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International Women’s Day: Top Women in Numbers

By Betty Njeru | March 8th 2020

When it comes to inclusion in leadership, women still have a long way to go.  According to Catalyst 2018, Eastern Europe leads the world in gender-diverse leadership.

Men are still viewed as the default leaders either in political offices or in business.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, marked globally on March 8, Standard Digital listed the top women across the world in numbers and those who have broken the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’.

Top Six Global Women CEOs


Former Oracle CFO Safra Catz. [Courtesy]

1. Oracle CEO Safra Catz

Former Oracle CFO Safra Catz was appointed as one of two company CEOs in 2014 after Lawrence Ellison stepped down from the position.

She has been an executive at Oracle since April 1999 and a board member since 2001. In April 2011, she was named co-president and chief financial officer, reporting to founder Larry Ellison.

Under her leadership, the $175 billion tech giant completed over 85 deals. As the highest-paid female CEO, Catz made $40 million in 2016 and was ranked 10 in the 2016 Fortune Most Powerful Women list.

Mary Barra- General Motors (GM) CEO. [Courtesy]

2. Mary Barra- General Motors (GM) CEO

Named the most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine, Barra is the first female head of General Motors and an automobile manufacturer, who took over in January 2014. She is also the third-largest individual shareholder in the company.

In 2017, Barra became highest-paid Detroit Three executive, with a total remuneration of $21million.

During her first year as CEO, General Motors issued 84 safety recalls involving over 30 million cars.

3. Indra Nooyi- CEO, Pepsi Co. (PEP)

Nooyi (pictured) was one of the earliest women CEOs to head a major global corporation. She spent over a decade at the top job at Pepsi Co, resigning in October 2018.

In 2016, she received $1.6 million in salary and over $370,000 in perks.

Nooyi remains one of the most prominent women to lead a Fortune 500 company.

4. Marillyn Hewson- CEO, Lockheed Martin 

Hewson (pictured) is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the aerospace and defense manufacturing company Lockheed Martin.

She has been at the helm of the $78 billion defense technology company Lockheed Martin since 2013. Hewson joined the Lockheed Corporation in 1983. She has held a variety of executive positions with the company, including President and Chief Operating Officer.

In November 2012, she was elected to Lockheed Martin's board of directors.

5. Virginia Rometty- CEO, International Business Machines (IBM)

Virginia Marie Rometty is an American business executive. She is the chair, president, and CEO of IBM and is also the first woman to head the company.

With over 13,228 shares, Rometty (pictured) is also one of the largest individual shareholders in the $170 billion company. According to Investopedia, Rometty has led IBM’s efforts in innovation by venturing into cloud computing, blockchain, data analysis, and even artificial intelligence through the Watson technology.

6. Nozipho Makhoba – CEO, Stanlib Fahari I-Reit (pictured)

The South African has been acting CEO since 2018. Nozipho did her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. She is also a registered Chartered Accountant with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.


Top Five Kenyan Female CEOs

Kenyan women have over the years fought for their place at the entrepreneurial front.

As such, there has been a shift in the leadership sphere spearheaded by the below women, only to name but a few.

Susan Wokabi- Founder and CEO, Suzie Beauty

Susan Wokabi came back home from the US with a dream to start the first Kenyan make up and beauty line. She used what she had learned from beauty company M.A.C to come up with her own brand of make-up. Her work has been featured on Italian Vogue, Tusker Project Fame and Samantha Bridal. Currently, Suzie beauty rakes in over Sh20 million in sales annually.

Carole Kariuki- CEO, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA)

Carole is a businesswoman and business executive, who also serves as the CEO of Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA).

She boasts of several awards to her name including the Women Super Achiever Award awarded by World Women Leadership Congress and Awards 2017 in India.

She was also awarded the Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS) in 2012 by then president Mwai Kibaki and in 2012, she was named among the Top 40 women in business under 40 years.

Gerridina Den Ten – CEO Limuru Tea

Geridina Johanna Maria Ten Den was appointed CEO of Limuru Tea in January 2019.

She has over 28 years of experience having worked in various institutions like Uniliver with her latest being former procurement director, Tea-Africa.

Phyllis Wakiaga- CEO, Kenya Association of Manufacturers

Wakiaga is a Kenyan lawyer and corporate executive. She has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers since 2015.

Tabitha Karanja- Founder and CEO, Keroche Breweries

Tabitha founded Keroche Breweries in 1997 together with her husband. The company is the first Kenyan owned brewery that is non- multinational.

Karanja was named as the CNBC businesswoman of the year at the All African Business Leaders Awards.

Her business is prized at over Sh5billion.


List of Ten Female Presidents/Prime Ministers

In no particular, below, a list of Female Presidents and Prime Ministers, both past and present.

Ethiopia President Sahle-Work Zewde.

Sahle-Work Zewde- The Head of State in Ethiopia. She took office in October 2018.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May who is most remembered for her role during the Brexit. She stepped down last year in July.

Ameenah Gurib, who ruled Mauritius for close to three years from 2015-2018.

Another remarkable female leader in the political arena is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who took office in 2005.

Merkel (pictured) has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman in the world, and as the "leader of the free world" by some commentators.

Joyce Banda- was Malawi’s President for two years from 2012 to 2014.

Park Geun-Hye- She was South Korea’s President from 2013. She was however suspended from office in December 2016 over graft allegations.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- She was the first elected female Head of State in Africa. She served Liberia for 12 years from 2006 to 2018.

Zuzana Caputová – Incumbent Slovakia President who assumed office in June 2019.

Mette Frederiksen- Denmark’s Prime Minister. Also assumed office last year in June.

Saara Kuugongelwa- She is the fourth and current Namibia Prime Minister who took office in 2015.



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