Dr. Joyce Banda

Former President

Republic of Malawi

An entrepreneur, activist, politician and philanthropist, Her Excellency Joyce Banda served as the President of the Republic of Malawi from 2012-2014. She was Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second. Prior to assuming office, President Banda served as a Member of Parliament, Minister of Gender and Child Welfare, Foreign 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 girls.

She faced resistance at the time of ascending to office from the then ruling party but state machinery made it possible.

President Banda is credited for turning round an ailing economy which was on the verge of collapse in April 2012. She instituted a number of economic reforms which led to significant economic expansion; Malawi’s rate of economic growth rose from 1.8% in 2012 to over 6.2% in 2014. Under President Banda, Malawi’s operational industrial capacity improved from 35% in 2012 to 85% in July 2014, and the foreign exchange import cover was increased from one week to three and half months in July 2014. In the areas of democracy, good governance, and rule of law, President Banda repealed a number of draconian laws which weakened essential democratic institutions, infringed upon civil liberties, and restricted the freedom of the press.

President Banda’s 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, a reduction of 32%.  

As one her first actions after taking office, President Dr. Banda donated 30% of her salary to Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA), an organization serving individuals with disabilities.

President Banda is an international speaker on leadership, democracy, good governance, and women’s and girl’s rights and motivational speaker.  She has delivered numerous lectures at universities including Harvard Medical School and the Kennedy School of Politics, the London School of Economics and Political Science, George Washington University, Kansas State University, among others.


  1. President Banda was named by Forbes as Africa’s Most Powerful woman 2013 and 2014 respectively. 
  2. Was voted number 43 most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2013
  3. President Banda was named one of the world’s most powerful black woman by Forbes in 2014.
  4. One of the most 100 influential people in the world by both TIME.
  5. In 2014, CNN named her one of the most inspirational woman in politics.
  6. She has won numerous awards for her work on the global stage, and was recently named one of Apolitico’s most 100 Influential People in Gender Policy.

In 1997, after receiving the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger that she shared with President Chissanu of Mozambique, she used the prize money of $50,000 to establish the Joyce Banda Foundation. The Foundation seeks to transform villages in Malawi and internationally through its work in supporting women’s economic empowerment, education, maternal health and HIV/AIDS programs, leadership training, and support for human rights.   The Joyce Banda Foundation has reached 1.3 million Malawians with Women’s empowerment, education, maternal health, leadership, and rights.


  1. Board member, Nutrition International in Canada.
  2. Board Member of the Tana High Level Forum for Peace and Security in Africa.
  3. Member of Counsel of Former and Serving Female Heads of State
  4. Steering committee member,  African Women Leaders Network, responsible for Social Mobilization (A network convened by AU and UNWomen)
  5. Member of the Club de Madrid (A Global Network of Former Presidents)
  6. Honorary chancellor of the Akilah Institute in Rwanda.
  7. Member Former Heads of State Network fighting HIV/AIDS pandemic
  8. Served as distinguished Fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Center and Center for Global Development. 

Book published:

  • From Day One: Why Supporting Girls Aged 0 to 10 is Critical to Change Africa’s Path

President Banda holds a M.A. in Leadership from the Royal Rhodes University of Canada, a B.S. in Gender Studies from Atlantic International University (U.S.), and a diploma in NGO Management from the International Labor Organization (ILO) Center in Turin, Italy.  Jeonju University of South Korea conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Economics for Her Excellency in January, 2013, and Wheelock College conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Education for her in May, 2015.