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A Mission to Change the Image of Africa’s First Ladies

Promising to give away all her wealth – estimated at $3 million – to charity when she dies, Namibia’s Monica Geingos wants to tackle sexism and inequality in Namibia, the world’s second most unequal country. Geingos married Hage Geingob on Valentine’s Day in 2015 – a month before he was sworn in as president of the southern African desert nation, which gained independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990 but remains starkly unequal. The couple then voluntarily declared their combined assets of $7.44 million, a popular move in a continent where politicians and their wives, like Zimbabwe’s Grace Mugabe, grab headlines over unexplained riches. “I strongly believe that inheritance is one of the biggest drivers of inequality,” the 43-year-old lawyer and former head of Namibia’s first and largest private equity fund, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview at State House. Her charity lends money to entrepreneurs, gives grants to students and supports victims of gender-based violence. Its board members include a security guard and a domestic worker.