17 powerful women who have shaped Nigerian culture

We put the spotlight on some of the women whose actions have left a significant impact on our history.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (younghq)

Its that time of the year when we reflect on the amazing women whose contributions to society paved the way for women to keep shattering the glass ceiling.

In honour of the International Women's Day (IWD), which falls on Friday, March 8, 2019, Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa recognises and celebrates the outstanding efforts made by women in the economic, political and social sectors.

Here are 17 powerful women whose extraordinary achievements helped shaped Nigerian culture:

(1) Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900 - 1978)

Kuti was an activist, teacher, political campaigner, and founder of the Nigerian Women's Union. She was a total badass who went all out to fight for women's rights including something as basic as driving.

She is the first woman to drive a car in the entire country. Apart from being one of the prominent leaders of her generation, she is also the mother of Afrobeat musician and political activist Fela Kuti. 

(2) Margaret Ekpo (1914–2006)

Meet Nigeria's first female political activist. She is credited with helping women insert themselves into the First Republic. This refers to the period after Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960, and January 15, 1966, when the first military coup d'état took place.

(3) Ladi Dosei Kwali (1925–1984)

She is the pioneer of modern pottery in Nigeria. She is also the first and only Nigerian woman to appear on a currency note. She is on the N20 note.

(4) Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa (1931 - 1993)

She is the first female writer in the country. She is also Africa's first female novelist to have an internationally published work in the English language. 

(5) Kofo Ademola (1913 - 2002)

She is the first Nigerian woman to get an undergraduate degree from the Oxford University.

(6) Elizabeth Abimbola Awoliyi (1910 - 1971)

Awoliyi is the first female physician to practice in Nigeria. She is also the first West African woman to earn a license of Royal Surgeon in Dublin.

(7) General Aderonke Kale (1959-)

She is the first female army major-general in Nigeria. She enlisted in the army after becoming a medical doctor.

(8) Adetowun Ogunsheye (1926 - )

She is Nigeria's first female professor and the first female dean of a faculty.

(9) Virginia Etiaba (1942 - )

She is the first female governor in Nigeria's history. She ruled from November 2006 to February 2007.

(10) Grace Alele Williams (1932 - )

Williams was one of the first Nigerian women to obtain a PhD in Mathematics. She is also the first female vice-chancellor in Nigeria.

(11) Sarah Nnadzwa Jibril (1945 - )

She is Nigeria's first female presidential candidate both at the primaries and main elections. She contested to be president on four separate occasions. Jubril also served as the Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on ethics and moral values. 

(12) Folake Solanke (1932 - )

She is the first woman to join the Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN). 38 years later, women make up only 4.2% of the entire organisation.

(13) Captain Chinyere Onyenaucheya (1970 - )

Meet Nigeria's first female pilot. She is also the first female commercial pilot in the nation.

(14) Sandra Aguebor-Ekperuoh (the 1970s - )

Ekperuoh is the first female mechanic in Nigeria. She is empowering sexually abused and underprivileged women with her non-profit organization - the Lady Mechanic Initiative of Nigeria.

(15) Ire Aderinokun (1991 - )

The self-taught UI/UX Designer and Front-End Developer is the first Nigerian woman to become a Google development expert.

(16) Agbani Darego (1982 - )

She is the first woman from Nigeria and Africa to win the Miss World crown.

(17) Mosunmola Abudu (1964 - )

She is popularly known as Mo Abudu. She is the first woman to own a pan-African TV channel in Nigeria and the rest of the continent.

This article is part of Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa's 2019 International Women’s Day series.

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