I am a feminist and a woman’s human rights activist based in Yola Adamawa State in north-eastern Nigeria. I am the founder of the Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, an organisation that works with the community to empower women and adolescents to take responsibility for their own rights, and know their rights and responsibilities both as citizens and as women and men. Our previous work has included stopping child marriages, securing divorce for women in abusive or unhappy marriages and getting legal redress for girls who have been raped. I am also a member of the Nigerian Feminist Forum.
I have been part of the women’s movement in Nigeria, Africa and internationally for a very long time. I am a feminist because I think women and men are equal and that women must have the right to be what they chose to be. I have talked with men and women both in private and in the governmental sphere in Nigeria and shown them we have to make a change. I was a part of a team of trainers that travelled across Nigeria in 1993 to train women in politics, and I’m happy to say that some of those women have successfully gone on to become elected politicians contributing to change in their local environment.
Our greatest challenge as feminists is to convince women that we don’t want to become men or take over from them, and to convince men of the same. They need to be convinced that the only way Africa can get out of its dilemma is for women to be equal partners. Male allies have admitted that men have failed to move us forward and that it is obvious to them that the world cannot move forward while half of its population are ignored. In Africa we face a range of difficult realities, which include poverty, disease and lack of access to basic facilities. Having more feminists in government and public spaces would change thinking towards a better livelihood for all. To succeed in this fight for equality, we need to start generating resources from within Africa.
I maintain a belief in the possibility of a world where everyone is equal and where our differences do not matter. A world where there is peace, where war is alien and conflict a story told about others in the past. A world where a woman’s head is held high and where all doors are open to both men and women, young and old. Where sex, gender, colour, and faith are no longer grounds for discrimination. A world where poverty no longer exists.