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Merck Foundation CEO Named Among Most Influential African Women

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej
CEO and President of Merck Foundation
Photo: Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej


By Alieu Ceesay

Rating firm has for the second consecutive year named Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO and President of Merck Foundation ‘More Than a Mother’ among the 100 Most Influential African Women of 2021.

Advanced Media, a leading rating firm, through its girls’ empowerment project- ‘Be A Girl’, launched the annual publication to highlight and celebrate the astounding accomplishments of 100 women from Africa.

The Merck Foundation CEO and President, and Member of Egyptian Senate, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej has been recognized for her efforts to transform patient care in Africa, breaking the infertility stigma through her poignant “More Than a Mother’ campaign and to empower girls in education so that they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams through ‘Educating Linda’ programme.

This is for the fourth time, Senator; Dr. Rasha Kelej has made it in the list of 100 Most Influential Africans (women and men).

New African Magazine, UK has also previously recognized her in 2019 & 2020, for empowering women in general and infertile women in particular through the ‘More Than a Mother’ campaign.

Senator, Dr. Rasha is truly a force of nature and one of Africa’s unsung champions of women empowerment and health advocates.

“I’m truly honored with the recognition and very happy to be included in the list alongside many prestigious and renowned African Women. I congratulate each one of them. This is a huge validation of my journey and my efforts to empower women of my continent. It will certainly motivate me to work even harder and more sincerely towards my goal of transforming patient care for the people of my beloved Africa,” she said while reacting to the accolade.

Dr. Rasha Kelej is the brain behind the inspiring ‘More Than A Mother’ campaign – a rallying call against female infertility stigma.

The campaign empowers infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset, and economic empowerment.

More than 20 African First Ladies are appointed as Ambassadors of “Merck Foundation More than A Mother”, which is very impressive.

Hailed from Egypt, Kelej is a versatile lady and a style icon trailblazer and influential in changing the perception of how fashion, film, music, and media can be utilized to address sensitive social issues through “More Than A Mother’ Fashion, Films, Songs & Media Awards as she strongly believes in the critical role of these fraternities in creating a culture shift.

She has also contributed to the future of hundreds of girls through her ‘Educating Linda’ programme by supporting the education of many of the high performing girls by providing scholarships and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms, and other essentials including notebooks, pens, and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams.

“Empowering women starts with education, to enable them to be healthier, stronger, and independent,” she said of the ‘Educating Linda’ programme.

Moreover, she has been an inspirational pioneer in transforming patient care in Africa. More than 1300 doctors from 42 countries are benefiting from Merck Foundation scholarships in critical and underserved fields such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, and many more.

 “During Coronavirus pandemic, it has been more important than ever to build capacity and train specialized doctors. In some of these countries, they have never had even one oncologist. For example, they may only have a general practitioner. We simply made history in these countries such as The Gambia, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Botswana, Namibia, Chad, Niger, Guinea & Liberia, not only in Oncology but in many of critical and underserved specialty such as Respiratory, Pediatric, Orthopedic, Psychiatry, Intensive care and more,” she emphasized.

The 2021 list of 100 most Influential African Women has a representation of the most powerful African women from 28 African countries, chosen from various career backgrounds including diplomacy, philanthropy, politics, activism, entrepreneurship, business leadership, and entertainment.

It includes many famous names such as H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of Tanzania; H.E. Mariam Chabi Talata, the Vice President of Benin; H.E. Victoire Tomegah Dogbé, the Prime Minister of Togo and H.E. Jessica Rose Epel Alupo, the Vice President of Uganda, amongst others

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