Africa-Press – Lesotho. Most Influential African Woman and Everyday Hero” is an initiative of the magazine The New African Woman, founded in 2009 by a Zambian-born, London-based journalist Regina Jane Jere-Malanda. The magazine covers the topics of black women’s rights, leadership, empowerment and much more.
An Egyptian Senator and chief executive of the Merck Foundation, Rasha Kelej, has been recognized as the “Most Influential African Woman and Everyday Hero 2022” by the magazine The New African Woman for the fourth time.
Kelej has been honored for her contributions to healthcare and female education in Africa, as well as her fight against reproductive pressure and child marriage. The 50-year-old started working in pharmaceuticals in 1994 and joined Merck in 1996.
She has headed the philanthropic Merck Foundation since 2016 during which time she has achieved great improvements in the healthcare of a number of developing nations by granting more than 1,400 scholarships to doctors from 50 countries in 32 underrepresented medical disciplines, such as intensive care, oncology, cardiovascular, diabetes, respiratory, endocrinology and sexual and reproductive heath.
Kelej has been involved in efforts such as the ‘More than a Mother’ campaign, which aims to reduce reproductive pressure, and empowers infertile and childless women in Africa.
She has also contributed in advanced training of fertility doctors in Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, the Central African Republic and Chad. Furthermore, Kelej has sponsored scholarships to hundreds of high-school girls.
As chief executive of the Merck Foundation, Kelej collaborates with more than 20 African First Ladies, as well as ministries of health, education, information, communication, gender, academia, media, and art societies in 50 countries to be able to implement her initiatives successfully.
She is also anchoring a TV program ‘Our Africa’, a project she conceived and directed which aims to educate people about sensitive social and health issues through science, fashion and art. The program is broadcast on most national TV stations in Africa, as well as on the organization’s social media, which has 5 million followers.
The Merck Foundation aims to increase “access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity with a special focus on women and youth”.
The organization is a charitable arm of Merck KGaA, the world’s oldest pharmaceutical, chemical, and biological firm, that was founded in 1668 and is headquartered in Germany.