To celebrate the International Women’s Day, we have brought you a list of women who have challenged the status quo and imprinted their footstep into the sands of time in Nigeria. I bet the list would inspire you as a woman.
Captain Chinyere Kalu
She is the first Nigerian Female Pilot. Her decision to take being a pilot as a career was motivated by her aunt; who was the first woman from her hometown to travel overseas. Captain Chinyere is a part of the few female who is a member of the order of the Federal Republic (MFR). In 2011, she was the former Rector and Chief Executive of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), the largest aviation training institute in Africa.
Ibukun Abiodun Awosika
She was the first woman to ever chair the board of a bank – First bank Plc in specific. Mrs Awosika began her entrepreneurship journey at age 25 when she resigned from Alibert Nigeria Ltd to start her own furniture manufacturing company; Quebees Ltd now known today as The Chair Centre Ltd. Ibukun Awosika sits at the board of several companies among which are Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Digital Jewels Ltd and Convention on Business Integrity. She is also the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ). Her most favourite book is Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
She is Nigeria’s first lady mechanic. She studied mechanical engineering at the Auchi Polytechnic graduating in 1991 as the first Nigerian woman to be certified as an auto-mechanical engineer. Sandra opened her own garage in Lagos, established a solid customer base and began to bring other women into her profession. Today, she is the founder of Lady Mechanic Initiative which trains females mechanics. She also launched an After School Club Project, in partnership with the MacAthur Foundation aimed at grooming young female public school students in Lagos State for gainful employment. In one of her interview she said, “I had this dream — Jesus Christ teaching me how to fix cars, When I first mentioned it to my parents, it was a big taboo. They said, ‘No never, you can’t even dare it.’ I said, ‘But God has instructed me. This is what I’ll do for the rest of my life.’ Today she is the greatest woman in that field.
Until her death in year 2006, she was an Icon of Nigerian politics and a pioneer activist of women’s rights. Today, her distinguished name graces the Calabar International Airport and Ekpo Refectory at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Initially attending political meetings on behalf of her husband and completely unsatisfied with being the only woman present, Mrs Ekpo launched and ingenious scheme to bring other women into politics. Since this was after the Second World War and scarcity of basic household items still persisted, Margaret Ekpo deposited money for all available bags of salt thus ensuring she was able to control its sale to members of her Aba Market Women Association only. Any woman who was not registered as a member was denied access to salt. The Aba Market Women Association therefore become a veritable platform through which she could convey all the information she heard at the political meetings. She also used the association to promote women solidarity as a platform to fight for the economic rights of women, economic protections and expansionary political rights of women. She was also instrumental in extracting the promise of Universal Adult Suffrage from Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.
She is a former Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria best known as the first native Sub-Saharan African to win Miss World. She has gone on to judge numerous pageants, and fashion and modelling competitions including Miss World 2014, Miss England 2002, Mr. Scotland 2002,and Elite Model Look Nigeria 2012 and 2014. In 2010 she launched a style and fashion reality show Stylogenic on Nigerian television. Three years later Agbani showed us her entrepreneurial side with the launch of her denim range, AD by Agbani Darego, which includes jeans, dresses, sunglasses and bags. She also studied Psychology at New York University and graduated in 2012.
These people were ordinary women who chose to do the extra-ordinary; they succeeded and were celebrated for these feats. Others include Tara Fela-durotoye, Admiral Itunu Hotonu, Mo Abudu, Dr. Salamat Ahuoiza Aliu, Olabisi Alofe-Kolawole , Captain Abimbola Jayeola (Captain AB), Chief ‘Folake Solanke (SAN), Maureen Nkeiruka Mmadu, Professor Remi Sonaiya and so on..the list is immeasurable. As a woman, do not let this list discourage you. There are more mileage to be covered by women especially in this century when odds are being defied with ease.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Women in the Changing World of Work”
To read more about the international Women’s Day as celebrated by the United Nations, click here