NkoyoFinalist: Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo was the first Executive Director of Gender and Development Action, an organisation she co-founded with Dr. Eka Williams and Ms. Barbara Riley.
A lawyer and Development Consultant, Nkoyo Toyo studied at Ahmadu Bello University from 1975-1979, where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree (LL.B) with honours in Law. She was called to the bar in 1980; she obtained a Master’s degree also in law (LL.M) in 1993.
Driven by her passion for human rights and gender equity in Development, she decided to apply her legal knowledge to development work. In her effort to equip herself for the challenge she sought and earned a Chevenning scholarship to study Governance and Development at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) University of Sussex from 2000-2001.
She is an activist and intellectual. She has participated actively in most discourses on governance, gender, rights and related issues within and outside Nigeria and has contributed immensely to the development of various concepts in gender and development. She believes that development must have a direct bearing on the people’s quality of life.
Nkoyo has a long standing interest in the participation of women in politics and the formulation of a people centered Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She has delivered papers, both published and unpublished on various issues such as: Women’s participation in public and decision making, Fourth World Conference on Women, Women in oil producing areas, AIDS Prevention and Control: the NGO Perspective, Empowerment of Women, Women’s Mobilisation for Action, Christian Women and Politics etc.
Her experience is wide and ranging. She was also the coordinator of Nigeria Youth AIDS Programme from 1993-1996, a member of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA) Association for Women in Development (AWID), Women in Nigeria (WIN). A member of the APRM and Vision 2020 committee of Nigeria, she served as a delegate to the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) in 2005. In 2008, she was appointed the Nigerian ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti, and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the African Union. In 2011 she contested and won a seat into the Nigerian House of Representatives and now is actively involved in many national and regional parliamentary committees. Specifically she is actively engaged with the African Parliamentarians Committee on MDGs.  She is on the board of many international organizations including Oxfam GB and the chair of FIM -Forum for Democratic Global Governance in Canada.

NaadiyaFinalist: Naadiya Moosajee

Country of Origin: South Africa

Naadiya Moosajee is co-founder & CEO of SAWomEng, a dynamic non-profit organisation that is developing the next generation of female engineering leaders in Africa which she founded at age 21. She holds MSc Civil Engineering and BSc Civil Engineering degrees and is a Board Director at Pegasys Strategy Development, focusing on natural resource management, as well as public transport, climate change, water resources and infrastructure financing. She is a board member for the International Youth Foundation based in Baltimore, which provides skills building, leadership & entrepreneurship training for youth globally, as well as African Regional Board member for Frost & Sullivan Global Innovation Leadership Institute. She is a YouthActionNet Global Leadership Fellow and an African Leadership Network Fellow.

Naadiya has a variety of experiences from technical engineering to development consulting. She considers herself a social entrepreneur having founded and grown SAWomEng into the top NGO in South Africa (awarded in 2013), while maintaining various consulting & engineering positions. SAWomEng addresses the critical skills gap in engineering and provides skill building and development workshops for high school and university students and has a thought leadership platform for the engineering industry. SAWomEng also trains, develops and mentors hundred of volunteers who are vital in running the organisation. SAWomEng is currently working with 2000 girls across South Africa, and will in 2014 launch programs in Kenya making it a truly African organisation.

Naadiya has been very vocal and passionate about youth development. Through her work at IYF she has spoken at a number of conferences in Senegal, Kuwait & Washington on the importance of developing our young people, especially in Africa. Most recently, she was a special guest speaker at the UNESCO Youth Conference in Paris.

Naadiya is also a serial entrepreneur and opportunist. Her exciting new venture is a fashion house, Naadiya M. which designs, manufactures and retails elegant business and evening wear for women. The fashion house will use fairtrade & ethical manufacturing through cooperatives of previously unemployed young women and will launch its online store in April.  Naadiya has also co-founded JourneyMap, a platform for recruiting and coaching young professionals to help them succeed in industry and develop their personal goals. Naadiya mentors a number of young processionals and students across various industries, as she believes in the power of paying it forward.

Naadiya has won numerous leadership awards including CEO Magazine Most Influential Woman of the Year, Frost & Sullivan Global Innovation Leadership Award, Top 100 Brightest minds in South Africa, The University of Cape Town’s Outstanding Leadership Award, The UCT Engineering Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award and M&G Top Young South Africans. She is a relentless traveler passionate about developing the African continent, youth development, mentoring the next generation of leaders and engineering better societies.

MemoryFinalist: Memory Bandera Rwampwanyi

Country of Origin: Zimbabwe

Memory Bandera Rwampwanyi is a US-trained Zimbabwean whose specialty is in International Development. She is passionate about children, human rights and social and economic development issues. Her passion for human rights dates back to 1999 when she co-founded the Girl Child Network (GCN) in Zimbabwe and then founded GCN Uganda in 2009. GCN is a charitable trust and network of girls that aims to give moral, educational, emotional, and financial support to underprivileged girls. In the past decade, the GCN Empowerment Model has been replicated in other countries and has helped over a million girls worldwide. Together with her fellow Mount Holyoke College alumnae, Jennifer Kyker, Memory founded Tariro: Hope and Health for Zimbabwe’s Orphans (Tariro) in 2003 to address the particular needs of Zimbabwean teenage girls.

Currently, Memory works as Director of Programs and Administration with the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) where she is in charge of programs, organizational development and human resources management. Prior to that, she was the Deputy Director-Programs and Special Projects at the International Law Institute-African Centre for Legal Excellence (ILI-ACLE) where she was responsible for coordinating the design and implementation of seminars and dealt extensively with the Institute’s technical assistance projects and advisory services. Memory worked on several projects funded by the African Development Bank; COMESA; Democratic Governance Facility (DGF); Millennium Challenge Corporation- Lesotho; the Open Society Institute of East Africa (OSIEA); DfID; the Danish Fellowship Centre; USAID; UN Habitat; Hope for Children UK, as well as family foundations and individual donors.

Prior to joining ILI-ACLE, Memory worked as Regional Program Coordinator for East Africa with Youth Action International (YAI), a US-based NGO for three years. While at YAI, her areas of specialization were Economic Development; Human Rights; Peace Building and Conflict Resolution. Memory has participated at various national and international levels in the negotiation and implementation of a number of projects for the organizations she has worked with. Before that, she worked with the Marketing Science Institute in Boston, USA as Publications, Research, and Membership Coordinator. Over the years, Memory has developed strong communication and leadership skills acquired from diverse experiences, at both local and international levels. Her inter-personal skills have enabled her to work with large and small groups of people, as well as participate in grassroots and national policy-making initiatives.

Memory is a Vital Voices Lead Fellow (2013-2016); Woman Role Model for GCN Zimbabwe (2003, 2006, 2007); Nominated for the International Museum of Women (2006); Peace & World Security Studies Award (2003); recipient of Ruth C. Lawson Summer International Internship Award (2003); July 2002 Woman of the Month in honor of World Youth Day by Gender Equality Canada; and selected for the United States Students Achievers Program (USAP) – Zimbabwe 1999. Memory received her Master of Science in International Relations from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts and a Bachelors degree in International Relations and Complex Organizations from Mount Holyoke College, in Massachusetts, USA.

Women4Africa 2014 Finalists_Inspirational Woman of the Year_Rozan AhmedFinalist: Rozan Ahmed

Country of Origin: Sudan

Rozan Ahmed lives her life fullfilling a passionate mission of connection: a “locally global” vision to empower, celebrate and merge creativity as an influential voice for the African continent across the Middle East, the UK and the US.

As an established writer, consultant, cultural analyst and activist, Rozan continues to break cultural barriers by connecting and curating people, projects and products from the regions in which she likes to call “returning markets”. A stern believer in additionally merging the arts with social development and entrepreneurship, Rozan has become a motivational personality when it comes to advocating the concept of “cultural ownership” – taking pride in identity, shaping it and embracing it.

As founder & editor of bougi, the creative authority behind building Middle East/Africa relations, Rozan’s career spans a successful 13 years, counting the likes of international organisations, global music stars, local and international brands, presidents, royalty and civil society within her working realm. They include Justin Timberlake, P.Diddy, RWD, Michelle Rodriguez, Jay Z, the United Nations, Chanel, Adidas, the Princes Trust, Akala, Emmanuel Jal, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Prince Fahad Al Saud, Formula One, Louis Vuitton, SonyBMG and much more.

As deputy editor of RWD magazine in the UK, she worked closely with her team in analyzing, discovering and propelling what we know today as the “British urban music scene”, utilizing what was the growing phenomenon of social media and negotiating a number of corporate relationships to quickly establish the title into what it is right now: the UK’s biggest urban music & lifestyle publication.

In Africa, she developed a series of monumental campaigns surrounding peace culture and was praised by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the GOS (Government of Sudan) and GOSS (Government of Southern Sudan) for orchestrating the country’s first celebratory concert, highlighting the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. ‘I wanted to musically symbolise the union between North and South’, said Rozan, ‘people often forget just how powerful music can be, particularly when it comes to positive messaging and its conscientious delivery to a younger audience’.

Rozan has been hailed as one of the ‘hardest working women in showbiz’ (Pride Magazine UK), ‘the woman who can’ (BBC Radio 1), ‘a powerhouse’ (POSE Dubai), “formidable” (Drum Magazine KENYA), a “mogul in the making” (DSTV’s AFRICA MAGIC), “one of the region’s most inspiring women” (VIVA Magazine DUBAI) and “The MENA region’s Oprah Winfrey” (Bahrain Confidential).

Rozan currently sits on the MOBO music panel, she is a board member at the MAD global initiative and an ambassador for the Young & Gifted Foundation. She’s an avid supporter of the amFAR organisation, an advocate for Dubai’s Fashion Forward (the region’s leading fashion platform), Congo Fashion Week, Africa Yoga Project (Kenya), Sudan Change Now (Sudan) and has mentored for the Unreasonable Institute as part of the Unreasonable at Sea program, sailing from South Africa to Ghana in March 2013.

CarolBanguraFinalist: Carol Bangura

Country of Origin: Sierra Leone

Carol Bangura is a recognized bilingual professional in advocacy, leadership, program design and strategic planning. Carol was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and moved to the United States at the age of 5. She qualified with a B.A in Organizational Development and a M.S.Ed. in Education. After many years of working in the corporate world and for states government, she took the leap of faith in 2008 and founded her non – profit, Schools Without Borders (SWB). Staring with what she thought was a simple book drive with Disney, she obtained over 250,000 books through Disney’s Give a Day, Get a Day program. Carol has impacted the lives of thousands of children through her organization.

Locally, SWB focused on providing books to children and reading development / student integration for children in urban school districts. Internationally, Carol has provided over 150,000 books to over 10,000 children in Sierra Leone, West Africa and has partnered with other organizations to provide thousands of books to children in Liberia and Jamaica. Most recently, she single-handedly obtained permission from United Way Worldwide to establish United Way of Sierra Leone. She relocated to Sierra Leone for 7 months with her 3 young sons and while living in Sierra Leone, Carol started the “Read Across Sierra Leone “program to provide books to girls throughout the country with her signature character, “Sallymatu”.

Upon Carol’s return, she narrowed dow n her focus to work on reading development for solely for girls in Sierra Leone. Carol created and designed the GIRLS! program to provide reading and STEM integration for class three girls during a critical transition period i n their cognitive development. Carol is partnering with First Book as her national and international partner to provide new books that meet Common Core Standards in the areas of reading and science. Additionally, she has created the first ever App specifically designed for girls, Acade mics for GIRLS! that launched in Washington D.C. on October 18, 2013 in collaboration with OpenGov Hub and in Philadelphia, PA on October 19, 2013.

Through Carol’s tireless work, her organization is a member of renowned national programs such as the National Literacy Directory, STEM Connectors and National Collaborative for Girls Project.

Carol is an advocate for education for children as a whole . Her advocacy has led her to meet with officials from the While House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African -Americans, White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, Ministers and Advisers of the Sierra Leone Government, U.S. Congressional members, and state and local elected officials.

She is engaged in the community as a current or past member of organizations such as Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs , School District of Philadelphia’s Language Policy Committee, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) Inter -Agency Civil Rights Task Force, Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), School District of Philadelphia’s Racial Harmony Taskforce,- Continuing Opportunity for Family Education Enrichment, Philadelphia Fatherhood Practitioners Network, Philadelphia Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Carol has received numerous awards for her work such as the Point of Light Award presented by President George Bush Sr. & Michelle Nunn – CEO, Point of Light Institutes, 2013 Gems of Africa Award, 2012 Diaspora Award, 2011 Humanitarian Award and the United States President’s Volunteer Medal Award . Carol has received numerous commendations & citations from PA Senator Vincent Hughes, PA State Representative Dwight Evans, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Mayor John F. Street, and U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. Carol is the author of Sallymatu’s Soup, an anti-bullying book and divides her time between NJ and Sierra Leone.

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