7 Iconic African Women That Kids Should Know

From a general position African women have culturally been seen as the weaker gender in most African societies. However, there are many examples of women in Africa who have shaped history and have left their mark for future generations to aspire to.

Here is a list we've complied of African women whose legacy we feel every child should know.

Professor Wangari Maathai 

Prof Wangari Maathai was an environmental activist credited for founding the Green Belt Movement. a non -governmental organization focused on planting trees, environmental conversation and women's rights in Kenya. In 2004, she became the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace prize for her contributions to sustainable development and democracy. 

Miriam Makeba 

Known throughout the world as 'Mama Africa' in the sixties, Miriam Makeba was both a musical and political force. She publicly denounced the Apartheid Government in South Africa, using her celebrity platform to shine the international spotlight on the regime. As South Africa's apartheid system crumbled she returned home for the first time in the 1990. She continued performing in international concerts up to her death in 2008. 

Yaa Asantewaa

Yaa Asantewa was the Queen mother of the Ejisu of the Ashanti Kingdom - now part of Modern day Ghana. In the 1900s she led the Ashanti rebellion against British Colonialism. The speech she gave to the traditional chiefs inspired the chiefs and soldiers to fight against the British for the release of King Prempeh who had been captured by the British. She is revered as a symbol of nationhood.

Nkosazana Flamini - Zuma

Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini – Zuma is a South African politician and anti – apartheid activist. She was South Africa’s Minister of Health from 1994 to 199, under Nelson Mandela, then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 17 June 199 to 10 May 2009, under President Thabo Mbeki.

In 2012, Dlamini- Zuma was elected by the African union Commission as its chairperson, making her the first woman to lead the organisation. 

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the the current President of Liberia, in office since 2006. She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup after which she left Liberia. She won the 2005 presidential election and took office on 16 January, 2006 and was successfully won a second term as president in 2011. Sirleaf is the first elected female head of state in Africa.

Queen Amina of Zazzau 

Queen Amina was a Hausa Warrior Queen from the 16th Century who ruled over the Kingdom of Zazzau (Zaria) in what is now North-Central Nigeria.  She is credited for building the strong earthen walls around the city, which was the prototype of the fortifications used in all Hausa states. As queen she made Zazzau the center of trade and extended her influence across Hausaland.

Juliana Rotich 


Juliana Rotich co-founded a software platform called Ushahidi.com, where citizens can report post-election violence and have them mapped out via Google Maps.

She is also the founder of iHub, an innovation hub for other like-minded technologists, and Mobisoko, a mobile app marketplace. As if all that wasn’t enough, Juliana is also a TED Senior Fellow and was named among The Guardian’s 100 Top Women, and serves on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Information Communications Technology.

Queen Nzinga of Angola 

Queen Nzinga of Angola was a 17th century queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people in South-western Africa which is now Angola. She fought for the independence of Angola from the Portuguese. Today she is remembered in Angola for her political acumen and brilliant military tactics.  A major street in Luanda is named after her, and a statute of her was placed in 2002. Angolan women are often married near the statute.