International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Today we are celebrating by sharing quotes by African women leaders, their leadership is paving the way for a brighter Africa.

President Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia

She is Africa | Quotes by African women leaders | President Sahle-Work Zewde

First woman president of Ethiopia.

  • ” If the history of Africa was written by Africans and by women, I think we would find many unsung heroes”.
  • “For the mother who sees her child die because of lack of food, the economy of resource scarcity is irrelevant and the politics of public policy does not matter; they do not help a grieving mother, she has lost her child because there is no food, worst still, because no one cares”.

Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa

She is Africa | Quotes by African women leaders | Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Freedom fighter, first woman Chairperson of African Union

  • “We must therefore take bold steps and fight for the pride of place in the world, as a global growth pole. We must develop our narrative and challenge conventional thinking and paradigms. We must re-kindle the passion of our founders and our people in Pan Africanism, through unity, self-reliance, integration and solidarity”.
  • “A lot of us bring up our little boys as princes and our little girls as Cinderella’s who must wait on the princes. Then we realise something is wrong ,they should be equal.”

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria

She is Africa | Quotes by African women leaders | Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Director General of the World Trade Organisation.

  • “Don’t take a backward step. Don’t shy away from taking up space in the world. Don’t assume you are too junior or that people are too busy. Reach out and network. I believe that when you find problems, you should also find solutions”.
  • “When it comes to doing my job, I keep my ego in handbag”.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia 

She is Africa | Quotes by African women leaders | President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

First woman president in Africa,  Nobel Peace Prize winner, Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  • “Future generations will judge us not by what we say, but what we do.”
  • “To girls and women everywhere, I issue a simple invitation. My sisters, my daughters, my friends; find your voice.”
  • “I just think that unless you have that cohesiveness in the family unit, the male character tends to become very dominant, repressive and insensitive. So much of this comes also from a lack of education”.

Leymah Gbowee, Liberia

She is Africa | Quotes by African women leaders | Leymah Gbowee

Liberian peace activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

  • “There is something in this world that every individual can do. God has created all of us with something unique to contribute”.
  • “I’m now on a journey to fulfil the wish, in my tiny capacity, of little African girls”.
  • “I have come to one conclusion: All that I am, all that I aspire to be, all that I was before, is by the grace of God. There are so many women in Africa, and outside Africa, who are more intelligent than I am”.

Wangari Maathai, Kenya

She is Africa | Quotes by African women leaders | Wangari Maathai

Kenyan  social, environmental and political activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

  • “Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Recognising that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come”.
  • “There comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness . . . that time is now.”
  • “The world’s interactions with Africa are not necessarily motivated by altruism, but by the self-interest of states seeking to maximise their opportunities and minimise their costs, often at the expense of those who are not in a position to do either.”

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If you liked this article, you might enjoy reading Women Presidents in Africa or African Women Freedom Fighters