Smart Girl Stories

Aisha Yesufu: Nigerian Activist

Aisha Yesufu is a force to be reckoned with in the Nigerian political sphere. A mother and businesswoman, she rose to fame through her activism for democracy and women’s rights in her country. In 2012, she co-founded the #BringBackOurGirls movement, leading protests demanding government action in finding the 276 schoolgirls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Aisha continues to advocate for the liberation of all marginalized groups in Nigeria and uses social media as a platform to speak out against corruption and oppression. A woman who fearlessly champions justice and stands up against injustice, Aisha Yesufu serves as an inspiration for young women everywhere to use their voices and fight for what they believe in.

As Aisha herself says, “I don’t believe in sitting back, closing my mouth and expecting change.” We could all learn a thing or two from this inspirational activist- never be afraid to speak up and make a difference. Today she is our Smart Girl!

Early Life and Education

Aisha Somtochukwu Yesufu was born on the 12th of December 1973 in Kano State, Nigeria. Aisha was born into a heavily patriarchal environment citing that by the time she was 11 years old she didn’t have any female friends to play with because they all had been married off at a very young age. By the time she was 24 years of age, her friends would have already become grandmothers.

Aisha loved reading from a young age. Reading made her realize that there was a world beyond her community, a world that was not so tough on women, a better world. She applied to join the Nigerian defense forces in 1991 but was denied entry because she was a woman.

Aisha was later able to enroll at Bayero University, where graduated with a degree in Microbiology.

Life of Activism

 

Yesufu was always keen on standing up for women after experiencing what her friends had gone through. In 2014, after a terrorist group, Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls, there was an uproar from the international community.

Aisha and her colleague Oby co-founded the #BringBackOurGirls movement to push for their rescue from the armed terrorists.

She marched with fellow women protestors to the Nigerian National Assembly to push for the government to help in rescuing the little girls. So far, 98 of the 276 girls have been rescued from the terrorist group. Yesufu’s movement will not give up until all the girls are back home safe.

Yesufu has also been at the forefront of fighting against police brutality in Nigeria in the recent End SARS movement. The movement began in 2017 to bring to light police brutality that was masked in the Nigerian Police Force. A photograph of her wearing a hijab during the protests became an iconic symbol of the movement.

Awards

 

Yesufu was recognized as one of the BBC’s 100 Women in 2020. In the same year, she was included in the list of the Top 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine.

Inspiration For Young Women

 

Yesufu was married in 1998 to her now husband, Aliu. Together the couple have two children.

She continues to be a vocal advocate for women’s rights in Nigeria and has become an inspiration to women all over the world. Despite receiving death threats and harassment, she continues to speak out against corruption and calls for accountability in her country. Aisha is also a staunch supporter of gender equality and equal opportunities for women, particularly in education and leadership roles.

Her bravery and tenacity in the face of adversity serve as a source of inspiration for young women everywhere to stand up for what they believe in and fight for their rights. A true role model, Aisha proves that one person can indeed make a difference.

Learn about more inspiring girls on our Smart Girls page, or follow our Instagram page for more stories like this!

Hannah

Hannah

Founder, Smart Girl, Survivor, Champion of womens rights and kids rights

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