The past few years have seen Nigerian women break through the glass ceilings of Nigerian society and triumph at the top of their respective fields. These women may not be mainstream, satisfy beauty standards or conform to the patriarchal norms of the Nigerian society but they are kings of their own kingdoms, laying down the gauntlet to any man that dares.
Here are four women who embody the strength and brilliance of the Nigerian woman – we celebrate them today and hope you will find them inspiring:
Fashion – Deola Sagoe: Starting out on the side of her mother’s fashion business, Odua Creations, in 1988, Deola Sagoe has risen to the top of the African fashion industry with silent precision, thanks in part to the entrepreneurship in her blood. Even though her father, who founded Elizade Group with her mother, wanted her to join the family business, Deola was able to prove her mettle – adding contemporary design and an innovative approach to her mother’s fashion business which predominantly made traditional embroidered menswear. She won the M/NET Anglo Gold African Designs Award, having been nominated by the influential US Vogue Editor, Andre Leon Tally, kicking off what has become an illustrious career. Deola also became the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma, Rome’s celebrated fashion week, back in 2004. She is the first African designer to have her own dedicated show at the New York Fashion Week and her designs have been worn by people like Oprah and even Will Smith.
Movies – Tope Oshin: As an actor for 12 years, Tope Oshin was doing okay for herself. However, once she made the switch to directing and production, her career took off. Encouraged by the late, great Amaka Igwe, to get into production, Tope has gone from working as an assistant director for The Apprentice Africa, to directing and/or producing some of Nigeria’s biggest box office movies including The Wedding Party 2, Up North and Fifty. She has also directed or produced some of Nigeria’s biggest TV shows including 3 seasons of Tinsel, MTV Shuga Season 4 & 6 and Moments with Mo. What’s more, this absolute force of a woman has served as a juror for the International Emmy Award since 2015.
Sports – Asisat Oshoala: Raised on the streets of Ikorodu, Lagos, Asisat’s parents were absolutely appalled that their daughter wanted to drop out of school to play football, the so-called man’s game. But what they didn’t realise at the time was that Asisat was not only talented, she was also determined and very passionate. From humble days at FC Robo and Rivers Angels in the Nigerian Women’s Football Premier League (NWFPL), Oshoala has played all over the world for clubs like Liverpool Ladies, Arsenal Ladies, Chinese club Dalian Quanjian F.C. and now FC Barcelona Femeni, one of the biggest women’s football clubs in the world. She won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot at the U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2014 where Nigeria was runner-up, BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2015 and won the African Women’s Championship with the Super Falcons in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Even more impressive is the fact that she has been named African Women’s Footballer of the year thrice – and she’s only 25.
Business – Temie Giwa-Tubosun: Apart from being an awesome person (you should meet her), Temie also quit her comfortable dollar-paying job in 2016 to start LifeBank, a company that is using technology to hack supply chain problems associated with the delivery of blood and other high-value medical products to hospitals and medical centres. She was inspired after witnessing the death of a young mother in the North-East of Nigeria to tackle the terrible lack of access to blood and related services in the country. Since then, she has raised north of $500k in funding for her company, won multiple grants and awards, saved over a thousand lives and moved over 9,000 pints of blood to over 200 hospitals, as at 2018. Most recently, she won her company a $250K grant from Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma’s Africa Netpreneur Prize and launched Lifebank’s new drone delivery service – the first of its kind in Africa. What a woman, right?
Now that you’ve learned about some of Nigeria’s best and brightest women, I hope you will be inspired to go out there and chase your dreams regardless of what your parents, friends or society says! These women crawled so you can run – Go get it!