Abisoye Ajayi Akinfolarin


These wonderful women have been recognised for their work and craft and using it to add value to the world in , Music Star Tiwa Sage, Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin and Lola Omolola have been listed as ONE’s 2018 Women of the Year.

The ONE Campaign is an international, nonpartisan, non-profit, advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support policies and programs that are saving lives and improving futures.

According to ONE, the women went above and beyond gender equality this year to make life better for women.

Nollywood actress, Bisola Aiyeola and singer, Waje were honourably mentioned for the fantastic work they did this year campaigning for women.


Tiwa has worked with breast cancer screening projects, helped build schools in her hometown, and advocates for community-based social projects. She’s also a supporter of the Vote Your Future campaign.


With her Pearls Africa Foundation, which offers free classes and programs for girls and young women, Abisoye won the 2018 CNN’s Heroes Award. Through her organization, she empowers girls living in poverty and many of the girls she’s mentored have already produced their own apps to combat issues, like poverty and female genital mutilation, in their communities.


Nigerian-American activist Lola Omolola is the founder of FIN, a private Facebook group that connects nearly 1.7 million women from across the world. She began the group in 2014, searching for a way to create mutual support with other Nigerians after the kidnapping of over 300 girls by the Boko Haram. The group quickly grew into a hub for women’s issues, offering its members a safe outlet to discuss the struggles they face and connect with other women who share those experiences.

Honorable Mentions

Bisola Aiyeola is a Nigerian actress, ONE Ambassador, and winner of the AMVCA Trailblazer Award at the 2018 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

Waje Iruobe is a musician, film producer, and ONE Ambassador advocating for transparency and accountability.


The BBC has released its BBC 100 Women list for 2018, which celebrates 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world.

The list includes leaders, trailblazers and everyday heroes from over 60 countries, ranging from age 15 to 94.

Nigerians on the list include:

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, the 33-year old Social impact entrepreneur, who is the founder of GirlsCoding, an NGO that teaches girls how to code, design and build websites that help solve problems in their communities. Abisoye is also one of the 10 finalist for the CNN Hero Award for 2018.

Amina J Mohammed, 57 – Deputy secretary general, United Nations, Nigeria.

Amina is a former minister of environment in Nigeria and has previously been a special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Bola Tinubu, 51 – Lawyer, Nigeria.

Bola is a corporate lawyer who established the first free children’s helpline in Nigeria – Cece Yara Foundation

Chidera Eggerue, 23, The UK-based blogger – ‘Slumflower’ is a best-selling author and activist behind the social media movement #saggyboobsmatter, driving new conversations about perceptions of women’s bodies.

Other Africans on the list include:

Fatma Samoura, 56 – Fifa secretary general, Senegal.

Fatma is the first woman and the first African to hold the position of secretary general of Fifa.

Nimco Ali, 35 – Writer and activist, Somaliland

Nimco is an award-winning FGM (female genital mutilation) activist.

Noma Dumezweni, 49 – Actor, eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland).

Noma is the first woman to play the adult version of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, playing in London’s West End and Broadway, New York.

Shrouk El-Attar, 26 – Electronic design engineer, Egypt. Shrouk is a refugee and full-time engineer, who uses belly dancing to raise awareness and campaign for the rights of the LGBT+ community in Egypt.

Raghda Ezzeldin, 26 – Free-diver, Egypt.

Raghda is a record-breaking free-diver, who descends to extreme depths without breathing apparatus.

Mamitu Gashe, 72 – Senior nurse aide/fistula surgeon, Ethiopia.

Mamitu is now an internationally certified fistula surgeon, after being treated for fistula (an injury which can occur in childbirth) herself.

Thando Hopa, 29 – Model, lawyer, activist, South Africa.

Thando is a diversity and inclusion advocate. Cast in the Pirelli calendar 2018, she is the first person of colour in South Africa to have featured in the publication.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, 35 – Environmentalist and advocate for indigenous people and women, Chad.

Hindou is an indigenous woman of Chad, advocating for the protection of the environment and for the rights of indigenous peoples on an international scale.

Helena Ndume, 58 – Ophthalmologist, Namibia.

Helena has performed sight-restoring surgeries upon 35,000 Namibians, free of charge – many of her patients now call her “Namibia’s miracle doctor”.

Olivette Otele, 48 – Professor in History at Bath Spa University, Cameroon.

Olivette is a historian and memory scholar who works on European colonial history and post-colonial legacies.

Brigitte Sossou Perenyi, 28 – Documentary producer, Ghana.

Brigitte is an award-winning documentary producer, who told her story of being a Trokosi – a practice that sends girls to serve priests in shrines as payment for the “sins” of their family – and being trafficked from Togo to Ghana.

Juliet Sargeant, 53 – Garden designer, Tanzania.

Juliet is a doctor-turned-garden designer working to make “places that feel as good as they look”.

Ruth Medufia, 27 – Metal worker, Ghana.

Ruth is a female welder who lives in an urban slum community and aspires to be a role model for young women in the construction industry.

See other names on the list below:

Esraa al-Shafei, 32 – Executive director of not for profit Majal.org., Bahrain.

Esraa has founded a diverse number of digital platforms to give a voice to those under-represented in the Middle East and North Africa.

Svetlana Alekseeva, 18 – Model, Russia.

Svetlana survived a fire that burned almost half her body and now works to help people with scars feel positive about their bodies.

Lizt Alfonso, 51 – Director and choreographer, Cuba.

Lizt has created an internationally recognised fusion dance company which has performed in hundreds of cities across the world.

Isabel Allende, 76 – Author, Peru.

Isabel, who was born in Peru to Chilean parents, is the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author and has sold more than 70 million books in 42 languages.

Boushra Yahya Almutawakel, 49 – Artist, photographer and activist, Yemen.

Boushra is the first female Yemeni professional photographer, whose work has been featured in international publications and acquired by the British Museum.

Alina Anisimova, 19 – Student programmer, Kyrgyzstan.

Alina leads the Kyrgyz Girls’ Space School, which aims to send the country’s first satellite into space.

Frances Arnold, 62 – Professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry, US.

Frances is the recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and her work on enzymes is used in laboratories, making everything from advanced medicines to biofuels and laundry detergents.


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Credit: Bella Naija

Pearls Africa Foundation’s Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin has been named one of CNN’s 10 Heroes of 2018!

Ajayi-Akinfolarin is one of 10 people around the entire world who will receive $10,000 in support of their heroic endeavors. One of the 10 will be chosen as the “CNN Hero of the Year,” and will receive the sum of $100,000.

Speaking about her cause, CNN said:

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin left her career to teach computer programming to girls in Lagos, Nigeria where Facebook and Google opened offices earlier this year. A 2013 survey found that less than 8% of Nigerian women are employed in professional, managerial or technology jobs. Ajayi-Akinfolarin hopes to change that statistic.

The “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” will air live on Sunday, December 9, where Ajayi-Akinfolarin, along with the other 9 heroes, will be celebrated.

You can vote for her to become the “CNN Hero of the Year” here.


Credit: Bella Naija


To mark the Day of the Girl child on October 11th, 2018, the United States Consulate in Lagos partnered with the Africa Creative Children’s Network (ACCN) on an event to inspire young secondary school girls. On hand to interact with these girls included Nollywood star Mercy Johnson Okojie; BellaNaija‘s founder/CEO Uche Pedro; Nollywood, director and lawyer Mildred Okwo; CNN Hero Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin; Head, Accelerate TV, Colette Otusheso; W Tech founder Oreoluwa Somolu-Lesi; and editor of Guardian Life Chidera Muoka.

Themed ‘No girl left behind’, guests were also treated to a performance by music icon Yinka Davies.
“It is amazing to see a vision kick off as this has, we at the Africa Creative Children’s Network are very grateful to the US consulate for this invaluable partnership and support for the girl child. We are thankful for these incredible women who have given of their time and knowledge so selflessly today. Above all, we are excited to see the passion and ambition in these young girls who we are celebrating today.” explained ‘Oma Areh, Executive Director, Africa Creative Children’s Network.

The interactive session kicked off with the US Consulate Cultural Affairs officer Kevin Krapf who welcomed the young girls and mentors to the session. The US Mission Country coordinator, Alice Seddon also shared her experience as a young girl and how she ended up as a career diplomat encouraging the young girls gathered to work towards their dreams.

Mercy Johnson Okojie

A panel session moderated superbly by Uche Pedro followed: Mildred Okwo reflected on her decision to study theatre arts, her career as a lawyer in the United States and her decision to follow her passion into Nollywood. Colette Otusheso shared on how she was inspired by her teachers to follow her dreams and her transition from an entirely corporate job into an entertainment powerhouse, Oreoluwa Somolu-Lesi spoke of how she found her space in tech and her passion to inspire young girls to excel in the field. Mercy Johnson-Okojie told her story on how her passion to succeed broke her away from poverty, advising the girls not to let their backgrounds hold them from dreaming. CNN Hero Abisoye spoke of the role of mentorship in her life and how her early career as an intern helped shape her future. Chidera Muoka spoke on how setting goals and pushing hard for them made her the youngest editor in Nigeria at the age of 25. The young girls thoroughly drilled the panel with questions and inspired others as well with their dreams and ambitions.

The event ended with a vote of thanks from the organisers’ the Africa Creative Network. ACCN founder Sarah Inya Lawal had a message on the organisation’s activities including a formal launch in November 2018, a Children’s creative festival in 2019 and a broadcast network in 2020. The network is in partnership with the US Consulate, Ascend Studios, Accelerate TV, WildFlower PR and Peaceville Entertainment.