The BBC has selected one of the conveners of Bring Back Our Girls, Aisha Yesufu among the most influential women in 2020. Aisha Yesufu, a successful businesswoman came to prominence when she led a campaign against the government’s inaction to secure the release of kidnapped schoolgirls who were kidnapped in Chibok in 2014 by Boko Haram terrorists. She has continued to press for good governance and ends to human right abuses by the security forces in Nigeria despite the fact that she lives in an environment where gender inequality has been wide according to the recent reports by Vanguard Newspaper.
But it is this year during the #ENDSARS protests in Nigeria that have further catapulted her into national prominence. Her photo defiantly kneeling went viral on social media and rekindled the hotly debated issue of women leading changes in the country. The viral photo has inspired many women and made them feel they too have what it takes to change the world.
Aisha Yesufu was a native of Edo state but was born and raised in Kano, predominantly Muslim state of northern Nigeria. A devout Muslim and businesswoman who despite coming from a wealthy family decided to campaign for justice, good governance and gender equality. The rise of Aisha Yesufu did not come as a surprise to those who know her relentlessness and commitment to the cause of justice and good governance.
“I have been dreaming about leading a campaign against domestic violence and worsening gender inequality in northern Nigeria,” says Zainab Gambo. “But it is Aisha Yesufu who has reminded me that it is a duty to rise up and commit to what you stand for even if you are standing alone.”
A milestone like this often comes with resistance as many people still hold on to the belief that women should not be entitled to certain privileges. But Aisha Yesufu has defied all odds and proved to the whole that gender is not and will no longer be a barrier to changing the world.
Zainab Gambo, reacting to the news of Aisha Yesufu’s inclusion among the BBC list of the most influential women in 2020 said:
“We women have a lot of challenges to overcome. We are sidelined because of our gender; we are being abused even by the husbands who should have been more compassionate towards us; we suffer more during wars and conflicts and we are less educated than men because our environment treats girl-child education with kids’ glove. It is we who can change the story and the rise of Aisha Yesufu is a testimony that we too can lead changes in our country.”