“Never leave for tomorrow what can be done today.” ~ Ameenah Gurib Fakim, President of Mauritius

Summary: Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is a Mauritian biodiversity scientist who has served as the President of Mauritius since 2015. In December 2014, she was selected to be the presidential candidate of the Alliance Lepep. Now she’s working to advance awareness of global warming and to promote new investments in science and technology in Mauritius and greater Africa. She’s already making strides on both fronts, including partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pilot 10 PhD research grants on the island, with plans expand the program to as many as 10,000 other scientists across Africa in the future.

Nationality: Mauritian

Industry: Biodiversity Science & Politics

Q: Does it feel significant to be the first female president? on blog.ted.com

A: Oh yes, it’s very big — for Mauritius and for the continent. In Africa, there aren’t many women at the helm of countries. The same is true globally. It’s really making history. In Mauritius, we live in a very patriarchal society. I was lucky when I was a young girl, because my father had no objection to his daughter getting an education. When I was young, education wasn’t free, so this was not the case for many girls. Girls got more and more access to schools after 1976, and yet women who are professionals still suffer from what I call the leaky-pipe syndrome. A lot of girls come in to the schools, but by the time we look out the other side of the tube, there’s hardly any left. We need to see how this can be capped. [My appointment] has a lot of symbolism attached to it. That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s just so wow-ing.

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