Every year on March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across the nation. The 2016 edition has the theme “Pledge for Parity” and we here are celebrating women that have inspired us throughout the ages by working tirelessly and showing to the world that they are good at what they do.
1. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, also known as Francis Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas was born on October 25, 1900, in Abeokuta. Throughout her career, she was known as an educator and activist. She joined forces with Elizabeth Adekogbe in providing dynamic leadership for the women’s rights in the 1950s. It was her, who founded an organization for women in Abeokuta, that had more than 20,000 women as members, including both literate and illiterate women. n the year 1953, she founded the Federation of Nigerian Women Societies, an association that subsequently formed an alliance with the Women’s International Democratic Federation. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti campaigned for and ensured that women’s votes counted during elections.
2. Obiageli Ezekwesili
Obiageli Ezekwesili is a Nigerian chartered accountant. She was a co-founder of Transparency International, serving as one of the pioneer directors of the global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany. She served as Federal Minister of Solid Minerals and then as Federal Minister of Education during the second-term presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo. Since then, she served as the Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division from May 2007 to May 2012. While working for the government as the Pioneer head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (aka Due Process Unit), she earned the sobriquet of “Madam Due Process” for the outstanding work she led a team of professionals to do in sanitising public procurement or contracting at the Federal level in Nigeria. Ezekwesili was instrumental to the start of the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media, which trended internationally.
3. Margaret Ekpo
Margaret Ekpo (1914-2006) was a Nigerian women’s rights activist and social mobilizer who was a pioneering female politician in the country’s First Republic and a leading member of a class of traditional Nigerian women activists, many of whom rallied women beyond notions of ethnic solidarity. She played major roles as a grassroots and nationalist politician in the Eastern Nigerian city of Aba, in the era of a hierarchical and male-dominated movement towards independence, with her rise, not the least helped by the socialization of women’s role into that of helpmates or appendages to the careers of males.
4. Dora Akunyili
Dora Nkem Akunyili (14 July 1954 – 7 June 2014) was the Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Nigeria and Nigerian Minister of Information and Communications from 2008 to 2010. She was a pharmacist and governmental administrator who gained international recognition and won several awards for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights. Following her appointment as the Director General of NAFDAC in April 2001, Akunyili established as a top priority the eradication of counterfeit drugs and unsafe food. Before her assumption of office in NAFDAC, fake and substandard foods and drugs were sold in Nigeria without any form of regulation. She was disheartened that “so many of (her) countrymen and women (were) fighting killer diseases like malaria and tuberculosis with little more than sugar syrup and chalk tablets, cynically packaged to look like the real thing. Although Akunyili faced considerable risk to her personal safety in her fight to combat the issue of fake drugs, “She [has been] dancing with danger. And she [has been collecting] very visibly awards all over the world appearing with whoever has a smile to share.
5. Ameyo Adadevoh
Ameyo Stella Shade Adadevoh was a Nigerian physician credited with having curbed a wider spread of the Ebola virus in Nigeria by placing the patient zero, Patrick Sawyer, in quarantine despite pressures from the Liberian Government. On 4 August 2014, it was confirmed that she had tested positive for Ebola virus disease and was being treated.
Adadevoh died on 19th August 2014. She was posthumously praised for preventing the Nigerian index case from leaving the hospital at the time of diagnosis, thereby playing a key role in curbing the spread of the virus in Nigeria.
6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist, nonfiction writer and short story writer. She has been called “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature. Adichie spoke of being a feminist for TEDxEuston in December 2012, with her speech entitled, “We should all be feminists”.This speech was sampled for the 2013 song “***Flawless” by American performer Beyoncé, where it attracted further attention. She shared her experiences of being an African feminist, and her views on gender construction and sexuality. Adichie believes that the problem with gender is that it shapes who we are.
7. Mo Abudu
Mosunmola Abudu is a talk show host, TV producer, media personality, human resources management consultant, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She has been described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman”. Abudu started off her career in the UK as a recruitment consultant in 1987, becoming a branch manager. She went on to work for the Starform Group, managing the Corporate Credit Management Exhibition from 1990 to 1992. In 1993, she joined Arthur Andersen for Esso Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited (now ExxonMobil) to head their Human Resources and Training unit. She left in 2000 to establish a privately owned specialist human resources development company known as Vic Lawrence & Associates Limited (popularly known as VLA). While running VLA, Abudu developed an executive training centre at the Protea Hotel, Oakwood Park, Lagos. In 2013, she launched Ebonylife TV, a multi-platform broadcaster set to reach Africa’s most important target demographic, the custodians of the present and the future.
8. Arunma Oteh
Arunma Oteh, OON (Officer of the Order of the Niger), is the Treasurer and Vice President of the World Bank. She became the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Nigeria in January 2010. In this position, she was responsible for regulation of Nigeria’s capital markets, including the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In July 2015, after her tenure in the SEC, she was appointed the vice president and treasurer of the World Bank. Oteh worked for various institutions including the Harvard Institute for International Development and Centre Point Investments Limited of Nigeria in corporate finance, consulting, teaching and research. She joined the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 1992.
9. Ndidi Nwuneli
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, MFR (born on March 22, 1975) is a Nigerian social entrepreneur. She has 19 years of experience in International Development and Business Management working with multinational firms, the public sector, and international organizations. In 2002, she founded LEAP Africa, a nonprofit organization that focuses on encouraging leadership and development initiatives for youth and business owners in Nigeria.
She is currently the co-founder of AACE Food Processing & Distribution Ltd. (AACE Foods), an indigenous agro-processing company in Lagos, Nigeria and one of the directors of Sahel Capital & Advisory Partners, an advisory and private equity firm in Nigeria, which focuses on the agribusiness and manufacturing sectors. Nwuneli holds a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.