International Honoree

President, Malawi (former Minister of Foreign Affairs)

"If a woman says, 'This body can have two children,' and the husband says, 'You will have five,' that is domestic violence. But there's no way women are going to make a choice about their health or the number of children they have without economic empowerment."

At age 25, Joyce Banda had three children and an abusive marriage. Living in Nairobi, Kenya in 1975, a growing women's movement sparked Banda's rebellious spirit. She took her children and walked out, then started a garment manufacturing business. Her success and a supportive partnership with her current husband moved her to help other women achieve financial independence and break the cycles of abuse and poverty. 

She created the National Association of Business Women in Malawi, now a network of 30,000 women, each dedicated to their own and one another's prosperity. She also founded the Young W

omen Leaders Network, the Joyce Banda Foundation for Better Education and the Hunger Project in Malawi. Funding from UNFPA at various times in her career fueled her work with grassroots women, as well as her quest for policy change.

Americans for UNFPA was pleased to honor Mrs. Banda with our International Award for the Health and Dignity of Women in 2006 for her unyielding dedication to the rights of the women of Malawi.

Today, Joyce Banda is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This appointment follows service as a member of Parliament and Minister for Gender, Children's Affairs and Community Services where she fought for Malawi's recently enacted Domestic Violence Bill, which had failed for seven years previously. In addition, she designed the National Platform for Action on Orphans and Vulnerable Children and the Zero Tolerance Campaign Against Child Abuse.

The Honorable Joyce Banda has advanced legislation and generated  educational opportunities to assure the economic well-being of countless women and girls and forever changed Malawi.

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