International Women's Day - Champions Network

The British Council and two of its development programmes, the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) and the Justice for All (J4A) programme will honour deserving ‘women advocates and champions’ in three key areas namely: women in peace building, women in public service and decision making, and women in creative enterprise as part of activities marking the International Women's Day.

The ‘Champions’ include those who have distinguished themselves in works related to peacebuilding, women’s participation in public service and decision making and women in creative enterprise. 

Read through their impressive profiles.

Emem Ema - CEO One Marketing Management

As CEO of ONE Marketing Management, Emem Ema is highly involved in Nigeria's music scene and founded her company in 2005 with the goal of creative talent management for Nigeria's up and coming artists. In recognition for her efforts, she was awarded the International Young Music Entrepreneur of the Year (Nigeria) by the British Council.

Though she has already achieved great success with her music endeavors, including producing a song to fight Polio in Africa, which brought together 30 of Africa's finest artists and actors to raise their voices in favor of eradicating the disease.

Dr Rabia Salihu Said - Professor of Atmospheric and Space Physics, Bayero University Kano,

I come from a middle income family. My father was an officer in the Nigerian Army and we lived in the army barrack; first in Kaduna, then Kano and after the civil war, in Jimeta, Numan and Yola in the current Adamawa State. The army barrack was a neighborhood that cut across the different regions of Nigeria; north, south and west. This background informed my ability to adapt and interact with people from the diverse parts of my country.

The fact that my father was an army officer during the pre and post- independence period meant that he came in contact with western education and was well learned. He encouraged all his children to pursue an education and he was a great influence in shaping my love of study and desire to attain an education. My father actually wanted me to study and become a medical doctor and when I eventually started my study in Physics ten years after I completed secondary school and married with three young children, his concern was what I will do with a degree in Physics. Parents then felt that a career in teaching was a poor one (the perception is that teachers in my country do not get paid well). I currently lecture undergraduate and postgraduate students in the department of Physics, Bayero University in Kano, which is in the northern part of Nigeria. Kano is predominantly Muslim and greatly influenced by cultural norms and expectations.

What is interesting about me is the fact that aside from my professional activities as a physicist and a mentor and advocate for young men and women in science in general and physics in particular for which I have received the Elsevier award for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, I have been involved in community activities for more than thirty years. My community activities include public lecture tours to secondary schools in Kano, Nigeria. I was also involved in training young girls in a sponsored youth empowerment project. I also participated in the democracy and governance project by CEDPA/USAID, which was implemented by the Muslim Sisters Organization, Kano branch. I also edited the democracy and governance newsletter of the project. I was a member of the editorial team of the National body of the Muslim Sisters Organization. As a member of the Health Committee of the said organization, I participated as a member of the team that developed a manual for the training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in the north of Nigeria. This project was a part of a Pathfinder International supported project on Integrated Family Health and Development, which was sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

In the course of my community activities, I obtained a fellowship from the Ford Foundation in 2002 to study for a master’s degree in Environment and Development at the University of Reading in the UK.

My latest community work is my participation in the British Council Active Citizens’ Programme. As a trained facilitator (I received the training in London in August 2014 under auspices of the British Council) of this programme under the MOU with Bayero University, I have trained approximately Eighty (80) participants; young men and women cutting across all faculties in the universities between October 2014 and January 2015.


Olabisi Kolawole - Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP)

Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Olabisi Kolawole is a graduate of Police Academy; she studied Law in Ogun State University and graduated with Bachelor of Law degree (LL.B) in 2000. She graduated from the Nigeria Law School where she obtained a (BL) degree and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002. She attended University of Leicester, United Kingdom where she obtained a Masters degree in Police Leadership and Management (PLM).

She is an officer with vast policing experience at both national and international levels. At national level she has held several positions including Legal Adviser, Administration officer, intelligence officer and Gender Adviser among others. At the international level, she served in the following United Nations Missions; in East-Timor (UNMIT) 2000 – 2001, as War Crime investigator, in Kosovo (UNMIK) 2004 – 2005 as internal investigator, in Liberia (UNMIL) 2006 – 2007 as the Coordinator of Crime Services Department (CSD) and at the DPKO UNHQ, New York 2007 – 2011 with Standing Police Capacity (SPC) as Investigator and Gender Adviser, while serving at the DPKO UNHQ, she has visited UN Missions in Chad (MINURCAT) 2008, Congo DRC (MONUC)2009, Haiti (MINUSTAH) 2010 and Guinea Bissau (UNIOGBIS) 2010 on official UN assignments. She is a member of the pool of investigators assisting the office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague in investigations of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence as international crimes. She is Deputy Director, to the Directorate of Peacekeeping and currently the Nigeria Police Force Gender Adviser. 

Besides her core academic trainings and attainments, CSP Kolawole attended several professional Police courses within and outside the country namely; 

  • Standing Police Capacity Training at the National Police Institute, Bramshil, London, United Kingdom in 2007 
  • Counter Terrorism Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom in 2008 
  • POC/Sexual and Gender Based Violence Course at COESPU in Vicenza, Italy in 2013
  • Investigating cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence as International crimes at the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Centre, Doha, Qatar in 2013.
  • Protection of Civilian Train of trainers course, National Defence College, Abuja 2014. 
  • Policy, Strategy and Leadership Course, National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), Jos 2014.
  • Tactical Leadership and Command Course (TLCC) Police Staff College, Jos 2014
  • She is a co-project manager for the UN Best Practice toolkits on Gender and Policing in UN Peacekeeping Operations 2009 - 2010, a member of the team that developed the Standard Training Manual on the Investigation of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in 2010. She is the author of Gender Guidelines for the Directorate of Peacekeeping, Nigeria Police, FHQ. Abuja. Facilitator at the National Defence College (NDC), Abuja. She is a member of a number of organisations and associations such as; 
  • Nigeria Bar Association (NBA)
  • International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) 
  • International Association of Women Police (IAWP)
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
  • United Nations Women Police Network

CSP Kolawole is happily married with children. Her hobbies include reading and travelling, her sport is Table Tennis. 


Eseoghene Odiete - CEO Hessey Designs

Eseoghene Odiete is an award winning young female fashion entrepreneur.  She is the brain behind Hesey Designs, an African inspired accessories label. She designed the sneakers Richard Branson CEO of Virgin Atlantic wore for the launch of the Virgin Atlantic uniform recently in London. 

Starting with just N10,000, after graduating from Covenant University with bachelor’s degree in Mass communication in 2011, Ese has been able to further grow the business. 

Her “can do” spirit and absolute tenacity has seen her emerge as one of the winners of the Google’s Africa Connect awards. She has shared the stage with world celebrated personalities, Richard Branson and Vivienne Westwood amongst others, following her British council ‘Enterprise Challenge’ win which gave an opportunity to have a special mentoring session with Sir Richard Branson and the opportunity to attend the Branson centre of entrepreneurship.

Ese was also a nominated for the Future awards Tony Elumelu prize in Business and recognised as one of the top 40 under 40 Nigerian entrepreneurs by bizwatchng. Her areas of interest go beyond entrepreneurship. She is a social evangelist with a passion for people and women empowerment.  

Ese has been privileged to inspire other young people through various speaking opportunities like the British council ‘mind the gap’ conference, Google Africa summit in the University of Nairobi, Girls inspire Girls show, Unilag, just to mention a few. She is also a skills development volunteer of Slum to school Africa where she trains young underprivileged people on different crafts to become economically empowered. 

Grace Jerry - Director Inclusive Friends

Grace Jerry is a disability rights advocate, Peace promoter and music artiste working to create an inclusive world where everyone counts. Within the last few years Grace has brought freshness to advocacy efforts in Nigeria through her unique blend of passion and music bringing prominence to the important roles Persons with disabilities can play in National development.

In 2010 she emerged the first ever Ms Wheel Chair National Queen on African soil and the spokeswoman for 25.5 million Nigerians with Disabilities. She has remained consistent in her passion to mainstream disability in key development ever since. Grace Jerry is the co-founder of the Inclusive Friends Association, an organization that works to bring disability issues at the heart of development efforts in Nigeria through advocacy, training and action.

With support from the Nigerian Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP), Inclusive Friends undertook a ground-breaking study on documenting the experiences of Women with Disabilities in the face of violence conflicts in Plateau State with findings from study already shaping policy processes, actions and programming at state levels in Nigeria.

Even in Water and Sanitation, Grace speaks up against violence as demonstrated by her commitment at reducing risks of violence of vulnerable groups such as girls and women with disabilities as a result of inadequate access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in Nigeria through her role as WaterAid Nigeria official Spokesperson on Disability in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). In 2012 she spearheaded a benefit concert tagged “Music for Toilets” and proceeds from her music album used to provide 20 Toilets for School for the Blind Children Gindiri, Plateau State

Grace Jerry is a recipient of numerous awards and sits on diverse committees Including the Sustainable Total Sanitation National Advisory Committee and Observatory steering committee on Violence Against Women and Girls respectively.

Later this year Grace Jerry will be participating in the International Visitor Leadership Program a professional exchange program of the US Government aimed at deepening experience for practitioners working to end Gender based violence in their communities.

Having experienced discrimination, stigmatization and violence, Grace understands the importance of not only breaking barriers and silence surrounding disability and violence but also empowering more women with disabilities to speak up and be heard in their communities. 


Risikat Toyin Muhammed - Executive Director, Women with Disability Self-Reliance Centre (WWDSRC)

Risikat T. Muhammed is a physically challenged person whose passion for women and persons with disability empowerment led to her various development work in different areas such as health, women’s right and economic empowerment, governance, peace, conflict resolution and management, inclusive education and lots of others.

Through her organization WWDSRC, she was able to advocate for inclusive HIV programme in Kaduna State that led to increased budgeting on HIV programmes for persons with disability and setting up of network for persons with disability in the State which was first of its kind in Nigeria in 2007. Due to this immerse contribution she was elected to chair the network. She has been a member of different networks and partnerships in the State such as Kaduna Gender Working Group (GWG), which is an advocacy partnership set up by DFID-SAVI Kaduna where as a member of this partnership built her capacity and used it to contribute in the drawing up of the Kaduna State Education MTSS in 2012 and also providing technical support to Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in developing their Strategic and Operational Plan in 2013, through the partnership she contributed in advocating for need to have a disability bill in the State which has led to GWG supporting Kaduna State Joint Association for Persons with Disability (JONAPWD).

As a strong advocate on gender-based violence she has been in the fore front of championing the course of the passage of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (VAPPB) through her participation and membership in the Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (LACVAPPB). Among many others she has been a member of many networks and platforms where she has built her skills and contributed positively. Some of these include; Kaduna State Aids Control Agency, Gender Policy and Advocacy Committee, Civil Society HIV/AIDS Network in Nigeria, Kaduna Observatory Committee on Violence Against Women and Girls (NSRP) etc.

As the founder and Executive Director of WWDSRC she has implemented projects such as Entrepreneurship Skills for Women with Disability through Community Rehabilitation with collaboration with ABANTU for Development funded by TY Danjuma Foundation, Inclusive Peace Club funded by NSRP, Survey on HIV Behavioral & prevalence rate amongst persons with disability funded by Population Council, Interpersonal Communication for persons with disability funded by KADSACA etc. Through her various work she has set up a scholarship scheme for children and girls with disability across the State where ten persons have benefitted from and more than twenty persons are benefitting from presently. Through the Inclusive Peace Club Project there has been increased positive attitudinal change amongst the peace clubs in schools which has led to some schools adopting the project as an in-school programme. This project has also built self-esteem and awareness amongst some persons with disability (PWD) which has led to increase in enrolment of PWD in schools.

Amongst her numerous work, she has carried out survey on violence against women and girls in some selected communities in Kaduna State which the report will soon be published for wider dissemination, she has sensitized and worked with different religious, and community leaders on the need for protecting, supporting and promoting the rights of women and girls both able and with disability. She is currently training private, government, CSOs and other partners on ethical way of working with persons with disability. 

Muhammad Huwaila Ibrahim - Legal Practitioner

Huwaila Ibrahim Muhammad is a legal practitioner in Kano state, an activist and advocate of women and girls’ right. She is the Chairperson of the Observatory Committee on Violence against women and girls (OBSTEC), a member of the Coalition against Rape and Violence (CARAV), formally the PRO of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) now the current Secretary, an active member of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), a member of the Kano State Civil Society Forum (KCSF), and a member of Women Peace and Security network (WPS).  

Coming from a male dominated field of Law and conservative society of   northern Nigeria where not much women take lead in advocating for rights, Huwaila developed passion for protecting the rights of women and girls from childhood, as inspired by the pathetic stories of VAWG in Kano. 

From my law school graduation, I have been involved in cases of child rape, domestic abuse, violence and peace building as it relates to families. I am also involved in a lot of humanitarian and public enlightenment activities. In addition, I featured in a lot of radio and television programs on violence against women and children. One of the most disturbing cases (which I intervened) was the recent case of a husband that hit his wife with his car deliberately.  

Finally, I have succeeded in reconciling a lot of families and creating voice for the voiceless. 


Nnaemeka Oruh - Poet

Nnaemeka Oruh studied English at the University of Port Harcourt and graduated top of his class in 2004. Oruh is a writer who writes poetry, short stories and essays. His essays are essentially commentaries on social and political issues and have been published extensively in Daily Independent Newspapers, Vanguard, Premium Times, Sahara Reporters,, Nigerian Voice among others. His poems have also appeared on and

Oruh doubled as the vice president of both Zagaza Records, Port Harcourt, and Offishal Entertainment Lagos between 2010-2012. Nnaemeka Oruh also served as the Head of Production (Africa) for Empower Africa Initiative between 2012-2014. He was part of the coordinators of the Korlouenow poetry competition and also served as one of the three judges for the competition. He is one of the co-founders of Palmbits Initiative for the Promotion of Writing and Creativity-- a non-profit organisation committed to addressing causes by using writing, and the media(especially Social Media).

Nnaemeka Oruh’s introduction into the field of Women’s Rights came during his undergraduate days at the University of Port Harcourt where he was exposed to several classes on Feminism. From that time on, Oruh has continued to advocate for the rights of women especially through one-on-one sensitization, sensitization of people through his published essays(See especially “"Deconstructing the Weaker Sex Stereotype" and "Women Empowerment and Affirmative Action" which ae his most recent works.) and general advocacy visits on air. Also, during the 16-Days of Activism Programme organised by the Women in Peace and Security Network in 2014, Oruh was actively involved, using the platform of his organisation Palmbits IPWC to engage in online lectures, organisation of essay writing competition to create awareness, and other sensitization campaigns.

Being a male advocate of women of course has its challenges. The major challenge as Nnaemeka Oruh sees it, is the taunt of other men who sometimes perceive the male advocate as a “woman wrapper”. This is a cultural issue and a lot still needs to be done in order to completely erase this dumb culture. Essentially then, Oruh believes that a re-orientation of both sexes is very necessary hence his commitment to a re-education using whatever means available.