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Aisha Yesufu, Bukky Shonibare — Nigerian women creating change through advocacy

Aisha Yesufu, Bukky Shonibare — Nigerian women creating change through advocacy
March 08
14:41 2020

Nigeria can arguably be said to be a patriarchal society where men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and other areas. But some Nigerian women in the civic space are pushing the limits, finding expressions, influencing political and social structures around them without fear.


From Aisha Yesufu who has been leading the campaign to demand the release of the abducted Chibok girls; Bukky Shonibare, founder of Girl Child Africa who is seeking improved access to education for children, to Oluwaseun Osowobi who is spearheading the advocacy to end gender-based violence, the list of Nigerian women braving the odds in the civic space abounds.

Aisha Yesufu


“I do not do Labels. I am ME. I say it as it is. My mum says in my court nobody wins. You would either love me or hate me and either one is perfectly okay,” those are the words she used to describe herself on her Twitter bio.

Yesufu came into limelight in 2014 following the abduction of 276 girls by Boko Haram from Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno state. As a co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign, Yesufu dressed in a red, long hijab and speaking through a megaphone, would gather with other women at a sit out at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to demand the rescue of the school girls.


She is also known to be a strong critic of President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration. Several times she has openly called for the resignation of the president.

Despite being a strong woman of faith, Yesufu continues to lend her voice to diverse issues affecting the country.

Oby Ezekwesili


Oby Ezekwesili, a seasoned administrator, has served in a number of public offices. She was the minister of solid minerals, minister for education (2005-2007), chairperson of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), and vice-president of the World Bank’s Africa division (2007-2012).


She co-founded Transparency International, an international non-governmental organisation leading the fight against corruption. She is also the pioneer of the BBOG campaign.

Fifty-six-year-old Ezekwesili also uses her social media handles to criticise the activities of the government she finds retrogressive — naming and shaming without fear.

She founded the #RedCardMovement in January 2019 with the goal of mobilising Nigerians to vote against bad governance in the 2019 general election.

In October 2018, Ezekwesili announced her interest to run for the office of the president in the 2019 elections. However, she withdrew from the race a few weeks to the election.


She recently won the Von Weizsäcker fellowship at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, Germany. With the fellowship, the former minister will be working on an academic project, investigating the “nexus between the quality of politics and the economic progress or decline of nations”.

She is a strong advocate for women inclusion in governance.

“I would like to see a lot of people more involved in practical solutions to practical problems. Women have got to the point where we can turn the world upside down.”- Oby Ezekwesili

Bukky Shonibare


Adebukola Shonibare, a law graduate, is best known for her advocacy for girls’ and women’s right.


Like Yesufu and Ezekwesili, Shonibare is also a pioneer of the BBOG movement.

Shonibare is the CEO for the 555 group, founder of Girl Child Africa and SheTV, platforms which are primarily “focused on promoting girls’ access to quality education in critically affected rural communities across Africa where girls’ education is empirically proven to be hugely challenged”.

Yemi Adamolekun


Adamolekun is the executive director of Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), a network of individuals and organisations committed to building good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship.

Adamolekun files petitions and leads protests against the government’s ”unpeople” policies. In November 2019, she was attacked during a demonstration calling for the release of Omoyele Sowore which was held outside the premises of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Abuja. She has also made it a point of duty to attend and monitor the trial of Sowore at every date fixed for trial.


Oluwaseun Osowobi


Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi is the executive director of Stand To End Rape (STER), a youth-led movement advancing gender equality and advocating an end to sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria through advocacy, prevention and support.

Her advocacy earned her a place in the 2019 TIME 100 Next list. Barack Obama, former president of the United States of America also commended Osowobi for making the list.

“Proud to see Oluwaseun @AyodejiOsowobi in this list. She’s an @ObamaFoundation Leader who’s organising young people in Nigeria to help end sexual violence, and her work embodies what our foundation is all about: passing the baton to the next generation,” Obama tweeted.


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