Joyce Banda, who has made history becoming Malawi's first female president and only the second woman to lead a country in Africa, has a track record of fighting for women's rights, writes the BBC's Raphael Tenthani.
Born in 1950 in the village of Malemia near the southern town of Zomba, Joyce Hilda Ntila was the eldest in a family of five children.
Her father was the leader of Malawi's police brass band and her youngest sister, Anjimile, ran pop star Madonna's charity Raising Malawi until it closed in December.
She left her first husband in 1981, taking her three children with her, because he was abusive.
"Most African women are taught to endure abusive marriages. They say endurance means a good wife but most women endure abusive relationship because they are not empowered economically, they depend on their husbands,"
she told the BBC about her decision.
Eight years later, Mrs Banda founded the National Association of Business Women, a group that lends start-up cash to small-scale traders - making her popular among Malawi's many rural poor.
That work also earned her international recognition - in 1997, she was awarded, along with former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano, the US-based Hunger Project's Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger.
She also set up the Joyce Banda Foundation, a charity that assists Malawian children and orphans through education - she has a degree in early childhood education.