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Nigeria’s First Women In Different Professions

Captain Chinyere Kalu
Captain Chinyere Kalu is the first female pilot in Nigeria. Capt. Chinyere’s decision to start a career in Aviation was spurred by her adventurous aunt, who was also the first woman from her hometown to travel overseas. She was made a member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in the 2006 National Honours list. In 2011, she was appointed the Rector and Chief Executive of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), which is the largest aviation training institute in Africa.

Professor Adetoun Ogunseye
Professor Adetoun Ogunseye is first female Professor In Nigeria. She attended Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos. At the University of Ibadan (where she was the first female student), she received the prize for the best female graduating student and got a scholarship to proceed to Cambridge. She became a Professor of Library in 1973 and was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Nigeria Book Fair Trust in 2012.

Elizabeth Abimbola Awoliyi
Elizabeth Abimbola Awoliyi was the first female physician in Nigeria. She earned her medical degree in 1938 from the University of Dublin, Cafreys College and advanced from junior medical officer at the Massey Street Hospital Lagos, to chief consultant and Medical Director at that hospital, holding the latter position from 1960 through 1969. She was also appointed as a Senior Specialist Gynaecologist and Obstetrician in 1962 by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health

Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa
Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa (13 January 1931 – 16 October 1993) : was a Nigerian author best known as Flora Nwapa. Her novel Efuru (1966) is among the first English-language novels by a woman from Africa. She has been called the mother of modern African literature and following her creation of Tata press- is also known as the first African woman publisher.

Chioma Ajunwa
Chioma Ajunwa is the first West-African woman, as well as the first Nigerian, to win an Olympic gold medal in a track and field event. She performed this historic feat of winning an Olympic gold medal on Friday, August 2, 1996, in Atlanta. On that day, she jumped 7.12 metres at a long jump event in the 1996 Atlanta games.

Prof. Grace Alele-Williams
Prof. Grace Alele-Williams was the first Nigerian woman to become the vice-chancellor of a Nigerian University. She studied at Queens College, University College, Ibadan and then the University of Vermont, before receiving a PhD in Mathematics education from the University of Chicago. It has also been widely circulated that she made history as the first Nigerian woman to be awared a doctorate. She was a post doctoral research fellow at the Department of Education, University of Ibadan after which she was appointed a professor of mathematics at the University of Lagos.

Justice Aloma Mukhtar
On July 16, 2012, Justice Aloma Mukhtar made history by becoming the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria. She was also conferred with the National Award of GCON (the second highest honour in the land) by His Excellency. But Justice Mukhtar is a lady of many firsts. In January 1977, she was made a judge of the Kano High Court. Making her the third female judge in the history of Nigeria, the first female judge from the North and being 32 years of age, she was the youngest judge in the country.

Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili (OFR)
Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili (OFR): First African Female to win Transparency International Integrity Award.
Prior to her ministerial appointment, Prof. Akunyili was Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Nigeria, where she made it her top priority to eradicate counterfeit drugs and unsafe food in Nigeria. Before her assumption of office in NAFDAC, fake and substandard foods and drugs were sold in Nigeria without any form of regulation.

She was a Senior Lecturer and Consultant Pharmacologist in the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu Campus, before she became the NAFDAC boss. Professor Akunyili was also a Post-Doctorate Fellow of the University of London and a Fellow of the West African Post-Graduate College of Pharmacists. She gained international recognition and won hundreds of awards for her work in pharmacology, public health and human rights. She was appointed Nigeria’s Honourable Minister of Information and Communications until December 16, 2010.

Ambassador Adenike Ebun Oyagbola
Ambassador Adenike Ebun Oyagbola is the first woman to ever be appointed as a Federal Minister in the history of Nigeria under the regime of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. She was also a Nigerian Ambassador to Mexico

Blessing Liman
Blessing Liman is the first female military pilot of the Nigerian Air Force. On her achievement she has been quoted elsewhere as saying; “As a first female pilot I would want to make a mark that would encourage other females to join the military because I believe that all females have equal opportunity to exercise their rights in whatever they choose to..”

Agbani Darego
Agbani Darego is the first Nigerian woman to win Miss World
She is a former Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria best known as the first native Sub-Saharan African to win Miss World. She has gone on to judge numerous pageants, and fashion and modelling competitions including Miss World 2014, Miss England 2002,Mr. Scotland 2002,and Elite Model Look Nigeria 2012 and 2014. In 2010 she launched a style and fashion reality show Stylogenic on Nigerian television.

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Maureen Nkeiruka Mmadu
Maureen Nkeiruka Mmadu: is the first Nigerian woman to coach Europian club.
She is the first Nigerian women’s football coach attached to a top European club at Avaldsnes. She is a former Super Falcons midfielder and is the first Nigerian to have played 100 games for the national team

Mojisola Adekunle-Obasanjo
The first Nigerian female candidate was Mojisola Adekunle-Obasanjo, ex-wife of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. She ran for the 2003 presidential elections, but came in last. She vied again in 2007 where again she was last with 0.01% of the vote.

Chief Folake Solanke (SAN)
Chief Folake Solanke (SAN) is the first female to became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and the first Nigerian 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 Nigeria Television Broadcasting Corporation (WNTBC). Solanke has received numerous awards, including the National honour of the Commander of the Order of Niger and the International Bar Association’s Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award

Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti
Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti is The First Woman To Drive A Car In Nigeria.
Well educated with a colonial education and a Christian background, she was radicalized through the actions of the British occupation of Nigeria: its racism, sexism and economic violence. Ransome-Kuti received the national honor of membership in the Order of Nigeria in 1965. The University of Ibadan bestowed upon her the honorary doctorate of laws in 1968. She also held a seat in the Western House of Chiefs of Nigeria as an oloye of the Yoruba people.

Olabisi Alofe-Kolawole
Olabisi Alofe-Kolawole is the first female public relations officer (FPRO) of the Nigeria Police Force.
She has a degree in law from Ogun State University and a master’s in police leadership and management from University of Leicester, UK. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002 and has also served in the following United Nations Missions; in East-Timor 2000, Kosovo 2004, Liberia 2006 and at the DPKO UNHQ, New York 2007. She is also a member of the pool of investigators assisting the office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague in the investigations of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence as international crimes.

Dr. Salamat Ahuoiza Aliu
Dr. Salamat Ahuoiza Aliu is a neuro-surgeon at National Hospital, Abuja.
She is the first indigenously trained female neuro-surgeon in Nigeria as well as the first female to be certified a neuro-surgeon in West Africa.

Captain Abimbola Jayeola
Captain Abimbola Jayeola (Captain AB) is Nigeria’s First Female Helicopter Captain.
In February 2016, Captain Jayeola was widely celebrated for her heroism in saving the lives of 11 Nigerians onboard a 5B BJQ Bristow helicopter headed to Lagos from Port Harcourt. Jayeola’s shrewd decision-making and astute skill has been hailed as exemplary and one of the main reasons why no lives were lost.

Admiral Itunu Hotonu
Admiral Itunu Hotonu is the first woman to attain the rank of Rear Admiral (a two-star General), in the Nigerian Navy. She is the second female carrier soldier after Major-General Ronke Kale, to reach the rank of 2-star General in West Africa. Hotunu studied Architecture from the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka. She was among the first set of architects to be enlisted into the Nigerian Navy and it is on record that Hotonu was the first female military officer to serve as a Directing Staff (that is an instructor) at the famous Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji. She was also the first female military officer to attend the then National War College, now National Defence College, where she emerged the best overall graduating student and won the Commander-in-Chief’s prize as well as the Commandant’s prize for the best research.

Tara Fela-Durotoye
Tara Fela-Durotoye is a Nigerian makeup artist and lawyer. A pioneer in the bridal makeup profession in Nigeria, she launched the first bridal directory in 1999, set up international standard makeup studios and established the first makeup school in Nigeria. She is the founder and CEO of House of Tara International, and creator of the Tara Orekelewa Beauty range, Inspired Perfume and the H.I.P Beauty range.

In 2007, She was awarded the Africa SMME Award and the Entrepreneur award in South Africa and in 2013, Forbes listed her as one 20 Young Power Women In Africa. She is a graduate of the prestigious Stanford SEED Transformation Program and this has aided her work as a mentor for thousands of young women across Africa and a standout entrepreneur.

Mosunmola Abudu
Mosunmola Abudu, usually known as Mo Abudu, is an entrepreneur and pacesetter in the media industry. She is the first woman in Africa to launch a pan African TV Channel. From starting the Moments with Mo Talk show that inspired many to building an enviable brand with Ebony Life TV, Mosunmola Abudu is on a roll. Her latest movie project Fifty, has also received several local and international awards/accolades.

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