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Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa becomes African Union's First Female Deputy Chairperson
Author: Kristi Pelzel,
Published: 24/02/2021

​Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, an alumnus of Stellenbosch University, recently became the African Union's First Female Deputy Chairperson. Dr Nsanzabaganwa completed both a Master's degree and a PhD in Economics at the SU Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

The following article, entitled Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the African Union's First Female Deputy Chairperson by Kristi Pelzel, was published on (under Global Perspectives) on 19 February 2021.


The 34th summit of the African Union (AU), held on February 6th, 2021, marked a first for the AU. Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, a Rwandan economist, politician, and diplomat, was elected as vice-chairperson of the African Union Commission and the first woman to hold the position.

The African Union strategy on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (GEWE) 2018–2028 has four pillars. One, maximizing opportunities, two, dignity and resilience, three, laws and policies, and four, leadership, voice, and visibility. These pillars are being realized, evident by the organization's actions.

Since her election, Dr. Nsanzabaganwa, Head of AU reform, is responsible for the commission's financial and administrative management, a role requiring economics and politics expertise as the Commissioner's chief operating officer. The Ph.D. served as Rwanda's Minister of State for Economic Planning, Minister of Trade and Industry, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, and is credited with leading the development of the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda.

The 2019 Global Gender Summit, hosted in Africa, highlighted the bleak statistics, “Women are responsible for 60% of work done globally yet earn just 10% income and 1% of the property. In Africa, 70% of women are excluded financially. The continent has a US$42 billion financing gap between men and women." Dr. Nsanzabaganwa, who knows the issues well, is now in a position to improve the statistics.

As a member of the African Advisory Council of Women's World Banking and the author of “The Economic Promise of Women Financial Inclusion"- National Bank of Rwanda Economic Review Vol. 7; 2014, she has already positioned herself at the center of these issues.

In recent headlines, more women are being recognized as first-time global leaders, Kamala Harris, Vice President to the United States of America, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director of the World Trade Organization, and now Monique Nsanzabaganwa leading as vice-chairperson of the African Union Commission. And like Harris and Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Nsanzabaganwa will also be a role model for young African women by nature of her public-facing career path, influencing the next generation of women African leaders.

  • Photo: Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa received her PhD degree in Economics from Stellenbosch University in December 2012.