Women have excelled in a wide range of ventures, from media to technology, from business to entertainment, from sport to politics. Against the odds, women have stood out and distinguished themselves as founders of startups, as gender advocates, as pioneers of new art forms, and as leaders in today’s world.
Why We Celebrate International Women’s Day
Every year, the 8th day in the month of March is set aside to commemorate International Women’s Day. One day is not enough, nay, 365 days are not enough to celebrate the essence of womanhood, but it is worthy of note that the calendar makes room to acknowledge the relevance of women to world affairs, as well as their contributions to society on a local and global scale.
It’s very easy to question the essence of International Women’s Day when gender discrimination and gender pay gap still exist in the workplace, when women still find it difficult to pursue careers in entertainment without having to factor in the possibility of sexual harassment, when domestic violence still holds sway, and when women still have to jostle for few spaces like Lagos commuters trying to get into a tiny bus. Nonetheless, it is still necessary that women around the world be lauded for their achievements, and it is important that we keep agitating for the increased visibility of women. As a matter of fact, we need the inauguration of more events that seek to place women centre stage, emphasising concrete actions over mere optics.
Continuing to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower women and girls to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainability is essential for sustainable development and greater gender equality. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.
Nigerian Women Currently Breaking Boundaries
Over the decades, Nigerian women have stood up to be counted, gone against the grain, and shattered glass ceilings, thriving in the face of systems skewed against them. Here is a list of women currently pushing boundaries in today’s Nigeria:
1. Feyikemi Abudu
In 2016, Feyikemi Abudu rose into the spotlight on Nigerian Twitter as a sharp-witted, wine-loving, feminist. She is one-half of the most popular podcasts in Nigeria, ‘I Said What I Said’, which she hosts with her friend Jola Ayeye. Feyikemi schooled in the University College of London, between 2011 to 2015, where she studied Chemical Engineering. In 2015, she attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where she obtained a certificate in Entrepreneurial Studies.
In 2020, she was actively involved in the logistics pertaining to the #EndSARS protests, organizing funds to sort hospital bills, provide food and also engage the services of lawyers to bail out detained protesters. She is passionate about women’s rights and deconstructing the barriers that have been entrenched to limit the social and economic powers of women.
2. Odunayo Eweniyi
Odunayo Eweniyi is a Nigerian business executive and activist. She is the Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer PiggyVest. She is also the co-founder of Feminist Coalition, a group of young Nigerian feminists who advocate for equality in the Nigerian society.
In 2018, Odunayo won the Future Awards Africa Prize in Technology. During the #EndSARS protests in 2020 against Nigerian police brutality, she raised donations for medical care and legal support for victims of police brutality during and after the protests. For her activism, she was listed in the Time 100 Next for 2021.
3. Damilola Odufuwa
Damilola is the Head of PR for Africa at Binance. She began her career working on MTV Shuga – a 360 campaign fusing TV, digital media and mobile elements to educate young people on HIV, sexual violence etc. Since then Damilola has worked as an editor-in-chief and producer for local and global media publications such as CNN, Konbini, Zikoko etc. She is also the co-founder of Wine & Whine – an online community, women’s event and social enterprise for Nigerian women where she tackles issues ranging from sexual violence to financial literacy.
In recognition of her work, Damilola was listed as one of the ‘100 Most Inspiring Women In Nigeria in 2018’ by Leading Ladies Africa and is a 2019 honouree of OkayAfrica’s ‘Okay 100 Women’. She was also listed in the Time 100 Next for 2021, a decision influenced by her activism during the #EndSARS protests.
4. Oluchi Ezeugo
Oluchi Ezeugo is the Corporate Communications Manager at Paga, Nigeria’s leading payment solution. She has previously served as Communications Manager at Okra Inc., Senior Coordinator at Andela, and Public Relations Coordinator at Ebonylife TV.
Oluchi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Journalism from Concordia College, as well as a Master’s degree in Corporate Communications from IE Business School. She is passionate about arts and culture, children and human rights.
5. Yanmo Omorogbe
Yanmo Omorogbe is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Bamboo, a digital investment platform that gives Nigerians real-time access to trade assets on the U.S. stock exchanges using their mobile phones or computers. Yanmo founded the Bamboo trading app alongside Richmond Bassey, and the platform was launched in 2019 for Nigerians to trade shares of publicly traded American companies. In January 2022, Bamboo raised a $15 million Series A funding round to accelerate its growth across the African market.
The achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment by business is fundamental to building a sustainable future that leaves no one behind. To get the world to where it needs to be, we need to empower women. If there was ever any time to provide more visibility for women, it is now.