Dr Joyce Hilda Banda
Dr Joyce Hilda Banda is the founder and leader of the People's Party in Malawi, created in 2011. She is an educator and grassroots women's rights activist. She was Minister of Foreign Affairs, 2006 to 2009, Vice-President of Malawi, 2009 to 2012, and President of Malawi from 2012 to 2014. She was Malawi's fourth president, its first female vice president, and its first female president. She was a Member of Parliament and Minister for Gender, Children's Affairs and Community Services.
Before her active career in politics she was the founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation, founder of the National Association of Business Women (NABW), Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project.
Banda took office as President following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika in 2012, although Malawi's cabinet sought a court order to block her from becoming president. She was sworn in on 7 April 2012 and worked hard throughout her tenure to restore diplomatic ties with the international community and boost economic activity. On 18 May 2012, Banda announced her intention to overturn Malawi's ban on homosexuality. The measure reportedly already had the support of a majority of MPs. If successful, it would have made Malawi the second African nation to legalise same-sex sexual activity since South Africa in 1994.
In 2014, Forbes named President Banda as the 40th most powerful woman in the world and the most powerful woman in Africa.
We celebrate Joyce Banda and her service to the people of southern Africa!
Photo credit: Wilson Centre ECSP