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Malawi’s Joyce Banda becomes Africa’s second female president

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Mariam Zaidi
WVoN co-editor

Women’s rights champion and vice president Joyce Banda has been sworn in as Malawi’s president following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika who suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday.

According to Malawi’s constitution, the vice president will assume the presidency should the incumbent die.

But following Mutharika’s death, it was very uncertain as to whether Banda would indeed assume the presidency, as she had fallen out with Mutharika in 2010.

He then kicked her out of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, but she fought hard to remain as vice president and formed her own People’s Party.

She has now become the second female leader in Africa.

The first of is Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  Speaking to the BBC Sirleaf joked that she would no longer be lonely and added that Banda’s appointment had strengthened the potential for women leadership at the highest level.

Banda entered politics in 1999 during Malawi’s second democratic elections. She won a parliamentary seat in the party of then-president Bakili Muluzi.

She has long campaigned for better rights for women and has advocated for gender equality.  She has travelled the country trying to get women involved in business and has also established the Joyce Banda Foundation to advance girls’ education.

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