Dr Rasha Kelej, the chief executive of Merck Foundation has featured on the list of 100 Most Influential African Women 2020, released by ‘Be a Girl’ Initiative.
Kelej, who is also president of Merck More Than a Mother, was recognized for her efforts through Merck Foundation programs, to train thousands of African doctors, supporting African communities during coronavirus lockdown and for helping girls pursue their dreams through education empowerment under the program dubbed “Educating Linda.”
More than a thousand young doctors from 35 countries have benefited from unique opportunities of specialty education in many fields such as diabetes, cardiovascular, endocrinology, sexual and reproductive medicines, respiratory, acute medicines, oncology, fertility, embryology, and scientific research.
“I feel honored and proud to receive this recognition and to be included in this prestigious list among such renowned African women from all spheres of life. This is an important recognition not only for me but to Merck Foundation and our team,” Kalej said in a statement.
She noted that as an African and an Egyptian woman, she holds a great passion for improving access to equitable and quality healthcare solutions for all Africans.
“I am very lucky to work as CEO of Merck Foundation as I am empowered by them to realize our unique vision through such successful pan African programs in partnership with African First Ladies, to contribute to the future of these girls as part of our signature campaign “Merck More Than a Mother”. I strongly believe that empowering women starts with education, to enable them to be healthier, stronger, and independent.”
The recognition, she said, will also encourage and motivate her to empower talented girls from the continent.
I promise to use my influence to support and empower women, support girl child education, and build healthcare capacity in Africa, Asia and beyond, she added.
The list has a representation of the most powerful African women from 34 countries, chosen from various career backgrounds including diplomacy, philanthropy, politics, activism, entrepreneurship, business leadership, and entertainment.
It includes many famous names including Monica Geingos, the First Lady of Namibia; Elene Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, amongst others.
Dr. Kelej, has been able to work in long term partnerships with 18 African First Ladies as Ambassadors of Merck more than a Mother to build local healthcare capacity, empower girls in education and break infertility stigma across the continent.
This is the second time to be recognized, as she made it to the list of the 100 Most Influential Africans (women and men) in 2019 by New African Magazine, UK, for empowering women in general and infertile women in particular through the “Merck More Than a Mother” campaign.
The campaign aims to empower childless and infertile women through access to information, education, and change of mind-sets.