Nigeria is a country with a rich history and culture, and there are many Nigerian women who have made significant contributions to their country and beyond. Just like in the global map women like Malala Yousafzai, Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa etc. Nigeria also her own clique of women that has contributed in the development of Nigeria.
Great Nigerian Female Heroes
1. Chioma Ajunwa
The first and only woman to have competed in Olympics track and field events and as a footballer FIFA female world cup player.
This great lady was born on 25th December 1970 in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State but she is a native of Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government of Imo State. She is the only girl and the last child of her parents.
She is a Nigerian former athlete and notable for being the first black African female to win Olympic Gold medal in the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta for an African country. This great achievement brought joy to Nigerians, especially to her people of Ahiazu Mbaise and they named their Stadium after her.
She is one of the great women who was also a member of the Nigerian police force and she remains the only woman to compete at both the FIFA women’s world cup as a footballer and the Olympics as a track and field athlete.
She is now an assistant commissioner of police in Lagos police command and she has contributed to the country helping support under 16 football tournaments and supported youth sports in general. She is married to Mr Howell Chidera.
2. Tolulope Arotile
First female combat helicopter pilot.
She was born on 13th December 1995. She hails from Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, attended Air force Primary school Kaduna from 2006 to 2011 and gained admission into Nigerian Defense Academy Kaduna.
The Nigerian female hero joined the military because of her passion for it and in October 2019, the Nigerian Air force decorated her as the first female pilot in their 55years of existence.
She died less than 8months after her decoration which is on the 14th of July 2020 and her death was a huge loss to the Nigerian Air force, her family and the entire nation. She died in a road accident at. NAF (Nigeria Air force) base in Kaduna after sustaining head injuries.
3. Dame Virginia Ngozie Etiaba
She is the first female governor in Nigeria.
Born November 11th 1942. She worked as a teacher and headmistress for 35years in several parts of Anambra State, she retired in 1991 and founded the Bennett Etiaba Memorial School in Nnewi which she named after her husband Bennett Etiaba.
She became the deputy governor of Anambra State in March 2006 and later became Governor following the impeachment of the then Governor Peter Obi and was sworn in on November 3, 2006.
She is one of the influential women in Nigeria, and her tenure was short but impactful, during her tenure she flagged off several road projects and signed the Anambra State Child Rights Bill into law. She went back to being the deputy when the former governor was re-instated on February 9th 2007. She is also a Colon Cancer survivor.
4. Doyin Abiola
Nigerians’ first female editor
The first woman to edit a daily Nigerian newspaper and also the first female managing director and editor-in-chief of a national newspaper in 1986.
5. Mrs Flora Nwapa
First Female Novelist in Nigeria
Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa was a Nigerian author and was also called the Mother of Modern African Literature.
She is the first African woman novelist to be published in the English Language in Britain. She was born on 13th January 1931 at Oguta and died on 16th October 1993 at Enugu.
Among her famous books are; Efuru, One Is Enough, Idu, Women are different, Never again and lots more. She was an author and publisher profession.
She taught at various colleges and universities internationally including at New York University, Trinity College, University of Minnesota, University of Michigan and University of Illorin. She died of Pneumonia and her work The lake of Goddess was posthumously published.
6. Mrs Efunroye Tinubu
The first female to buy a car
She was born around 1805 at Ojokodo Abeokuta Nigeria and she married multiple times. She traded on tree bark and leaves to make money.
She remarried years after her husband’s death, and moved to Badagry Lagos with Adele who is an exiled Oba of Lagos, she capitalised on Adele her husband’s connections to build a strong business trading Salt, Tobacco and Slaves. She did a lot of slave trade with the Europeans.
The famous female Nigerian got her Vehicle in 1834 which was after she exchanged 500 slaves because there was no currency in Nigeria and because she can’t drive she leased the car to the Europeans residing in Lagos at that time.
After the death of her husband Adele, she married a military advisor. She was an important figure in the 19th century and died in 1887.
7. Mrs Chinyere Kalu (Nee Onyemaucheya)
First Female Nigerian Aircraft Pilot
She was born in 1970 and hails from Akwaete Ukwa East Local Government Area of Abia State. She is the first female commercial pilot and first to fly an aircraft in Nigeria.
She served as a rector and chief instructor of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology between October 2011 and February 2014. She was a pacesetter in the aviation sector of Nigeria.
8. Mrs Olulimlaya Ransome Kuti
First female to drive a car in Nigeria
Another female hero in Nigeria is Olulimlaya Ransome Kuti. She was born on the 25th of October 1900 and died on the 13th of April 1978. She was an educator, political campaigner and a women’s rights activist.
Not only was she the first to drive a car, she was also the only woman in Nigeria’s 1947 delegation to London which lodged the protest and set the nation on the path toward self-government. She was referred to as the “Mother of Africa”
9. Stella Adadevoh
Curtail the spread of Ebola virus in Nigeria
Another prominent female Nigerian heroes is Dr. Stella Adadevoh. She was a physician who played a crucial role in containing the Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria in 2014. She diagnosed the first case of Ebola in Nigeria and prevented the virus from spreading by ensuring that the patient was quarantined.
10. DR. Elizabeth Abimbola Awoliyi
First female doctor in Nigeria
She was born in 1910 and she was the first to practice as a physician in Nigeria and also the first West African woman to earn a licence as a Royal Surgeon in Dublin.
She graduated from Dublin with first-class honours, including a medal in Medicine and distinction in Anatomy. She was married to S. O Awoliyi and died on 14th September 1971.
11. Professor Grace Alele -Williams
First Nigerian female chancellor of a Univerity
She was the first female Nigerian woman to receive a doctorate and the first Nigerian Vice-Chancellor at the University of Benin. She was a Nigerian professor of mathematics education.
She was born 16th.. December 1932 at Warri and died 25th March 2022 at Lagos.
12. Margaret Ekpo
First female political activist
she was born 27th June 1914 and died 21st September 2006. Her political party was NCNC(National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons) and she was a Nigerian women’s rights activist and a social mobilizer who was a pioneering female politician in the country’s first republic and a leading member of a class of traditional Nigerian women activists.
She played major roles as a grass roots and nationalist politician in the Eastern Nigerian city of Aba. She has a domestic science diploma and established a domestic science and sewing institute in Aba.
13. Mr Ivy Uche Okonronkwo
First female deputy inspector general of police
She is an indigene of Arochukwu in Abia State, and studied Sociology and Criminology at the Ahmadu Bello University of Zaria.
She has appointed the position on 5th October 2010 and her tenure lasted till January 25th 2012. She was also the first female to head command and was made commissioner of police for Ekiti State on 28th December 2005.
14. Chief Folake Solanke
First female senior advocate of Nigeria
She was born on 29th March 1932 at Abeokuta and she became the first female advocate of Nigeria in 1981and is also the first female lawyer to wear the silk gown as senior counsel.
She is the first commissioner of Western State and is a former chairperson of the Western Nigerian Television Broadcasting Corporation (WNTBC).
15. Anike Agbaje – Williams (Nee Kuforji)
First female TV broadcaster and newsreader pioneer
She was born on 23rd October 1936 in Abeokuta. She was the first female Television Staff announcer and broadcaster in Nigeria. She got employed with the Nigerian broadcasting corporation at Ikoyi Lagos in 1955.
Her newsreader career began as a result of her co-worker not showing up to work and on that day, a colleague who usually does announcements or reading small bits of information on the radio did not show up, the current host then asked her to take his place and after reading the information on air, her supervisor was impressed and asked her to join the programs department as a staff announcer. She retired in 1986.
16. Brigadier Ronke Kale
First female Major General
She is a Nigerian Army Psychiatrist who became the first female major general in the Nigerian Army.
She joined Nigerian Army in 1972 and it was a rare decision for women in those days. She was a colonel and Deputy commander of the Nigerian Army Medical Corps in 1990 and was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier general and in doing so became the first female general in West Africa. She retired in 1997.
17. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
She is a renowned writer and novelist who has won several awards for her works, including the Orange Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work focuses on issues of race, gender, and identity, and she is considered one of the most prominent feminist writers of our time
18. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an economist and diplomat from Nigeria who has made huge contributions to the global economy and international development. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has dedicated her career to promoting economic development and social progress, mainly in Africa. Her expertise earned her many awards, such as the Forbes Africa Person of the Year in 2020.
Okonjo-Iweala was appointed as the first female and first African Director-General of the WTO, a global organization that deals with trade between nations. Prior to that she hasdcareer at the World Bank in 1982 and served in various positions for over two decades.
These are some of the female icons, pioneers and heroes that Nigeria has produced over the past years. These are just a few of the many great Nigerian female heroes and heroines who have contributed to Nigerian history and culture.