Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej for the Fifth Year Recognized as One of 100 Most Influential African Women 2023

Business Wire India

  • The President of Tanzania, H.E. SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN; Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej; The Prime Minister of Namibia, Rt. Hon Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila amongst 100 Most Influential African Women 2023.
  • The list of 100 Most Influential African Women 2023 is made up of prominent African women breaking the bias across the world and includes 2 Presidents, 3 Vice Presidents, 1 Prime Minister, Ministers, and Top CEOs of both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
  • Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej for the fifth year recognized as one of 100 Most Influential African Women 2023.
  • Under her leadership, Merck Foundation was also recognized as the NGO of the Year 2022, the Most Influential NGO and Best Health Sector Philanthropy of the Year 2023, whose collective efforts are shaping Africa’s Future and transforming its healthcare landscape.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of “More Than a Mother” Campaign has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential African Women 2023 for the fifth consecutive year, by a Leading Rating Firm, Avance Media which launches their annual publication to highlight and celebrate the remarkable endeavours of African women, who inspire the future leaders of Africa. 

Merck Foundation CEO and President of More Than a Mother Campaign and Member of the Egyptian Senate, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej has been recognized for her commitment towards Women Empowerment, Girl Education and Patient Care transformation in Africa and other developing countries.

Speaking about being featured in the 100 Most Influential African Women list, Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej expressed, “I am honored to be recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential African Women under CSO & Philanthropy category, for the fifth consecutive year. Thank you all for recognizing my efforts & commitment, which is part of Merck Foundation’s commitment towards building healthcare capacity, transforming the patient care landscape with a special focus on women’s health, and empowering women & girls so that they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams. I promise to continue to my efforts in leading Merck Foundation to further empower women, support girl education, and improve patient access to quality and equitable healthcare in Africa, Asia and beyond. Congratulations to all the exceptional women who have been selected this year with me. Well deserved.”

Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej was also conferred with the Doctorate of Letters (D.Litt) Degree (Honoris Causa) by the Krishna World University, India, for her outstanding achievement in the social sciences, justice and reform, earlier this year. Moreover, under her leadership, Merck Foundation was recognized as the “2022 NGO OF THE YEAR”, the Most Influential NGO in Africa whose collective efforts greatly contribute to Shaping Africa’s Future through key sectors such as Health, Education and Economic empowerment by transforming patient care landscape, creating a culture shift, supporting girl education, empowering women, and breaking infertility stigma in Africa and beyond.

“I am proud that in partnership with 22 First Ladies of Africa as Ambassadors of “More Than a Mother” Campaign, we have provided more than 1700 scholarships to young doctors from 50 countries. Scholarships of one-year, two-year, and three-year Diploma and Master’s Degree in more than 42 critical and underserved specialties are provided to these doctors who became the first specialists in their countries. Moreover, I am very proud that over 780 scholarships out of total scholarships are provided to female medical graduates, this is a great milestone for us” explains Dr. Kelej.

Through the ‘Educating Linda’ program in partnership with the First Ladies of Africa who are also the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation‘s ‘More Than a Mother’ campaign, she has contributed to the future of thousands of school girls by providing scholarships and essential school items in many African countries. This program has benefitted many girls by providing scholarships in many African countries like Burundi, Central African Republic, DRC, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and more. Moreover, 3,000 sets of essential school items have been distributed for girls’ schools in many countries like Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, and Zambia.

Merck Foundation has also announced the MARS Awards to appreciate and recognize ‘Best African Women Researchers’ and ‘Best Young African Researcher’. The aim is to empower women and young African researchers, advance their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), with a focus on “The Role of Scientific Research in Women’s Health and Reproductive Care” this year.

You can view more details here: MARS call for application 2024 (

Senator, Dr. Rasha has worked closely with her partners over the past 11 years, more than 22 First Ladies of Africa, Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities.

She also spearheads the very impressive Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign, which is her brainchild and a rallying call to Break Infertility Stigma and Empower Infertile & Childless Women, through, working closely with more than 22 First Ladies of Africa, who are also the Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother”, over the past eight years.

Merck Foundation CEO strongly believes that Fashion and Art can contribute significantly to sensitizing our communities about different health and social issues including supporting girl education and women empowerment. She has added yet another accolade to her list of achievements with the conceptualization, production, direction, and presentation of “Our Africa by Merck Foundation”, a pan-African and unique TV program that raises awareness about a wide range of social and health issues in Africa through “Fashion and Art with Purpose” African Community, established by her. This TV program is broadcast across the continent on Prime TV channels in countries like Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Burundi and many more; and is also streaming on the social media handles of Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej and Merck Foundation.

Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasizes on the idea behind this TV program, “The African continent is culturally very rich and colorful. I have always admired Art and Fashion in Africa and I strongly believe that Fashion and art should have a purpose beyond entertainment and looking good. With “Our Africa” TV program, our aim is to sensitize our communities about critical social and health issues in an informational and entertaining way.”

Dr. Kelej together with The First Ladies of Africa has been breaking the silence on a wide range of critical and sensitive social and health issues like Supporting Girl Education, Breaking Infertility Stigma, Stopping GBV and FGM, Ending Child Marriage and Empowering women at all levels; through many of her innovative and unique initiatives like; Creating more than 30 songs that she helped create and produce with many young talented musicians and singers across Africa in English, French, Portuguese and local languages. She has launched 8 children’s storybooks in three languages; English, French, and Portuguese, to educate and sensitize children about important issues from a young age. She has also launched 7 Storybook Animation Films in four languages, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, which are an adaptation of chidlren’s storybooks to educate the community on health issues in an entertaining way.

With the aim to raise awareness about the critical social and health issues of the continent, she has trained more than 3000 media persons in more than 35 countries, and also launches annually, 8 different Awards for best media coverage, fashion designs, films, and songs.

The 2023 list of 100 Most Influential African Women has a representation of the most powerful African women from 36 African countries, chosen from various career backgrounds including diplomacy, philanthropy, politics, activism, entrepreneurship, business leadership, sports, media and entertainment. It includes many famous names like; H.E. SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN, The President of Tanzania; H.E. SAHLE-WORK ZEWDE, The President of Ethiopia; and Rt. Hon Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, The Prime Minister of Namibia, amongst others.

Edited by Cassien Tribunal Aungane from ‘For Africa’ Media 

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