The President of the Republic, Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, is part of Forbes’ 2016 List of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. The Mauritian President is ranked 96 on the list which honors women, thus joining German Chancellor Angela Merkel, number-one Power Woman for six years running.
President Gurib-Fakim is ranked third on the African continent after Nigerian Folorunsho Alakija, who is ranked 80, and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, from Liberia, positioned at 83rd.
With the advent of more women behind the Presidential desk, a host of celebrities came off the list this year and new leaders replaced icons, with new countries joining the list such as Mauritius, Myanmar, Scotland, Nepal, Croatia, Lithuania, and Taiwan. These are some of the countries gaining representation in this year’s list, due to a visible increase in women leaders being elected to President or head of state with the potential to wield their influence both nationally and globally.
A biodiversity scientist by training, Gurib-Fakim is also the founder of the Centre for Pytotherapy Research. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was immersed in compiling a database of the plants on her island, promoting the importance of biodiversity to an international audience through articles and at conferences. After Mauritius’ majority party asked her to become president, she stepped into the role in June 2015 with virtually no political experience on her résumé, yet with the unique opportunity to bring her perspective and concerns as a scientist to a larger audience. Now she’s working to advance awareness of global warming and to promote new investments in science and technology in Mauritius and greater Africa. She’s already making strides on both fronts, including partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pilot 10 PhD research grants on the island, with plans expand the program to as many as 10,000 other scientists across Africa in the future.