Dr Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation and President, ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ has been featured in the 2020 list of 100 Most Influential African Women.
The list released by ‘Be a Girl’ initiative recognised her efforts through Merck Foundation programmes to train thousands of African doctors, to support African communities during coronavirus lockdown, among other initiatives.
Part of her efforts also include empowerment of girls in education so that they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams through “Educating Linda” programme.
This is the second time, Dr Rasha Kelej has made it to the list of 100 Most Influential Africans (women and men).
In 2019, she was recognised 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 is a historic movement that aims to empower childless and infertile women through access to information, education, and change of mind-sets.
Dr Rasha Kelej has over the years unleashed the potential of young Africans by adopting a coherent strategy and implementing programmes that positively shape the public healthcare landscape in Africa.
The work of the foundation has seen thousand young doctors benefit 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.
Expressing gratitude on the recognition, Dr Rasha Kelej said she felt “honoured and proud” to receive the recognition and to be included in the prestigious list among renowned African women from all spheres of life.
“This is an important recognition not only for me but to Merck Foundation and our team. As an African and an Egyptian woman, I have a great passion for improving access to equitable and quality healthcare solutions for all Africans,” she said.
“I am very lucky to work as CEO of Merck Foundation as I am empowered by them to realise our unique vision through such successful pan African programmes 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’,” she added.
Dr Rasha Kelej believes empowering women starts with education, to enable them to be healthier, stronger, and independent.
She noted that the recognition would also encourage and motivate her to empower the talented girls of the continent.
The list had 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 included many famous names like; H. E. Monica Geingos, The First Lady of Namibia; H.E. Elene Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, amongst others.
Dr Rasha 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.