Having searched around and monitored the work of women who have contributed immensely to humanity by the act of their work, sacrifices and mentorship, there is no doubt these 25 women tick all the boxes and deserve to be celebrated on this special day.
In no particular other, here’s our list of 25 women pressing for progress.
1. Linda Ikeji is a Blogger, Writer, Entrepreneur and former Model. She is best known for her blog which has made her the highest paid blogger in Nigeria and one of the fastest rising entrepreneurs in the country.
2. Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru is the Founder of Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF). She is a strong advocate of gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls and is known for her unmitigated passion for women’s rights which led her to establish the Women at Risk International Foundation WARIF. She believes that it is our primary social responsibility to ensure that globally, all young girls and women live in a society free of rape and sexual violence.
3. Afua Osei and Yasmine Bello are the Founders of She Leads Africa, a women’s social enterprise seeking to address challenges African women face in creating, growing, and sustaining their businesses and building a career.
4. Nnedi Okoroafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, ‘Weapons of mass creation’, The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination ‘stunning’.
5. Funke Opeke is an experienced Telecommunications Executive who founded Main Street Technologies, and the C.E.O. of MainOne Cable. In a field that is fiercely dominated by men, we’re inspired by the way she keeps charting new courses.
6. Ngozi Edozien is the founder and Managing Director of Invivo Partners Limited. She has over 20 years’ experience in finance/private equity, general management and strategy/business development functions with multinational companies in Europe, USA and Africa. She was instrumental to Ikeja City Mall initiative which had been applauded in many quarters.
1. Stephanie Busari is a Journalist, CNN Africa Editor and Gracie Award Winner for her extensive coverage of the missing Chibok Girls. Using her platform, she has consistently showed her commitment to uplifting social good and telling different stories about Nigeria and Africa.
2. Arunma Oteh is popularly known as the woman who refused to be cowed or intimated at a Senate Panel hearing session. She is currently the Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank. She was also the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission in Nigeria.
3. Kadaria Ahmed is a Nigerian Journalist, Media Entrepreneur, and Television Host. She started her career at the BBC and has worked in print, radio, television, online and social media platforms. In 2011, she moderated Nigeria’s presidential election debate on live television. In 2014, she co-created, produced and presented ‘Straight Talk’, an interview program designed to probe and confront Nigeria’s decision makers on important matters. The syndicated show grew to an audience of over 4 million viewers globally. Some of her notable interview subjects include Ibrahim Babangida, Tonye Princewill, Babatunde Fashola, Rotimi Amaechi, Ali Baba, Oby Ezekwesili, among many others.
4. Toyosi Ogunseye is a Journalist and Investigative Reporter who revealed the impact of a steel plant located in a residential area on the health of residents. The noxious fumes emitted by the Steel Plant annoyed residents and medical results of tests run on the residents and their drinking water revealed that the residents’ blood, urine and drinking water had poisonous metals that were developing into cancers, asthma and other ailments. When the story was published, the government was forced to shut down the plant and only allowed it to reopen with strict regulations. The plant’s owner also agreed to compensate the residents. Toyosi is the current Head of Language Service for the BBC in West Africa and she is using journalism to spark positive change in Nigeria.
1. The Bobsled Team – Seun Adigun, NgoziOnwumere and AkuomaOmeoga shaped history to become Nigeria’s first women’s bobsled team in the Winter Olympics.
2. Omobola Johnson Used her influential position as Minister of Information, Communications and Technology to create programs and policies that will ensure that Nigerian girls become active participants in the ICT sector by launching the ‘SmartWomen Initiative’ and the ‘1000 Girls in Training’ program. She’s also the founding chairperson of Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ), a non-governmental organization seeking to improve the success rate of female entrepreneurs as well as increase the number of women in senior positions in corporate organizations.
3. Bolanle Austen-Peters is known as a game changer who stormed the entertainment industry with a bang and has continued to stay at the top. She is a lawyer turned culture promoter. Austen-Peters has hit the international mark. First, her award winning ‘Wakaa the Musical’ was the first Nigerian stage play to grace a London Theatre. She recently went back to the British terrain to showcase the finest of Nigerian culture at The Shaw Theatre in West London in a six-day stage play.
4. Emmanuella Samuel is one of the most popular comedians in Nigeria, and she is only seven years old. Her talent was discovered by Mark Angel who nurtured her career in comedy and together, they have built the ‘Emmanuella’ brand up to the global level. She has a YouTube Gold award, has starred in an advert for Wikipedia and hosted Nickeledeon’s Nick Fest show. She also made Mark Angel Comedy the most subscribed YouTube channel in Nigeria. In 2016, Emmanuella was awarded the Best New Comedienne and Princess of Comedy at the Afro-Australia Music and Movie Awards in Australia while Mark Angel Comedy won Best Sub-Saharan Channel at the YouTube Awards in 2017.Emmanuella is working on a movie with Disney.
5. Mrs. Nimi Akinkugbe is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bestman Games Ltd, the African distributor of customized editions of Monopoly, Hasbro’s world famous game. She is the pioneer for personal finance literacy of the general populace of Nigeria, and after a distinguished banking career spanning over 2 decades, Mrs. Nimi turned her attention to providing frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance and wealth management issues under the auspices of the brand “Money Matters with Nimi,” through speaking engagements, television and radio appearances and social media, the Monopoly Board Games and her book, “A – Z of Personal Finance”. Through these platforms, she has been able to empower people to take responsibility for this most important aspect of their lives and she is not stopping.
6. Maya Horgan-Famodu is the founder/Chief Executive of Ingressive, an investment group that backs top African tech, and leads investment tourism “Tour of Tech” to the continent. She’s brought companies including Y Combinator to Nigeria. She is the gatekeeper between tech investors and the Africa entrepreneur ecosystem.
1. Hadiza Bala-Usman is the initiator of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign – a global online and offline campaign aimed at freeing 219 school girls abducted by the vicious Boko Haram sect.
2. Nkem Okocha is the founder of Mamamoni; a Social Enterprise that empowers poor rural and urban slum women with free vocational skills and Mobile Loans, helping them to become financially included in society, to increase their household incomes, to upskill them in their micro-businesses, and to educate their children. The Mamamoni initiative provides mobile microcredit to low income rural and urban slum women, making them banked using mobile technology and training them on different vocational skills in order to empower them. The initiative has impacted and empowered women in different communities with skills and tools to help them to succeed in their businesses.
3. Dr. Yinka Akindayomi is the Founder of the Children’s Development Centre, a foundation that is helping to fight against discrimination of children with autism.
4. Temi Giwa-Tubosun is a Nigerian-American health entrepreneur, founder of LifeBank (formerly One Percent Project), a business enterprise in Nigeria working to improve access to blood transfusions in the country.
1. Dr. Ola Orekunrin is a Medical Doctor, Helicopter Pilot, Healthcare Entrepreneur and Founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service. She’s dedicated to bringing trauma care to the most remote parts of Western Africa and her company, an air ambulance service based in Lagos, is doing just that. She was motivated to start the company after her younger sister tragically died whilst traveling in Nigeria as a consequence of there being no medical air service available to transport her to hospital.
2. Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji is a Social entrepreneur, the Founder of RISE NETWORKS, a social enterprise with a primary focus on wholesome youth and education development. The organization focuses on creating intellectual development and capacity building programs for young Nigerians between 16 and 30 and receives generous support from several state governments and blue-chip companies. She is also an alumnus of the United States Government’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
3. Chioma Ukonu is the COO of RecyclePoints, an incentive based recycling scheme. Recycle Points is a waste recycling and social benefit venture that operates an incentive-based scheme which collects recyclable materials from individuals and rewards them with ‘points’, which they can accumulate and redeem for cash or other useful items offered through their ‘i-Recycle Store’.
4. Mary Olushoga is a women’s’ right and small business advocate. She is the founder of the African Women Power (AWP), an online platform empowering small business success for African entrepreneurs. She is a 2015 Vital Voices Global Leadership Fellow, an IndiAfrica Young Visionary Fellow (2014), a Women4Africa International Media Woman of the Year (2014), a Crans Montana ‘New Leader’ (2014), the first-ever GOOD Maker/Oxfam America International Women’s Day Challenge Winner, a Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) Associate, and an Oxfam America Sisters on the Planet Ambassador.
5. Ifeoma Obianwu-Fafunwa has over 20 years professional experience in designing and directing artistic projects in theatre arts and architecture in Nigeria and USA. She is the founder and creative director of iOpenEye; a performance art production company in Nigeria that challenges the status quo when it limits the potential of women and progress of the collective African society. Her most recent project is the touring stage production titled “Hear Word!” – a collection of monologues based on true stories of inequality told by 20 Nigerian women.