Saturday, April 7, 2012

Joyce Banda

Joyce Hilda Banda (born 12 April 1950) is the President of the Republic of Malawi. An educator and grassroots gender rights activist-turned-politician who was Vice-President of Malawi from May 2009 to April 2012, and has been President since April 7, 2012, she is Malawi's first female president and was the country's first female vice-president. She is also Africa's second woman head of state, the first being Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Previously she was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009. She was also Member of Parliament and Minister for Gender, Children's Affairs and Community Services. Prior to an active career in politics she was the founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation, founder of the National Association of Business Women (NABW), Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project. She was listed in Forbes Magazine 2011 as the third most powerful woman in Africa.

She is the founder and leader of the People's Party created in 2011, and prior to Bingu wa Mutharika's death was considered likely to contest the Presidency of Malawi in the 2014 general election. The People's Party is scheduled to have a convention later this year, with Joyce Banda likely to be confirmed as party leader.

Early Life
Banda comes from Malemia, a village in the Zomba District of Malawi. She has a Cambridge School Certificate. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbus University, and a Diploma in Management that she received in Italy. By age 25, she had three children and was living in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1975, a growing women's movement in Kenya provided Banda the spirit she needed to take her children and leave an abusive marriage. Between 1985 and 1997 Banda managed and established various businesses and organisations including Ndekani Garments, (1985), Akajuwe Enterprises (1992), and Kalingidza Bakery (1995). Her success moved her to help other women achieve financial independence and break the cycles of abuse and poverty.

She is sister to Anjimile Oponyo, CEO of the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls founded by Madonna.

She is married to Richard Banda, former Chief Justice of the Republic of Malawi.
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