New President for Malawi
Joyce Banda has become Malawi’s and southern Africa’s first woman leader in April 2012 when she stepped into the shoes of her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, after he died following a heart attack.
Ms Banda became Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2006 and the country’s first female vice president in 2009.
Ms Banda was hailed for offering an olive branch to Mr Mutharika’s backers after two days of political uncertainty in which the former leader’s inner circle tried to block her from assuming the post. But the smooth promotion of vice-president Banda to the presidency, as prescribed by the constitution, was praised at home and abroad.
Ms Banda is recognised for her work as a supporter of women’s rights. In 2011 she was named by Forbes Magazine as Africa’s third most powerful female politician. She has a large charity to help educate and empower women. Her father was a well-known musician and her sister was hired to work in pop star Madonna’s school.