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The annual Miss Universe competition airs tonight on NBC, and will be hosted by GlobalGrind’s own Leila Lopes.

Leila, who is originally from Angola, Africa, was crowned Miss Universe last year and is known for both her beauty and dedication to philanthropic work.

Forbes recently highlighted Leila and 19 other incredible women from Africa on their list of 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa 2012.”

Mfonobong Nsehe reports: 

As Africa continues to rise, so do African women. With the upward economic, social and political trajectory of the continent, a new breed of African women continues to emerge. So much so, that the African Union christened the years 2010 to 2020 as the “African Women’s Decade.” 

With Leila’s spot on the prestigious list, they highlighted some of her hard work and dedication:

On September 12, 2011, Lopes was crowned Miss Universe, becoming the first Angolan woman to win the position, the fourth African to win the title (Miss South Africa took the title in 1978, Miss Namibia won in 1992, Miss Botswana won in 1999) and the second Black African woman to win following Mpule Kwelagobe from Botswana in 1999. As the reigning Miss Universe, Lopes used the platform for advocacy for HIV and AIDS patients worldwide.

The other honorable women include:

Leymah Gbowee, Liberia, Peace and Women’s Rights Activist

Cina Lawson, Togo, Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Togo

Juliana Rotich, Kenya, Co-Founder Ushahidi

Patience Mthunzi, PhD. South Africa, Senior Scientist, CSIR

Maud Chifamba, Zimbabwe, 14-year old University Accounting Student

Florence Iwegbue, Nigeria, Attorney & Co-Founder, LiveWello

Lisa Opoku, Ghana, Chief Operating Officer, Goldman Sachs

Isha Sesay, Sierra Leone, News Anchor & Journalist, CNN 

Rainatou Sow, Guinea, Women’s Right Activist, Founder & Executive Director, Make Every Woman Count

Biola Alabi, Nigeria, Managing Director, MNET Africa

Lorna Rutto, Kenya, Sustainable Living and Green Technology Entrepreneur, Ecopost

Yolanda Sangweni, South Africa, Senior Editor/Producer, ESSENCE.com

Danai Gurira, Zimbabwe, Actress & Writer

Eunice Cofie, Ghana, Founder & Chief Cosmetic Chemist, Nuekie

Marieme Jamme, Senegal, Social Entrepreneur, Technologist & CEO, SpotOne Global Solutions

Jepchumba, Kenya, Digital Content Creator, Cultural Curator, African Digital Art

Redi Tlhabi, South Africa, Journalist, Broadcaster & Author

Swaady Martin-Leke, Ivory Coast, Entrepreneur & Founder, Yswara

Jacqueline Chimhanzi, PhD. Zimbabwe, Corporate Executive

Congrats to the 20 women and don’t forget to watch Leila host tonight’s Miss Universe competition on NBC.

SOURCE: Forbes