This year was set up to be one of the most daunting in the political arenas anywhere in the world as a result of the coronavirus which had an impact on political organization, government policies as well as public perception of politicians.
Of course, these were some challenges politicians had to overcome, and those who could not show ingenuity and passion usually received the backing of their populace. The period of the pandemic was a natural selector of a sort for the politicians who could stand up to the demand.
In many ways, this was the time, more than any other in recent history, that the nature of things required politics to be a chore of service. The needs and wants of the people were different but catering to the millions of calls was non-negotiable.
Women who were in places of power came to this challenge with the burden of struggling to be seen for the ability and capacity. For Black women, especially in the Western hemisphere, this task was doubly arduous.
We at Face2Face Africa would like to congratulate and celebrate five of the most successful women in the field of politics, whether in their countries or transnationally.
California Sen. Kamala Harris is now the first woman vice president-elect in United States history and the first woman of color to make it to the second-highest office as Joe Biden wins the presidency. This Black woman will literally be the most powerful woman in the world.
Harris was born in Oakland, California on October 20, 1964, to Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher from India, and Donald Harris, an economist from Jamaica. She has called herself a progressive, focused on the average American’s desperations in health, employment and education.
She is seen as a great compliment to incoming president Joe Biden, offering youth, critique of traditional American conception of progress and outreach.
One time homeless with a destitute family, nurse and Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush is now on her way to Congress after her election on November 7. She herself would not forget the depth of the miracle of her success.
She told a crowd: “It is historic that this year, of all years, we’re sending a Black, working-class single mother, who has been fighting for Black lives since Ferguson, all the way to the halls of Congress.”
Bush, 44, came into prominence at the Ferguson protests after the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014. It was the inception of the Black Lives Matter movement across the United States.
Top on her list is wealth and income disparity between Americans. Bush is also an advocate of a government-run health insurance scheme as well as tuition-free college.
In a move that will coincide with the 55th anniversary of its independence, the island of Barbados will be removing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. This long-held dream of many in the country has been achieved under the leadership of the country’s first female prime minister, Mia Mottley.
Mottley wrote in a speech that was read in September:
“Barbados has developed governance structures and institutions that mark us as what has been described as, ‘the best governed Black society in the world.’ Since Independence, we Barbadians have sought constantly to improve our systems of law and governance so as to ensure they best reflect our characteristics and values as a nation.”
Mottley is an influential regional politician but it is hard to see how Barbados’ decision will be followed by other countries in the Caribbean.
A former Nigeria Finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, will most likely be the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Her triumph should have come this year but it was delayed by the posturing of the outgoing Donald Trump administration that preferred Okonjo-Iweala’s South Korean opponent Yoo Myung-hee.
But Joe Biden’s administration is seen as supportive of the Nigerian’s ambition. This is within reason as Okonjo-Iweala has earned her praises in her own country and internationally for nearly two decades.
spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during both the food and later financial crisis. She has chaired the replenishment of over $40 billion for the International Development Association (IDA), the grant, and the soft credit arm of the World Bank.
Her achievements as Finance Minister garnered international recognition for improving Nigeria’s financial stability and fostering greater fiscal transparency to combat corruption. In October 2005, she led the Nigerian team that negotiated the cancellation of 60% of Nigeria’s external debt ($18 billion) with the Paris Club.
Kelej is an Egyptian senator who, undoubtedly the least known, is probably on this list the most-traveled, most vibrant and most connected with a wider range of issues affecting African women and Africa’s development.
Kelej was chose ahead of Okonjo-Iweala by the New African Woman Magazine UK to be “African Woman of the Year 2020?. It is the third time Kelej the 48-year-old has won the honor.
Kelej’s work is primarily corporate governance, building bridges between between government and corporations through her Merck Foundation to seek answers to health, education and political crises which have adverse effects on women in Africa.
This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, Kelej rose to the task, offering help to women’s groups but also through the major initiative of training more than 600 doctors from about 25 African countries for the public health crisis.(face2faceafrica.com)