7 Nigerian Women of Substance who made the Headlines in 2020
As we celebrate Nigerian women who made the headlines in 2020, UN Women in Nigeria defined the Nigerian woman as “a symbol representing – courage, strength, resilience, hope, tenacity and transformational power.”
Realising Women’s Rights is about building an inter-generational movement to advance women’s rights and gender equality. It is also about inclusivity and participation, as the gains of gender equality are not just for women and girls, but for everyone who will benefit from a more gender-equal world.
Despite UN Agencies’ progress in ensuring gender equality across the globe, obstacles like Gender-based violence, early marriage, illiteracy, and lack of equal rights in high-level decision making still stand in Nigerian women’s way.
Nigerian women across the globe continue to play respective roles in nation-building. Those that rise to positions of influence celebrated for braving the odds in men dominated world.
1. Amina Mohammed
At the Global scene, the Deputy Secretary-General of United Nations Nigerian Ms. Amina Mohammed hit the headlines in 2020 working closely with UN Agencies fighting for gender equality, including milestone achievements.
On records, Amina has supported more than 175 successful legal reforms and 25 constitutional reforms to strengthen women’s rights, including property, land, and protection from discrimination and violence.
Some of her efforts, have strengthened access to essential services, including health and legal services, for survivors of violence against women in nearly 60 countries.
Similarly, over 130 experts were deployed to investigate conflict-related sexual violence, including secondments to every single UN commission of inquiry since 2010, national courts, and the International Criminal Court. This has resulted in some of the ‘firsts’ in prosecution of gender-related crimes under international law.
She encourages supports for women’s meaningful participation in peace processes in Colombia, Syria and Yemen and several other countries and building the relationships and platform for women’s civil society to engage in the Organization’s work.
Before she was appointed UN DSG, Ms. Mohammed served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment.
Ms. Mohammed first joined the United Nations in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the responsibility for post-2015 development planning. She led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and creating the Sustainable Development Goals.
2. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala former Nigerian Finance and Foreign Affairs Minister is on the brink of yet another first woman, as a finalist to the top post as the seventh Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This position will make Okonjo-Iweala the first African and the first woman to lead the prestigious trade body.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has announced that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria) is “best poised to attain consensus” to become its seventh Director-General. The US, however, has indicated it does not support Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy.
General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand and his two co-facilitators in the selection process to choose the WTO’s next Director-General told the organisation’s members on 28 October that based on their consultations with all delegations the candidate best poised to attain consensus and become the 7th Director-General was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria.
3. Aisha Buhari
The First Lady of Nigeria and president’s wife Dr Aisha Buhari hit the headlines in 2020 calling for funding and harmonisation laws to fight Gender Based violence Nigeria she joined by wives of State Governors, UN spotlight initiatives, and the Nigerian Governors Forum.
4. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed
Zainab Ahmed is Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning—a portfolio that makes her one of the country’s most influential ministers. In 2020 despite COVID 19 lockdown, she maintained a boost in government revenue, with plans underway to raise value-added tax while taming public debt that is now estimated at more than $80 billion. Mrs Ahmed, was reassigned as the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning following the then finance minister’s resignation, Kemi Adeosun, said since her assumption, she has identified inadequate revenue as Government’s biggest challenge.
Her 2020 prioritise included boosting revenue generation, strengthening the newly constituted eight Tax Appeal Tribunals across the country to accelerate the resolution of the over 209 pending cases relating to tax revenues of about $18.804 billion, N205.654 billion and €0.821 million.
Zainab shared a photo with Amina accompanied with the caption: “The 73rd session of UNGA has come to an end, but only after I met my sister Amina J. Mohammed, who has consistently done Nigerian and African women proud.
5. Abike Dabiri Irewa
In 2020 amidst of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown with the support of other African Countries and Air Peace Nigeria Ltd, Abike champion the evacuation of stranded Nigerian across globe cut up in different countries of the world due covid 19 lockdowns 2020. There have been multiple evacuations from some countries.
Since NiDCOM inception, other achievements are; the State Diaspora Focal Point Officers Meetings, Diaspora Accolade of their humanitarian skills and their Good deeds abroad, Rescue missions and intervention for Nigerians abroad.
The history of Nigeria has had many women come out to fight and push for their rights. Those battles strong women before us fought downplayed.
6. Aisha Yesufu
End SARS backbone: Aisha Yesufu, co-founder of the Bring Back Our Girls Movement, has been working over the last six years to rescue the schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok by Islamist Boko Haram militants. She was among tens of thousands of young Nigerians, including many women, who made history with the protests that swept the country in October against police brutality.
She was among the EndSars protesters who were tear-gassed by police in the capital, Abuja. But she didn’t run away from the fracas, and her picture of defiance later became one of the symbols of the EndSars movement. Ms Yesufu says it is not surprising that women became the backbone of the EndSars protests. In her words, she asserted “Women have always been the ones who get things done. Any protest that led to change has always been women-led,”
7. Funke Akindele Nigerian actress and comedian: Hit the headlines creating awareness and prevention campaign of COVIID – 19 asking her fans to observe all NCDC protocols. On the contrary, she got into trouble organising a lockdown party gone wrong After taking to social media to ask her fans to stay home. Movie producer and Actress Funke found herself on the wrong side of the law when she was arrested for throwing a birthday party during Lagos’ lockdown. She after that issued a public apology.
The history women leading In Protest in Nigeria dated by in 1929 when the Aba women’s riots – also referred to as the “Women’s War” – were sparked by plans to tax southern market women. Over two months, thousands of women were involved in protests that saw colonial shops and banks attacked, and courts burnt down. In the end, the colonial administrators backed down.
Eighteen years later, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, mother of the famous Afrobeat star Fela Kuti, successfully mobilised thousands of women against more proposed taxes to be levied on small traders.
Maimuna Waziri, Staff Writer