the Prime Minister of Senegal from September 2013 to July 2014, the second female Prime Minister of Senegal. Previously, she served as Minister of Justice from 2012-2014. In the 90s, she worked for the United Nations Population Fund and was appointed Director of the Human Rights department in 2003. She has a PhD from the International School of Management. 

AWA NIANG, National Assembly of Senegal


SOPHIA WAMBURA, Judge of the High Court

Ms. Sophia Wambura is the current Judge of the High Court of Tanzania, working in the High Court Land Division in Dar es Salaam. She presides over all civil, criminal, matrimonial, and land cases. She is the current Chairperson of the Judicial Gender Committee, overseeing gender issues within the judiciary and was a member of the country advisory team in reviewing how laws impacted women’s human rights. She has an advanced degree in economics from the University of Amsterdam, and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Dar es Salaam.


FAOUZIA CHARFI, Former Secretary of State for Higher Education under the Provisional Government after the revolution of 2011; Scientist

Dr. Faouzia Charfi is a prominent scientist and former Secretary of State for Higher Education under the Provisional Government after the 2011 Revolution. Previously, she was a professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan and Director of the first Research Group of Physics of Semiconductors at the University of Tunis. Dr. Charfi received her PhD in Semiconductor Physics at the University of Tunis in 1978. 

NEILA CHAABANE, Former State Secretary for Women’s Affairs, University Professor

Dr. Neila Chaabane is a Professor of Public law at the University of Carthage in Tunisia, as well as the Director of the Doctoral School in the faculty of judicial, political and social sciences. She has been a professor of public law since 2012, teaching courses in internal and international fiscal law. From 2014-2015, she was the secretary of state of women’s affairs and has been involved with efforts to fight corruption, working on strategies to fight corruption and evaluating the Tunisian integrity system. 


VICTORIA SEKITOLEKO, Former Minister of Agriculture

Ms. Victoria Sekitoleko is the current Chairperson of the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance, as well as the Founder of Speakers Forum and Community Cultural Center in Uganda. She is the former Minister of Agriculture for Uganda, a position she held from 1986-1995, as well as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in China, Mongolia and South Korea from 2006-2011. She was educated at Makerere University in Kampala, where she got a degree in Agriculture majoring in Farm Management and Extension. 

MARIA KIWANUKA, Former Minister of Finance

Ms. Maria Kiwanuka is an economist, businesswoman and politician who served as Minister of Finance in the Cabinet of Uganda from 2011 to 2015. She currently is a Senior Advisor to the President of Uganda on financial matters. She was also the Managing Director of Radio One and Radio Two in Uganda, as well as a non-executive board member on the Board of Director of the Aga Khan Foundation, the Nabagereka Development Trust, Nkumba University, Uganda Development Bank and Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited. She has a bachelor’s degree in Commerce at Makerere University and an MBA from London Business School.

2015 Participants


JANE NAANA OPOKU-AGYEMANG, Minister of Education

Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang is the Minister of Education for Ghana. She has served in this position since 2013. She previously served as the Vice-Chancellor and the 14th Executive Head, as well as the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Cape Coast. She has also held various academic positions at the University of Cape Coast including being Head of the Department of English, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Warden of Adehye Hall and Valco Trust Fund Post-Graduate Hostel. From 1997, she has held the position of Academic Director of the School for International Training in the History and Cultures of the African Diaspora. In addition, she has served in many capacities at the international level. In October 2009, she was elected Ghana's representative to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). She is also a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

NANA OYE LITHUR, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection

Nana Oye Lithur is the Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection in Ghana. She has held this position since 2013. She has also served as Chief Executive Director of the Human Rights Advocacy Centre and she worked as the Regional Coordinator (Africa Office) for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). She is an advisory member of the International Consortium on Realizing Reproductive Rights and a member of the steering committee of the International Consortium on Medical Abortion. She received the Vera Chirwa Award for Human Rights in Africa from the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa for her outstanding performance in the protection of human rights in Africa in 2007. She has also received the African Servant Leadership Award in 2011; the Champion of Women’s Rights Award in 2012 and the West African Women in Leadership Award for “Distinguished Impact”. She received a Bachelor of Law from School of Law, Accra, and a Masters in Law, Human Rights and Democratization in Africa from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.



Josephine Naisula Lesuuda is a Kenyan senator. She previously served as a journalist at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) where she specialized in humaninterest stories and especially those affecting her homeland Samburu. She was a program host of the Good Morning Kenya program and a reporter and network anchor for the KBC. She also founded “The Peace Caravan,” a group that brought together professionals from different communities in Kenya that have been in conflict for many years. She is the deputy chair of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association and also serves as a member of the broadcasting and library committee and the agriculture and natural resources committee. She is also the Executive Director of Liberty Kenya, a non-partisan organization that advocates for good leadership and governance. She is the youngest Kenyan woman to receive the presidential Order of the Grand Warrior for her efforts in bringing peace among warring pastoralist communities and using journalism to highlight social issues. She also received the International Labor Organization Wedge Award 2011 for PROWE Outstanding Professional Woman.

MARTHA WANGARI KARUA, Former Minister of Justice 

Martha Wangari Karua formerly served as the Minister of Justice in Kenya from 2008 to 2009. She was elected as a member of parliament in 1992. She ran for President of Kenya in 2013 on a platform of fighting corruption, respecting national diversity, and upholding the constitution. She was dubbed "The Iron Lady" in Kenyan media for her robust defense of her views. She was a key legislative force behind Kenya's Water Act of 2002, which has led to expanded access to clean water across the country. She also led the League of Women Voters and won several awards praising her work to advance and protect women's rights in both parliament and the high court. While Kenya was still under single-party rule, Karua acted as legal counsel for human rights activists and pro-democracy agitators. Early in her career she worked as a district magistrate, senior resident magistrate, and founded her own practice. During this time she made significant contributions to family law. She has also served as chair of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). She received degrees from the University of Nairobi and the Kenya School of Law. 


SINA DAMBA MAIGA, Vice President, Network of African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians

Sina Damba Maiga is the Minister of the Promotion of Women, Child and Family Affairs for Mali. She previously served as the chief of staff at the Ministry of Crafts and Tourism. From 1990 to 1994 she was director of AFOTEC-Mali, an international organization based in Dakar. A year later, she became executive director of CCA-ONG. She served in this position until 2002. She has also hosted various forums and supported many women's groups in the cities of Timbuktu, Nara and Macina focused on the development and implementation of credit and savings programs run by women. She has worked with others to help strengthen the participation of women in decision-making bodies at local and national level and chaired several committees organizing craft and tourist events in Mali, the United States, and France. She holds a Master of Laws from the National School of Administration in Mali.  


Ramatoulaye Diallo N’Diaye is the Minister of Culture in Mali. She previously served as the Director of the StarCom group, an international communications agency. In this capacity, she worked for companies and institutions including the World Bank and the Delegation of the European Union. She is strongly committed to women’s causes and worked to mobilize voters in the 2007 elections. She is the author of the book Strategic Issues and Geo-economic stakeholders in the Sahel Belt - Sahara and designed the CHALLENGES program, a solidarity project to economically link the north and south of Mali. She has also taught courses on management. She received a B.A. from the University of Florida and an M.A. in marketing and advertising.


NOUZHA SKALLI, Member of Parliament

Nouzha Skalli served as the Minister of Social Development, Family, and Solidarity from 2007 to 2012. As Minister, she continued her work to promote equality and create a just society. One of the areas she focused on was violence against women. She is one of the founding members and leaders of the National Association of Democratic Women of Morocco. She also founded the National Committee for the Participation of Women in Political Life as well as the Listening Centre to provide legal assistance to female victims of violence. She became a Municipal Councilor for a district in Casablanca in 1997 and was elected to the House of Representatives in 2002. Between 2003 and 2004 she was head of the Parliamentary Group of the Socialist Alliance. As head of this group, she was involved in many contentious issues including discussing the Moroccan Family Code or Moudawana. The issue of women in society has long been an important issue for Skalli, and she helped create the National Observatory for Equality. She has received numerous awards for her work on human rights and gender equality including Best Leader from the Population Institute in 2004 and an award from the Women's Democratic Association of Morocco in 2002. She received a degree in pharmacy from the University of Montpelier in France. 

ASMA CHAABI, International Women’s Forum

Asma Chaabi is the President of the International Women’s Forum Morocco. She served as Mayor of Essaouira from 2003 to 2009 and was the first woman elected mayor of a Moroccan municipality. She is also the owner of Ynaa Holdings and the President of the Az-Zahraa Foundation. She graduated from the University of Westminster in London. 


OBIAGELI KATRYN EZEKWESILI, Former Minister of Solid Minerals and Education

Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili served as the Vice President of the World Bank’s Africa division from 2007 to 2012. In this position she oversaw more than 1,500 staff and was responsible for the delivery of projects and economic aid in 47 Sub-Saharan countries. She previously served as the Minister of Education in the Government of Nigeria, where she led a comprehensive reform program within the education sector. She began her career with Deloitte & Touche where she worked as an auditor and a management and financial services consultant. She then served as a founding Director of Transparency International and Transparency International’s Director for Africa from 1994 to 1999. From 2000 to 2002, she worked with Professor Jeffrey Sachs as Director of the Harvard-Nigeria Economic Strategy program, during which time she was also appointed as an aide to President Obasanjo. In 2003, she was designated Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence. She served as Minister of Solid Minerals from 2005 to 2006. In 2006, she was given the national award of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR). She holds a B.A. from the University of Nigeria, an M.A. from the University of Lagos, and an M.P.P. from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. 

REMI SONAIYA, Independent Researcher/Consultant; Professor of French Language & Applied Linguistics

Remi Sonaiya is a professor of French Language and Applied Linguistics at Obafemi Awolowo University. Apart from her academic pursuits, she is active in and supports several church and para-church organizations, including the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical students (NIFES), the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust, Calvary Ministry, Great Commission Movement of Nigeria, and others. She has always been interested in public affairs and is passionate about issues of justice, equity, and African development. Remi’s interest in public affairs and development issues influenced her decision to retire voluntarily from her position at the Obafemi Awolowo University in 2010 in order to devote more of her time and resources to those pursuits. She joined KOWA Party and was elected its National Public Relations Officer, a position she still occupies. She is KOWA Party’s candidate for the 2015 Presidential elections. She has published three books on the Nigerian (and African) condition: A Trust to Earn – Reflections on Life and Leadership in Nigeria (2010); Igniting Consciousness – Nigeria and Other Riddles (2013); and Daybreak Nigeria – This Nation Must Rise! (2014).