Kikuyu Women in the ‘Thuku’ Revolt  

There has been considerable scholarly focus on the nature of women’s participation in nationalist struggles. The importance of this focus is to recognise women’s political agency and not relegate women to supporting roles in what tend to be understood as men’s political struggles. The colonial literature has presented two caricatures of African women’s involvement in […]

Wangari Muta Maathai

Wangari Muta Maathai is known as the first central or eastern African to hold a Ph.D., the first woman head of a university department in Kenya, and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for ‘her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.’ Maathai was elected as a member of […]

Bibi Titi Mohamed

Bibi Titi Mohamed was a major leader in the Tanganyikan nationalist movement. She led Umoja wa Wanawake wa Tanzania (UWT), the women’s wing of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), and later became the minister for women and social affairs. Mohamed was a Muslim woman born in Dar es Salaam in 1926 to a businessman […]

Constance Cummings-John

Constance Cummings-John was a politician in both pre- and post-colonial Sierra Leone who campaigned for African women’s rights. She was born in 1918 in the British colony of Freetown, Sierra Leone, into the elite Krio Horton family. The Krios were the descendants of freed slaves (Jamaicans, Barbadians and Black Nova Scotians) who had been settled […]

Charlotte Maxeke

Charlotte Manye Maxeke is known as the first black woman from South Africa to hold a graduate degree, and for her exceptional contribution to the struggle for women’s and workers’ rights, and her lifelong dedication to the struggle for peace and justice. Maxeke was an individual whose every action was expressive of her extraordinary intellect, […]

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti

Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti was born in 1900 in Abeokuta, Nigeria, to a seamstress and a small planter whose father had been an emancipated, baptized slave returnee from Sierra Leone. She received a Western education up to secondary school, before pursuing further education in England from 1919 to 1923. There she discovered socialism and anti-colonialism. When Ransome-Kuti […]

Huda Sha’rawi

Huda Sha’rawi, an activist for women’s rights and social change, is a household name in the Arab world. In many ways, Sha’rawi represented the face of Egyptian feminism, as demonstrated by her actions, thoughts, speeches and writings. Sha’rawi was born in Minya in 1879 to Muhammad Sultan. She was taught to read the Quran and […]

Yaa Asentewaa

Yaa Asantewaa of Ejisu is celebrated for her leadership role in resisting British colonization in the Gold Coast, now modern-day Ghana. She stood up to fight the British occupation in West Africa in spite of an initially cowardly response up by local men, which puts her in the league of Africa’s great women leaders. Yaa […]

Queen Nzinga

Queen Nzinga of Angola is one of the most celebrated African women to resist European colonisation. Nzinga Mbande led four decades (1620s to 1660s) of warfare against the Portuguese in Angola. Her legacy is a controversial and paradoxical one, as she was a proto-nationalist resistance leader, a devout Christian and Portuguese ally, a superb but […]

Queen Amina of Zaria

Commonly known as the warrior queen, Queen Amina of Zaria was the first woman to become the Sarauniya (queen) in a male-dominated society. She expanded the territory of the Hausa people of north Africa to its largest borders in history. Much of what is known of Queen Amina is based on information related in the […]