Our celebration of International WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day on Tuesday March 8th impelled me to look up some of the inspirational women of our time. It is my hope that going through the handful that I have picked out will inspire you as they have inspired me.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria, Managing Director of the World Bank
Okonjo-Iweala has shattered glass ceilings across continents and sectors, and fought to put women and gender at the centre of the international development agenda.
Currently managing director of the World Bank, she was the first woman to serve as NigeriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Finance Minister.
She then went on to co-found the Makeda Fund, which invests in women-owned businesses across Africa with the goal of spurring investment, employment, and economic power among AfricaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s women.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia.
She is the 24th President of Liberia and the first elected female Head of State in Africa. She attended, among others, Harvard UniversityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Kennedy School of Government.
In 2005, she successfully contested the 2005 Presidential elections. In 2010, Newsweek magazine listed Johnson Sirleaf as one of the 10 best leaders in the world, Time placed her among the top 10 female leaders.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Angela Dorothea Merkel, Chancellor of Germany.
Merkel is the first German female to attain the position. Along with that, she is also credited with being the youngest person to be German chancellor since the Second World War. She was named as the Ã¢â‚¬ËœMost Powerful Woman of the WorldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in 2007, by Forbes Magazine, for the second consecutive time.
Wangari Maathai, Kenya, Founder of the Green Belt Movement, Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
A pioneer of womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rights, Maathai was the first woman in East Africa to earn a PhD and for her outspoken activism has braved imprisonment and violence.
But her commitment to environmental stewardship and womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s independence has never wavered. The result? 40 million trees planted, and a Nobel Peace Prize for MaathaiÃ¢â‚¬â€œthe first ever awarded to an African woman or an environmentalist.
J.K Rowling, UK, Author of Harry Potter books
As a single mother, J.K. Rowling built one of the top-earning literary franchises ever, inspiring movies that have grossed more than $5 billion, spin-off books, theme parks and more. She is the first author to become a billionaire and one of the richest women in the world.