Nigeria’s Female Trailblazers

Nigeria is a beautiful country rich in every aspect of life, from natural resources to cultural heritage and intellectuals. It is a country blessed with beautiful, talented, and hard-working women in various fields who have gone out of their way to make a name for themselves and in their career paths.
In every sector of the country, Nigerian women have been making great strides and adding their marks to the never-ending sands of time.
With so much work put into making a name for themselves, they have emerged as powerful voices, breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes. Such women have significantly impacted the country, leaving a long-lasting mark on both local and international stages. Their achievements have not only garnered prestigious awards for their efforts but have also elevated the country’s image on the global stage in every work of life. A few of these trailblazing Nigerian women and their achievements will be highlighted as we celebrate their efforts and look forward to even more accomplishments as they continue to be a force to reckon with in their respective fields.


Oluremi Tinubu

The esteemed First Lady of Nigeria since 2023, Oluremi Tinubu, is a prominent Nigerian politician and advocate for women’s rights, renowned for her unwavering commitment to public service and community development. As a senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, she championed legislative initiatives to empower women, improve education, and enhance healthcare access. With a background in education and social work, Oluremi’s leadership has inspired positive change and uplifted marginalised communities. Her dedication to social justice and empowerment has earned her respect and admiration, making her a pivotal figure in Nigeria’s political landscape. Oluremi’s tireless advocacy continues to drive progress and promote equality across the nation.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a globally acclaimed economist and diplomat revered for her transformative leadership and dedication to economic development. As the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, she has made history as the first African and first woman to hold the prestigious position. With a distinguished career spanning roles at the World Bank and the Nigerian government, she has spearheaded initiatives to combat poverty, promote gender equality, and foster sustainable growth. Ngozi’s visionary leadership and tireless advocacy have earned her international recognition and positioned her as a trailblazer in global economics and diplomacy, inspiring generations across continents.

Business and Finance

Emem Usoro

Emem Usoro is an accomplished expert in the banking sector. Currently, she is the Deputy Governor in Charge of Operations at CBN. She has held top positions at United Bank for Africa as the Executive Director of Nigeria North Bank and as a regional executive at Bank PHB Plc (now known as Keystone Bank).
She has been described as a woman with a passion for banking and finance. She holds an MBA from Obafemi Awolowo University and several academic and professional qualifications from other educational institutions, such as Lagos Business School and Harvard Business School. With over 20 years of experience, Emem Usoro has continued to be a leading figure in the financial sector.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe is a distinguished Nigerian business executive who is celebrated for her exceptional leadership and strategic vision. As the CEO of Fidelity Bank, she has spearheaded transformative initiatives and propelled the organisation to new heights of success with the launch of PayGate Plus. With a background in law and finance, Nneka’s expertise and innovation have earned her widespread recognition and acclaim in the banking industry. Committed to driving economic growth and empowerment, she continues to champion diversity and inclusivity, inspiring professionals and aspiring leaders across Africa. Nneka’s visionary leadership has boosted Fidelity’s profits and made her a formidable force in the world of banking.

Emem Usoro

Emem Usoro is an accomplished expert in the banking sector. Currently, she is the Deputy Governor in Charge of Operations at CBN. She has held top positions at United Bank for Africa as the Executive Director of Nigeria North Bank and as a regional executive at Bank PHB Plc (now known as Keystone Bank).

She has been described as a woman with a passion for banking and finance. She holds an MBA from Obafemi Awolowo University and several academic and professional qualifications from other educational institutions, such as Lagos Business School and Harvard Business School. With over 20 years of experience, Emem Usoro has continued to be a leading figure in the financial sector.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A highly acclaimed Nigerian author, Chimamanda is a literary dignitary whose works have left an enduring mark on the world of literature. With her powerful storytelling and insightful tales, Adichie has earned widespread acclaim and international recognition. From the award-winning Half of a Yellow Sun (which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007) to the bestselling Americanah (a novel that explored the themes of race, migration, and identity), her novels explore topics on identity, feminism, and cultural dynamics with great depth.
Adichie’s essays and speeches on feminism, race, and social justice are always engaging and enlightening. In a TED Talk event, she spoke on the topic titled, “We Should All Be Feminists,” adapted from her essay of the same name. Messages from this event resonated with many people as it went viral and sparked global conversations about gender equality. Adichie’s advocacy for feminism and women’s rights has earned her widespread admiration and influence, inspiring a new generation of activists and thinkers.

In addition to her literary achievements, Adichie’s impact can be seen in education and mentorship. She has mentored aspiring writers and lectured at universities around the world, sharing her insights on literature, culture, and social issues. She is known to be a fierce advocate for gender equality and social justice. Adichie’s voice transcends the pages of her books, inspiring millions around the world to embrace their own stories and seek a more inclusive world with equal opportunities.

Ayobami Adebayo

Ayobami Adebayo is a prominent Nigerian writer whose literary career has captivated readers and garnered international acclaim for its poignant exploration of human emotions, family dynamics, and societal pressures. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Adebayo discovered her passion for storytelling at a young age.
Adebayo’s literary journey took off with the publication of her debut novel, Stay With Me, in 2017. An in-depth look into Nigeria’s political and social scenery, the novel follows the tumultuous relationship between a young couple, Yejide and Akin, as they navigate the challenges of marriage, infertility, and tradition. Stay With Me received widespread praise for its lyrical prose and mind-engaging themes. It was shortlisted for numerous prestigious awards, including the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Wellcome Book Prize, and won the 9mobile Prize for Literature and the Prix Les Afriques.
Adebayo’s writing is characterised by depth, empathy, and keen insight into the human condition. Through her vivid storytelling and richly developed characters, she explores universal themes such as love, loss, betrayal, and resilience while also writing about the complexities of Nigerian society and culture. Her work resonates with readers of all backgrounds, giving them an idea of the lives of ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances.
Aside from her excellent writing, Adebayo’s influence extends to her advocacy for women’s rights and social justice. She is a vocal supporter of gender equality and has used her platform to raise awareness about issues such as domestic violence, reproductive rights, and the role of women in Nigerian society. Adebayo’s courage and passion have inspired a new generation of writers and activists.


Folurunsho Alakija

Folorunso Alakija is a pioneering Nigerian businesswoman and philanthropist who is celebrated for her remarkable achievements in the oil and gas industry. Known to be one of the wealthiest women in Africa, she is the founder and CEO of Famfa Oil Limited. She has made significant contributions to Nigeria’s energy sector, and her leadership in fashion has garnered international acclaim. With a passion for empowering women and supporting education, Folorunso has dedicated herself to philanthropy through the Rose of Sharon Foundation. Her entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to excellence, and philanthropic endeavours have solidified her as one of Africa’s most influential women, inspiring countless individuals to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact.

Adesuwa Dozie

Adesuwa Dozie is an accomplished Nigerian business leader recognised for her strategic acumen and innovative contributions to the oil and gas sector. As the Vice-Chairman of Exxon Mobil, she has played a pivotal role in driving growth and digital transformation. With a background in finance and entrepreneurship, Adesuwa’s leadership has been instrumental in fostering financial inclusion and empowering entrepreneurs. Committed to excellence and innovation, she inspires positive change and drives impact in Nigeria’s dynamic business landscape. Adesuwa’s visionary leadership and dedication to driving sustainable growth have earned her widespread recognition as a trailblazer in the African oil and gas industry.

Film and Television

Funke Akindele

A household name that has become synonymous with talent, Funke Akindele has been a major force in the Nigerian film industry since she came. Attaining degrees in Mass Communication and Law, she has become one of the most successful and influential actresses to grace the Nigerian movie industry.
Best known for her iconic role as Jenifa, Akindele came into the limelight after starring in the popular sitcom I Need To Know, which ran from 1998 to 2002. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that she starred in the movie Jenifa, which was so successful that it’s still talked about today.
Ever since then, she has taken the momentum from that spotlight to propel herself to the very top.
Over time, she has also become a successful music producer who still achieves numerous feats.
With such acting and producing prowess, Akindele has gone on to do big things and break records.
She currently has the most wins at awards shows, such as the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) and Nigeria Entertainment Awards(NEA). In addition to that, she has produced and directed three of the highest-grossing Nollywood movies of all time, Battle on Buka Street, Omo Ghetto: The Saga, and A Tribe Called Judah. The movie A Tribe Called Judah has become the all-time highest-grossing movie in Nigeria, breaking the previous record held by Funke Akindele.
The movie also became the fastest movie to hit 1 billion naira at the box office.
A former CEO of Scene One Film Production, Akindele runs an NGO called Jenifa Foundation, which provides young people with vocational skills.


Mo Abudu

Nigerian media mogul and entrepreneur, Mo Abudu is celebrated for her groundbreaking contributions to the entertainment industry. As the founder and CEO of EbonyLife Media, she has revolutionised African television with her innovative productions and diverse storytelling. Mo’s visionary leadership has propelled EbonyLife Media to international acclaim, producing hit shows, films, and digital content that resonate with audiences globally. With a commitment to showcasing African talent and narratives, she has played a pivotal role in elevating the continent’s entertainment landscape on the global stage. Mo’s remarkable achievements have earned her numerous accolades and recognition as one of Africa’s most influential and inspiring business leaders. Her passion for storytelling and dedication to empowering African creatives continue to shape the future of media and entertainment across the continent.

Uche Pedro

Uche Pedro is a pioneering force in African digital media, renowned for her visionary leadership and entrepreneurial spirit. As the founder and CEO of BellaNaija, one of Africa’s leading lifestyle and entertainment platforms, she has revolutionised the media landscape, empowering millions with engaging content that celebrates African culture and creativity. With a background in business administration and a passion for storytelling, Uche has navigated the challenges of entrepreneurship with resilience and innovation, propelling BellaNaija to international acclaim. Her commitment to authenticity, diversity, and social impact has earned her numerous accolades and recognition as a trailblazer in the media industry.


Reni Folawiyo

Reni Folawiyo is a visionary entrepreneur and cultural icon who is celebrated for her pioneering contributions to the African luxury retail landscape. As the founder and CEO of Alara, a renowned concept store in Lagos, Nigeria, she has redefined luxury retail by showcasing Africa’s rich heritage and contemporary creativity. Reni’s keen eye for design and commitment to promoting African art and fashion have earned her global recognition and acclaim. With a background in finance and a passion for championing African talent, she continues to elevate the continent’s cultural capital, inspiring a new generation of tastemakers and entrepreneurs across Africa and beyond.



Renowned for her captivating music style, which fuses R&B, Afrobeat, and alternative sounds, Tems has continued to make waves not just on the Nigerian music scene but also on the global stage.
Tems quit her job in 2018 to pursue a career in music, a decision that has bore fruitful results for her. Being an individual wanting so much for herself, Tems put in the work to make her dreams come true as she worked on self-production skills on YouTube. She produced her debut single, Mr Rebel and other tracks from her debut EP For Broken Ears. Her single Free Mind broke the record for most weeks at No.1 on the R&B/Hip Hop Airplay Chart after spending 17 weeks at the top.
Tems has built a brand for herself both locally and internationally. Her efforts to becoming what she is today have been crowned with a huge fanbase, endorsements, and awards, most notably her Grammy award-winning moment with international acts Future and Drake on the song Wait For U. She also has gone on to win numerous Headies and BET and awards testament to her endeavours on the international scene. Since her rise to fame, she has gone from one achievement to another. Her feats in the musical world have been seen as inspiring and show how much can be achieved with much work and dedication.

Ayra Starr

Within a short period of being unveiled to the musical world, Mavins act Ayra took no time to spread her infectious energy and vocals to the audience.
Since she was presented to the world in 2021, Ayra has been a delight to watch. She has experienced a meteoric rise in the music industry thanks to her unique blend of Afropop, R&B, and Soul. Cited by New Musical Express as one of their artists to watch out for during her break-out year, she really has gone on to become one of the exciting musical exports from Nigeria.
Her debut album, 19 and Dangerous, released in 2021, still racks in numbers to this day. The lead single from the album Bloody Samaritan peaked on Nigeria’s TurnTable Top 50, making Ayra Starr the first female artist in the history of the chart to reach number one with a solo song. The superstar has also set a new record as her track Rush became the first solo song by a female Nigerian artiste to exceed 300 million views on YouTube. Hit songs, records, nominations, and awards just keep coming in for Ayra Starr as she has also achieved a significant milestone in her career with her Grammy Nomination in the inaugural category of Best African Music Performance. Such achievement has solidified her position as one of Africa’s most promising talents. She has captured the hearts of audiences around the country and beyond with her unique sound and undeniable talent. It’s safe to say that this celestial being is really reaching for the stars.


Asisat Oshoala

Asisat Oshoala is a trailblazing Nigerian footballer renowned for her exceptional talent and remarkable achievements on the global stage. With a career spanning professional leagues in Nigeria, England, China, and Spain, she has solidified her reputation as one of Africa’s most formidable athletes. As a prolific striker and multiple award winner, including African Women’s Footballer of the Year, Asisat inspires fans worldwide with her electrifying performances and dedication to the sport. Off the pitch, she advocates for gender equality and youth empowerment, using her platform to uplift and inspire the next generation of athletes across Africa and beyond.

Tobi Amusan

Tobi Amusan is a Nigerian track and field athlete renowned for her exceptional speed and agility. With a string of impressive performances in international competitions, including the Olympics and World Championships, she has emerged as one of Africa’s most promising athletes. As a hurdler, Tobi has shattered records and earned accolades, including multiple African Championships and National Collegiate For Athletics Association (NCAA) titles. Beyond her athletic achievements, she inspires young athletes through mentorship and community outreach, exemplifying resilience and determination. Tobi’s relentless pursuit of excellence elevates Nigerian athletics globally, inspiring a new generation of track and field enthusiasts.


Odunnayo Eweniyi

Odunayo Eweniyi is a prominent Nigerian entrepreneur and technology innovator recognised for her groundbreaking contributions to the fintech industry. As the co-founder and COO of PiggyVest, she has revolutionised digital payments and financial services. With a computer engineering and finance background, Odunayo’s expertise has driven the company’s exponential growth and positioned it as a market leader. Passionate about empowering individuals and businesses through technology, she continues to spearhead initiatives that drive financial inclusion and economic empowerment across Africa. Odunayo is well known for her advocacy of women’s and girls’ empowerment. She founded Wine and Whine Nigeria and the Female Coalition, two non-profits dedicated to women’s liberation. FirstCheck Africa and PushCV are some other software start-ups she is involved in.

Adia Sowho

A transformative leader in the telecommunications and technology sector, Adia Sowho is MTN’s Chief Marketing Officer, and she has established her prominence as a business leader. As a seasoned executive in a leading role in one of Africa’s biggest telecommunications companies, Adia drives strategic initiatives and fosters innovation. With a background in engineering and business administration, Adia’s expertise has been instrumental in shaping digital transformation and connectivity across Africa. Committed to driving social impact, she advocates for digital inclusion and empowerment, inspiring a new generation of tech leaders. Adia’s visionary leadership and dedication to advancing technology in Africa have earned her widespread recognition as a catalyst for change.


Oby Ezekwesili

Oby Ezekwesili is a distinguished Nigerian economist, educator, and advocate renowned for her tireless efforts in championing good governance, transparency, and social justice. With a notable career spanning roles in academia, public service, and international organisations, she has been a leading voice in driving economic reform and development in Africa. Oby’s influential leadership as Nigeria’s former Minister of Education and her pivotal role in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign exemplify her commitment to human rights and education. Recognised globally for her integrity and advocacy, she continues to inspire positive change and empower individuals across the continent.

Ann-Kio Briggs

Ann-Kio Briggs is a prominent Nigerian environmental and human rights activist revered for her unwavering commitment to social justice and environmental conservation in the Niger Delta region. With a background in law and activism, she has been a vocal advocate for the rights of marginalised communities and the protection of natural resources. Ann-Kio’s tireless activism and leadership have led to significant advancements in environmental awareness and advocacy, empowering communities to assert their rights and demand accountability from government and corporate entities. Her impactful work has earned her widespread recognition as a champion for social and environmental justice in Nigeria and beyond.

These women highlighted are a few of the many influential women in Nigeria who are making a positive impact in their various fields. The women who improve the things around us deserve to be celebrated for their work, and not just on a particular day.
What makes these feats even more interesting is the fact that more women would rise to make an even more positive impact and set new records, and the good thing is, we are looking forward to all of it. So, while we await the future of impactful women, we celebrate our present heroines.

Johnson Chukwueke
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Johnson Chukwueke is a content and creative writer with over 3 years of experience as a professional. A microbiology graduate from the Imo State University, Johnson is a music enthusiast who also enjoys movies, reading, and swimming. He is a writer at THEWILL DOWNTOWN.

About Author / Johnson Chukwueke

Johnson Chukwueke is a content and creative writer with over 3 years of experience as a professional. A microbiology graduate from the Imo State University, Johnson is a music enthusiast who also enjoys movies, reading, and swimming. He is a writer at THEWILL DOWNTOWN.

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