Joyce Banda is an entrepreneur, activist, politician and philanthropist that served as the President of the Republic of Malawi from 2012-2014. She was Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second. Before assuming office, Banda served as Member of Parliament, Minister of Gender and Child Welfare, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Vice-president of the Republic of Malawi. While serving as Minister of Gender and Child Welfare, she championed the enactment of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill (2006), which provided the legal framework to support the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and children.
She is credited for turning around an ailing economy which was on the verge of collapse in April 2012. She instituted several reforms which led to a significant economic expansion: Malawi’s rate of economic growth rose from 1.8% in 2012 to over 6.2% in 2014. In the areas of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law, President Banda repealed several draconian laws which weakened essential democratic institutions, infringed upon civil liberties and restricted the freedom of the press.
Her unwavering commitment to the promotion of women’s maternal health and reproductive rights led her to establish the Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood, which spearheaded the fight against high maternal mortality rates and the promotion of safe motherhood in Malawi. During the two years of her presidency, Malawi registered considerable success in the areas of maternal and child health, reducing the maternal mortality ratio from 675 deaths per 100,000 live births to 460.