Victoria Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi admits she is no angel. But for 30 years she’s navigated through South Africa’s tough political landscape, mainly as a member of a male-dominated party, and now as the leader of her own political party.
Come rain or shine, single mother of five, Sylvia Mathebula,* can be found selling fruit and cigarettes at the roadside because it is the only way her family can survive. "Since the government is not helping us with jobs, rather than work as a maid for a white person I decided to start this little business by myself," she says lamenting the lack of opportunities for unskilled women.
When it works, it's spectacular: Esther Ngonyo Njuguna's dairy project stands as testimony to the potential of microcredit schemes to boost rural incomes.
Martha Karua fears nothing and no one, and when her adversaries look back at her long track record in politics, they must get nervous. This previously staunch supporter of Mwai Kibaki resigned as justice minister in 2009, and will challenge all comers for the presidency at the head of her own party next year.
As Nigeria tries again to begin its staggered general elections on Apr. 9, spare a thought for the women who will be putting themselves forward as candidates in an overwhelmingly male field.
Zimbabwe's veteran women politicians fear there are no younger women coming up through the ranks to replace them. Measures to improve women's representation have achieved little and young women are absent from the traditional entry points into politics.
"The Botswana Caucus for Women in Politics has failed to realise the objectives it was intended for, but we will not give up on it just yet," says Margaret Nasha.
Zambians head to the polls sometime before October and civil society groups are working hard to ensure their voices are heard. Groups which were excluded during the 2005 elections and the National Constitutional Conference that began in 2007 are mobilising to ensure they are not excluded.
John Kyalo Mulwa couldn't support his family from his six hectare farm, so he quit farming to open a bar. But he turned the land - and decision-making on it - over to his wife. Turns out she's a better farmer than he ever was.
There is no way one can have a conversation with Linette Olofsson without being dragged into her collection of images about her community agricultural project in central Mozambican Province of Zambezia.
The woman described by former South African President Nelson Mandela as his "favorite opposition politician", Patricia de Lille, has thrown her hat in for the position of mayor of Cape Town.
If women like Judith Mussacula realise their aspirations to become the next generation of Mozambican politicians, the country's future will be in safe hands.
Elizabeth Phiri was so incensed when she was overlooked as a parliamentary candidate for the Patriotic Front in a 2008 by-election on the basis of her gender that she quit the party. Four years on, she has rejoined the party but remains pessimistic - but other women politicians see reasons to hope the 2011 elections will be different.
Despite formal recognition of domestic workers' rights in South Africa, they still face a struggle for fair treatment.
It would have been hard for a teenaged Margaret Nnananyana Nasha to imagine that she would grow up to become one of the most powerful figures in Botswana's government.
"We have had enough of the training given to us in cooking, sewing and household works... We now have another dream: of participating actively in the development of our island at decision-making level," says Marie-Anne Laganne, a political trainer at Women In Politics.
Marwa Sharaf el-Din, an Egyptian law PhD candidate at Oxford University, spent part of International Women's Day in Tahrir Square this afternoon to perform Zajal, a popular traditional form of Arabic poetry.
"It is yet another significant day in the life of women across the world in the struggle for gender equality and equity. It is for this reason that women look forward to marking yet another International Women Day," says Janet Kanene, a gender studies university student.
Mount Elgon in Western Kenya is one of the most marginalised regions in the country. It is so marginalised that it is the only area where not even an inch of tarmac road has been constructed.
Nigerian environmental rights groups have been making the case for the expulsion of oil companies from the Niger Delta in the southeastern part of the country at the World Social Forum in Dakar.
Zanele Magwaza-Msibi is a woman with a mission: to serve the people of South Africa. She is poised to become leader of South Africa's newest political party, the National Freedom Party (NFP), after breaking away from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), where she served as national chairperson.