Two Nigerian women – co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, Aisha Yesufu and filmmaker/director, Uyaiedu Ipke-Etim – have been listed amongst the BBC’s 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for the year 2020.
According to BBC, this year’s 100 Women list “is highlighting those who are leading change and making a difference during these turbulent times”.
Born on December 12 1974 in Kano State, northwest Nigeria, Aisha Yesufu is a socio-political activist, and co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Movement, an advocacy group that brings attention to the abduction of over 200 girls, from a secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 14 2014, by Boko Haram terrorist group.
Yesufu, alongside the former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili were at the forefront of the campaign that drew attention worldwide including that of the former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
She has also been a leading figure in the #EndSARS movement, a campaign that drew attention to the highhandedness of now-disbanded police unit called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Mrs. Yesufu who was born by Edo parents but raised in Kano had always shared her difficult experiences of being a girl-child in a heavily patriarchal environment.
In her words;
By the time I was 11 years old, I did not have any female friends because all of them had been married off but I wanted to be educated and leave the ghetto. Most of my mates were almost grandmothers when I married at 24.
Uyaiedu Ipke-Etim is a film-maker, director and LGBTQ+ activist, who has committed herself to creating stories about marginalised groups in Nigeria.
Her latest film, Ife, which means “love” in Yoruba, tells the story of two Nigerian lesbians navigating the harsh, homophobic realities of Nigeria. Following the announcement of the film’s impending release, it has faced state censorship in Nigeria.
Others on the list are: four-time Grammy award winner Angélique Kidjo, who advocates on behalf of children as a UNICEF ambassador, Sanna Marin, who leads Finland’s all-female coalition government, Michelle Yeoh, star of the new Avatar and Marvel films and Sarah Gilbert, who heads the Oxford University research into a coronavirus vaccine, as well as Jane Fonda, a climate activist and actress.
Also, BBC in a unique way left one name on the 100 Women list blank as a tribute to countless women around the world have made sacrifices to help others this year.
Click here to see the exhaustive list of women around the world who made it to the prestigious list.