To finish Women's History Month this year, we're highlighting notable female figures from Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda that have done or are doing historical things.
Mulumebet Emeru - Africa’s First Female Pilot
Ethiopian Mulumebet Emeru became Africa's first female pilot in1934.
“I was overwhelmed. It was a tremendous thrill though I did not realize at the time… that I was Africa’s first woman pilot. But with the war, I gave up flying. Indeed I got married…I would fly several times a week – always over Addis. It was an unusual experience and my friends all envied me.” (Quoted from Selamta, the in-flight magazine). (1)
Although her piloting career was cut short by the Italian invasion of May 1936, she remains historic in the hearts of millions. She is also the grandmother of Aman Adinew, owner of METAD Coffee, one of RENEW’s first portfolio companies. After World War II, she was given farmland in Disamo and Harar where wild coffee was growing. She built the Harar farmland into a coffee estate, solidifying the family’s connection to the land and coffee cultivation.
Christelle Kwizera - Founder of Water Access Rwanda
Christelle Kwizera founded Water Access Rwanda in 2014 to address water scarcity and youth unemployment in Rwanda one year before she graduated magna cum laude in mechanical engineering.
Under her leadership, Water Access Rwanda is recognized as an innovator in the water sector. It was the first from Rwanda to win the Africa Entrepreneurship Award and the EDF Pulse Africa Award. She leads by example. Christelle was selected as a 2014 MILEAD fellow, recognizing her as an emerging African woman leader among more than 1,200 applicants. (2) Her story and journey continues to be a source of inspiration.
Winnie Byanyima - Executive Director of UNAIDS
Winnie Byanyima is an aeronautical engineer, politician, human rights activist, feminist, and diplomat.
She is a passionate and longstanding champion of social justice and gender equality and she currently leads the United Nations’ efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Previously Winnie led the establishment of the African Union Commission’s Directorate of Gender and Development and also served as Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme. She founded the Forum for Women in Democracy, an influential Ugandan nongovernmental organization, and has been deeply involved in building global and African coalitions on social justice issues. Winnie has seven given names, one of which is Kyegiragire, which means “I can make myself whatever I want to be”, a name which she says has shaped her attitude to life! She co-founded a 60-member Global Gender and Climate Alliance of civil society, bilateral and multilateral organizations and chaired an UN-wide task force on gender aspects of the Millennium Development Goals, and on climate change. (3)
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