20 Inspirational Women of African Diaspora in Europe [2011]

This list reflects the diversity of Diaspora women and show how well they have infiltrated all sectors of industry: they are engineers, scientists, inventors, bankers, doctors, artists, media personalities, writers, speakers, bankers, politicians and entrepreneurs.

These 20 women are inspiring people in their home countries and in their continent of origin, as mentioned in their profiles. They have physically left the continent but remain emotionally attached. They are conscious of their responsibility towards the development of Africa and are committed to transform the ‘brain drain’ into a ‘brain gain’.

Kenya’s very own Kanini MUTONI, Audit Director at Private Bank Kleinwort Benson and owner of myAzimia.org features on this list. This young Kenyan woman of 35, left her home country 10 years ago and has scaled to the top of her profession in Europe. She has been recognised in Kenya and ranked as one of the top 40 women under 40 and nominated and shortlisted in the UK as a Shell Woman of the Year (UK) 2010 and as the Barclays Wealth Woman of the City (2010). She set up a microfinance platform to fund women owned businesses in sub-saharan Africa, a social enterprise to play her part in the development of Africa.

The UNDP report on the African Diaspora in Europe (June 2008 seminar in Brussels) recognised that the Diaspora has a unique strategic position between the Western, developed countries and their countries of origin in Africa. The Diaspora has the potential to play a significant part in the development of Africa as they are often very skilled professionals. This UNDP report indicates that in the EU alone there are 3.3 million people, including 1 million from sub-Sahara Africa, who comprise the modern African Diaspora. That is people who have left their countries of origin for economical, political or other personal reasons and their descendents. This number doesn’t include non EU member countries.

Although women in the world, and especially in Africa, still face major challenges with a huge need in the areas of education, health and poverty, there is much encouraging evidence of progress. Multiple initiatives are launched every day by African Diaspora to participate in their continent’s development:social entrepreneurship projects, microfinance, mobile technology businesses, online ventures, education and health projects are flourishing. They understand that nobody else will build this continent but Africans themselves with the help of others. So much has been achieved by African women including securing the top job of a country like the Harvard-educated Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, the first elected female president in Africa’s history. Other women on the continent and outside are rising to leadership positions, breaking the circle of poverty for themselves, their family and their communities. The UNDP slogan for 2011 International Women’s day campaign says it all: “When women succeed we all win”.

We hope this first ADIPWE list will increase the visibility of African Diaspora women in Europe and encourage other women to come forward, to inspire and be role models to the next generation.

To download the full list in pdf version go to Top 20 Inspirational Women of African Diaspora in Europe – 2011 List